A Computational Model for Teaching of Free Convection


  • Aaron S. Goldstein Virginia Polytechnic Institute


Free convection is a fundamental component of courses in heat transfer, but the transport equations are frequently coupled and cannot be solved analytically. In this article, an algorithm is presented for solving Poulhausen's approximation for free convection near a vertical wall, calculating the Nusselt number, and constructing two-dimensional temperature and vertical velocity distributions. This example can be readily incorporated into the chemical engineering classes at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, either as a numerical modeling problem or as a tool to help students conceptualize free convection.

Author Biography

Aaron S. Goldstein, Virginia Polytechnic Institute

Aaron S. Goldstein is Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and a faculty member of the Wake Forest/Virginia Tech School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences. He received his doctorate in chemical engineering and bioengineering at Carnegie Mellon University in 1997. His research interests include biomaterials, interfacial phenomena, and transport phenomena as they relate to tissue engineering.