The effect of a weak heterogeneity of a porous medium on natural convection

Carol Braester, Peter Vadasz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

The results of an investigation on the effect of a weak heterogeneity of a porous medium on natural convection are presented. A medium heterogeneity is represented by spatial variations of the permeability and of the effective thermal conductivity. As a general rule the existence of horizontal thermal gradients in heterogeneous porous media provides a sufficient condition for the occurrence of natural convection. The implications of this condition are investigated for horizontal layers or rectangular domains subject to isothermal top and bottom boundary conditions. Results lead to a restriction on the classes of thermal conductivity functions which allow a motionless solution. Analytical solutions for rectangular weak heterogeneous porous domains heated from below, consistent with a basic motionless solution, are obtained by applying the weak nonlinear theory. The amplitude of the convection is obtained from an ordinary non-homogeneous differential equation, with a forcing term representative of the medium heterogeneity with respect to the effective thermal conductivity. A smooth transition through the critical Rayleigh number is obtained, thus removing a bifurcation which usually appears in homogeneous domains with perfect boundaries, at the critical value of the Rayleigh number. Within a certain range of slightly supercritical Rayleigh numbers, a symmetric thermal conductivity function is shown to reinforce a symmetrical flow while antisymmetric functions favour an antisymmetric flow. Except for the higher-order solutions, the weak heterogeneity with respect to permeability plays a relatively passive role and does not affect the solutions at the leading order. In contrast, the weak heterogeneity with respect to the effective thermal conductivity does have a significant effect on the resulting flow pattern.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-362
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Volume254
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering

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