Congratulations to Youngsup Song, Carlos Díaz-Marín, Lenan Zhang, Hyeongyun Cha, and Yajing Zhao for their recent work on Three-Tier Hierarchical Structures for Extreme Pool Boiling Heat Transfer Performance, which was featured on MIT News.
Boiling is an effective energy-transfer process with substantial utility in energy applications. Boiling performance is described mainly by the heat-transfer coefficient (HTC) and critical heat flux (CHF). Recent efforts for the simultaneous enhancement of HTC and CHF have been limited by an intrinsic trade-off between them—HTC enhancement requires high nucleation-site density, which can increase bubble coalescence resulting in limited CHF enhancement. In this work, this trade-off is overcome by designing three-tier hierarchical structures. The bubble coalescence is minimized to enhance the CHF by defining nucleation sites with microcavities interspersed within hemi-wicking structures. Meanwhile, the reduced nucleation-site density is compensated for by incorporating nanostructures that promote evaporation for HTC enhancement. The hierarchical structures demonstrate the simultaneous enhancement of HTC and CHF up to 389% and 138%, respectively, compared to a smooth surface. This extreme boiling performance can lead to significant energy savings in a variety of boiling applications.