Thermal instability in a horizontal fluid layer: Effect of boundary conditions and non-linear temperature profile

Ephraim M Sparrow, Richard J Goldstein, V. K. Jonsson

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387 Scopus citations

Abstract

An investigation is carried out to determine the conditions marking the onset of convective motion in a horizontal fluid layer in which a negative temperature gradient occurs somewhere within the layer. In such cases, fluid of greater density is situated above fluid of lesser density. Consideration is given to a variety of thermal and hydrodynamic boundary conditions at the surfaces which bound the fluid layer. The thermal conditions include fixed temperature and fixed heat flux at the lower bounding surface, and a general convective-radiative exchange at the upper surface which includes fixed temperature and fixed heat flux as special cases. The hydrodynamic boundary conditions include both rigid and free upper surfaces with a rigid lower bounding surface. It is found that the Rayleigh number marking the onset of motion is greatest for the boundary condition of fixed temperature and decreases monotonically as the condition of fixed heat flux is approached. Non-linear temperature distributions in the fluid layer may result from internal heat generation. With increasing departures from the linear temperature profile, it is found that the fluid layer becomes more prone to instability, that is, the critical Rayleigh number decreases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-528
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1964

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