Bubble Nucleation and Growth in Open-Cycle OTEC Subsystems

[+] Author and Article Information
D. C. Bugby, A. F. Mills, A. T. Wassel

Science Applications, Inc., El Segundo, Calif. 90245

J. Sol. Energy Eng 105(2), 119-125 (May 01, 1983) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3266354 History: Received May 24, 1982; Online November 11, 2009


Bubble nucleation and growth in the evaporator, condenser, upcomers, and feedwater distribution systems of open-cycle ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) power plants are examined. The phenomenon that will probably have the most impact on system design is cavitation in the warm water feed near the entrance of the evaporator. The critical bubble size for cavitation is about 105 μm. Sources of bubbles in the warm water feed are those entering from the ocean, those nucleating on suspended particles, and those nucleating on the upcomer wall. Analyses of bubble growth induced by changes in hydrostatic pressure, mass transfer, and coalescence are presented. Using available information for bubble size distribution in seawater at California locations, it is shown that cavitation will probably have a significant impact on evaporator performance unless a debubbler is provided upstream of the evaporator entrance.

Copyright © 1983 by ASME
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