Experiments were carried out to study the stability of thermal convection generated in a vertical porous layer by lateral heating in a tall, narrow tank. The porous medium, consisting of glass beads, was saturated with distilled water. It was found that the flow became unstable at a critical ΔT of 29.2°C (critical Rayleigh number of 66.2). Linear stability analysis was applied to study the effects of the Brinkman term and of variable viscosity separately using a quadratic relationship between the density and temperature. It was found that with the Brinkman term, no instability could occur within the allowable temperature difference across the tank. With the effect of variable viscosity included, linear stability theory predicts a critical ΔT of 43.4°C (Rayleigh number of 98.3).

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