Boiling of R134a inside a glass minichannel. A new statistical approach of flow pattern characterization based on flow visualization

Stefano Dall'Olio, Marco Marengo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A test rig to study R134a flow boiling inside mini and micro-channels has been constructed. The test section is made up of a glass tube and several ITO conductive layers as heaters. A novel image processing technique has been developed for the study of R134a flow boiling regimes. The software routine extracts the bubble contours, measures geometrical features of each frame and collects the data analytically and statistically. The results refer to mass flux between 20 and 122 kg/m2 s and the heat flux between 200 and 45,000 W/m2, at the saturation temperatures of 20-25 °C. The tube inner diameter is 4 mm and the heated length was globally of 320 mm, distributed in eight shorter heaters of 40 mm each. The main goals are the development of a method that, starting from the analysis of several parameters, is able to identify the flow pattern inside the tube, as well as the study of the effects of coalescence on the flow pattern development along the tube. The flow patterns have been identified from a statistical point of view and the "transition zone" has been quantitatively characterized. Part of the analysis is then devoted to the flow pattern variation along the test section. The experiments demonstrated that coalescence is a phenomenon that can be analyzed also in terms of a statistical approach and that the flow pattern variations are not only a function of the mass flux and the quality, but along the tube bubble coalescence and gravity effects have a role in the flow patterns appearance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1048-1065
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2012



  • Boiling
  • Flow pattern
  • ITO
  • Microfluidics
  • Two-phase flow

Cite this