, Volume 38, Issue 6, pp 1135–1171 | Cite as

Mathematical modelling of dropwise condensation on textured surfaces



Vapor-to-liquid phase change in the form of discrete drops on or underneath a substrate is called dropwise condensation. The process is hierarchical in the sense that it occurs over a wide range of length and timescales. As the associated heat transfer coefficient is much higher than the film and mixed mode of condensation, it is of considerable interest in applications. The present study is focused on mathematical modelling of dropwise condensation process at multiple scales. The model includes formation of drops at the atomistic scale, droplet growth, coalescence, instability, slide off and fall-off, followed by fresh nucleation of liquid droplets. The model shows that the largest stable cluster size in the atomic model matches the minimum drop radius estimated from thermodynamic considerations. The minimum drop radius is insensitive to surface texturing and does not provide controllability at larger length and timescales. A closer examination of droplet distribution over the substrate reveals that small drops are locations of high heat transfer rates, which diminishes with increasing drop radius. The largest drop diameter depends on its stability and hence, the interfacial forces at phase boundaries. Therefore, drop instability controls the heat transfer coefficient in dropwise condensation. Enhancement of heat transfer necessitates that these drops grow with time, become unstable and be swept away as quickly as possible. Enhancement may be achieved either by (i) inclining the substrate or (ii) by creating an interfacial force at the three-phase contact line by a wettability gradient over the horizontal substrate, inducing drop motion. Wall heat transfer and shear stress under moving drops have been determined using a CFD model. A simple model of coalescence has been adopted in this work. Simulation studies on the effect of fluid properties, surface inclination and its wettability condition on drop size distribution, cycle time, heat transfer coefficient, and wall shear stress are comprehensively discussed in the present article.


Dropwise condensation hierarchical modelling wettability horizontal and inclined surfaces pendant drops heat transfer 



The authors are grateful to the Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences (BRNS), Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India, for financial assistance. Technical discussions with Dr. L M Gantayet and Dr. Jaya Mukherjee of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, India, are gratefully acknowledged.


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© Indian Academy of Sciences 2013

Authors and Affiliations

    • 1
    • 1
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  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology KanpurKanpurIndia

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