Effects of Substrate Materials and Surface Conditions on the Minimum Film-Boiling Temperature

Shikha A. Ebrahim, Ece Alat, Faruk A. Sohag, Valerie Fudurich, Shi Chang, Fan Bill Cheung, Stephen M. Bajorek, Kirk Tien, Chris L. Hoxie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Film boiling is an important phenomenon in the evaluation of an emergency core cooling system following a hypothetical loss of coolant accident in a nuclear reactor. This study investigates the effects of liquid subcooling, surface oxidation, and surface materials on the minimum film-boiling temperature Tmin. Quenching experiments were performed using stainless steel and zirconium (Zr) test samples. The samples were heated to a temperature well above Tmin then plunged vertically in various degrees of liquid subcooling pools. A visualization study using a high-speed camera was conducted to capture the quenching behavior. Additionally, surface characterization analyses including X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy were performed to quantify the surface conditions. Results indicate that liquid subcooling has a strong influence on Tmin. The visualization study shows a very thin vapor formation around the test sample for higher subcooling pools which explains the enhancement in the heat transfer. It is observed from the surface characterization analyses that the variations in the surface condition of the stainless steel and Zr causes the vapor bubbles to depart differently in the nucleate boiling regime. Furthermore, the effect of surface oxidation is clearly noticeable in the Zr test sample compared to the stainless steel test sample due to the oxidation kinematic of each substrate material. It is found that the substrate thermophysical properties have a significant impact on Tmin. Comparing the bare substrates shows that for the same degrees of liquid subcooling pool, the value of Tmin for the Zr sample is ∼30°C to 60°C higher compared to the stainless steel sample. Moreover, increasing the degrees of liquid subcooling contributes to a significant increase in Tmin that varies between ∼50°C and 70°C for both samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-238
Number of pages13
JournalNuclear Technology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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