Experimental study of the stability of boundary-layer flow along a heated, inclined plate

E. J. Zuercher, J. W. Jacobs, C. F. Chen

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29 Scopus citations


Experiments are conducted to study the longitudinal vortices that develop in the boundary layer on the upper surface of an inclined, heated plate. An isothermal plate in water is inclined at angles ranging from 20 to 60 degrees (from the vertical) while the temperature difference is varied from 2 to 23°C. A double-pass Schlieren system is used to visualize the vortices and particle image velocimetry (PIV) is used to measure velocities. In addition, a unique method is developed such that both the Schlieren visualization and PIV can be performed simultaneously. The wavelengths of the vortices and the critical modified Reynolds numbers (R̃) for the onset, merging, and breakup of the vortices are determined from Schlieren images for Pr = 5.8. The critical values for R̃ and the critical wavelengths are compared to results of previous experiments and stability analyses. The spatial growth rates of vortices are determined by using the PIV measurements to determine how the circulation in the vortices grows with distance from the leading edge. This is the first time that the growth rate of the vortices have been found using velocity measurements. These spatial growth rates are compared to the results of Iyer & Kelly (1974) and found to be in general agreement. By defining a suitable circulation threshold, the critical R̃ for the onset of the vortices can be found from the growth curves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Jul 25 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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