©2009 The American Physical Society. doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.80.046310


Thermal transpiration is a rarefied gas flow driven by a wall temperature gradient and is a promising mechanism for gas pumping without moving parts, known as the Knudsen pump. Obtaining temperature measurements along capillary walls in a Knudsen pump is difficult due to extremely small length scales. Meanwhile, simplified analytical models are not applicable under the practical operating conditions of a thermal transpiration device, where the gas flow is in the transitional rarefied regime. Here, we present a coupled gas-phonon heat transfer and flow model to study a closed thermal transpiration system. Discretized Boltzmann equations are solved for molecular transport in the gas phase and phonon transport in the solid. The wall temperature distribution is the direct result of the interfacial coupling based on mass conservation and energy balance at gas-solid interfaces and is not specified a priori unlike in the previous modeling efforts. Capillary length scales of the order of phonon mean free path result in a smaller temperature gradient along the transpiration channel as compared to that predicted by the continuum solid-phase heat transfer. The effects of governing parameters such as thermal gradients, capillary geometry, gas and phonon Knudsen numbers and, gas-surface interaction parameters on the efficiency of thermal transpiration are investigated in light of the coupled model.


Knudsen Compressor, Boltzmann-Equation, Prandtl Number, heat-transfer, rarefied-gas, conductivity, performance, transport, MEMS, Boltzmann equation, capillarity, channel flow, flow simulation, heat transfer, Knudsen flow, phonons, rarefied fluid dynamics, sorption, transpiration

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