Composite Structured Surfaces for Durable Dropwise Condensation

Ho Chan Chang, Manjunath C. Rajagopal, Muhammad Jahidul Hoque, Junho Oh, Longnan Li, Jiaqi Li, Hanyang Zhao, Gowtham Kuntumalla, Sreenath Sundar, Yuquan Meng, Chenhui Shao, Placid M. Ferreira, Srinivasa M. Salapaka, Sanjiv Sinha, Nenad Miljkovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dropwise condensation of steam on hydrophobic substrates has a 10X higher heat transfer coefficient compared to filmwise condensation. To promote dropwise condensation, low surface energy hydrophobic coatings (polymers) are typically utilized. The low intrinsic thermal conductivity (k < 1 W/(m·K)) of polymers, coupled with high heat transfer coefficient of dropwise condensation (100 kW/(m2·K)), necessitates that the coating be thin (< 1µm) in order to avoid reducing the overall heat exchanger conductance. However, thin polymeric films easily degrade. The two opposing requirements result in the need for optimization between the durability (thick coating) and the heat transfer (thin coating). To enable high thermal conductivity in thicker coatings, we develop metal-polymer structured surfaces. By using porous structures as inter-connected heat-conducting backbones that are filled with hydrophobic materials, we enable tuning of the coating effective thermal conductivity and surface energy. Three metal structures were studied; micro/nanowires, inverse opals, and sintered spheres. Heat transfer performance was calculated using three-dimensional finite element method simulations with two distinct boundary conditions; convection at the walls and isothermal walls. Interestingly, the overall conductance shows up to 40% difference depending on the boundary condition used in calculating the composite coating effective thermal conductivity. We use our model to predict the heat transfer performance as a function of metal fraction by volume and by surface area for condensation. By coupling our thermal simulations with a previously verified analytical model for predicting wetting behavior on heterogeneous surfaces, we propose a regime map to predict dropwise-to-filmwise transition. Our work not only forms a starting point for the development of durable dropwise condensing surfaces, it identifies important considerations needed for computing effective thermal conductivity of composites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number119890
JournalInternational Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Coating
  • Composite
  • Condensation
  • Dropwise
  • Hydrophobic
  • Metal
  • Micro
  • Nano
  • Polymer
  • Structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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