This study consists of an experimental investigation into the fluid flow and heat transfer aspects of microchannels. Rectangular copper microchannels of hydraulic diameters 1.05 mm, 0.85 mm and 0.57 mm were considered. Using water as the working fluid, heat transfer and pressure drop characteristics were determined under a constant surface heat flux for different inlet configurations in the laminar and transitional regimes. Three inlet geometries were experimentally investigated: a sudden contraction inlet, a bellmouth inlet and a swirl-generating inlet. The influence of the inlet conditions on the pressure drop, Nusselt number and critical Reynolds number was determined experimentally. Pressure drop results showed good agreement with existing correlations for adiabatic conditions. Diabatic friction factor results for the sudden contraction and bellmouth inlets were overpredicted when using the friction factor results from literature. It is noted that a relationship between the pressure drop and heat flux existed in the laminar regime, where an increase in the heat input resulted in a decrease in the friction factor. The bellmouth inlet condition showed an enhancement of the heat transfer in the transition regime compared with the sudden contraction inlet. The critical Reynolds number for the onset of transition for the sudden contraction inlet was found to be approximately 1 950, with a sharp rise to the turbulent regime thereafter. The bellmouth inlet influenced the originating point of the transition regime, which commenced at a Reynolds number of approximately 1 600. A smoother and more gradual increase to the turbulent regime was observed as an effect of the bellmouth inlet over the sudden contraction inlet. The swirl-generating inlet condition produced higher friction factor results in all three flow regimes. Transition occurred at a Reynolds number of approximately 1 500 and the turbulent regime was quickly
reached thereafter. The turbulent regime friction factor was found to be significantly higher with the swirl inlet compared with both the sudden contraction and bellmouth inlets. Nusselt numbers continued to increase until the onset of the transition regime, and did not converge to a constant value as stated in theory. Similar enhancement of the transition regime with the bellmouth inlet was observed for the Nusselt numbers as with the friction factors. The initial turbulent regime results followed the trend of the theory for both the sudden contraction and bellmouth inlet conditions for most of the data sets, with deviation occurring in some of the 0.57 mm test cases. The swirl inlet Nusselt number results were significantly underpredicted by the theory in the early turbulent regime.