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Managing water on heat transfer surfaces: A critical review of techniques to modify surface wettability for applications with condensation or evaporation


  • Edalatpour, M.
  • Liu, L.
  • Jacobi, A.M.
  • Eid, K.F.
  • Sommers, A.D.


Most materials of practical interest are neither completely wetting nor completely non-wetting. “Surface wettability” then refers to the degree that a surface is hydrophilic (i.e. water-loving) or hydrophobic (i.e. water-fearing). Through careful design, it is possible to alter the natural wettability of a surface to be more water-loving or water-fearing. This is principally achieved by modifying the surface chemistry and/or surface roughness. In some cases, modifying the surface may bring operational benefit or advantage. For example, aluminum and copper (which are used in the construction of heat exchangers) tend to retain water in application, which can degrade performance. Modifying the surface however to be superhydrophilic can help to spread out the condensate, reduce the air-side pressure drop, and facilitate drainage. Moreover, by creating a wettability pattern or gradient, it is possible to predetermine the initiating sites for condensation on a surface as well as facilitate droplet motion and/or control the water droplet movement path. In the first part of this review, the current state of the art of surface wettability modification and control techniques are presented, which includes topographical manipulation, chemical modification, as well as methods for creating gradient surfaces and patterned wettability. In the second part of this review, possible applications and the potential impact of these methodologies in energy systems are discussed with a special focus on heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC&R) systems and components.

Suggested Citation

  • Edalatpour, M. & Liu, L. & Jacobi, A.M. & Eid, K.F. & Sommers, A.D., 2018. "Managing water on heat transfer surfaces: A critical review of techniques to modify surface wettability for applications with condensation or evaporation," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 222(C), pages 967-992.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:222:y:2018:i:c:p:967-992
    DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2018.03.178

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rafati Nasr, Mohammad & Fauchoux, Melanie & Besant, Robert W. & Simonson, Carey J., 2014. "A review of frosting in air-to-air energy exchangers," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 538-554.
    2. Zhang, P. & Lv, F.Y., 2015. "A review of the recent advances in superhydrophobic surfaces and the emerging energy-related applications," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 1068-1087.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jaroslaw Krzywanski, 2019. "A General Approach in Optimization of Heat Exchangers by Bio-Inspired Artificial Intelligence Methods," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(23), pages 1-32, November.
    2. Gao, Linyue & Liu, Yang & Ma, Liqun & Hu, Hui, 2019. "A hybrid strategy combining minimized leading-edge electric-heating and superhydro-/ice-phobic surface coating for wind turbine icing mitigation," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 943-956.
    3. Shahzada Zaman Shuja & Bekir Sami Yilbas & Hussain Al-Qahtani, 2020. "Influence of Hydrophobic Fin Configuration in Thermal System in Relation to Electronic Device Cooling Applications," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 13(7), pages 1-19, April.


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