Stability and convection in impulsively heated porous layers

M. J. Koh, M. Kristoffersen, F. A. Kulacki

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Experiments are reported on initial instability, turbulence, and overall heat transfer in a porous medium heated from below. The porous medium comprises either water or a water-glycerin solution and randomly stacked glass spheres in an insulated cylinder of height:diameter ratio of 1.9. Heating is with a constant flux lower surface and a constant temperature upper surface, and the stability criterion is determined for a step heat input. The critical Rayleigh number for the onset of convection is obtained in terms of a length scale normalized to the thermal penetration depth as Rac(83/(1.08η-0.08η2) for 0.02<η<0.18. Steady convection in terms of the Nusselt and Rayleigh numbers is Nu=(0.047Ra0.91Pr0.11(μ/μ0)0.72 for 100<Ra<5000. Time-averaged temperatures suggest the existence of a unicellular axisymmetric flow dominated by upflow over the central region of the heated surface. When turbulence is present, the magnitude and frequency of temperature fluctuations increase weakly with increasing Rayleigh number. Analysis of temperature fluctuations in the fluid provides an estimate of the speed of the upward moving thermals, which decreases with distance from the heated surface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Heat Transfer
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2008


  • Porous media
  • Stability
  • Steady and transient convection
  • Turbulence


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