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M.

BahramiENSC388(F09)NaturalConvection1
NaturalConvection
In natural convection, the fluid motion occurs by natural means such as buoyancy. Since
the fluid velocity associated with natural convection is relatively low, the heat transfer
coefficientencounteredinnaturalconvectionisalsolow.
MechanismsofNaturalConvection
Consider a hot object exposed to cold air. The temperature of the outside of the object
willdrop(asaresultofheattransferwithcoldair),andthetemperatureofadjacentairto
theobjectwillrise.Consequently,theobjectissurroundedwithathinlayerofwarmerair
andheatwillbetransferredfromthislayertotheouterlayersofair.

Fig.1:Naturalconvectionheattransferfromahotbody.
Thetemperatureoftheairadjacenttothehotobjectishigher,thusitsdensityislower.As
aresult,theheatedairrises.Thismovementiscalledthenaturalconvectioncurrent.Note
thatintheabsenceofthismovement,heattransferwouldbebyconductiononlyandits
ratewouldbemuchlower.
Inagravitationalfield,thereisanetforcethatpushesalightfluidplacedinaheavierfluid
upwards.Thisforceiscalledthebuoyancyforce.

Fig.2:Buoyancyforcekeepstheshipfloatinwater.
Themagnitudeofthebuoyancyforceistheweightofthefluiddisplacedbythebody.
Coolair
Warmair
Hotobject
Water
Displaced
volume
W
Buoyancyforce
Ship
M.BahramiENSC388(F09)NaturalConvection2
F
buoyancy
=
fluid
gV
body
whereV
body
isthevolumeoftheportionofthebodyimmersedinthefluid.Thenetforce
is:
F
net
=WF
buoyancy
F
net
=(
body

fluid
)gV
body
Note that the net force is proportional to the difference in the densities of the fluid and
thebody.ThisisknownasArchimedesprinciple.
We all encounter the feeling of weight loss in water which is caused by the buoyancy
force.Otherexamplesarehotballoonrising,andthechimneyeffect.
Note that the buoyancy force needs the gravity field, thus in space (where no gravity
exists)thebuoyancyeffectsdoesnotexist.
Densityisafunctionoftemperature,thevariationofdensityofafluidwithtemperature
at constant pressure can be expressed in terms of the volume expansion coefficient ,
definedas:
( ) P constant at
1
1 1
T
T
K T
P
A ~ A
A
A
~
|
.
|

\
|
|
.
|

\
|
c
c
=
|

Itcanbeshownthatforanidealgas
T
1
gas ideal
= |
where T is the absolute temperature. Note that the parameter T represents the
fraction of volume change of a fluid that corresponds to a temperature change T at
constantpressure.
Since the buoyancy force is proportional to the density difference, the larger the
temperaturedifferencebetweenthefluidandthebody,thelargerthebuoyancyforcewill
be.
Whenevertwobodiesincontactmoverelativetoeachother,africtionforcedevelopsat
the contact surface in the direction opposite to that of the motion. Under steady
conditions,theairflowratedrivenbybuoyancyisestablishedbybalancingthebuoyancy
forcewiththefrictionalforce.
GrashofNumber
Grashofnumberisadimensionlessgroup.Itrepresentstheratioofthebuoyancyforceto
theviscousforceactingonthefluid:
v
|
v
TV g
Gr
A
=
A
= =
2
V g
forces viscous
forces buoyancy

M.BahramiENSC388(F09)NaturalConvection3
Itisalsoexpressedas
( )
2
3
v
o |

=
T T g
Gr
s

where
g=gravitationalacceleration,m/s
2

=coefficientofvolumeexpansion,1/K
=characteristiclengthofthegeometry,m
=kinematicsviscosityofthefluid,m
2
/s
The role played by Reynolds number in forced convection is played by the Grashof
numberinnaturalconvection.ThecriticalGrashofnumberisobservedtobeabout10
9
for
vertical plates. Thus, the flow regime on a vertical plate becomes turbulent at Grashof
number greater than 10
9
. The heat transfer rate in natural convection is expressed by
Newtonslawofcoolingas:Q
conv
=hA(T
s
T

Fig.3:Velocityandtemperatureprofilefornaturalconvectionflowoverahotvertical
plate.Gr
critical
=10
9

NaturalConvectionoverSurfaces
Natural convection on a surface depends on the geometry of the surface as well as its
orientation. It also depends on the variation of temperature on the surface and the
thermophysicalpropertiesofthefluid.
Thevelocityandtemperaturedistributionfornaturalconvectionoverahotverticalplate
areshowninFig.3.
Note that the velocity at the edge of the boundary layer becomes zero. It is expected
sincethefluidbeyondtheboundarylayerisstationary.
M.BahramiENSC388(F09)NaturalConvection4
The shape of the velocity and temperature profiles, in the cold plate case, remains the
samebuttheirdirectionisreversed.
NaturalConvectionCorrelations
The complexities of the fluid flow make it very difficult to obtain simple analytical
relationsfornaturalconvection.Thus,mostoftherelationshipsinnaturalconvectionare
basedonexperimentalcorrelations.
TheRayleighnumberisdefinedastheproductoftheGrashofandPrandtlnumbers:
( )
Pr Pr
2
3
v
o |

= =
T T g
Gr Ra
s

TheNusseltnumberinnaturalconvectionisinthefollowingform:
n
CRa
k
h
Nu = =
o

wheretheconstantsCandndependonthegeometryofthesurfaceandtheflow.Table
141inCengelbookliststheseconstantsforavarietyofgeometries.
These relationships are for isothermal surfaces, but could be used approximately for the
caseofnonisothermalsurfacesbyassumingsurfacetemperaturetobeconstantatsome
averagevalue.
IsothermalVerticalPlate
Foraverticalplate,thecharacteristiclengthisL.

< <
< <
=
13 9 3 / 1
9 4 4 / 1
10 10 1 . 0
10 10 59 . 0
Ra Ra
Ra Ra
Nu
Notethatforidealgases,=1/T

IsothermalHorizontalPlate
ThecharacteristicslengthisA/pwherethesurfaceareaisA,andperimeterisp.
a)Uppersurfaceofahotplate

< <
< <
=
11 7 3 / 1
7 4 4 / 1
10 10 15 . 0
10 10 54 . 0
Ra Ra
Ra Ra
Nu
b)Lowersurfaceofahotplate
11 5 4 / 1
10 10 27 . 0 < < = Ra Ra Nu
Example1:isothermalverticalplate
A large vertical plate 4 m high is maintained at 60C and exposed to atmospheric air at
10C.Calculatetheheattransferiftheplateis10mwide.
M.BahramiENSC388(F09)NaturalConvection5
Solution:
Wefirstdeterminethefilmtemperatureas
T
f
=(T
s
+T

)/2=35C=308K
Thepropertiesare:
=1/308=3.25x10
3
,k=0.02685(W/mK),=16.5x10
6
,Pr=0.7
TheRayleighnumbercanbefound:
( )( )( )
( )
11
2
6
3 1 3 2
10 743 . 3 7 . 0
10 5 . 16
4 10 60 10 25 . 3 / 8 . 9
Pr =


= =


m C K s m
Gr Ra

TheNusseltnumbercanbefoundfrom:
( ) 7 . 720 10 743 . 3 1 . 0 1 . 0
3 / 1
11 3 / 1
= = = Ra Nu
Theheattransfercoefficientis
( ) K m W
L
k Nu
h
2
/ 84 . 4
4
02685 . 0 7 . 720
=

= =
Theheattransferis
Q=hA(T
s
T

)=7.84W/mC
2
(4x10m2)(6010C)=9.675kW
NaturalConvectionfromFinnedSurfaces
Finnedsurfacesofvariousshapes(heatsinks)areusedinmicroelectronicscooling.
Oneofmostcrucialparametersindesigningheatsinksisthefinspacing,S.Closelypacked
finswillhavegreatersurfaceareaforheattransfer,butasmallerheattransfercoefficient
(duetoextraresistanceofadditionalfins).Aheatsinkwithwidelyspacedfinswillhavea
higherheattransfercoefficientbutsmallersurfacearea.Thus,anoptimumspacingexists
thatmaximizesthenaturalconvectionfromtheheatsink.

Fig.4:Averticalheatsink.
M.BahramiENSC388(F09)NaturalConvection6
Consider a heat sink with base dimension W (width) and L (length) in which the fins are
assumed to be isothermal and the fin thickness t is small relative to fin spacing S. The
optimumfinspacingforaverticalheatsinkisgivenbyRohsenowandBarCohenas
4 / 1
714 . 2
Ra
L
S
opt
=
whereListhecharacteristiclengthinRanumber.Allthefluidpropertyaredeterminedat
thefilmtemperature.Theheattransfercoefficientfortheoptimumspacingcanbefound
from
opt
S
k
h 31 . 1 =
Note:asaresultofabovementionedtwoopposingforces(buoyancyandfriction),heat
sinkswithcloselyspacedfinsarenotsuitablefornaturalconvection.
Example2:Heatsink
A12cmwideand18cmhighverticalhotsurfacein25Cairistobecooledbyaheatsink
withequallyspacedfinsofrectangularprofile.Thefinsare0.1cmthick,18cmlonginthe
verticaldirection,andhaveaheightof2.4cmfromthebase.Determinetheoptimumfin
spacingandtherateofheattransferbynaturalconvectionfromtheheatsinkifthebase
temperatureis80C.

Assumptions:
ThefinthicknesstismuchsmallerthanthefinspacingS.
Solution:
L = 0.18
H=2.4cm
S
t=1mm
T
s
=80C
W=0.12m
T

=25C
M.BahramiENSC388(F09)NaturalConvection7
Thepropertiesofairareevaluatedatthefilmtemperature:
T
f
=(T

+T
s
)/2=52.5C=325.5K
At this temperature, k = 0.0279 W /mK, = 1.82 x 10
5
m
2
/s, Pr = 0.709, and assuming
idealgas=1/T
f
=1/325.5K=0.0030721/K.
ThecharacteristiclengthisL=0.18m.
( )
7
2
3
10 067 . 2 Pr =

=

v
| L T T g
Ra
s

Theoptimumfinspacingisdetermined
mm m
Ra
L
S
opt
2 . 7 0072 . 0 714 . 2
4 / 1
= = =
Thenumberoffinsandtheheattransfercoefficientfortheoptimumfinspacingcaseare
fins 15 ~
+
=
t S
W
n
mK
W
S
k
h
opt
08 . 5 31 . 1 = =
Therateofnaturalconvectionheattransferbecomes:
( )( ) W T T nLH h Q
s
2 . 36 2 = =

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