The critical Rayleigh number at the onset of natural convection within a square cavity filled with a centralized porous block was investigated. The porous medium is modeled by using the heterogeneous model and the governing equations are solved for each phase separately. The thermal gradient is applied from the bottom to the top horizontal walls while the vertical walls are kept adiabatic. The amount of solid within the cavity was kept constant by fixing both external and internal porosity in 36% and 40%, respectively. The equations are solved using the Finite Volume Method and the interpolation scheme for the convective terms is the Hybrid Scheme. For the pressure-velocity coupling, the SIMPLEC method is used. The effects on the conductive-convective regime transition, reads critical Rayleigh Number, characterized by the average Nusselt number and the heatlines contour plot, was investigated by varying the Rayleigh number and the porous block permeability. The results show that the so called critical Rayleigh number is affected by the block permeability. As the permeability decreases, the flow tends to recirculate around the block being squeezed against the cavity walls and therefore, more susceptible to viscous effects. A correlation to the critical Rayleigh number is presented as a function of the agglomerate permeability showing that the higher the permeability the lower the amount of energy required to trigger the convection.

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