Date of Award

Fall 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Applied Science (MASc)


Mechanical Engineering


J.S. Cotton




A short, 30cm, test section was used to study the effect of electrohydrodynamic (EHD) forces on flow redistribution in a horizontal, shell and tube heat exchanger subject to both boiling and condensation. The use of a short test section allows for a consistent flow pattern across the test section length which provides further insight into the true effect of EHD.

It was found that the voltage polarity of the applied voltages influences the flow distribution. For the current geometry studied, it was found that positive polarity voltages tend to pull liquid away from heat transfer surface and that negative voltages tended to repel more liquid toward the heat transfer surface. Using this knowledge we were able to show that positive voltages were more effective for convective condensation heat transfer enhancement, whereas negative voltages were more effective for convective boiling heat transfer enhancement. A twofold enhancement of convective boiling heat transfer was achieved for positive voltages and a 4fold enhancement was achieved for negative voltages. Similar pressure drop penalties were seen for both cases, approximately twice that of the no EHD case.

Furthermore, the effect of DC level, peak to peak voltage, frequency and duty cycle waveform parameters on convective boiling enhancement were studied to explore the range of controllability for the current set of flow parameters. It was found that these various waveform parameters can induce different flow patterns and consequently different heat transfer and pressure drop configurations. In general the heat transfer is enhanced by EHD, but different pressure drop penalties can be achieved for a given enhancement ratio using different waveforms. High heat transfer for relatively low pressure drop was achieved using either negative DC signals or 50%duty cycle pulse waveforms. In some cases the enhancement is quite little compared to the pressure drop, for example the zero DC level, varying peak to peak voltage data. It is suggested that in a system where the heat exchanger pressure drop due to EHD is more dominant than the system pressure drop, it may be possible to use EHD as a method of retarding the system rather than enhancing it thereby broadening the scope of controllability.

Finally we showed the proof of concept of using DC EHD as a rapid control mechanism for the load conditions. Using -8kVDC the water side heat flux could be varied by approximately ±3.2 kW/m2 within 5 seconds. As a comparison, the same experiment was repeated using the refrigerant flow rate to control the load. Response times were similar for both experiments and although the power required for the flow rate control was less, the minimal variability in flow parameters for the EHD control make it a more attractive method of load control.

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