The benefits of eliminating instabilities in two-phase microchannel flow with inlet orifices come with costs. This study describes the tradeoffs between microchannels with and without inlet orifices, focusing on results from critical heat flux data obtained for various orifice sizes and mass fluxes. An adjustable inlet orifice controlled with a micrometer was placed in front of an array of 31 parallel microchannels each with a hydraulic diameter of 0.235 mm and a length of 1.33 cm. For mass fluxes ranging from 186 kg m−2 s−1 to 847 kg m−2 s−1, critical heat flux (CHF) data were obtained for 7 different orifice sizes. For low flow rates that provided a low quality saturated inlet condition, the difference in CHF values was found to be minimal between open and almost closed orifice conditions. The smallest orifice achieved a CHF value of 5 W cm−2 less than the largest orifice size for a mass flux of 186 kg m−2 s−1, and 7 W cm−2 less for a mass flux of 433 kg m−2 s−1. For mass fluxes higher than 433 kg m−2 s−1, subcooled conditions were present at the orifice inlet, and the highest CHF values occurred with an orifice hydraulic diameter of 35 percent of fully open. For the higher mass flux cases, orifice sizes in the range of 1.8 percent to 28 percent of fully open caused CHF to occur at lower values than less restrictive orifice sizes. This was due to loss of cooling capacity from rapid pressure drop through the orifice. Slightly higher average channel pressures also decrease the refrigerant’s latent heat of vaporization. For the orifice sizes from 35 to 70 percent of unrestricted flow, a very minimal increase in pressure drop over fully open inlet conditions occurred and the general trend was higher CHF values. Very small inlet orifices are beneficial for steady state conditions that do not approach CHF; however, overly restricting the flow at the inlet to microchannels reduces cooling capacity significantly and will cause early onset of CHF. A slightly restrictive inlet orifice will increase CHF.

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