Impact dynamics and heat transfer characteristics of liquid nitrogen drops on a sapphire prism

Michiel A.J. van Limbeek*, Thomas H. Nes, Srinivas Vanapalli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
75 Downloads (Pure)


Drops close to a hot solid surface can be prevented from making contact by the vapour generation in between them. This so-called Leidenfrost effect occurs at a minimal plate temperature which is referred to as the Leidenfrost temperature. In spray cooling, were one uses impacting drops to cool down the hot solid, this effect is very undesirable: the vapour layer forms an isolating layer and prevents effective heat transfer between the drop and the solid. We study this phenomenon by impacting a single liquid nitrogen drop on a smooth sapphire prism using high-speed frustrated total internal reflection imaging. In these cryogenic conditions, the prism behaves as a perfect thermal conductor, while its transparency enables us to study the contact behaviour during the impact and the spreading phase of the drop. By varying the prism temperature and impact velocity of the drops we obtain a phase diagram of the impact characteristics. Using the Stokes number for the vapour flow, we find good agreement with previous studies for non-cryogenic liquids. The phase diagram is then compared with a second type of experiment in which a stream of drops cools the prism over time. The results of the two different type of measurements agree well, from which we conclude that the cooling power of a drop is strongly related to the wetting behaviour of the impacting drops. Finally, by comparing the wetted area with the contact line length we show that heat transfer in contact and transition boiling is dominated by conduction rather than evaporation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118999
JournalInternational journal of heat and mass transfer
Early online date14 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • High-speed TIR imaging
  • Spray cooling
  • Transient heat-transfer
  • Drop impact


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