, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 605-612

Rayleigh-benard convection during solidification of an eutectic solution cooled from the top

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The interaction between laminar Rayleigh-Benard convection and directional solidification is studied for the case of an eutectic solution kept in a rectangular cavity cooled from the top. Experiments and numerical simulations are carried out using an NH4Cl-H2O solution as the model fluid. The flow is visualized using a sheet of laser light scattered by neutrally buoyant, hollow-glass spheres seeded in the fluid. The numerical modeling is performed using a pressure-based finite-volume method according to the SIMPLER algorithm. The present configuration enables us to visualize flow vortices in the presence of a continuously evolving solid/liquid interface. Clear visualization of the Rayleigh-Benard convective cells and their interaction with the solidification front are obtained. It is observed that the convective cells are characterized by zones of up-flow and down-flow, resulting in the development of a nonplanar interface. Because of the continuous advancement of the solid/liquid interface, the effective liquid height of the cavity keeps decreasing. Once the height of the fluid layer falls below a critical value, the convective cells become weaker and eventually die out, leading to the growth of a planar solidification front. Results of flow visualization and temperature measurement are compared with those from the numerical simulation, and a good agreement is found.