Confinement-induced heat-transport enhancement in turbulent thermal convection

Shi Di Huang, Matthias Kaczorowski, Rui Ni, Ke Qing Xia

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    93 Scopus citations


    We report an experimental and numerical study of the effect of spatial confinement in turbulent thermal convection. It is found that when the width of the convection cell is narrowed, the heat-transfer efficiency increases significantly despite the fact that the overall flow is slowed down by the increased drag force from the sidewalls. Detailed experimental and numerical studies show that this enhancement is brought about by the changes in the dynamics and morphology of the thermal plumes in the boundary layers and in the large-scale flow structures in the bulk. It is found that the confined geometry produces more coherent and energetic hot and cold plume clusters that go up and down in random locations, resulting in more uniform and thinner thermal boundary layers. The study demonstrates how changes in turbulent bulk flow can influence the boundary layer dynamics and shows that the prevalent mode of heat transfer existing in larger aspect ratio convection cells, in which hot and cold thermal plumes are carried by the large-scale circulation along opposite sides of the sidewall, is not the most efficient way for heat transport.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number104501
    JournalPhysical review letters
    Issue number10
    StatePublished - Sep 4 2013

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • General Physics and Astronomy


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