Evaporation analysis in sintered wick microstructures

Karthik K. Bodla, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University
Jayathi Y. Murthy, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University
Suresh V. Garimella, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University

Date of this Version



Heat pipes offer passive transport of heat over long distances without incurring a significant drop in temperature. Topological and microstructural details of the wick material embedded in a heat pipe help determine its thermal performance. A good understanding of pore-scale transport phenomena is crucial to enhancing heat pipe performance. In this study, pore-scale analysis of thin-film evaporation through sintered copper wicks is performed. X-ray microtomography is employed to generate geometrically faithful, feature-preserving meshes. Commercial sintered wicks with particle sizes in the range of 45-60 mu m, 106-150 mu m and 250-355 mu m and with approximately 61% porosity are considered. The capillary pressure, characteristic pore radius, percentage thin film area and evaporative mass and heat fluxes are computed using a volume of fluid (VOF) approach. Two different solution strategies are employed to stabilize the numerical solution and to improve convergence. After verifying that these strategies yield the correct solution, the VOF model is used to obtain static meniscus shapes in the pore space of the sintered wick samples. The meniscus shape is then held fixed and steady-state, thin-film evaporation analysis is performed. Liquid-vapor phase change heat transfer is modeled using a modified Schrage equation. Based on the present analysis, the best performing sample (particle size range) is identified along with the optimum contact angle. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Nanoscience and Nanotechnology