Simulation of Drop-Size Distribution During Dropwise and Jumping Drop Condensation on a Vertical Surface: Implications for Heat Transfer Modeling


heat transfer, heat transfer modeling, drop-size distribution


Accurate models for condensation heat transfer are necessary to improve condenser design. Drop-size distribution is an important aspect of heat transfer modeling that is difficult to measure for small drop sizes. The present work uses a numerical simulation of condensation which incorporates the possibility of coalescence and coalescence-induced jumping over a range of drop sizes. Results of the simulation are compared with previous theoretical models and the impact of the assumptions used in those models is explored. In particular, previous drop-size distribution models may predict heat transfer rates less accurately for high contact angles and for coalescence-induced jumping since coalescence occurs over a range of drop sizes and does not always result in departure. The influence of various input parameters (nucleation site distribution approach, nucleation site density, contact angle, maximum drop size, heat transfer modeling to individual drops, and minimum jumping size) on the drop-size distribution and overall heat transfer rate is explored. Assignment of the nucleation site spatial distribution and heat transfer model affect both the drop-size distribution and predicted overall heat transfer rate. Results from the simulation suggest that, when the contact angle is large (as on superhydrophobic surfaces) and no coalescence-induced jumping occurs, the heat transfer may not be as sensitive to the maximum drop-size as previously supposed. Furthermore, this work suggests that when coalescence-induced jumping occurs, reducing the maximum drop size may not always increase heat transfer since drops similar in size to those removed by coalescence-induced jumping can contribute significantly to the overall heat transfer rate.

Original Publication Citation

Stevens, K. A., Crockett, J., Maynes, D., and Iverson, B. D., 2019, “Simulation of drop-size distribution during dropwise and jumping drop condensation on a vertical surface: Implications for heat transfer modeling,” Langmuir, 35, pp. 12858–12875. DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.9b02232

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date







Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology


Mechanical Engineering

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor