Wind tunnel experiments were performed to determine heat transfer coefficients and fluid flow patterns for a thermally active surface elevated above a parallel host surface. The step-like blockage associated with the elevation causes flow separation and recirculation on the forward portion of the thermally active surface. Four parameters were varied during the course of the experiments, including the angle of attack of the oncoming airflow relative to the surface, the step height, the extent of the host surface which frames the active surface (i.e., the skirt width), and the Reynolds number. Flow visualization studies, performed with the oil-lampblack technique, showed that the streamwise extent of the separation zone increases with decreasing angle of attack, with larger step heights and skirt widths, and at higher Reynolds numbers. At larger angles of attack, separation does not occur. The experimentally determined heat transfer coefficients were found to increase markedly due to the flow separation, and separation-related enhancements as large as a factor of two were encountered. The enhancement was accentuated at small angles of attack, at large step heights and skirt widths, and at high Reynolds numbers. A main finding of the study is that the separation-affected heat transfer coefficients are generally greater than those for no separation, so that the use of the latter may underestimate the heat transfer rates. For an application such as a retrofit solar collector, such an underestimation of the wind-related heat loss would yield an optimistic prediction of the collector efficiency.

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