A bifurcation study of mixed-convection heat transfer in horizontal ducts

K. Nandakumar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The bifurcation structure of two-dimensional, pressure-driven flows through a horizontal, rectangular duct that is heated with a uniform flux in the axial direction and a uniform temperature around the periphery is examined. The solution structure of the flow in a square duct is determined for Grashof numbers (Or) in the range of 0 to 1O6 using an arclength continuation scheme. The structure is much more complicated than reported earlier by Nandakumar, Masliyah & Law (1985). The primary branch with two limit points and a hysteresis behaviour between the two-and four-cell flow structure that was computed by Nandakumar et al. is confirmed. An additional symmetric solution branch, which is disconnected from the primary branch (or rather connected via an asymmetric solution branch), is found. This has a two-cell flow structure at one end, a four-cell flow structure at the other, and three limit points are located on the path. Two asymmetric solution branches emanating from symmetry-breaking bifurcation points are also found for a square duct. Thus a much richer solution structure is found with up to five solutions over certain ranges of Gr. A determination of linear stability indicates that all two-dimensional solutions develop some form of unstable mode by the time Gr is increased to about 220000. In particular, the four-cell becomes unstable to asymmetric perturbations. The paths of the singular points are tracked with respect to variation in the aspect ratio using the fold-following algorithm. Transcritical points are found at aspect ratios of 1.408 and 1.456 respectively for Prandtl numbers Pr = 0.73 and 5. Above these aspect ratios the four-cell solution is no longer on the primary branch. Some of the fold curves are connected in such a way as to form a tilted cusp. When the channel cross-section is tilted even slightly (1°) with respect to the gravity vector, the bifurcation points unfold and the two-cell solution evolves smoothly as the Grashof number is increased. The four-cell solutions then become genuinely disconnected from the primary branch. The uniqueness range in Grashof number increases with increasing tilt, decreasing aspect ratio and decreasing Prandtl number.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-187
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Oct 1991
Externally publishedYes


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