The present work centers around a numerical three-dimensional transient investigation of the effects of axial convection on flow and temperature fields inside an open-ended annulus. The transient behavior of the flow field through the formation of a three-dimensional flow field and its subsequent effect on the temperature distribution at different axial locations within the annulus were analyzed by both finite difference and finite element methods. The results show that the axial convection has a distinctly different influence on the temperature and velocity fields. It is found that in the midportion of the annulus a two-dimensional assumption with respect to the temperature distribution can lead to satisfactory results for Ra<10,000. However, such an assumption is improper with respect to the flow field. Furthermore, it is shown that generally the errors for a two-dimensional assumption in the midportion of the annulus are less at earlier times (t<50Δt) during the transient development of the flow and temperature fields.

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