Phase change in a three-dimensional rectangular cavity under electromagnetically simulated low-gravity: Side wall heating

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Purpose - To demonstrate, through numerical models, that it is possible to simulated low-gravity phase change (melting), of an electrically conducting material (gallium), in terrestrial conditions via the application of electromagnetic fields. Design/methodology/approach - A complete three-dimensional mathematical formulation governing a phase change process in the presence of an electromagnetic field has been developed. In addition a comprehensive parametric study has been completed to study the various effects of gravity, Stefan number, Hartmann number and electromagnetic pressure number upon the phase change process. Findings - The results show that the application of an electromagnetic filed can be used to simulate key melting characteristics found for actual low-gravity. However, the resulting three-dimensional flow field in the melted region differs from actual low-gravity. The application of an electromagnetic field creates a flow phenomenon not found in actual low-gravity or previously seen in two-dimensional problems. Research limitations/implications - Future work may include the use of oscillating electromagnetic fields to enhance convection in energy storage systems in a low-gravity environment. Practical implications - The ability to suppress unwanted convective flows in a phase change process without the high magnetic fields necessary in magnetic field only suppression systems. Originality/value - This work fills a void in the literature related to conducting fluids and the effects of magnetic and electromagnetic fields. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

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International Journal of Numerical Methods for Heat and Fluid Flow