Thermocapillary convection due to nonuniform surface heating is the dominant form of fluid motion in many materials processing operations. The velocity and temperature distributions for the region adjacent to the area of peak surface heating are analyzed for the limiting cases of large and small Prandtl numbers. For a melt pool whose depth and width are large relative to the thermal and viscous boundary layers, it is shown that the most important parameter is the curvature (i.e., ∇2q) of the surface heat flux distribution. The solutions of the temperature and stream functions are presented, some of which are in closed form. Simple, explicit expressions for the velocity and maximum temperature are presented. These results are found to be quite accurate for realistic Prandtl number ranges, in comparison with exact solutions for finite Prandtl numbers. Besides being more concise than exact results, the asymptotic results also display the Prandtl number dependence more clearly in the respective ranges.

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