Thin film flow studies at Imperial College London to use thermal imaging

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The Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London (UK) will use a Flir Systems X6540sc thermal imaging camera to conduct innovative heat transfer experiments on thin-film flows.

Studying heat transfer in thin-film flows is the key to enable the accurate prediction of complex hydrodynamic processes, crucial for the design of many engineering systems that rely on these flows.

Dr Alexandros Charogiannis, a postdoctoral research associate working under the supervision of Dr Christos Markides, commented: ‘Using the Flir X6540sc camera will allow us to gain an unprecedented insight into the flow dynamics of a great range of flow regimes of gravity-driven thin film flows, gas-/shear-driven horizontal film flows and Marangoni flows.' He added: ‘Before purchasing the Flir camera we had to rely on camera loans from the EPSRC Engineering Equipment Pool (EPI) which were dependent on availability.'

The X6540sc camera provides ultra-fast frame-rate acquisition for scientific and research applications involving dynamic thermal events. The device features a digital InSb detector with spectral sensitivity from 1.5 to 5.5µm and an f/3 aperture. It provides images up to 125Hz in full frame and up to 4,011Hz in a 64 × 8 sub-windowing mode. Features on the camera include high thermal sensitivity, snapshot imagery, a motorised spectral filter wheel and a detachable touch-screen LCD. The camera can be temperature-calibrated up to 300°C, or up to 3,000°C with spectral or neutral density filters.

Research within the Clean Energy Processes group at the Chemical Engineering Department of Imperial College London is aimed at the development and employment of new imaging techniques for conducting simultaneous spatiotemporal measurements of thickness, velocity, temperature, and heat flux in thin-film flows.

Apart from the purely theoretical interest, the high surface-to-volume ratio and small heat and mass transfer resistances of thin films at relatively small flow rates renders them instrumental in the development of efficient means of heat and mass transfer. Consequently, thin-film flows are employed in a wide variety of engineering/technological applications, such as evaporators, exchangers, absorbers, micro-reactors, thermal management/human support systems in space applications, small-scale electronics-microprocessor cooling schemes, air conditioning and gas turbine blade cooling.

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