Evaporation of liquid layers and drops
Saenz, Pedro Javier
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This thesis focuses on investigating the stability, dynamics and physical mechanisms of thermocapillary flows undergoing phase change by means of direct numerical simulations and experiments. The novelty of the general approach developed in this work lies in the fact that the problems under consideration are addressed with novel fully-coupled transient two-phase flow models in 3D. Traditional simplifications are avoided by accounting for deformable interfaces and by addressing advection-diffusion mechanisms not only in the liquid but also in the gas. This strategy enables a realistic investigation of the interface energy and mass transfer at a local scale for the first time. Thorough validations of the models against theory and experiments are presented. The thesis encompasses three situations in detail: liquid layers in saturated environments, liquid layers in unsaturated environments and evaporation of liquid droplets. Firstly, a model grounded in the volume-of-fluid method is developed to study the stability of laterally-heated liquid layers under saturated environments. In this configuration, the planar layer is naturally vulnerable to the formation of an oscillatory regime characterized by a myriad of thermal wave-like patterns propagating along the gas-liquid interface, i.e. hydrothermal waves. The nonlinear growth of the instabilities is discussed extensively along with the final bulk flow for both the liquid and gas phases. Previously unknown interface deformations, i.e. physical waves, induced by, and enslaved to, the hydrothermal waves are reported. The mechanism of heat transfer across the interface is found to contradict previous single-phase studies since the travelling nature of the hydrothermal waves leads to maximum heat fluxes not at the points of extreme temperatures but somewhere in between. The model for saturated environments is extended in a second stage to assess the effect of phase change in the hydrothermal waves for the first time. New numerical results reveal that evaporation affects the thermocapillary instabilities in two ways: the latent energy required during the process tends to inhibit the hydrothermal waves while the accompanying level reduction enhances the physical waves by minimizing the role of gravity. Interestingly, the hydrothermal-wave-induced convective patterns in the gas decouple the interface vapour concentration with that in the bulk of the gas leading to the formation of high (low) concentrations of vapour at a certain distance above interface cold (hot) spots. At the interface the behavior is the opposite. The phase-change mechanism for stable layers is also discussed. The Marangoni effect plays a major role in the vapour distribution and local evaporation flux and can lead to the inversion of phase-change process, i.e. the thermocapillary flow can result into local condensation in an otherwise evaporating liquid layer. The third problem discussed in this thesis concerns with the analysis of evaporating sessile droplets by means of both experiments and 3D numerical modeling. An experimental apparatus is designed to study the evaporation process of water droplets on superheated substrates in controlled nitrogen environments. The droplets are simultaneously recorded with a CCD camera from the side and with an infrared camera from top. It is found that the contact line initially remains pinned for at least 70% of the time, period after which its behaviour changes to that of the stick-slip mode and the drop dries undergoing contact line jumps. For lower temperatures an intermediate stage has been observed wherein the drop evaporates according to a combined mode. The experimental work is complemented with numerical simulations. A new model implementing the diffuse-interface method has been developed to solve the more complex problems of this configuration, especially those associated with the intricate contact-line dynamics. Further insights into the two-phase flow dynamics have been provided as well as into the initial transient stage, in which the Marangoni effect has been found to play a major role in the droplet heating. For the first time, a fully-coupled two-phase direct numerical simulations of sessile drops with a moving contact line has been performed. The last part of this work has been devoted to the investigation of three-dimensional phenomena on drops with irregular contact area. Non-sphericity leads to complex three-dimensional drop shapes with intricate contract angle distributions along the triple line. The evaporation rate is found to be affected by 3D features as well as the bulk flow, which become completely non-axisymmetric. To the best of our knowledge, this work is the first time that three-dimensional two-phase direct numerical simulations of evaporating sessile drops have been undertaken.