Solving a Persistent Dilemma in Heat Transfer
Matteo Bucci, a partner professor at the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, is dedicated to addressing some unfamiliar factors distressing fundamental science.
Heat transfer is an issue that has plagued scientists for over a hundred years. However, an Italian-born associate professor of NSE aims to provide the solution to this dilemma.
Dealing With The Boiling Crisis
Whether you are heating water in a pot for a cup of tea or you are developing a nuclear reactor, a single phenomenon which is boiling is essential for the execution and completion of both processes.
According to Bucci, boiling is an extremely effective mechanism for heat transfer. It is a method to eliminate significant amounts of heat from the surface and this is why boiling is used in various applications of high-power density. An example case of this method is a nuclear reactor.
To an ordinary person, boiling seems simple; bubbles are formed and they burst, thus removing heat. However, in the case that numerous bubbles are formed and combined and form a mass of vapor and prevent heat to be transferred further, what will happen then? This recurring problem is called “the boiling crisis” by scientists.
Understanding and knowing under which scenarios the boiling crisis is likely to occur is very important to the creation of more efficient and cost-effective nuclear reactors, says Bucci.
The initial works on the boiling crisis were nearly almost a century ago until 1926. Although so much effort and work have been done then, it is obvious that the answer to this problem has not been found yet. The boiling dilemma remains a huge challenge because while there are numerous models created, the measurement of the relevant phenomena to confirm or disprove the said models has been extremely difficult.
Bucci explained that because boiling occurs on an extremely small scale of length and in extremely short times, they are not able to study it enough to where they can fully understand and conclude what truly happens during the entire boiling process.
However, over the past years, Bucci, together with his team of researchers, has been working on developing indicators that can measure the related phenomena associated with boiling, thus, providing long-awaited answers to this longstanding problem.
These indicators are integrated into infrared thermometry as well as a technique utilizing visible light. Bucci says that he thinks that the combination of these techniques is going to be the answer to this classic issue and conclude the boiling crisis with the optimal solution.