Efficiency of heat transfer in turbulent Rayleigh-Bénard convection

Phys Rev Lett. 2011 Jul 1;107(1):014302. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.107.014302. Epub 2011 Jul 1.


We present an experimental study of turbulent Rayleigh-Bénard convection (RBC) in a cylindrical cell of height 0.3 m, diameter 0.3 m. It is designed to minimize the influence of its structure on the convective flow of cryogenic (4)He gas of Prandtl number Pr≈1, with the aim of resolving existing contradictions in Nusselt (Nu) versus Rayleigh number (Ra) scaling. For 7.2×10(6)≤Ra≤10(11) our data agree with suitably corrected data from similar cryogenic experiments and are consistent with Nu∝Ra(2/7). On approaching Ra≈10(11) our data display a crossover to Nu∝Ra(1/3) that approximately holds up to Ra=4.6×10(13); there is no sign of a transition to the ultimate Kraichnan regime. Differences in Nu(Ra) scaling observed in similar RBC experiments for Ra≥10(11) cannot be explained due to the difference in Pr, but seem to depend also on experimental details.