Probing horizontal convection instability via perturbation of the forcing boundary layer using a synthetic jet

Matthew A. Leigh, Tzekih Tsai, Gregory J. Sheard

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Horizontal convection driven by a linear temperature profile along the bottom of a two-dimensional rectangular enclosure is perturbed by a small tuned synthetic (zero-net-mass-flux/ZNMF) jet. The jet permits instability in the horizontal convection boundary layer to be investigated in a controlled manner. At a Prandtl number Pr = 6.14 and Rayleigh number Ra = 2.5 × 108, slightly below the natural onset of instability, the boundary layer is found to be convectively unstable, exhibiting a disturbance pattern consistent with a Rayleigh–Bénard mechanism. Advection of the boundary layer disturbance gives rise to unsteadiness in the vertical end-wall plume. Nusselt number is enhanced across a range of frequencies for all perturbation amplitudes, with the response dominated by two frequencies differing by approximately a factor of two: each invokes the periodic shedding of vorticity into the vertical end-wall plume at the higher frequency. This suggests that there exists a natural sensitivity in this flow to disturbances convecting in the upstream boundary layer. That is, a convective instability in the horizontal convection boundary layer serves as a disturbance amplifier, with the end-wall plume controlling the frequency of the resulting instability mode. The increase in Nusselt number achieved by a jet with peak speed of the same order as the horizontal convective velocity in the unperturbed flow is consistent with a greater than two-fold increase in Rayleigh number.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-260
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Thermal Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • Boundary-layer instability
  • Horizontal convection
  • Nusselt number
  • Synthetic jet

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