Title:

Modelling of buoyant flows associated with large area fires and indirect free convection

Experimental observations indicate the presence of attached, gravity induced, horizontal buoyant currents above large area fires. Their driving mechanism is indirect and resembles the one observed above heated horizontal plates. Classic plume modelling is satisfactory for providing information for the flow far from the source. In dealing with large areas and directing attention to the flow close to the source, the classic plume theory should fail because the radial pressure gradient that is responsible for the driving of the flow is squeezed in the long and thin classic plume assumption. For this we propose a new plume structure for the description of the buoyant flow above a circular region of large radius L as “The flow field must be divided into three regions. A region where the flow is predominantly horizontal and attached to the surface, a transition region from horizontal to vertical where separation of the attached current takes place, and a region where vertical flow is established and classic plume theory can be applied”. A model for the description of the gross properties of the horizontal currents is developed under the term “horizontal plume”. The modified Richardson number for the horizontal plume a, being analogous to the radius of the large area, is studied asymptotically in the limit a → ∞ and second order uniformly valid semianalytical solutions are obtained. The hot plate experiment was set up in order to test the model and facilitate its improvement. A chapter is dedicated to the data analysis coming from thermocouple readings and visualisation of the flow using particle image velocimetry.In the remainder of this thesis two classic problems of laminar natural convection are revisited. That of the first order laminar boundary layer above an isothermal circular plate of radius a and the first order laminar boundary layer above the semi infinite plate inclined to horizontal. In both cases allowances to variable property effects were made through the introduction of a nondimensional parameter λT, with its value set to zero implying the assumption of the Boussinesq approximation. For the circular plate, fourth order series solutions were obtained valid at the edge of the plate where the effects of λT and Prandtl number Pr are studied. Furthermore a finite difference scheme for the numerical solution of the nonsimilar partial integro differential equation was developed using the Keller Box method and compared with results obtained from the commercial finite element software COMSOL Multiphysics 3.5a. For the semiinfinite plate, fourth order series approximations valid at the edge of the plate were obtained, while an extensive analysis for the effect of λT, Pr and inclination parameter σ was performed on the flow. Positions of the separation points when the inclination is negative (σ < 0) as a function of Pr and λT were recovered.
