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This lab investigates simultaneous heat and mass transfer by blowing warm air over a
stagnant water surface. There are two portions to the lab: an experiment conducted in lab and a
COMSOL simulation. In the experimental portion, you measure evaporation rates from a pan of
water subject to warm air flow parallel to the surface. The air temperature remains the same and
the air velocity varies. Appropriate data analysis yields the velocity dependence of the mass-
transfer coefficient. Two lab periods are allotted for data collection.
Once the experiments have been performed and all the calculations completed, your
group delivers an oral report summarizing your experimental approach and important
experimental findings. This occurs during the third lab period. You are expected to compare your
experimental results to theoretical predictions. The presentation is followed by a discussion with
the instructor to help assess your understanding of the lab and to assist your completion of the
COMSOL modeling and the written report.
After the experiments have been performed and all results reported in the lab notebook,
the second portion of the lab commences. COMSOL is used to create a model for the water-
evaporation unit investigated experimentally in the first portion of the lab. Modeling results are
presented in a written report. A suitable focus for the report is comparison between model,
correlations, and experiment. To compare modeling and experimental results you might have to
spatially average model results because experimental measurements are averages.

Diffusion is the movement of molecules due to a chemical-potential gradient, analogous
to heat flow by conduction. The diffusive flux of one species through a binary mixture due to a
concentration gradient is described by Ficks law of diffusion:
J A = cDABxA (1)
where JA is the molar diffusion flux of A, c is the overall molar concentration , DAB is the
mass diffusivity (= DBA), and xA is the gradient of the mole fraction of species A. It is apparent
that species A diffuses in the direction of decreasing mole fraction of A, just as heat flows from
high to low temperature.
When component A moves by bulk flow (convective flow) as well as by diffusion, the
total molar flux NA is the sum of the convective term and the diffusive term JA:
N A = xA ( N A + N B ) cDABxA = convective flux of A + diffusive flux of A
where (NA + NB) is the bulk flow because the mixture contains only species A and B (a binary
mixture). Hence the total molar flux of A can be viewed as a superposition of diffusive and
convective fluxes.

Combination of Eqs. (1) and (2) with no net flux of species B (NB = 0) yields an
expression for the total molar flux:
NA = x A (3)
1 xA
Most practical situations involving mass transfer between a surface and a moving fluid1
have a very significant bulk flow term. Convective mass-transfer rates depend very much on the
bulk-flow conditions, and are, therefore, coupled to the fluid mechanics. Coupling between
convective mass-transfer and fluid mechanics is one of the reasons for using a COMSOL code in
this experiment.
Figure 1 shows the flux of species A from the surface of a liquid into a flowing gas
stream. A simple engineering approach to the convective mass transfer shown in Figure 1
involves the definition of a mass transfer coefficient that must be empirically determined for
pertinent fluid mechanics. The following relationship defines the mass transfer coefficient KmA
(Upper case used for molar units, lower-case kmA used for mass units):
NA = K mA cA (4)
where NA is the total mass transfer flux of species A, KmA is the mass transfer coefficient, and
cA is the difference in concentration of species 1: cA = cA,s cA,e.

Figure 1: Species A flux from a liquid surface into a flowing gas stream.

In the experiment, you determine the evaporative flux from a liquid-water surface that is
subject to a cross wind much like the wind that blows across the surface of a lake. The lake is a
tray filled with water that is placed in a wind tunnel that allows the approaching air conditions to
be set (velocity, temperature, and water content). The evaporation rate is determined
gravimetrically by the electronic balance that supports the tray. Two different air approach

Refer to Chapter 9.4 Mass Convection, Anthony F. Mills [2]
velocities are used. The main objective is to determine how the measured mass-transfer
coefficient depends on air velocity.
The fundamental relationship between mass and heat transfer at an evaporating liquid
interface is given by an energy balance over the interface as the control volume. At steady state
with no external heat losses, the molar flux must also satisfy the energy balance:
dT (5)
N A0 H vap = k
dz 0
where k is the thermal conductivity (of water or air?) and H vap refers to the heat of vaporization
of water (taken as positive). The subscript 0 refers to the interface. Hence, the concentration and
the temperature gradients in the gas phase obey the following expression:
c DAB dx A k dT
= (6)
1 x A0 dz 0 H vap dz 0
The interface water mole fraction, xA0, is given by the equilibrium gas saturation concentration, a
function of the interface temperature T0. This provides an additional relationship between
interface temperature and concentration. The equilibrium water-vapor mole fraction in air, xA, is
described by a modified Antoine equation:
T 46 .13
xA = (7)
760 P
where T is the local temperature (K) and P is absolute pressure (atm). Evaluation of Eq. (7) at the
interface temperature T0 yields the local value for xA0 at any horizontal position along the water
surface. For the experiment you can assume that Eq. (6) holds at every point along the water
surface. Horizontal heat transfer in the liquid water film can safely be neglected (such heat
transfer is neglected in the derivation of Eq. (5) as is heat transfer to/from the bottom of the pan).

There are two near-identical experimental apparatuses in 35 Lewis labeled MT1 and
MT2. Perform experiments on the apparatus indicated in the schedule. Each apparatus consists of
a wind tunnel with a fan and heater at the left-hand side that blows heated air through a tube
bank and then across a pan of water resting on a suspended tray. There are weights inside the
wind tunnel for leveling the tray if necessary. The pan and tray are suspended from an analytical
balance that rests on top of the wind tunnel. The digital readout displays the mass of the
suspended tray, pan, and water. Air exits the right-hand side of the wind tunnel through metal
grating. There are two small ports with removable plugs and a large door on the front for access
to the wind tunnel. The heater and fan controls on the top left of the wind tunnel allow for
variation of the inlet air velocity and temperature. Inlet humidity is determined by the water-
vapor content in the room. Four thermocouples connect to a digital display for continuous
measurement of water and air temperatures within the wind tunnel. An anemometer and
hygrometer are available in the lab-bench drawers for measurement of air velocity and humidity,
respectively. Table 1 indicates the pan and assumed wind-tunnel dimensions.

Table 1: Water-pan dimensions and wind-tunnel height.
Water-pan length, width, depth: 0.555, 0.200, 0.005 m
Distance from air/water interface to ceiling: 0.25 m

1. How will you determine when the system has reached steady state?
2. What measurements must you record in order to perform the necessary data analysis?
3. Outline how you will calculate the important derived quantities in this experiment:
evaporative flux NA0, thermal and concentration boundary-layer thicknesses t and c, and
mass-transfer coefficient km.
4. What is the definition of relative humidity? To perform your analysis, where is the
appropriate location to measure relative humidity with the hygrometer and how will you
utilize the measurement to perform your analysis?
5. What are the expected scalings of mass-transfer coefficient and boundary-layer thickness
with air approach velocity? See the textbook references for 154 labs document under
References in bCourses for relevant book chapters.

1. Ensure that the tray is flattened and not warped from repeated heating/cooling cycles.
2. Make sure that the tray is level using the leveling tool shared between MT1 and MT2.
Note that there are weights available to level the pan; ask your GSI for instruction on
their use. Zero the mass balance, then fill the tray with deionized water as full as you can
without overflowing. Record the initial mass of the water in the tray.
3. Make sure that the thermocouples for the air are about 2 above the tray. The tips of the
thermocouples for the water should be completely immersed in the water. Record the
initial temperatures.
4. Turn the fan on to its highest setting. Make sure that the heater-control dial is set to zero.
Record the speed of the air with the anemometer shared between MT1 and MT2. To do
this, place the anemometer into the hole on the right side of the door. Be sure to hold the
probe so that the holes at the end of the probe are parallel to the air flow in the chamber.
Take several readings (~5) at various points in the stream to calculate an average.
5. For MT1, turn the heater on to its highest setting (250F); MT2 students should turn the
heater on to 140F. Allow the system to reach steady state. DO NOT turn the heater on
unless the fan is blowing, or the unit will overheat! Steady-state temperatures of the air
(for the thermocouple nearest to the air inlet) are typically (but not always) around 105 F
for MT1 and 120F for MT2. Record the steady-state temperatures of the thermocouples.
Again, make sure that the thermocouples that measure the water temperature are
completely immersed in the water. Once the system has reached steady state, begin
taking mass measurements at appropriate time intervals. Take measurements for about
20 minutes. Repeat the air-flow measurement on the right side of the door. This time take
an average of three readings at different horizontal positions but all three at roughly 2
inches above the tray surface (one in the middle of the tray and the other two about 1 inch
from the edges of the tray).
6. Using the hygrometer provided in lab, measure the relative humidity and temperature of
the air in the room and that of the hot exhaust air exiting the apparatus. You may wish to
compare the values to determine if they agree. If they are different, why? And if so, what
value of humidity is most appropriate for your calculations?
7. BEFORE reducing the airspeed, you must find the set point to maintain the same
temperature for the second condition to be measured. To do this, slowly adjust the heating
dial until the heating indicator (the light on the panel) clicks off. This is approximately
the correct setpoint for the air inlet temperature. Reduce the airspeed to about 1/3 of the
maximum speed setting. Allow the system to reach steady state, and record the
temperatures. If the average air temperature (as measured by the two thermocouples) is
more than 5 F different from your first condition, adjust the heater setpoint accordingly.
The heater turns on and off so that the actual temperature oscillates around an average
steady-state value. Additionally, the fan power and speed also oscillate out of phase with
the heater, so make sure to measure the velocity over a long enough time period to note
the full variation of fan speeds. When the temperatures have come to steady state, record
the change in mass versus time for 20 minutes.
8. Repeat the measurements for other airspeeds (i.e., 1/3, 2/3, or 1/2 speed) to obtain data
for at least three different air speeds. If you have time, make repeat measurements of
some velocities to assess repeatability. All told, you should collect 4-6 data points to
maximize your ability to observe a trend with velocity. More data yields easier analysis.
9. After the experiment is complete, turn the heater dial down to zero, leave the fan speed
setting where you had it, and turn the power switch off. Leave the remaining water in the


1. Calculate measured evaporation rates as mass fluxes using units of kg H2O/m2s.
2. Use Eqs. (5) and (6) and appropriate fluid properties to calculate an average for the
concentration and the temperature gradients at the evaporating surface normalized along
the length of the entire plate (ignoring at this point that the gradients are functions of
position along the length of the pan).
3. Using the gradients calculated above, estimate the average thicknesses of the
concentration and thermal boundary layers by assuming that both the concentration and
the temperature profiles are linear starting at the interface value and ending at the bulk
flow values at the top boundary. Which boundary-layer thickness is larger? Is the
relationship between the two boundary layer thicknesses as expected? How do the
average boundary layer thicknesses scale with velocity? Is this as expected? Why or why

4. How does km, the average mass-transfer coefficient along the length of the plate, vary
with the velocity of the gas stream? Is the scaling of km with velocity what you would
expect? Why or why not? What does this scaling tell you about the laminar/turbulent
nature of the air flow in the experiment?
5. Compare the spatially-averaged values of km from the previous part to the values based
on the penetration-film theory, i.e., km = D/c. Compare your results and explain the cause
of differences.
6. Identify the uncertainties in all of measured values. Which uncertainties are the greatest?
Utilize error-propagation techniques to determine the uncertainty in the calculated values.
Which measurement uncertainties are most significant in the calculated values? Make
sure to identify the uncertainty in the scaling of mass-transfer coefficient with velocity.
The objective of this exercise is to simulate the air-blown-over-a-water-plate experiment
using the Multiphysics software package COMSOL. Based on results of both simulation and
experiment a quantitative analysis is conducted on the transport phenomena in this system. A
written report is prepared describing your analysis. The focus of this written report should be on
scaling of how quantities relate to each other not on the absolute magnitude of quantities per
se. COMSOL analysis, as well as the written report, are to be completed individually.
You are given a partially completed COMSOL file that already contains the equations,
geometry, and material properties for the mass-transfer-experiment simulation. All of this
information is contained in the graphical user interface (or 'GUI'). Note that the protocol for
inserting expressions into the boxes in the GUI follows MATLAB format. For example, the
square root of y is written 'y^0.5'; the number 100,000 is written as '1.e5;' multiplication of x and
y is 'x*y', and so on.
You are to complete the model by adding the appropriate boundary conditions, to make
various runs, and most importantly, to analyze the results. Result analysis includes comparisons
to correlations for mass and heat transfer and to your experimental results.
However, to complete your simulations, you ALSO need to have a reasonable
understanding of how COMSOL works, what the equations are, and how to conduct the
'postprocessing' (e.g. plotting things like temperature profiles, concentration profiles, mass flux,
heat flux, etc., after you get the solution).
Figure 2 shows a schematic of the setup with relevant dimensions for both the experiment
and COMSOL simulation. The dotted line indicates the control volume considered in the
COMSOL simulation. The system contains two phases, gas and liquid. In the computer
simulation, we obtain an approximate solution of this problem by simulating only a small portion
of the gas phase and treating the effects of the liquid phase by proper boundary conditions. When
air velocities used in the experiment are relatively low, the air/water interface is considered
quiescent. Under this simplifying assumption, the water phase can be modeled as a stationary,
flat wall; its role in the experiment is represented by appropriate boundary conditions.
An important point to notice is that at the air/water interface, the gas phase contains water
vapor at its equilibrium concentration as determined by the value of the local water surface
temperature. The water phase is assumed to exchange heat only with the air, and the rate of heat
transfer from the air to the water surface is exactly balanced at steady state by the energy
associated with the rate of evaporation and the associated rate of mass transfer of water vapor
into the gas phase. In other words, heat and mass transfer in the system are coupled. This is also
known as 'simultaneous heat and mass transfer. A common example with similar characteristics
is the wet-bulb/dry-bulb thermometer. Note that treatments in transport and unit-operations
textbooks of the 'wet-bulb thermometer problem are not identical to the approach taken here.

Figure 2: A schematic of the air-blown-over-a-water-plate experiment. (Note that the vertical dimension
in the simulation is not the same as for the experiment.)

You can use COMSOL in the computing facility in 175 Tan Hall. You may also install
COMSOL in your laptop computer. We provide the installation CD and license information.
With this license, you are able to run COMSOL whenever connected to the Internet via a
Berkeley IP, including Airbears if you are off campus or have trouble connecting to the license
server from any location on campus, try using a VPN connection. Instructions for installing
COMSOL are located in the COMSOL folder on bCourses.
This guide assumes that you are reasonably familiar with the basic operations of
COMSOL: (a) setting up the coordinate system and the boundaries of simulation domain, (b)
generating the mesh, (c) specifying governing equations, and (d) assigning boundary conditions.
It is primarily the latter that has not been done already, but you need to understand the former as
well. Remember: although you and your partner(s) did the experimental work together and will
use the same experimental data for the written report, each of you needs to perform all
calculations, analysis, and report writing completely independently no sharing is allowed.
However, you may work together to learn about and implement COMSOL.

Note: The COMSOL file model is set up in SI units - be sure you take this into account.

1. Physics models. Three physics models are loaded in this simulation: 1) Transport of
Diluted Species, 2) Laminar Flow, and 3) Heat Transfer in Fluids. Locate these models
under the Model Builder menu on the left side of the screen and click the triangle next
to them to show the properties associated with each model. Each of the listed properties
applies either to a domain or to a boundary.
a. Those properties that apply to a domain have an icon next to them that is an
empty oval there are slight variations on this icon depending on specific
properties of the domain.
b. Those properties that apply to a boundary have an icon next to them that looks
like an oval with a cross inside there are slight variations on this icon depending
on specific properties of the boundary.
2. Domain properties. We will now take a closer look at the domain properties:
a. When applying any computational model, it is important to fully understand the
governing equations implemented in the model. Verify that the equations are
appropriate for the system we are trying to model by clicking through the domain
properties and looking under the Equation section.
b. The model contains numerical values for the various material properties. For
simplicity we ignore the temperature dependence of the properties. Click through
the various domain properties and verify that the materials properties are correct.
3. Boundary properties. Now, we will complete the boundary properties:
a. Specifying the necessary boundary conditions for all boundaries is the main task
that has not been done already. Click on each of the boundary properties. Verify
that boundary properties that have already been entered are accurate. Enter any
boundary properties which are missing.
b. We must also specify the inlet gas velocity. Under Laminar Flow -> Inlet 1,
the y component of the velocity has been specified as a parameter Vin. The
value of the gas velocity Vin is changed by clicking the triangle next to the
Global Definitions heading under the Model Builder menu and then selecting
Parameters. Change the value of 'Vin' from run to run, in order to simulate the
experiment in which different inlet velocities were used.
c. At the air/water interface, the boundary conditions for heat and mass transfer need
to be carefully considered. First, one needs to relate heat and mass flux through
the heat of vaporization. Second, the vapor phase concentration of water at the
interface is determined by the (assumed) equilibrium between the gas and liquid
phases at the interface. This is equivalent to assuming that the water vapor
concentration at the interface is equal to the vapor pressure of water at the water
surface temperature. To specify this concentration boundary condition for the
water vapor, you need an expression for water vapor pressure in terms of
temperature. One such equation is the Antoine equation. Note that for the heat-
transfer boundary condition, you may need the name of the variable used in
COMSOL for diffusive molar flux normal to the boundary, cd.ndflux_c.
4. Coupling. To inform the heat and mass transfer equations what the gas velocity is, you
must insert the names of velocity components (u and v) in the relevant locations under the
Heat Transfer in Fluids heading under Model Builder. This entry also results in
coupling between momentum transfer and heat and mass transfer in COMSOL.
5. Mesh. The mesh is specified by clicking on Mesh under the model builder menu. You
may start with a physics controlled mesh and change the element size observe the
effect of changing the element size on the computational time required to solve the model
and the quality of the resulting model. You may also use a user-controlled mesh to see
if you can develop an alternative meshing scheme which produces a more accurate result
while making more efficient use of computational resources. Remember that if the mesh
is too 'coarse,' the solution may be inaccurate, but a mesh that is too 'fine,' may take a
long time to run. Ideally, one increases the mesh refinement (uses more and, therefore,
smaller mesh elements) until the solution no longer depends on mesh size.
6. Study. Under the Model Builder menu, a study called Study 1 has been defined
which looks for the stationary solution. Right click on study 1 and click Compute to
solve the model.


One of the most important aspects of achieving a valid solution is choosing the right
initial guess since the equations are non-linear. To find out what initial guess COMSOL uses,
you can right click on Step 1: Stationary under Study 1 in Model Builder Menu, and then
select Get Initial Value for Step.

In COMSOL, you can analyze the numerical solution of field variables as well as
quantities that are derived from them in almost any way you want. There a series of post-
processing tutorials for Comsol available online that you can view by searching for comsol post
processing tutorial.
As an example, you can generate a 1D plot along a cut-line by first right clicking on
Data Sets under Results in the Model Builder menu, selecting Cut Line 2D, and defining
the coordinates of the cut line. Then right click Results under the Model Builder menu and
select 1D Plot Group. Right click the new 1D Plot Group # that appears and select Line
Graph. In the Line Graph window, select the Cut Line 2D that was generated earlier under the
Data Set menu and then click Plot at the top of the Line Graph window.
Contour plots, vector plots, and X-Y plots at cross-sections are all available. It is up to
you to decide how to analyze the results to (a) develop your own understanding of the transport
phenomena in the system and (b) to represent the results in your report in a concise, clear, and
get-to-the-point manner.

Results may be exported for further manipulation outside of Comsol. For instance, right
click on a solution listed under Data Sets under Results in the Model Builder menu, and
then select Add Data to Export. Right click the new Data # that appears under Export and
choose the data you would like to export.


Remember that you have only 5 pages to convey the most important findings.
Completion of these analysis questions should orient your thought process and prepare you for
the written report; the order in which these questions are presented is not necessarily the order in
which they should be discussed in the report. The appendices are a logical place for the
important detailed calculations and analyses that dont fit in the main body of the report. Recall
that the primary objectives of the written report are to compare your simulation results to the
experimental results and theoretical expectations. You should discuss the underlying physics,
potential reasons for agreement/disagreement between the various methods, and conclusions on
the effectiveness of the COMSOL model. Please see the Written Report Template online for
detailed instructions on report organization and style.
1. Report the boundary conditions you chose and justify these choices. Write the explicit
mathematical expression for each boundary condition. Remember to define your
2. Determine the thicknesses of both thermal and concentration boundary layers and how
they vary with position x (at a fixed velocity) as well as with velocity (at a fixed position
or average along various positions). Clearly describe how you determine the boundary-
layer thickness. Explain the trends and what you expect based on theory, and the physical
reasoning of such trends.
3. Determine the mass-transfer coefficient km as a function of the distance along the water
tray for one of the inlet velocities studied in the experiment. As mentioned in Eq. (4), the
ratio of mass flux to concentration difference driving force defines the mass-transfer
coefficient. Explain the trend and what you expect based on theory, and the physical
reasoning of such trends.
4. Compare the spatially-averaged values of km from the previous part to the values based
on the penetration-film theory, i.e., km = D/c. Compare both results with experimental
measurements and explain the cause of differences.
5. Correlate the average value of km as a function of inlet velocity in the form of
dimensionless groups. In particular, Sh = C1*ReC2*ScC3. Specify the characteristic length
and transport properties used for calculating the dimensionless groups. Determine the
value of C2 and compare the result with experiment and with theory. Note that you have
not conducted experiments necessary to determine C1 or C3 independently, so focus only
on C2. What do you conclude about the flow in your system? In a separate plot, plot the
average value of km at a certain inlet velocity with the average boundary-layer thickness

at that velocity, for all velocities. Comment on what is physically driving the scaling of
km with velocity.
6. Compute the total evaporation rate and compare with the value you found
experimentally. Discuss whether they agree or not and the reasons. Discuss qualitatively
the effect of turbulence on km and boundary-layer thickness.
7. Comment on the temperature at the air-water interface (y=0) and how it compares to the
temperature measured experimentally. Remember, this problem is related to the wet-
bulb/dry-bulb problem and to evaporative cooling problems discussed in many transport
and unit operations textbooks although the form of the equations is different. Does
COMSOL predict a variation of surface temperature with x position? Why or why not?
Does the COMSOL predictions agree with your limited measurements? Postulate a cause
for disagreement.

1. R. Byron Bird, Warren E. Stewart and Edwin N. Lightfoot, Transport Phenomena, John
Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 1960

2. Anthony F. Mills, Basic Heat and Mass Transfer, Prentice Hall Inc., 1999

3. T. W. F. Russell, M. M. Denn, Introduction to Chemical Engineering Analysis, John Wiley

& Sons, New York, 1972