Our recent experimental studies indicate that nanostructured, chemically inhomogeneous surfaces are the origin of dropwise condensation of steam on ion implanted metals. Yet, the underlying microscopic mechanism governing this special condensation form is still not clear. We suggest a condensation model based on droplet nucleation and growth on elevated precipitates, resulting in short-term steam entrapment after droplet coalescence. According to the wetting theory, this transition state yields increased macroscopic contact angles. Condensation phenomena such as enlarging dropwise condensation areas in spite of increasing condensation rate become comprehensible by our model. Furthermore, it points out that for this special surface type, contact angles and surface free energies measured under ambient air conditions are not usable for predicting the condensation form of steam. Although the suggested microscopic model cannot be directly proved by experiment, its validity is supported by its capability of explaining experimental observations colliding with previous theoretical approaches.
On the Mechanism of Dropwise Condensation of Steam on Ion Implanted Metallic Surfaces
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Rausch, M. H., Leipertz, A., and Fröba, A. P. (July 15, 2010). "On the Mechanism of Dropwise Condensation of Steam on Ion Implanted Metallic Surfaces." ASME. J. Heat Transfer. September 2010; 132(9): 094503. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4001646
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