An experimental investigation is conducted to examine the effects of operating conditions and channel size on the liquid film thickness of vapor bubbles in adiabatic air-water flows within the slug flow regime. Acrylic test sections are fabricated to contain a single microchannel of square cross-section with hydraulic diameters of 510 micrometers and 1020 micrometers. High-speed visualizations are used to map the flow regimes in these channels in order to determine the range of liquid and gas flow rates for which slug-regime flows are sustained. Subsequently, a tomographic optical imaging technique is employed to quantitatively reconstruct the liquid–gas interface of vapor bubbles at selected operating conditions. This technique relies on visualization of fluorescent particles seeded into the liquid phase in order to identify the phase boundaries within thin sections of the flow. Using the reconstructions, the thickness of the liquid film in the corner of the square channel cross-section is extracted. This film thickness is found to decrease with increasing capillary number, and a simple expression is proposed for calculation of the film thickness; predictions from this model match the measurements with a mean absolute error (MAE) of 21.6%; 85.7% of all predicted data points fall within an error band of ±30%. Additionally, film thickness data from the literature are compared to model predictions and a comparable MAE of 21.8% is found with 77.8% of data points falling within an error band of ±30%.
Two-phase microchannel flow, Slug regime, Liquid film thickness, Segmented flow
Date of this Version
R.S. Patel, J.A. Weibel, and S.V. Garimella, “Characterization of Liquid Film Thickness in Slug-Regime Microchannel Flows,” International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, Vol. 115, pp. 1137-1143, 2017.