Highly Resolved LES and Tests of The Effectiveness of Different URANS Models for The Computation of Challenging Natural Convection Cases

  • Dalila Ammour

Student thesis: Phd


In the present thesis turbulent natural convection of air within different challenging test cases are investigated numerically by means of an unstructured finite volume code, Code_Saturne. First, flow within both two-dimensional vertical and inclined differentially heated rectangular cavities at 60° and 15° to the horizontal for an aspect ratio of H/L=28.6 and Rayleigh number of 0.86×10e6 is computed using several high and low-Re models. Here the effectiveness of the RANS models in Code_Saturne is assessed through comparisons with a range of available experimental data. After some tests of thermal field inside vertical cavity, the "two-velocity-scale wall function" is chosen to be used with high-Re models. In both vertical and inclined cases the overall flow pattern appears similar, with a single circulation cell, and a boundary layer at the wall. The levels of turbulence energy are generally slightly lower in the inclined case. Most models give a reasonable prediction of measured Nusselt number, with the two low-Re approaches generally being closer to the data than the schemes employing wall functions. For the 15° inclined cavity, a multi cellular motion is shown by the high-Re models. Nevertheless, all the model predictions disagree with experimental data due to the presence in real flow of 3-D unsteady structures as found in Benard convection problems. These cannot, definitely, be reproduced using a 2-D geometry. Both highly resolved LES and unsteady RANS computations are then conducted, for turbulent natural convection of air inside 15° unstably and stably stratified cavities. In accordance with recent experimental data, the LES computations for both enclosures returned three-dimensional time-averaged flow fields. In the case of the unstably stratified enclosure, the flow is highly unsteady with coherent turbulent structures in the core of the enclosure. Results of LES computations show close agreement with the measured data. Subsequent comparisons of different URANS schemes with the present LES are used in order to explore to what extent these models are able to reproduce the large-scale unsteady flow structures. All URANS schemes have been found to be able to reproduce the 3-D unsteady flow features present in the 15° unstable cavity. However, the low-Re model tested as well as requiring a high resolution near-wall grid, also needed a finer grid in the core region than the high-Re models, thus making it computationally very expensive. Flow within the 15° stable cavity also shows some 3-D features, although it is significantly less unsteady, and the URANS models tested here have been less successful in reproducing this flow pattern. Finally, natural convection of CO2 inside a horizontal annular penetration enclosure, which can be found in AGR's, has been performed using a highly resolved LES and a set of RANS models. The Rayleigh number is 1.5×10e9. RANS models agree with the present LES on the fact that the flow is unsteady and there are large-scale oscillations present which decrease in amplitude as one moves from the open towards the closed end of the annular enclosure. Overall heat transfer and thermal quantitative and dynamic results show that RANS schemes are in close agreement with the current LES data except some discrepancies shown by the high-Re model which can be returned to the limitation of the simple wall function used to predict such complex flow.
Date of Award1 Aug 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorHector Iacovides (Supervisor) & Timothy Craft (Supervisor)


  • Natural convection, CFD, Turbulence, buoyant flows, LES, URANS

Cite this