Where Industry Meets Innovation

  • Contact Us
  • sign in Sign In
  • Sign in with certificate
mit campus

Resources

Search News

  • View All
  • ILP News
  • MIT Research News
  • MIT Sloan Management Review
  • Technology Review
  • Startup Exchange

MIT Research News

April 4, 2019

Getting to the bottom of the "boiling crisis"

New understanding of heat transfer in boiling water could lead to efficiency improvements in power plants.

David L. Chandler | MIT News Office

The simple act of boiling water is one of humankind’s oldest inventions, and still central to many of today’s technologies, from coffee makers to nuclear power plants. Yet this seemingly simple process has complexities that have long defied full understanding.

Now, researchers at MIT have found a way to analyze one of the thorniest problems facing heat exchangers and other technologies in which boiling water plays a central role: how to predict, and prevent, a dangerous and potentially catastrophic event called a boiling crisis. This is the point when so many bubbles form on a hot surface that they coalesce into a continuous sheet of vapor that blocks any further heat transfer from the surface to the water.