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Barrel of Ilmenau






The `Barrel of Ilmenau' - a large-scale experimental facility to investigate turbulent convection

Thermal convection is a ubiquitous type of fluid flow controlling phenomena as diverse as the greenhouse effect, the cooling of electronic circuits, and the motion of water in a saucepan. In spite of its widespread occurrence, thermal convection is still difficult to predict. This is especially true if the flow is strongly turbulent and the volume of the fluid is large as in the case of Earth’s atmosphere. The “Barrel of Ilmenau” is a unique experimental facility which permits us to obtain a spectacular view into the unexplored world of small eddies in turbulent thermal convection. Within the barrel either air or water is set into vigorous motion by a hot plate at the bottom and a free-hanging cooling plate at the top. The large size of the barrel, the extreme precision of the heating and cooling and the utilization of cutting-edge laser technology for non-contact flow measurement make it possible to explore turbulent convection in greater detail than with any other existing facility in the world.

Funded by the European Union, the German Research Foundation, the Free State of Thuringia and the German Academic Exchange Service.