A supercooled liquid droplet that freezes on a cold substrate interacts with the local surroundings through heat and mass exchange. Heat loss occurs to the substrate via conduction and at the droplet interface via evaporative cooling, diffusion, and convection. In a group of many droplets, these interac- tions are believed to be responsible for inter-droplet frost propagation and the evaporation of supercooled neighboring droplets. Furthermore, interactions between a standalone freezing droplet and its surround- ings can lead to the formation of condensation halos and asymmetric solidification induced by exter- nal flows. This paper investigates droplet-to-droplet interactions via heat and mass exchange between a freezing droplet and a neighboring droplet, for which asymmetries are observed in the final shape of the frozen droplet. Side-view infrared (IR) thermography measurements of the surface temperature for a pair of freezing droplets, along with three-dimensional numerical simulations of the solidification process, are used to quantify the intensity and nature of these interactions. Two droplet-to-droplet interaction mech- anisms causing asymmetric freezing are identified: (1) non-uniform evaporative cooling on the surface of the freezing droplet caused by vapor starvation in the air between the droplets; and (2) a non-uniform thermal resistance at the contact area of the freezing droplet caused by the heat conduction within the neighboring droplet. The combined experimental and numerical results show that the size of the freez- ing droplet relative to its neighbor can significantly impact the intensity of the interaction between the droplets and, therefore, the degree of asymmetry. A small droplet freezing in the presence of a large droplet, which blocks vapor from freely diffusing to the surface of the small droplet, causes substan- tial asymmetry in the solidification process. The droplet-to-droplet interactions investigated in this paper provide insights into the role of latent heat dissipation during condensation frosting.


Droplet freezing, Infrared thermography, Water vapor distribution, Recalescence, Solidification

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J. E. Castillo, Y. Huang, Z. Pan, and J.A. Weibel, “Asymmetric Solidification During Droplet Freezing in the Presence of a Neighboring Droplet,” International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, Vol. 171, 121134, 2021