The present work describes development of an educational web portal for performing virtual experiments. Graduate students often conduct laser based optical measurements to study fundamentals of heat transfer and fluid flow. An attempt has been made to meet the same requirements with virtualization using computational tools. OpenFOAM, an open source fluid flow simulator serves as a backbone for this initiative. A new Foam solver is developed to incorporate an additional convective heat transfer equation, account for natural convection effects, implement specific boundary conditions of interest and represent all the required class of physics as required from a pedagogical perspective. The solver is tested for accuracy by comparing results with experiments and available data in the literature. Apart from access of the source code to students, open source methodology makes it free from any licensing restrictions allowing wider deployment across multiple schools simultaneously. Even if large number of students access the web portal at the same time, all simulations can be launched without any licensing restrictions, provided computing power is available. A suite of twelve examples covering steady and unsteady flow patterns is studied in the first phase. The graphical nature of results helps students to easily recall specialized phenomena such as transients, flow circulation patterns in natural convection and vortex shedding. A comparison with laser based experiments via interferograms and schlieren images proves useful to correlate the experimental results with physically realizable temperature fields.

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