A conjugate conduction-convection analysis has been made for a vertical plate fin which exchanges heat with its fluid environment by natural convection. The analysis is based on a first-principles approach whereby the heat conduction equation for the fin is solved simultaneously with the conservation equations for mass, momentum, and energy in the fluid boundary layer adjacent to the fin. The natural convection heat transfer coefficient is not specified in advance but is one of the results of the numerical solutions. For a wide range of operating conditions, the local heat transfer coefficients were found not to decrease monotonically in the flow direction, as is usual. Rather, the coefficient decreased at first, attained a minimum, and then increased with increasing downstream distance. This behavior was attributed to an enhanced buoyancy resulting from an increase in the wall-to-fluid temperature difference along the streamwise direction. To supplement the first-principles analysis, results were also obtained from a simple adaptation of the conventional fin model.

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