An analysis is presented that explains the variation of superheat with subcooling that has been observed by a number of researchers investigating nucleate boiling heat transfer at constant heat flux. It is shown that superheat initially increases with increasing subcooling near saturated conditions because of the way in which changes in active site density and average bubble frequency with increasing subcooling affect the rate of heat removal from the heater surface by enthalpy transport and microlayer evaporation. As subcooling increases further, natural convection begins to play an increasingly important role in the heat transfer process. Ultimately, natural convection is able to accommodate the entire imposed heat flux, after which superheat decreases as subcooling increases. The success of the analysis in explaining the variation of superheat with subcooling suggests that the rate of the heat removal from the heater surface is completely determined by the mechanisms of enthalpy transport, natural convection, and microlayer evaporation.

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