A Caltech Library Service

Rapid evaporation at the superheat limit

Shepherd, J. E. and Sturtevant, B. (1982) Rapid evaporation at the superheat limit. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 121 . pp. 379-402. ISSN 0022-1120. doi:10.1017/S0022112082001955.

PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


In an experimental investigation of the transient processes that occur when a single droplet of butane at the superheat limit vaporizes explosively, short-exposure photographs and fast-response pressure measurements have been used to construct a description of the complete explosion process. It is observed that only a single bubble forms within the drop during each explosion, and that the growth proceeds on a microsecond time scale. An interfacial instability driven by rapid evaporation has been observed on the surface of the bubbles. It is suggested that the Landau mechanism of instability, originally described in connection with the instability of laminar flames, also applies to rapid evaporation at the superheat limit. The photographic evidence and the pressure data are used to estimate the evaporative mass flux across the liquid-vapour interface after the onset of instability. The ;ate of evaporation is shown to be two orders of magnitude greater than would be predicted by conventional bubble-growth theories that do not account for the effects of instability. An estimate of the mean density within the bubbles during the evaporative stage indicates that it is more than one half of the critical density of butane. Additional interesting dynamical effects that are observed include a series of toroidal waves that form on the interface between the butane vapour and the external host liquid in the bubble column apparatus after the bubble has grown large enough to contact the outer edge of the drop, and violent oscillations of the bubble that occur on a millisecond time scale, after evaporation of the liquid butane is complete, that cause the disintegration of the bubble into a cloud of tiny bubbles by Rayleigh-Taylor instability.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Shepherd, J. E.0000-0003-3181-9310
Additional Information:© 1982 Cambridge University Press. Received 6 July 1981; in revised form 14 December 1981; Published online 20 April 2006. This research was supported by the United States Department of Energy, Division of Chemical Sciences, under Project Agreement DE-AT03-80ER10634.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Department of Energy (DOE) Division of Chemical SciencesDE-AT03-80ER10634
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20120717-112847193
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:J. E. Shepherd and B. Sturtevant (1982). Rapid evaporation at the superheat limit. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 121 , pp 379-402 doi:10.1017/S0022112082001955
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:32515
Deposited On:17 Jul 2012 18:37
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 21:27

Repository Staff Only: item control page