• wick design;
  • porous media;
  • wicking;
  • imbibition;
  • evaporation;
  • Darcy's law;
  • bead radius;
  • porosity;
  • optimization;
  • sintered wick

Wicking and evaporation of volatile liquids in porous, cylindrical wicks is investigated where the goal is to model, using simple analytical expressions, the effects of variation in geometrical parameters of a wick, such as porosity, height and bead-size, on the wicking and evaporation processes, and find optimum design conditions. An analytical sharp-front flow model involving the single-phase Darcy's law is combined with analytical expressions for the capillary suction pressure and wick permeability to yield a novel analytical approach for optimizing wick parameters. First, the optimum bead-radius and porosity maximizing the wicking flow-rate are estimated. Later, after combining the wicking model with evaporation from the wick-top, the allowable ranges of bead-radius, height and porosity for ensuring full saturation of the wick are calculated. The analytical results are demonstrated using some highly volatile alkanes in a polycarbonate sintered wick. © 2014 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 60: 1930–1940, 2014