This is a two-part study of two-dimensional laminar natural convection heat transfer in a divided vertical channel. The divided channel consists of an isothermal dividing plate located on the center line of a vertical channel formed by two isothermal walls. The study examines the effect of Rayleigh number, plate-to-channel length ratio, vertical plate position, and plate thickness on the heat transfer rate from the channel walls, the dividing plate, and the channel as a whole. In Part I, solutions to both the full elliptic and parabolic forms of the Navier–Stokes and energy equations are obtained for Prandtl number Pr = 0.7 (air). Positioning the plate at the bottom of the channel was found to give the highest average Nusselt numbers for the plate and channel. Dividing plate average Nusselt numbers as much as two times higher than the isolated plate Nusselt number were predicted numerically. Experimental measurements and data correlations for the divided channel are presented in Part II of this paper.

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