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Self-Aggregation of Vapor-Liquid Phase Transition and Inner Structure of a Boiling Nucleus

DOI: 10.1615/ICHMT.2004.IntThermSciSemin.740
pages 603-610

Xiao-Dong Wang
North China Electric Power University

Yong Tian
Laboratory of Phase Change and Interfacial Transport Phenomena, Department of Thermal Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China

Xiao-Feng Peng
Laboratory of Phase Change and Interfacial Transport Phenomena, Department of Thermal Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084

Bu-Xuan Wang
Laboratory of Phase Change and Interfacial Transport Phenomena, Department of Thermal Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China

Abstract

In this paper, the concept of the molecular free path is introduced to derive a criterion distinguishing active molecules from inactive molecules in liquid phase. A concept of the critical aggregation concentration (CAC) of active molecules is proposed to describe the physical configuration before the formation of a nucleus during vapor-liquid phase transition. All active molecules exist as monomers when the concentration of active molecules is lower than CAC, while the active molecules will generate aggregation once the concentration of the active molecules reaches CAC. However, these aggregates with aggregation number, N, smaller than 5 can steadily exist in bulk phase. The other excess active molecules can only produce infinite aggregation and form a critical nucleus of vapor-liquid phase transition. Without any outer perturbation the state point of CAC corresponds to the critical superheated or supercooled state. Meanwhile, a model of two-region structure of a nucleus is proposed to describe nucleus evolution. The interfacial tension between bulk liquid phase and nucleus is dependent of the density gradient in the transition region and varies with the structure change of the transition region. With the interfacial tension calculated using this model, the predicted nucleation rate is very close to the experimental measurement. Furthermore, this model and associated analysis provides solid theoretical evidences to clarify the definition of nucleation rate and understand nucleation phenomenon with the insight into the physical nature.

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