Numerical study of transient laminar natural convection heat transfer over a sphere subjected to a constant heat flux

Kanichi Saito, Vasudevan Raghavan, George Gogos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Transient laminar natural convection over a sphere which is subjected to a constant heat flux has been studied numerically for high Grashof numbers (105≥Gr≥109) and a wide range of Prandtl numbers (Pr = 0.02, 0.7, 7, and 100). A plume with a mushroom-shaped cap forms above the sphere and drifts upward continuously with time. The size and the level of temperature of the transient cap and plume stem decrease with increasing Gr and Pr. Flow separation and an associated vortex may appear in the wake of the sphere depending on the magnitude of Gr and Pr. A recirculation vortex which appears and grows until "steady state" is attained was found only for the very high Grashof numbers (105≥Gr≥109) and the lowest Prandtl number considered (Pr = 0.02). The appearance and subsequent disappearance of a vortex was observed for Gr = 109 and Pr = 0.7. Over the lower hemisphere, the thickness of both the hydrodynamic (δH) and the thermal (δT) boundary layers remain nearly constant and the sphere surface is nearly isothermal. The surface temperature presents a local maximum in the wake of the sphere whenever a vortex is established in the wake of the sphere. The surface pressure recovery in the wake of the sphere increases with decreasing Pr and with increasing Gr. For very small Pr, unlike forced convection, the ratio δT/ δH remains close to unity. The results are in good agreement with experimental data and in excellent agreement with numerical results available in the literature. A correlation has also been presented for the overall Nusselt number as a function of Gr and Pr.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)923-933
Number of pages11
JournalHeat and Mass Transfer/Waerme- und Stoffuebertragung
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2007


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes

Cite this