An analysis of laminar free-convection flow and heat transfer about a flat plate paralled to the direction of the generating body force

Simon Ostrach

The free-convection flow and heat transfer (generated by a body force) about a flat plate parallel to the direction of the body force are formally analyzed and the type of flow is found to be dependent on the Grashof number alone. For large Grashof numbers (which are of interest in aeronautics), the flow is of the boundary-layer type and the problem is reduced in a formal manner, which is analogous to Prandtl's forced-flow boundary-layer theory, to the simultaneous solution of two ordinary differential equations subject to the proper boundary conditions. Velocity and temperature distributions for Prandtl numbers of 0.01, 0.72, 0.733, 1, 1, 10, 100, and 1000 are computed, and it is shown that velocities and Nusselt numbers of the order of magnitude of those encountered in forced-convection flows may be obtained in free-convection flows. The theoretical and experimental velocity and temperature distributions are in good agreement. A flow and a heat-transfer parameter, from which the important physical quantities such as shear stress and heat-transfer rate can be computed, are derived as functions of Prandtl number alone.

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