An experimental investigation of pressure drop in expanding microchannel arrays

Mark J. Miner, Patrick Phelan, Brent A. Odom, Carlos A. Ortiz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The pressure effects of expanding the cross section of microchannels along the direction of flow are investigated across four rates of channel expansion in the flow boiling of R-134a. Prior investigation by the authors detailed the fabrication of four copper microchannel arrays and the pumped-loop apparatus developed to facilitate interchange of the microchannel specimens, allowing consistency across experiments. Significant beneficial pressure effects are observed to result from the expansion, including reduction by half of the pumping cost per flow rate at critical heat flux. The improvements are seen with small expansions, and greater expansion yields diminishing returns. The high pressure drops associated with microchannel evaporators are effectively reduced by expanding channel geometry, and the low-frequency system spectral response indicates that expanding channel arrays typically carry less energy in oscillations up to 2.5 Hz, suggesting amelioration of oscillatory instabilities. Results are discussed in light of a comparative force analysis, with the balance of these forces linked to the observed behavior of the pressure drop and heat flux relationship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number031502
JournalJournal of Heat Transfer
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • heat and mass transfer
  • heat transfer enhancement
  • micro/nanoscale heat transfer
  • two-phase flow and heat transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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