Flow Visualisation by Condensing Steam – an Unusual Method Applied to Development of a Low Reynolds Number Fluidic Selector Valve

J. R. Tippetts, V. Tesař


A visualization method so far not mentioned in the literature has been recently developed by the authors as a useful validation supplement to numerical flowfield computations in the design of microfluidic devices. The method is based upon water vapour condensation on device channel walls. It is extremely easy to set up with minimum expense – and yet it is very reliable. As an application example, the paper shows the method used in study of properties of a microfluidic valve intended for switching gaseous sample flows in a microfluidic selector sampling unit. A scaled-up model of the valve was built, as usual, in transparent acrylic material, making possible observation and photo-recording of the deposition and subsequent drying of the condensed droplets. The scaling-up slowed down the time scale enough for investigating the transition processes which takes place as the flow in the valve is switched on and off. 


flow visualization; condensing steam; microfluidics; valves

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ISSN 1210-2709 (Print)
ISSN 1805-2363 (Online)
Published by the Czech Technical University in Prague