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Polymer Infused Porous Surfaces for Robust, Thermally Conductive, Self-Healing Coatings for Dropwise Condensation

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journal contribution
posted on 13.11.2020, 14:06 by Kyle L. Wilke, Dion S. Antao, Samuel Cruz, Ryuichi Iwata, Yajing Zhao, Arny Leroy, Daniel J. Preston, Evelyn N. Wang
Hydrophobic coatings with low thermal resistance promise a significant enhancement in condensation heat transfer performance by promoting dropwise condensation in applications including power generation, water treatment, and thermal management of high-performance electronics. However, after nearly a century of research, coatings with adequate robustness remain elusive due to the extreme environments within many condensers and strict design requirements needed to achieve enhancement. In this work, we enable long-lasting condensation heat transfer enhancement via dropwise condensation by infusing a hydrophobic polymer, Teflon AF, into a porous nanostructured surface. This polymer infused porous surface (PIPS) uses the large surface area of the nanostructures to enhance polymer adhesion, while the nanostructures form a percolated network of high thermal conductivity material throughout the polymer and drastically reduce the thermal resistance of the composite. We demonstrate over 700% enhancement in the condensation of steam compared to an uncoated surface. This performance enhancement was sustained for more than 200 days without significant degradation. Furthermore, we show that the surfaces are self-repairing upon raising the temperature past the melting point of the polymer, allowing recovery of hydrophobicity and offering a level of durability more appropriate for industrial applications.