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Convection is single or multiphase fluid flow that occurs spontaneously due to the combined effects of material property heterogeneity and body forces on a fluid, most commonly
density Density (volumetric mass density or specific mass) is the substance's mass per unit of volume. The symbol most often used for density is ''ρ'' (the lower case Greek letter rho), although the Latin letter ''D'' can also be used. Mathematicall ...
and gravity (see buoyancy). When the cause of the convection is unspecified, convection due to the effects of thermal expansion and buoyancy can be assumed. Convection may also take place in soft solids or mixtures where particles can flow. Convective flow may be
transient ECHELON, originally a secret government code name, is a surveillance program (signals intelligence/SIGINT collection and analysis network) operated by the five signatory states to the UKUSA Security Agreement:Given the 5 dialects that us ...
(such as when a multiphase mixture of oil and
water Water (chemical formula ) is an inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth's hydrosphere and the fluids of all known living organisms (in which it acts as ...
separates) or steady state (see
Convection cell In the field of fluid dynamics, a convection cell is the phenomenon that occurs when density differences exist within a body of liquid or gas. These density differences result in rising and/or falling currents, which are the key characteristics ...
). The convection may be due to
gravitational In physics, gravity () is a fundamental interaction which causes mutual attraction between all things with mass or energy. Gravity is, by far, the weakest of the four fundamental interactions, approximately 1038 times weaker than the str ...
, electromagnetic or fictitious body forces. Heat transfer by natural convection plays a role in the structure of Earth's atmosphere, its oceans, and its
mantle A mantle is a piece of clothing, a type of cloak. Several other meanings are derived from that. Mantle may refer to: *Mantle (clothing), a cloak-like garment worn mainly by women as fashionable outerwear **Mantle (vesture), an Eastern Orthodox ve ...
. Discrete convective cells in the atmosphere can be identified by clouds, with stronger convection resulting in thunderstorms. Natural convection also plays a role in
stellar physics Astrophysics is a science that employs the methods and principles of physics and chemistry in the study of astronomical objects and phenomena. As one of the founders of the discipline said, Astrophysics "seeks to ascertain the nature of the h ...
. Convection is often categorised or described by the main effect causing the convective flow, e.g. Thermal convection. Convection cannot take place in most solids because neither bulk current flows nor significant
diffusion Diffusion is the net movement of anything (for example, atoms, ions, molecules, energy) generally from a region of higher concentration to a region of lower concentration. Diffusion is driven by a gradient in Gibbs free energy or chemical ...
of matter can take place. Granular convection is a similar phenomenon in granular material instead of fluids. Advection is fluid motion created by velocity instead of thermal gradients.
Convective heat transfer Convection (or convective heat transfer) is the transfer of heat from one place to another due to the movement of fluid. Although often discussed as a distinct method of heat transfer, convective heat transfer involves the combined processes o ...
is the intentional use of convection as a method for
heat transfer Heat transfer is a discipline of thermal engineering that concerns the generation, use, conversion, and exchange of thermal energy ( heat) between physical systems. Heat transfer is classified into various mechanisms, such as thermal conducti ...
.


History

In the 1830s, in '' The Bridgewater Treatises'', the term ''convection'' is attested in a scientific sense. In treatise VIII by William Prout, in the book on
chemistry Chemistry is the scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the elements that make up matter to the compounds made of atoms, molecules and ions: their composition, structure, proper ...
, it says:
..This motion of heat takes place in three ways, which a common fire-place very well illustrates. If, for instance, we place a thermometer directly before a fire, it soon begins to rise, indicating an increase of temperature. In this case the heat has made its way through the space between the fire and the thermometer, by the process termed '' radiation''. If we place a second thermometer in contact with any part of the grate, and away from the direct influence of the fire, we shall find that this thermometer also denotes an increase of temperature; but here the heat must have travelled through the metal of the grate, by what is termed ''
conduction Conductor or conduction may refer to: Music * Conductor (music), a person who leads a musical ensemble, such as an orchestra. * ''Conductor'' (album), an album by indie rock band The Comas * Conduction, a type of structured free improvisation ...
''. Lastly, a third thermometer placed in the chimney, away from the direct influence of the fire, will also indicate a considerable increase of temperature; in this case a portion of the air, passing through and near the fire, has become heated, and has ''carried'' up the chimney the temperature acquired from the fire. There is at present no single term in our language employed to denote this third mode of the propagation of heat; but we venture to propose for that purpose, the term ''convection'', n_footnote:_[Latin''Convectio'',_a_carrying_or_conveying.html" ;"title="atin.html" ;"title="n footnote: [Latin">n footnote: [Latin''Convectio'', a carrying or conveying">atin.html" ;"title="n footnote: [Latin">n footnote: [Latin''Convectio'', a carrying or conveyingwhich not only expresses the leading fact, but also accords very well with the two other terms.
Later, in the same treatise VIII, in the book on meteorology, the concept of convection is also applied to "the process by which heat is communicated through water".


Terminology

Today, the word ''convection'' has different but related usages in different scientific or engineering contexts or applications. In fluid mechanics, ''convection'' has a broader sense: it refers to the motion of fluid driven by density (or other property) difference. In
thermodynamics Thermodynamics is a branch of physics that deals with heat, work, and temperature, and their relation to energy, entropy, and the physical properties of matter and radiation. The behavior of these quantities is governed by the four laws ...
, ''convection'' often refers to heat transfer by convection, where the prefixed variant Natural Convection is used to distinguish the fluid mechanics concept of Convection (covered in this article) from convective heat transfer. Some phenomena which result in an effect superficially similar to that of a convective cell may also be (inaccurately) referred to as a form of convection, e.g. thermo-capilliary convection and Granular convection.


Mechanisms

Convection may happen in fluids at all scales larger than a few atoms. There are a variety of circumstances in which the forces required for convection arise, leading to different types of convection, described below. In broad terms, convection arises because of
body force In physics, a body force is a force that acts throughout the volume of a body. Springer site - Book 'Solid mechanics'preview paragraph 'Body forces'./ref> Forces due to gravity, electric fields and magnetic fields are examples of body forces. ...
s acting within the fluid, such as gravity.


Natural convection

Natural convection is a type of flow, of motion of a liquid such as water or a gas such as air, in which the fluid motion is not generated by any external source (like a pump, fan, suction device, etc.) but by some parts of the fluid being heavier than other parts. In most cases this leads to natural circulation, the ability of a fluid in a system to circulate continuously, with gravity and possible changes in heat energy. The driving force for natural convection is gravity. For example if there is a layer of cold dense air on top of hotter less dense air, gravity pulls more strongly on the denser layer on top, so it falls while the hotter less dense air rises to take its place. This creates circulating flow: convection. As it relies on gravity, there is no convection in free-fall ( inertial) environments, such as that of the orbiting International Space Station. Natural convection can occur when there are hot and cold regions of either air or water, because both water and air become less dense as they are heated. But, for example, in the world's oceans it also occurs due to salt water being heavier than fresh water, so a layer of salt water on top of a layer of fresher water will also cause convection. Natural convection has attracted a great deal of attention from researchers because of its presence both in nature and engineering applications. In nature, convection cells formed from air raising above sunlight-warmed land or water are a major feature of all weather systems. Convection is also seen in the rising plume of hot air from
fire Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material (the fuel) in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products. At a certain point in the combustion reaction, called the ignition point, flames ...
, plate tectonics, oceanic currents ( thermohaline circulation) and sea-wind formation (where upward convection is also modified by Coriolis forces). In engineering applications, convection is commonly visualized in the formation of microstructures during the cooling of molten metals, and fluid flows around shrouded heat-dissipation fins, and solar ponds. A very common industrial application of natural convection is free air cooling without the aid of fans: this can happen on small scales (computer chips) to large scale process equipment. Natural convection will be more likely and more rapid with a greater variation in density between the two fluids, a larger acceleration due to gravity that drives the convection or a larger distance through the convecting medium. Natural convection will be less likely and less rapid with more rapid diffusion (thereby diffusing away the thermal gradient that is causing the convection) or a more viscous (sticky) fluid. The onset of natural convection can be determined by the
Rayleigh number In fluid mechanics, the Rayleigh number (, after Lord Rayleigh) for a fluid is a dimensionless number associated with buoyancy-driven flow, also known as free (or natural) convection. It characterises the fluid's flow regime: a value in a certai ...
(Ra). Note that differences in buoyancy within a fluid can arise for reasons other than temperature variations, in which case the fluid motion is called gravitational convection (see below). However, all types of buoyant convection, including natural convection, do not occur in microgravity environments. All require the presence of an environment which experiences g-force ( proper acceleration). The difference of
density Density (volumetric mass density or specific mass) is the substance's mass per unit of volume. The symbol most often used for density is ''ρ'' (the lower case Greek letter rho), although the Latin letter ''D'' can also be used. Mathematicall ...
in the fluid is the key driving mechanism. If the differences of density are caused by heat, this force is called as "thermal head" or "thermal driving head." A fluid system designed for natural circulation will have a heat source and a
heat sink A heat sink (also commonly spelled heatsink) is a passive heat exchanger that transfers the heat generated by an electronic or a mechanical device to a fluid medium, often air or a liquid coolant, where it is dissipated away from the device, ...
. Each of these is in contact with some of the fluid in the system, but not all of it. The heat source is positioned lower than the heat sink. Most materials that are fluid at common temperatures expand when they are heated, becoming less dense. Correspondingly, they become denser when they are cooled. At the heat source of a system of natural circulation, the heated fluid becomes lighter than the fluid surrounding it, and thus rises. At the heat sink, the nearby fluid becomes denser as it cools, and is drawn downward by gravity. Together, these effects create a flow of fluid from the heat source to the heat sink and back again.


Gravitational or buoyant convection

Gravitational convection is a type of natural convection induced by buoyancy variations resulting from material properties other than temperature. Typically this is caused by a variable composition of the fluid. If the varying property is a concentration gradient, it is known as solutal convection. For example, gravitational convection can be seen in the diffusion of a source of dry salt downward into wet soil due to the buoyancy of fresh water in saline. Variable salinity in water and variable water content in air masses are frequent causes of convection in the oceans and atmosphere which do not involve heat, or else involve additional compositional density factors other than the density changes from thermal expansion (see '' thermohaline circulation''). Similarly, variable composition within the Earth's interior which has not yet achieved maximal stability and minimal energy (in other words, with densest parts deepest) continues to cause a fraction of the convection of fluid rock and molten metal within the Earth's interior (see below). Gravitational convection, like natural thermal convection, also requires a g-force environment in order to occur.


Solid-state convection in ice

Ice convection on Pluto is believed to occur in a soft mixture of
nitrogen ice Solid nitrogen is a number of solid forms of the element nitrogen, first observed in 1884. Solid nitrogen is mainly the subject of academic research, but low-temperature, low-pressure solid nitrogen is a substantial component of bodies in the ou ...
and carbon monoxide ice. It has also been proposed for
Europa Europa may refer to: Places * Europe * Europa (Roman province), a province within the Diocese of Thrace * Europa (Seville Metro), Seville, Spain; a station on the Seville Metro * Europa City, Paris, France; a planned development * Europa Clif ...
, and other bodies in the outer solar system.


Thermomagnetic convection

Thermomagnetic convection can occur when an external magnetic field is imposed on a ferrofluid with varying magnetic susceptibility. In the presence of a temperature gradient this results in a nonuniform magnetic body force, which leads to fluid movement. A ferrofluid is a liquid which becomes strongly magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field.


Combustion

In a
zero-gravity Weightlessness is the complete or near-complete absence of the sensation of weight. It is also termed zero gravity, zero G-force, or zero-G. Weight is a measurement of the force on an object at rest in a relatively strong gravitational fie ...
environment, there can be no buoyancy forces, and thus no convection possible, so flames in many circumstances without gravity smother in their own waste gases. Thermal expansion and chemical reactions resulting in expansion and contraction gases allows for ventilation of the flame, as waste gases are displaced by cool, fresh, oxygen-rich gas. moves in to take up the low pressure zones created when flame-exhaust water condenses.


Examples and applications

Systems of natural circulation include tornadoes and other weather systems,
ocean current An ocean current is a continuous, directed movement of sea water generated by a number of forces acting upon the water, including wind, the Coriolis effect, breaking waves, cabbeling, and temperature and salinity differences. Depth conto ...
s, and household ventilation. Some solar water heaters use natural circulation. The Gulf Stream circulates as a result of the evaporation of water. In this process, the water increases in salinity and density. In the North Atlantic Ocean, the water becomes so dense that it begins to sink down. Convection occurs on a large scale in atmospheres, oceans, planetary
mantle A mantle is a piece of clothing, a type of cloak. Several other meanings are derived from that. Mantle may refer to: *Mantle (clothing), a cloak-like garment worn mainly by women as fashionable outerwear **Mantle (vesture), an Eastern Orthodox ve ...
s, and it provides the mechanism of heat transfer for a large fraction of the outermost interiors of our sun and all stars. Fluid movement during convection may be invisibly slow, or it may be obvious and rapid, as in a hurricane. On astronomical scales, convection of gas and dust is thought to occur in the accretion disks of black holes, at speeds which may closely approach that of light.


Demonstration experiments

Thermal convection in liquids can be demonstrated by placing a heat source (e.g. a Bunsen burner) at the side of a container with a liquid. Adding a dye to the water (such as food colouring) will enable visualisation of the flow. Another common experiment to demonstrate thermal convection in liquids involves submerging open containers of hot and cold liquid coloured with dye into a large container of the same liquid without dye at an intermediate temperature (eg. a jar of hot tap water coloured red, a jar of water chilled in a fridge coloured blue, lowered into a clear tank of water at room temperature). A third approach is to use two identical jars, one filled with hot water dyed one colour, and cold water of another colour. One jar is then temporarily sealed (eg. with a piece of card), inverted and placed on top of the other. When the card is removed, if the jar containing the warmer liquid is placed on top no convection will occur. If the jar containing colder liquid is placed on top, a convection current will form spontaneously. Convection in gases can be demonstrated using a candle in a sealed space with an inlet and exhaust port. The heat from the candle will cause a strong convection current which can be demonstrated with a flow indicator, such as smoke from another candle, being released near the inlet and exhaust areas respectively.


Double diffusive convection


Convection cells

A convection cell, also known as a Bénard cell, is a characteristic fluid flow pattern in many convection systems. A rising body of fluid typically loses heat because it encounters a colder surface. In liquid, this occurs because it exchanges heat with colder liquid through direct exchange. In the example of the Earth's atmosphere, this occurs because it radiates heat. Because of this heat loss the fluid becomes denser than the fluid underneath it, which is still rising. Since it cannot descend through the rising fluid, it moves to one side. At some distance, its downward force overcomes the rising force beneath it, and the fluid begins to descend. As it descends, it warms again and the cycle repeats itself.


Atmospheric convection


Atmospheric circulation

Atmospheric circulation is the large-scale movement of air, and is a means by which thermal energy is distributed on the surface of the
Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. While large volumes of water can be found throughout the Solar System, only Earth sustains liquid surface water. About 71% of Earth's sur ...
, together with the much slower (lagged) ocean circulation system. The large-scale structure of the atmospheric circulation varies from year to year, but the basic climatological structure remains fairly constant. Latitudinal circulation occurs because incident solar radiation per unit area is highest at the heat equator, and decreases as the latitude increases, reaching minima at the poles. It consists of two primary convection cells, the Hadley cell and the polar vortex, with the Hadley cell experiencing stronger convection due to the release of latent heat energy by condensation of water vapor at higher altitudes during cloud formation. Longitudinal circulation, on the other hand, comes about because the ocean has a higher specific heat capacity than land (and also
thermal conductivity The thermal conductivity of a material is a measure of its ability to conduct heat. It is commonly denoted by k, \lambda, or \kappa. Heat transfer occurs at a lower rate in materials of low thermal conductivity than in materials of high thermal ...
, allowing the heat to penetrate further beneath the surface ) and thereby absorbs and releases more
heat In thermodynamics, heat is defined as the form of energy crossing the boundary of a thermodynamic system by virtue of a temperature difference across the boundary. A thermodynamic system does not ''contain'' heat. Nevertheless, the term is ...
, but the temperature changes less than land. This brings the sea breeze, air cooled by the water, ashore in the day, and carries the land breeze, air cooled by contact with the ground, out to sea during the night. Longitudinal circulation consists of two cells, the Walker circulation and El Niño / Southern Oscillation.


Weather

Some more localized phenomena than global atmospheric movement are also due to convection, including wind and some of the hydrologic cycle. For example, a foehn wind is a down-slope wind which occurs on the downwind side of a mountain range. It results from the adiabatic warming of air which has dropped most of its moisture on windward slopes. Because of the different adiabatic lapse rates of moist and dry air, the air on the leeward slopes becomes warmer than at the same height on the windward slopes. A thermal column (or thermal) is a vertical section of rising air in the lower altitudes of the Earth's atmosphere. Thermals are created by the uneven heating of the Earth's surface from solar radiation. The Sun warms the ground, which in turn warms the air directly above it. The warmer air expands, becoming less dense than the surrounding air mass, and creating a
thermal low Thermal lows, or heat lows, are non- frontal low-pressure areas that occur over the continents in the subtropics during the warm season, as the result of intense heating when compared to their surrounding environments.Glossary of Meteorology (20 ...
. The mass of lighter air rises, and as it does, it cools by expansion at lower air pressures. It stops rising when it has cooled to the same temperature as the surrounding air. Associated with a thermal is a downward flow surrounding the thermal column. The downward moving exterior is caused by colder air being displaced at the top of the thermal. Another convection-driven weather effect is the
sea breeze A sea breeze or onshore breeze is any wind that blows from a large body of water toward or onto a landmass; it develops due to differences in air pressure created by the differing heat capacities of water and dry land. As such, sea breezes a ...
.JetStream: An Online School For Weather (2008)
The Sea Breeze.
National Weather Service The National Weather Service (NWS) is an agency of the United States federal government that is tasked with providing weather forecasts, warnings of hazardous weather, and other weather-related products to organizations and the public for the ...
. Retrieved on 2006-10-24.
Warm air has a lower density than cool air, so warm air rises within cooler air, similar to hot air balloons. Clouds form as relatively warmer air carrying moisture rises within cooler air. As the moist air rises, it cools, causing some of the water vapor in the rising packet of air to condense. When the moisture condenses, it releases energy known as latent heat of condensation which allows the rising packet of air to cool less than its surrounding air, continuing the cloud's ascension. If enough
instability In numerous fields of study, the component of instability within a system is generally characterized by some of the outputs or internal states growing without bounds. Not all systems that are not stable are unstable; systems can also be mar ...
is present in the atmosphere, this process will continue long enough for cumulonimbus clouds to form, which support lightning and thunder. Generally, thunderstorms require three conditions to form: moisture, an unstable airmass, and a lifting force (heat). All thunderstorms, regardless of type, go through three stages: the developing stage, the mature stage, and the dissipation stage. The average thunderstorm has a diameter. Depending on the conditions present in the atmosphere, these three stages take an average of 30 minutes to go through.


Oceanic circulation

Solar radiation affects the oceans: warm water from the Equator tends to circulate toward the poles, while cold polar water heads towards the Equator. The surface currents are initially dictated by surface wind conditions. The trade winds blow westward in the tropics, and the westerlies blow eastward at mid-latitudes. This wind pattern applies a stress to the subtropical ocean surface with negative curl across the Northern Hemisphere, and the reverse across the Southern Hemisphere. The resulting Sverdrup transport is equatorward. Because of conservation of potential vorticity caused by the poleward-moving winds on the
subtropical ridge The horse latitudes are the latitudes about 30 degrees north and south of the Equator. They are characterized by sunny skies, calm winds, and very little precipitation. They are also known as subtropical ridges, or highs. It is a high-press ...
's western periphery and the increased relative vorticity of poleward moving water, transport is balanced by a narrow, accelerating poleward current, which flows along the western boundary of the ocean basin, outweighing the effects of friction with the cold western boundary current which originates from high latitudes. The overall process, known as western intensification, causes currents on the western boundary of an ocean basin to be stronger than those on the eastern boundary. As it travels poleward, warm water transported by strong warm water current undergoes evaporative cooling. The cooling is wind driven: wind moving over water cools the water and also causes evaporation, leaving a saltier brine. In this process, the water becomes saltier and denser. and decreases in temperature. Once sea ice forms, salts are left out of the ice, a process known as brine exclusion. These two processes produce water that is denser and colder. The water across the northern
Atlantic ocean The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's five oceans, with an area of about . It covers approximately 20% of Earth's surface and about 29% of its water surface area. It is known to separate the " Old World" of Africa, Europe ...
becomes so dense that it begins to sink down through less salty and less dense water. (This
open ocean convection Open ocean convection is a process in which the mesoscale ocean circulation and large, strong winds mix layers of water at different depths. Fresher water lying over the saltier or warmer over the colder leads to the stratification of water, or i ...
is not unlike that of a lava lamp.) This downdraft of heavy, cold and dense water becomes a part of the North Atlantic Deep Water, a southgoing stream.


Mantle convection

Mantle convection is the slow creeping motion of Earth's rocky mantle caused by convection currents carrying heat from the interior of the earth to the surface. It is one of 3 driving forces that causes tectonic plates to move around the Earth's surface. The Earth's surface is divided into a number of tectonic plates that are continuously being created and consumed at their opposite plate boundaries. Creation (
accretion Accretion may refer to: Science * Accretion (astrophysics), the formation of planets and other bodies by collection of material through gravity * Accretion (meteorology), the process by which water vapor in clouds forms water droplets around nucl ...
) occurs as mantle is added to the growing edges of a plate. This hot added material cools down by conduction and convection of heat. At the consumption edges of the plate, the material has thermally contracted to become dense, and it sinks under its own weight in the process of subduction at an ocean trench. This subducted material sinks to some depth in the Earth's interior where it is prohibited from sinking further. The subducted oceanic crust triggers volcanism. Convection within Earth's mantle is the driving force for plate tectonics. Mantle convection is the result of a thermal gradient: the lower mantle is hotter than the upper mantle, and is therefore less dense. This sets up two primary types of instabilities. In the first type, plumes rise from the lower mantle, and corresponding unstable regions of lithosphere drip back into the mantle. In the second type, subducting oceanic plates (which largely constitute the upper thermal boundary layer of the mantle) plunge back into the mantle and move downwards towards the core-mantle boundary. Mantle convection occurs at rates of centimeters per year, and it takes on the order of hundreds of millions of years to complete a cycle of convection. Neutrino flux measurements from the Earth's core (see kamLAND) show the source of about two-thirds of the heat in the inner core is the radioactive decay of 40K, uranium and thorium. This has allowed plate tectonics on Earth to continue far longer than it would have if it were simply driven by heat left over from Earth's formation; or with heat produced from gravitational potential energy, as a result of physical rearrangement of denser portions of the Earth's interior toward the center of the planet (i.e., a type of prolonged falling and settling).


Stack effect

The Stack effect or chimney effect is the movement of air into and out of buildings, chimneys, flue gas stacks, or other containers due to buoyancy. Buoyancy occurs due to a difference in indoor-to-outdoor air density resulting from temperature and moisture differences. The greater the thermal difference and the height of the structure, the greater the buoyancy force, and thus the stack effect. The stack effect helps drive natural ventilation and infiltration. Some cooling towers operate on this principle; similarly the
solar updraft tower The solar updraft tower (SUT) is a design concept for a renewable-energy power plant for generating electricity from low temperature solar heat. Sunshine heats the air beneath a very wide greenhouse-like roofed collector structure surrounding ...
is a proposed device to generate electricity based on the stack effect.


Stellar physics

The convection zone of a star is the range of radii in which energy is transported primarily by convection. Granules on the photosphere of the Sun are the visible tops of convection cells in the photosphere, caused by convection of plasma in the photosphere. The rising part of the granules is located in the center where the plasma is hotter. The outer edge of the granules is darker due to the cooler descending plasma. A typical granule has a diameter on the order of 1,000 kilometers and each lasts 8 to 20 minutes before dissipating. Below the photosphere is a layer of much larger "supergranules" up to 30,000 kilometers in diameter, with lifespans of up to 24 hours.


Water convection at freezing temperatures

Water Water (chemical formula ) is an inorganic, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth's hydrosphere and the fluids of all known living organisms (in which it acts as ...
is a fluid that does not obey the Boussinesq approximation. This is because its density varies nonlinearly with temperature, which causes its thermal expansion coefficient to be inconsistent near freezing temperatures. The
density of water Water () is a polar inorganic compound that is at room temperature a tasteless and odorless liquid, which is nearly colorless apart from an inherent hint of blue. It is by far the most studied chemical compound and is described as the "unive ...
reaches a maximum at 4 °C and decreases as the temperature deviates. This phenomenon is investigated by experiment and numerical methods. Water is initially stagnant at 10 °C within a square cavity. It is differentially heated between the two vertical walls, where the left and right walls are held at 10 °C and 0 °C, respectively. The density anomaly manifests in its flow pattern. As the water is cooled at the right wall, the density increases, which accelerates the flow downward. As the flow develops and the water cools further, the decrease in density causes a recirculation current at the bottom right corner of the cavity. Another case of this phenomenon is the event of super-cooling, where the water is cooled to below freezing temperatures but does not immediately begin to freeze. Under the same conditions as before, the flow is developed. Afterward, the temperature of the right wall is decreased to −10 °C. This causes the water at that wall to become supercooled, create a counter-clockwise flow, and initially overpower the warm current. This plume is caused by a delay in the nucleation of the ice. Once ice begins to form, the flow returns to a similar pattern as before and the solidification propagates gradually until the flow is redeveloped.


Nuclear reactors

In a nuclear reactor, natural circulation can be a design criterion. It is achieved by reducing turbulence and friction in the fluid flow (that is, minimizing
head loss Hydraulic head or piezometric head is a specific measurement of liquid pressure above a vertical datum., 410 pages. See pp. 43–44., 650 pages. See p. 22. It is usually measured as a liquid surface elevation, expressed in units of length, ...
), and by providing a way to remove any inoperative pumps from the fluid path. Also, the reactor (as the heat source) must be physically lower than the steam generators or turbines (the heat sink). In this way, natural circulation will ensure that the fluid will continue to flow as long as the reactor is hotter than the heat sink, even when power cannot be supplied to the pumps. Notable examples are the S5G and S8G United States Naval reactors, which were designed to operate at a significant fraction of full power under natural circulation, quieting those propulsion plants. The S6G reactor cannot operate at power under natural circulation, but can use it to maintain emergency cooling while shut down. By the nature of natural circulation, fluids do not typically move very fast, but this is not necessarily bad, as high flow rates are not essential to safe and effective reactor operation. In modern design nuclear reactors, flow reversal is almost impossible. All nuclear reactors, even ones designed to primarily use natural circulation as the main method of fluid circulation, have pumps that can circulate the fluid in the case that natural circulation is not sufficient.


Mathematical models of convection

A number of dimensionless terms have been derived to describe and predict convection, including the
Archimedes number In viscous fluid dynamics, the Archimedes number (Ar), is a dimensionless number used to determine the motion of fluids due to density differences, named after the ancient Greek scientist and mathematician Archimedes. It is the ratio of grav ...
, Grashof number,
Richardson number The Richardson number (Ri) is named after Lewis Fry Richardson (1881–1953). It is the dimensionless number that expresses the ratio of the buoyancy term to the flow shear term: : \mathrm = \frac = \frac \frac where g is gravity, \rho is den ...
, and the
Rayleigh number In fluid mechanics, the Rayleigh number (, after Lord Rayleigh) for a fluid is a dimensionless number associated with buoyancy-driven flow, also known as free (or natural) convection. It characterises the fluid's flow regime: a value in a certai ...
. In cases of mixed convection (natural and forced occurring together) one would often like to know how much of the convection is due to external constraints, such as the fluid velocity in the pump, and how much is due to natural convection occurring in the system. The relative magnitudes of the Grashof number and the square of the Reynolds number determine which form of convection dominates. If \rm Gr/Re^2 \gg 1 , forced convection may be neglected, whereas if \rm Gr/Re^2 \ll 1 , natural convection may be neglected. If the ratio, known as the
Richardson number The Richardson number (Ri) is named after Lewis Fry Richardson (1881–1953). It is the dimensionless number that expresses the ratio of the buoyancy term to the flow shear term: : \mathrm = \frac = \frac \frac where g is gravity, \rho is den ...
, is approximately one, then both forced and natural convection need to be taken into account.


Onset

The onset of natural convection is determined by the
Rayleigh number In fluid mechanics, the Rayleigh number (, after Lord Rayleigh) for a fluid is a dimensionless number associated with buoyancy-driven flow, also known as free (or natural) convection. It characterises the fluid's flow regime: a value in a certai ...
(Ra). This dimensionless number is given by :\textbf = \frac where *\Delta \rho is the difference in density between the two parcels of material that are mixing *g is the local gravitational acceleration *L is the characteristic length-scale of convection: the depth of the boiling pot, for example *D is the
diffusivity Diffusivity is a rate of diffusion, a measure of the rate at which particles or heat or fluids can spread. It is measured differently for different mediums. Diffusivity may refer to: * Thermal diffusivity, diffusivity of heat *Diffusivity of mas ...
of the characteristic that is causing the convection, and *\mu is the dynamic viscosity. Natural convection will be more likely and/or more rapid with a greater variation in density between the two fluids, a larger acceleration due to gravity that drives the convection, and/or a larger distance through the convecting medium. Convection will be less likely and/or less rapid with more rapid diffusion (thereby diffusing away the gradient that is causing the convection) and/or a more viscous (sticky) fluid. For thermal convection due to heating from below, as described in the boiling pot above, the equation is modified for thermal expansion and thermal diffusivity. Density variations due to thermal expansion are given by: :\Delta\rho=\rho_0 \beta \Delta T where *\rho_0 is the reference density, typically picked to be the average density of the medium, *\beta is the coefficient of thermal expansion, and *\Delta T is the temperature difference across the medium. The general diffusivity, D, is redefined as a thermal diffusivity, \alpha. :D=\alpha Inserting these substitutions produces a Rayleigh number that can be used to predict thermal convection. :\textbf = \frac


Turbulence

The tendency of a particular naturally convective system towards turbulence relies on the Grashof number (Gr). : Gr= \frac In very sticky, viscous fluids (large ''ν''), fluid motion is restricted, and natural convection will be non-turbulent. Following the treatment of the previous subsection, the typical fluid velocity is of the order of g \Delta \rho L^2 / \mu, up to a numerical factor depending on the geometry of the system. Therefore, Grashof number can be thought of as Reynolds number with the velocity of natural convection replacing the velocity in Reynolds number's formula. However In practice, when referring to the Reynolds number, it is understood that one is considering forced convection, and the velocity is taken as the velocity dictated by external constraints (see below).


Behavior

The Grashof number can be formulated for natural convection occurring due to a
concentration gradient Molecular diffusion, often simply called diffusion, is the thermal motion of all (liquid or gas) particles at temperatures above absolute zero. The rate of this movement is a function of temperature, viscosity of the fluid and the size (mass) ...
, sometimes termed thermo-solutal convection. In this case, a concentration of hot fluid diffuses into a cold fluid, in much the same way that ink poured into a container of water diffuses to dye the entire space. Then: : Gr= \frac Natural convection is highly dependent on the geometry of the hot surface, various correlations exist in order to determine the heat transfer coefficient. A general correlation that applies for a variety of geometries is : Nu = \left u_0^\frac + Ra^ \frac \left(\frac \right)^\frac \right2 The value of f4(Pr) is calculated using the following formula : f_4(Pr)= \left + \left ( \frac \right )^\frac \right\frac Nu is the Nusselt number and the values of Nu0 and the characteristic length used to calculate Ra are listed below (see also Discussion): Warning: The values indicated for the Horizontal cylinder are wrong; see discussion.


Natural convection from a vertical plate

One example of natural convection is heat transfer from an isothermal vertical plate immersed in a fluid, causing the fluid to move parallel to the plate. This will occur in any system wherein the density of the moving fluid varies with position. These phenomena will only be of significance when the moving fluid is minimally affected by forced convection. When considering the flow of fluid is a result of heating, the following correlations can be used, assuming the fluid is an ideal diatomic, has adjacent to a vertical plate at constant temperature and the flow of the fluid is completely laminar. Num = 0.478(Gr0.25) Mean Nusselt number = Num = hmL/k where *hm = mean coefficient applicable between the lower edge of the plate and any point in a distance L (W/m2. K) *L = height of the vertical surface (m) *k = thermal conductivity (W/m. K) Grashof number = Gr = L^3(t_s-t_\infty)v^2T where *g = gravitational acceleration (m/s2) *L = distance above the lower edge (m) *ts = temperature of the wall (K) *t∞ = fluid temperature outside the thermal boundary layer (K) *v = kinematic viscosity of the fluid (m²/s) *T = absolute temperature (K) When the flow is turbulent different correlations involving the Rayleigh Number (a function of both the Grashof number and the Prandtl number) must be used. Note that the above equation differs from the usual expression for Grashof number because the value \beta has been replaced by its approximation 1/T, which applies for ideal gases only (a reasonable approximation for air at ambient pressure).


Pattern formation

Convection, especially Rayleigh–Bénard convection, where the convecting fluid is contained by two rigid horizontal plates, is a convenient example of a pattern-forming system. When heat is fed into the system from one direction (usually below), at small values it merely diffuses (''conducts'') from below upward, without causing fluid flow. As the heat flow is increased, above a critical value of the
Rayleigh number In fluid mechanics, the Rayleigh number (, after Lord Rayleigh) for a fluid is a dimensionless number associated with buoyancy-driven flow, also known as free (or natural) convection. It characterises the fluid's flow regime: a value in a certai ...
, the system undergoes a bifurcation from the stable ''conducting'' state to the ''convecting'' state, where bulk motion of the fluid due to heat begins. If fluid parameters other than density do not depend significantly on temperature, the flow profile is symmetric, with the same volume of fluid rising as falling. This is known as Boussinesq convection. As the temperature difference between the top and bottom of the fluid becomes higher, significant differences in fluid parameters other than density may develop in the fluid due to temperature. An example of such a parameter is
viscosity The viscosity of a fluid is a measure of its resistance to deformation at a given rate. For liquids, it corresponds to the informal concept of "thickness": for example, syrup has a higher viscosity than water. Viscosity quantifies the int ...
, which may begin to significantly vary horizontally across layers of fluid. This breaks the symmetry of the system, and generally changes the pattern of up- and down-moving fluid from stripes to hexagons, as seen at right. Such hexagons are one example of a
convection cell In the field of fluid dynamics, a convection cell is the phenomenon that occurs when density differences exist within a body of liquid or gas. These density differences result in rising and/or falling currents, which are the key characteristics ...
. As the
Rayleigh number In fluid mechanics, the Rayleigh number (, after Lord Rayleigh) for a fluid is a dimensionless number associated with buoyancy-driven flow, also known as free (or natural) convection. It characterises the fluid's flow regime: a value in a certai ...
is increased even further above the value where convection cells first appear, the system may undergo other bifurcations, and other more complex patterns, such as spirals, may begin to appear.


See also


References


External links

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