Date of Award

Summer 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Physics

First Advisor

Leland W. Weiss


Ever increasing cost and consumption of global energy resources has inspired the development of energy harvesting techniques which increase system efficiency, sustainability, and environmental impact by using waste energy otherwise lost to the surroundings. As part of a larger effort to produce a multi-energy source prototype, this study focused on the fabrication and testing of a waste heat recovery micro-channel heat exchanger. Reducing cost and facility requirements were a priority for potential industry and commercial adoption of such energy harvesting devices. During development of the micro-channel heat exchanger, a new fabrication process using mature technologies was created that reduced cost, time, and required equipment. Testing involved filling the micro-channel heat exchanger with 3MTM NovecTM HFE-7200 working fluid. The working fluid was chosen for appropriate physical and environmental properties for the prototypes intended application. Using a dry heat exchanger as the baseline, the addition of the working fluid proved advantageous by increasing energy output by 8% while decreasing overall device temperatures. Upon successful experimental testing of the physical device, internal operation was determined based on implementation of the lattice Boltzmann method, a physics-based statistical method that actively tracked the phase change occurring in a simulated micro-channel. The simulation demonstrated three primary areas of phase change occurring, surfaces adjacent to where the heat source and heat sink were located and the bulk vapor-liquid interface, which agreed with initial device design intentions. Condensation film thickness grew to 5µm over the time interval, while the bulk interface tracked from initial 12µm from the lid to 20µm from the lid. Surface tension effects dominating vapor pressure kept the liquid near the heat source; however, the temperature and pressure VLE data suggested vapor interface growth from the heated surface to 5µm above the heated copper plate. Reinforcing the simulation results, including location and movement of phase interfaces, was accomplished through a thorough ten dimensionless number analyses. These specialized ratios indicated dominant fluid and heat transfer behavior including phase change conditions. Thus, fabrication and empirical results for the heat energy harvesting prototype were successful and computational modeling provided understanding of applicable internal system behavior.