Conjugate natural convection heat transfer in an annulus between horizontal isothermal circular cylinders with three equally spaced axial spacers has been studied theoretically and experimentally. A thin-fin approximation was used to model the thermal boundary condition of the spacers in the two-dimensional finite difference numerical computations. Rayleigh number, Prandtl number, diameter ratio, and location and thermal conductivity of the spacers were varied parametrically to determine the variation in flow patterns, temperature distribution and heat transfer. Spacers of low conductivity can decrease the natural convection heat transfer by as much as 20 percent below that for a simple unobstructed annulus. However, radial conduction through spacers of high conductivity overwhelms the natural convection heat transfer between the cylinders. Two diameter ratios were tested experimentally in a Mach-Zehnder interferometer using air at atmospheric pressure with stainless steel spacers between copper cylinders. The numerical and experimental temperature distributions and local convective heat-transfer coefficients show good agreement.

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