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Filling flows induced by a convector in a room



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Przydrozna, Aleksandra Anna 


Over the last two centuries, there has been a continual evolution of how occupied rooms are heated, with inventors competing to design new heating devices. In particular, there is a wide range of convector types, which vary in shape, size, design, material, operating medium and application. With approximately 190 million convectors installed in the UK alone, the question arises regarding the dependencies on the efficiency of heat distribution through convector-induced filling flows. A standard approach to evaluate convector performance is based on the convector strength only, the implication being the stronger the convector the better the performance. This work has gone beyond the limits of a stereotypical assessment in pursuit of answers regarding the physics of convector-induced filling and a new objective method to evaluate the efficiency of this transient process. The ultimate goal has been to provide a deep understanding of filling and stratification induced by a convector, in order to heat rooms rapidly and effectively.

An experimental facility has been designed that approximates dynamic similarity between the experimental set-up and a real-life room with a convector. In the experiments, a rectangular sectioned water tank represents a room and a saline source rectangular sectioned panel with sintered side walls provides a convector representation. Experiments have been performed in water with a saline solution to ensure high Rayleigh numbers. Diagnostic techniques involve a combination of a shadowgraph method, a dye-attenuation method, direct salinity measurements and a new application of Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV).

Interesting insight into convector-induced buoyancy-driven flows has been gained. As a result, new guidelines aimed at heating rooms more rapidly and effectively have been proposed. The key outcome that can be immediately applied is that, for a given convector strength, heat distribution with height can be improved by adjusting the convector position. For instance, faster filling leading to more uniform heat distribution occurs in rooms with convectors detached from side walls, due to large-scale mixing flows in the early period of filling. Also shorter convectors relative to the room height, positioned close to the floor level, promote faster and more uniform filling. An attempt to describe the transient filling has been made and to do so statistical methods, application specific, have been developed. As a result, the empirical equations describing both the filling rates in different stages of filling and the development of stratification have been derived, which rank the governing parameters, based on their importance, as either dominant or subordinate. Two dominant parameters governing filling flows are the non-dimensional accumulation parameter B and the Rayleigh number ΔRa, which are related to the convector strength. The impact of these two parameters is constant throughout the process. The parameters accounting for the system geometry and filling time (T) are subordinate parameters. Their impact, visible in the early period, decreases as filling continues.





Hunt, Gary


heating, buoyancy-driven flows, convection, convectors, experimental study, governing parameters, improved performance, efficiency, building physics, space heating, PIV, dye-attenuation, salinity measurements, high Rayleigh numbers, small-scale physical modelling, salt-bath, water-bath, fluid mechanics, convector-induced flows


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
EPSRC - University Fees ServoRad - maintenance + equipment