A three-part study encompassing both experiment and analysis has been performed for natural convection in an open-ended vertical channel. One of the principal walls of the channel—the heated wall—was maintained at a uniform temperature, while the other principal wall was unheated. The experiments, which included flow visualization and Nusselt number measurements, were carried out with water in the channel and in the ambient which surrounds the channel. At Rayleigh numbers which exceeded a threshold value, the visualization revealed a pocket of recirculating flow situated adjacent to the unheated wall in the upper part of the channel. The recirculation was fed by fluid drawn into the top of the channel, adjacent to the unheated wall. Average Nusselt numbers for the heated wall were measured over a three orders of magnitude range of a single correlating parameter, which includes the Rayleigh number and the ratio of the channel length to the interwall spacing. The Nusselt numbers were found to be unaffected by the presence of the recirculation zone. Numerical solutions obtained via a parabolic finite difference scheme yielded Nusselt numbers in good agreement with those of experiment. The numerical results covered the Prandtl number range from 0.7 to 10.

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