Spray cooling experiments were performed in a closed loop with ammonia using RTI’s vapor atomized spray nozzles. Thick film resistors, simulating heat source, were mounted onto 1cm × 2cm heater surfaces and heat fluxes up to 500 W/cm2 (well below critical heat flux (CHF) limit) were removed. Two nozzles each spraying 1 cm2 of heater area utilized 96 ml/cm2-min (9.7 gal/in2-hr) liquid and 13.8 ml/cm2-s (11.3 ft3/in2-hr) vapor flow rate with only 48 kPa (7 psi) pressure drop. A smooth surface and two types of micro-structured surfaces with indentations and protrusions were used as test surfaces. Comparison of cooling curves in the form of surface superheat (ΔTsat = Tsurf − Tsat) vs. heat flux in the heating-up and cooling-down modes (for increasing and decreasing heat flux conditions) demonstrated substantial performance enhancement for both micro-structured surfaces over a smooth surface. Moreover, results showed that smooth surface gives nearly identical cooling curves while micro-structured surfaces experience a hysteresis phenomenon depending on the surface roughness level and yields lower surface superheat in the cooling-down mode, compared to the heating-up mode, at a given heat flux. Micro-structured surface with protrusions was tested using two approaches to gain better understanding on hysteresis. Data mainly indicated that micro-structured surface helps retain established three-phase contact line, the region where solid, liquid and vapor phases meet, resulting in consistent cooling curve and hysteresis effect at varying heat flux conditions (as low as 25 W/cm2 for the present work). Data furthermore confirmed a direct connection between hysteresis and thermal history of the heater.

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