Natural convection in horizontal rectangular channel without or with aluminum foam is experimentally and numerically investigated. In the case with aluminum foam the channel is partially filled. In both cases, the bottom wall of the channel is heated at a uniform heat flux and the upper wall is unheated and it is not thermally insulated to the external ambient. The experiments are performed with working fluid air. Different values of wall heat flux at lower surface are considered in order to obtain some Grashof numbers and different heated wall temperature distributions. Two different aluminum foams are considered in the experimental investigation, one from “M-pore”, with 10 and 30 pore per inch (PPI), and the other one from “ERG”, with 10, 20 and 40 PPI. The numerical simulation is carried out by a simplified two-dimensional model. It is found that the heat transfer is better when the channel is partially filled and the emissivity is low, whereas the heated wall temperature values are higher when the channel is partially filled and the heated bottom plate has high emissivity. The investigation is achieved also by flow visualization which is carried out to identify the main flow shape and development and the transition region along the channel. The visualization of results, both experimental and numerical, grants the description of secondary motions in the channel.

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