Single-bubble water boiling on small heater under Earth’s and low gravity

Ezinwa Elele, Yueyang Shen, John Tang, Qian Lei, Boris Khusid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Today’s trends for enhancing boiling heat transfer in terrestrial and space applications focus on removal of bubbles to prevent formation of a vapor layer over the surface at high overheat. In contrast, this paper presents a new boiling regime that employs a vapor–air bubble residing on a small heater for minutes and driving cold water over the surface to provide high heat flux. Single-bubble boiling of water was investigated under normal gravity and low gravity in parabolic flights. Experiments demonstrated a negligible effect of gravity level on the rate of heat transfer from the heater. Due to self-adjustment of the bubble size, the heat flux provided by boiling rose linearly up with increasing heater temperature and was not affected by a gradually rising water temperature. The fast response and stable operation of single-bubble boiling over a broad range of temperatures pave the way for development of new devices to control heat transfer by forming surface domains with distinct thermal properties and wettability. The bubble lifetime can be adjusted by changing the water temperature. The ability of heating water on millimeter scales far above 100 °C without an autoclave or a powerful laser provides a new approach for processing of biomaterials and chemical reactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number21
Journalnpj Microgravity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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