A numerical and experimental study is performed to analyze the steady-state natural convection fluid flow and heat transfer in a vertical rectangular enclosure that is partially filled with a vertical layer of a fluid-saturated porous medium. The flow in the porous layer is modeled utilizing the Brinkman–Forchheimer–extended Darcy equations. The numerical model is verified by conducting a number of experiments, with spherical glass beads as the porous medium and water and glycerin as the fluids, in rectangular test cells. The agreement between the flow visualization results and temperature measurements and the numerical model is, in general, good. It is found that the amount of fluid penetrating from the fluid region into the porous layer depends strongly on the Darcy (Da) and Rayleigh (Ra) numbers. For a relatively low product of Ra × Da, the flow takes place primarily in the fluid layer, and heat transfer in the porous layer is by conduction only. On other hand, fluid penetrating into a relatively highly permeable porous layer has a significant impact on the natural convection flow patterns in the entire enclosure.

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