Nonlinear dynamics in horizontal film boiling

Charles H. Panzarella*, Stephen H. Davis, S. George Bankoff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


This paper uses thin-film asymptotics to show how a thin vapour layer can support a liquid which is heated from below and cooled from above, a process known as horizontal film boiling. This approach leads to a single, strongly-nonlinear evolution equation which incorporates buoyancy, capillary and evaporative effects. The stability of the vapour layer is analysed using a variety of methods for both saturated and subcooled film boiling. In subcooled film boiling, there is a stationary solution, a constant-thickness vapour film, which is determined by a simple heat-conduction balance. This is Rayleigh-Taylor unstable because the heavier liquid is above the vapour, but the instability is completely suppressed for sufficient subcooling. A bifurcation analysis determines a supercritical branch of stable, spatially-periodic solutions when the basic state is no longer stable. Numerical branch tracing extends this into the strongly-nonlinear regime, revealing a hysteresis loop and a secondary bifurcation to a branch of travelling waves which are stable under certain conditions. There are no stationary solutions in saturated film boiling, but the initial development of vapour bubbles is determined by directly solving the time-dependent evolution equation. This yields important information about the transient heat transfer during bubble development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-194
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Jan 10 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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