Enhanced heat transport in thermal convection with suspensions of rod-like expandable particles

Shi Yuan Hu, Kai Zhe Wang, Lai Bing Jia, Jin Qiang Zhong, Jun Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Thermal convection of fluid is a more efficient way than diffusion to carry heat from hot sources to cold places. Here, we experimentally study the Rayleigh-Bénard convection of aqueous glycerol solution in a cubic cell with suspensions of rod-like particles made of polydimethylsiloxane. The particles are inertial due to their large thermal expansion coefficient and finite sizes. The thermal expansion coefficient of the particles is three times larger than that of the background fluid. This contrast makes the suspended particles lighter than the local fluid in hot regions and heavier in cold regions. The heat transport is enhanced at relatively large Rayleigh number () but reduced at small. We demonstrate that the increase of Nusselt number arises from the particle-boundary layer interactions: The particles act as 'active' mixers of the flow and temperature fields across the boundary layers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberR1
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Dec 10 2021


  • Bénard convection
  • particle/fluid flow
  • turbulent convection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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