An experimental study of thermal convection in a porous medium investigates the heat transfer across a horizontal layer heated from below at high Rayleigh number. Using a packed bed of polypropylene spheres in a cubic enclosure saturated with compressed argon, the pressure was varied between 5.6 bar and 77 bar to obtain fluid Rayleigh numbers between 1.68 × 109 and 3.86 × 1011, corresponding to Rayleigh-Darcy numbers between 7.47 × 103 and 2.03 × 106. From the present and earlier studies of Rayleigh-Benard convection in both porous media and homogeneous fluid systems, the existence and importance of a thin thermal boundary layer are clearly demonstrated. In addition to identifying the governing role of the thermal boundary layer at high Rayleigh numbers, the successful correlation of data using homogeneous fluid dimensionless groups when the thermal boundary layer thickness becomes smaller than the length scale associated with the pore features is shown.
- natural convection
- porous media