Finite-element method is used to predict the buoyancy-driven convection in a horizontal layer of fluid (aluminum melt) overlying a porous layer (cathode) saturated with the same fluid. This work aims to compare the Hall–Héroult process in electrolytic cell, where a layer of molten aluminum is reduced over the porous cathode surface. In this study, the physical system of the aluminum melt (fluid) and cathode (porous) together is considered as a composite system of fluid overlying porous layer. The main objective of this study to analyse the velocity components in thin fluid layer and its impact on a porous cathode surface if there is any. In addition, an externally imposed time-independent uniform magnetic field is used to analyse its influence on natural convective forces. The physical system of fluid overlying porous layer is analysed at different Hartmann, Darcy, and fluid-Rayleigh numbers for a fixed Prandtl number (Pr = 0.014). The predicted data show that the convective forces, caused by buoyancy-driven flow, are significant. It is shown that the velocity peaks moves toward the solid wall because of the presence of a magnetic field creating a stronger boundary-layer growth over the permeable cathode surface. The predicted results are plotted in terms of average Nusselt number and Darcy number to indicate the influence of pores and permeability on overall convective heat-transfer characteristics.
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