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Turbulent flow in the bulk of Rayleigh–Bénard convection: aspect-ratio dependence of the small-scale properties

  • Matthias Kaczorowski (a1), Kai-Leong Chong (a1) and Ke-Qing Xia (a1)

Abstract

Geometrical confinement of turbulent Rayleigh–Bénard convection (RBC) in Cartesian geometries is found to reduce the local Bolgiano length scale in the centre of the cell $L_{B,centre}$ and can therefore be used to study cascade processes in the bulk of RBC. The dependence of $L_{B,centre}$ versus $\varGamma $ suggests a cut-off to the local $L_B$ , which depends on the Prandtl number $Pr$ and is of the order of the cell’s smallest dimension. It is also observed that geometrical confinement changes the topology of the flow, causing the turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rate and the temperature variance dissipation rate (averaged over the centre of the cell and normalized by their respective global averages) to exhibit a maximum at a certain $\varGamma $ , which roughly coincides with the aspect ratio at which the viscous and thermal boundary layers of the two opposite lateral walls merge. As a result the mean heat flux through the core region also exhibits a maximum. Unlike in the cubic case, we find that geometrical confinement of the flow results in a local balance of the heat flux and the turbulent kinetic energy dissipation rate for $Pr= 4.38$ for all values of the Rayleigh number $Ra$ (up to $10^{10}$ ), while no balance is observed for $Pr= 0.7$ . The need for very high bulk resolution to accurately resolve the gradients of the flow field at high $Ra$ is shown by analysing the second-order structure functions of the vertical velocity and temperature in the bulk of RBC. Under-resolution of the temperature field yields a large error in the dissipative range scaling, which is believed to be an effect of intermittently penetrating thermal plumes. The resolution contrast resulting from the requirement to resolve the thermal plumes and the homogeneous and isotropic background turbulence scales as $\delta _T / \langle \eta _k \rangle _{centre} \sim Ra^{0.1}$ and should therefore be taken into account when tackling very high $Ra$ . In the case studied here, under-resolution can have a significant effect on the local heat flux through the centre of the cell.

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Corresponding author

Email address for correspondence: kxia@phy.cuhk.edu.hk

References

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Kaczorowski et al. supplementary movie
The movie shows the temperature field (coded in colour; red: hot and blue cold) and velocity field (coded in the length of the arrows) in a vertical plane mid-way between the front and back walls, with $Ra=1\times10^9$, $Pr =4.38$ and $\Gamma = 1/8$.

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Turbulent flow in the bulk of Rayleigh–Bénard convection: aspect-ratio dependence of the small-scale properties

  • Matthias Kaczorowski (a1), Kai-Leong Chong (a1) and Ke-Qing Xia (a1)

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