A nanoscale view of the origin of boiling and its dynamics

M Gallo and F Magaletti and A Georgoulas and M Marengo and J De Coninck and CM Casciola, NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 14, 6428 (2023).

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-41959-3

In this work, we present a dynamical theory of boiling based on fluctuating hydrodynamics and the diffuse interface approach. The model is able to describe boiling from the stochastic nucleation up to the macroscopic bubble dynamics. It covers, with a modest computational cost, the mesoscale area from nano to micrometers, where most of the controversial observations related to the phenomenon originate. In particular, the role of wettability in the macroscopic observables of boiling is elucidated. In addition, by comparing the ideal case of boiling on ultra-smooth surfaces with a chemically heterogeneous wall, our results will definitively shed light on the puzzling low onset temperatures measured in experiments. Sporadic nanometric spots of hydrophobic wettability will be shown to be enough to trigger the nucleation at low superheat, significantly reducing the temperature of boiling onset, in line with experimental results. The proposed mesoscale approach constitutes the missing link between macroscopic approaches and molecular dynamics simulations and will open a breakthrough pathway toward accurate understanding and prediction.

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