A Study of Critical Heat Flux during Flow Boiling in Microchannel Heat Sinks

T. Chen
S V. Garimella, Purdue University

Document Type Article


The cooling capacity of two-phase transport in microchannels is limited by the occurrence of critical heat flux (CHF). Due to the nature of the phenomenon, it is challenging to obtain reliable CHF data without causing damage to the device under test. In this work, the critical heat fluxes for flow boiling of FC-77 in a silicon thermal test die containing 60 parallel microchannels were measured at five total flow rates through the microchannels in the range of 20–80 ml/min. CHF is caused by dryout at the wall near the exit of the microchannels, which in turn is attributed to the flow reversal upstream of the microchannels. The bubbles pushed back into the inlet plenum agglomerate; the resulting flow blockage is a likely cause for the occurrence of CHF which is marked by an abrupt increase in wall temperature near the exit and an abrupt decrease in pressure drop across the microchannels. A database of 49 data points obtained from five experiments in four independent studies with water, R-113, and FC-77 as coolants was compiled and analyzed. It is found that the CHF has a strong dependence on the coolant, the flow rate, and the area upon which the heat flux definition is based. However, at a given flow rate, the critical heat input (total heat transfer rate to the coolant when CHF occurs) depends only on the coolant and has minimal dependence on the details of the microchannel heat sink (channel size, number of channels, substrate material, and base area). The critical heat input for flow boiling in multiple parallel microchannels follows a well-defined trend with the product of mass flow rate and latent heat of vaporization. A power-law correlation is proposed which offers a simple, yet accurate method for predicting the CHF. The thermodynamic exit quality at CHF is also analyzed and discussed to provide insights into the CHF phenomenon in a heat sink containing multiple parallel microchannels.