Enhancement of Hydrophilic Characteristics of Non-Wetting Porous Substrates by Kaolinite Treatment

Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Title

SAE Technical Papers


The use of porous media has enormous potential for thermal management and phase separation in terrestrial, micro, Lunar and Marian gravity environments. Recently, a porous media based gravity insensitive condensing heat exchanger for humidity control has been proposed and successfully demonstrated by the authors. A strongly hydrophilic porous substrate is essential for condensing and trapping water vapor from the airstreams. However, most porous media which have good thermal characteristics are poorly wetting to water. This poses a significant obstacle in the development of the porous media based condensing heat exchanger. In response to this problem, a clay based process was developed for improving the wettability of non-wetting and partially wetting porous media. It was demonstrated that poorly wetting porous graphite as well as porous stainless steel could be converted to a completely wetting porous substrate by kaolinite treatment. The process enhances the wettability of both the surface and the interior pores. The paper presents experimental results of enhanced wettability of the treated substrate in terms of imbibition rate and capillary pressure as a function of saturation. The long term stability of the treated surface is also investigated and discussed.