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The paper describes results from an experimental and theoretical study of the effect of an electric field on nucleate boiling and the critical heat flux (CHF) in pool boiling of R123 at atmospheric pressure on a horizontal wall with a smooth surface. Two designs of electrode (parallel rods and wire mesh) were used. The experimental data exhibit some differences from the data obtained by other researchers in similar experiments on a wall with a different surface finish and with a slightly different design of wire mesh electrode. The hydrodynamic model for EHD enhancement of CHF cannot reconcile the differences. A theoretical model has been developed for the growth of a single vapour bubble on a superheated wall in an electric field, leading to a numerical simulation based on the level-set method. The model includes matching of sub-models for the micro- and macro-regions, conduction in the wall, distortion of the electric field by the bubble, the temperature dependence of electrical properties and free-charge generation. In the present form of the model, some of these effects are realised in an approximate form. The capability to investigate dry-spot formation and wall temperature changes that might lead to CHF has been demonstrated.