An experimental effort is presently underway to investigate natural convection in liquid-saturated porous media utilizing a geometry and hydrodynamic/thermal boundary conditions relevant to the problem of nuclear-waste isolation in geologic repositories. During the first phase of this research program, detailed measurements were made of the steady-state thermal field throughout an annular test region bounded by a vertical, constant-heat-flux, inner cylinder and a concentrically placed, constant-temperature, outer cylinder. An overlying, constant-pressure fluid layer was utilized to supply a permeable upper surface boundary condition. Results showed the heater surface temperature to increase with increasing vertical distance due to the buoyantly driven upflow. The measured temperature difference (ΔT) between the average heater surface temperature and the constant outer-surface temperature was found to be progressively below the straight-line/conduction-only solution for ΔT versus power input, as the latter was systematically increased. Comparisons between measured results and numerical predictions obtained using the finite element code MARIAH showed very good agreement, thereby contributing to the qualification of this code for repository-design applications.

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