A novel probe design to study wetting front kinematics during forced convective quenching
Experimental Thermal and Fluid Science
The kinematics of the wetting front, i.e., the loci of the boundary between stable vapor film and the presence of bubbles, during quenching operations largely determines the evolution of the microstructural and displacement fields which, in turn, control the properties of the quenched product. Thus, it is important to develop techniques that allow its precise characterization. To this end, a novel probe design (conical-end cylinder) was coupled with an experimental set-up that guarantees fully developed flow to study wetting front kinematics during forced convective quenching of AISI 304 stainless steel probes in water at 60 C, flowing at 0.20 and 0.60 m/s. Conventional probes (flat-end cylinder) were also quenched for comparison. The wetting front was not symmetric when flat-end cylindrical probes were quenched, even for fully developed flow and relatively low values of quenchant velocity. Computer simulation of the vorticity field near the probe base (considering an isothermal system at ambient temperature) showed that there is a significant vorticity gradient in that region which may favour the chaotic collapse of the vapor film. In contrast, a similar calculation did not show any noticeable vorticity gradient for the conical-end cylindrical probe even at high quenchant velocities. The conical-end cylindrical probe and a fully developed flow ensured that the vapor film collapsed uniformly around the probe due to the fact that the formation of the wetting front was concentrated, initially, at the probe tip. This condition permits a constant advance of the wetting front and a stable transition between boiling regimes, facilitating the study of the kinematics of the wetting front. For the experimental conditions studied the following parameters were derived: (1) wetting front velocity, (2) nucleate boiling length, (3) duration of the nucleate boiling stage and (4) width of the vapor film. The duration of the nucleate boiling stage could be estimated using existing equations, obtaining results that are comparable to the experimentally determined values. For the experimental conditions studied the different boiling regimes and its transitions could be precisely defined along the surface heat flux history curve during quenching, resulting in six different zones.