Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2020

Author's School

McKelvey School of Engineering

Author's Department

Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Type



The density and rate of nucleation (here-in called nucleation density rate) significantly influences the heat transfer performance during dropwise condensation, as more than 70% of the total heat transfer happen for droplets smaller than 10 μm. Based on the classical nucleation theory, supersaturation strongly influences nucleation dynamics. However, the presence of non-condensable gas can strongly reduce the nucleation density rate by forming a vapor-depleted gas diffusion layer. Therefore, this work studied the relationship between nucleation density rate and supersaturation ratio during dropwise condensation on subcooled smooth hydrophobic surfaces with the presence of non-condensable gases in a custom-built condensation chamber. High-speed imaging and high-resolution microscopy enabled the experimental quantification of condensation dynamics. These were then compared to theoretical values based on the classical nucleation density. Based on the present experiments and a size distribution model, the relationship between heat transfer rate and supersaturation ratio were analyzed. Finally, through experimental observations, it is shown that the fast movement of relatively larger droplets can disturb the diffusion layer and enhance the nucleation density rate.


English (en)


Patricia Weisensee

Committee Members

David Peters, Ramesh Agarwal

Included in

Engineering Commons