CONDENSATION HEAT TRANSFER FUNDAMENTALS
J. W. ROSE
Department of Engineering, Queen Mary and West®eld College, University of London, London,UK
T
he paper gives an outline and discussion of those aspects of condensationheat transfer theory which are relatively well understood. For free convection condensation, theNusselt approximations (neglect of inertia, convection and surface shear stress) arediscussed separately. The effects of interphase matter transfer and variable wall temperature, not considered by Nusselt, are also discussed. Complications arising in forced convectioncondensation, where the condensate ®lm is signi®cantly affected by surface shear stress, areoutlined.The present status of dropwise condensationtheory and measurements is also brie¯yreviewed.
Keywords: condensation; ®lmwise; dropwise; interface resistance
INTRODUCTION
Many factors in¯uence heat-transfer coef®cients duringcondensation.The condenser surfaces may be wetted by thecondensate, when ®lm condensation (the normal mode)occurs, or non-wetted when dropwise condensation occurs. The vapour may be quiescent or moving across thecondensing surface at signi®cant velocity. The condensateand vapour ¯ows may be laminar or turbulent. The vapourmay comprise more than one molecular species and not allspecies may condense. Condensate from higher or upstreamsurfaces will generally impinge on lower or downstreamsurfaces (inundation) and thereby affect the heat transfer. The problems encountered in practical condensers are toocomplex to permit detailed and accurate modelling, andcondenser design generally incorporates a substantialamount of idealizationand empiricism. Even for condensa- tion of a pure (single constituent) vapour, there existdif®cult or intractable problems such as those associatedwith geometry (3-D ¯ow with free-stream vapour velocityaligned neither with gravity nor the condensing surface), turbulence,calculationof vapour-condensateinterface shearstress, irregularity (rippling)of vapour-condensateinterfaceand inundation. Before these problems can be properlyaddressed, it is necessary to have a good appreciation of those aspects which are better understood, namely gravity-controlled laminar ®lm condensation with simple geometryand, to a lesser extent, forced convection condensation anddropwise condensation. The Nusselt
1
models for laminar free convection ®lmcondensation on a vertical plate and horizontal tube areoutlined and the Nusselt approximations(neglect of inertia,convection and surface shear stress) are discussed indivi-dually. The effects of interface resistance, arising frominterphase matter transfer, and variable wall temperature, not considered by Nusselt, are also discussed. As is wellknown, the Nusselt model is remarkably accurate in the practical ranges of the relevant parameters. The forcedconvection condensation problem is less straightforward in that the surface shear stress evidently cannot be neglectedand in typical practical circumstances neither of the extreme(high and low condensation rate) approximations for thesurface shear stress is generally valid. Moreover, typically the condensate ¯ow is neither gravity- nor shear stress-dominated and, in the case of the tube, vapour boundarylayer separation adds signi®cant complication. Approaches to the laminar forced-convection condensation problem arealso discussed. Finally, in view of recent reports of promising new techniques for promoting dropwise con-densation of steam, dropwise condensation theory andmeasurements are also brie¯y reviewed.
THE NUSSELT THEORY
The problem considered is shown in Figure 1. Nusseltanalysed the case of condensation of a pure, quiescent,saturated vapour on an isothermal plate and on anisothermal horizontal cylinder. He neglected shear stressfrom the vapourat the surface of the condensate®lm as wellas inertia/acceleration and convection in the ®lm. Equili-brium was assumed at the condensate-vapour interface so that the temperature at the outer surface of the condensate®lm was taken as the vapour temperature. Condensate properties were assumed independent of temperature and,for the case of the horizontal tube, the ®lm thickness wasassumed small in comparison with the tube radius. For the vertical ¯at plate and with these assumptions,equating the net downward force on an element of the condensate ®lm at distance
x
down the surface and having width
dy
and height
dx
to zero (rather than mass
´
acceleration) gives:
m
¶
2
u
¶
y
2
+
g
D
qq
=
0
(
1
)
Here the vertical pressure gradient term (equal to pressuregradient in the remote vapour) omitted by Nusselt, has beenincludedand leads to the buoyancyterm with
D
q
rather than the condensate density
q
; this only affects the result forcondensation near the critical point. Integration of equation(1) twice with boundary conditions of zero velocity at thewall and zero velocity gradient at the outer surface of the®lm givesthe velocitypro®leacross the ®lm. The productof 143
0263±8762/98/$10.00+0.00
q
Institution of Chemical Engineers Trans IChemE, Vol 76, Part A, February 1998