Capillary-Enhanced Filmwise Condensation in Porous Media. Academic Article uri icon


  • Condensation is prevalent in various industrial and heat/mass transfer applications, and improving condensation heat transfer has a direct effect on process efficiency. Enhancing condensation performance has historically been achieved via the use of low surface energy coatings to promote the efficient dropwise mode over the typical filmwise mode of condensation. However, low surface tension fluids condense on these coatings in the filmwise mode, and low surface energy coatings are generally not robust at thicknesses required to enhance condensation heat transfer. We present a robust and scalable condensation enhancement method where a high heat transfer coefficient is achieved by leveraging capillary forces within a high thermal conductivity porous wick to promote condensate removal. The capillary pressure is supported by a pump to sustain steady condensate removal, and the high thermal conductivity of the wick decreases the overall thermal resistance. This technique has the potential to enhance condensation for a variety of fluids including low surface tension fluids and is capable of operating in both a gravity and a micro- (or zero-) gravity environment. We highlight key characteristics and enhancements achieved through this capillary-enhanced filmwise condensation technique using a porous media flow model. The model results indicate that increased wick thickness and permeability increase the operational envelope and delay the failure that occurs when the condensate floods the wick. However, increasing the permeability is more favorable as both the heat transfer coefficient and the flooding threshold are increased. The working fluid thermophysical properties determine both the degree of enhancement possible and the relative contributions from gravitational and capillary pressure forces when condensation occurs in the presence of gravity. This study provides fundamental insight into an enhanced filmwise condensation technique and an improved framework for modeling porous media flows with mass addition via condensation.

published proceedings

  • Langmuir

author list (cited authors)

  • Wang, R., & Antao, D. S.

citation count

  • 15

complete list of authors

  • Wang, Ruisong||Antao, Dion S

publication date

  • November 2018