Mathematical Modelling of Near-Critical Convection


B.L. Cox


Stanford Geothermal Workshop




Modelling with Non-Condensable Gases



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Fluid and heat flow at temperatures approaching or exceeding that at the critical point (374OC for pure water, higher for saline fluids) may be encountered in deep zones of geothermal systems and above cooling intrusives. Laboratory experiments have demonstrated strong enhancements in heat transfer at near-critical conditions (Dunn and Hardee. 1981). We have developed special numerical techniques for modeling porous flow at near-critical conditions, which can handle the extreme non-linearities in water properties near the critical point. Our numerical experiments show smng enhancements of convective heat transfer at near-critical conditions; however, the heat transfer rates obtained in the numerical simulations are considerably smaller than those seen in the laboratory experiments by Dunn and Hardee. We discuss possible reasons for this discrepancy and develop suggestions for additional laboratory experiments.

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