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Transition to the ultimate regime in a radiatively driven convection experiment

  • Vincent Bouillaut (a1), Simon Lepot (a1), Sébastien Aumaître (a1) and Basile Gallet (a1)


We report on the transition between two regimes of heat transport in a radiatively driven convection experiment, where a fluid gets heated up within a tunable heating length $\ell$ in the vicinity of the bottom of the tank. The first regime is similar to that observed in standard Rayleigh–Bénard experiments, the Nusselt number $Nu$ being related to the Rayleigh number $Ra$ through the power law $Nu\sim Ra^{1/3}$ . The second regime corresponds to the ‘ultimate’ or mixing-length scaling regime of thermal convection, where $Nu$ varies as the square root of $Ra$ . Evidence for these two scaling regimes has been reported in Lepot et al. (Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA, vol. 115, 2018, pp. 8937–8941), and we now study in detail how the system transitions from one to the other. We propose a simple model describing radiatively driven convection in the mixing-length regime. It leads to the scaling relation $Nu\sim (\ell /H)Pr^{1/2}Ra^{1/2}$ , where $H$ is the height of the cell and $Pr$ is the Prandtl number, thereby allowing us to deduce the values of $Ra$ and $Nu$ at which the system transitions from one regime to the other. These predictions are confirmed by the experimental data gathered at various $Ra$ and $\ell$ . We conclude by showing that boundary layer corrections can persistently modify the Prandtl number dependence of $Nu$ at large $Ra$ , for $Pr\gtrsim 1$ .


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Transition to the ultimate regime in a radiatively driven convection experiment

  • Vincent Bouillaut (a1), Simon Lepot (a1), Sébastien Aumaître (a1) and Basile Gallet (a1)


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