One approach recently proposed for reducing the frictional resistance to liquid flow in microchannels is the patterning of micro-ribs and cavities on the channel walls. When treated with a hydrophobic coating, the liquid flowing in the microchannel wets only the top surfaces of the ribs, and does not penetrate into the cavities, provided the pressure is not too high. The net result is a reduction in the surface contact area between channel walls and the flowing liquid. For micro-ribs and cavities that are aligned normal to the channel axis (principal flow direction), these micropatterns form a repeating, periodic structure. This thesis presents numerical results of a study exploring the momentum and thermal transport in a parallel plate microchannel with such microengineered walls. The liquid-vapor interface (meniscus) in the cavity regions is approximated as flat in the numerical analysis. Two conditions are explored with regard to the cavity region: 1) The liquid flow at the liquid-vapor interface is treated as shear-free (vanishing viscosity in the vapor region), and 2) the liquid flow in the microchannel core and the vapor flow within the cavity are coupled through the velocity and shear stress matching at the interface. Predictions reveal that significant reductions in the frictional pressure drop (as large as 80%) can be achieved relative to the classical smooth channel Stokes flow. In general, reductions in the friction factor-Reynolds number product (fRe) are greater as the cavity-to-rib length ratio is increased (increasing shear-free fraction), as the relative module length (length of a rib-cavity module over the channel hydraulic diameter) is increased, as the Reynolds number decreases, and as the vapor cavity depth increases. The thermal transport results predict lower average Nusselt (Nu) numbers as the cavity-to-rib length ratio is increased (increasing shear-free fraction), as the relative module length (is increased, and as the Reynolds number decreases with little dependence on cavity depth. The ratio of Nu to fRe was evaluated to characterize the relative change in heat transfer with respect to the reduction in driving pressure. Results show that the benefits of reduction in driving pressure outweigh the cost of reduction in heat transfer at higher Reynolds numbers and narrower relative channel widths.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





Ultrahydrophobic, drag reduction, Nusselt number, microchannels, frictional resistance, photoresist, microribs, microcavities, numerical, computational, fRe