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Advances in Materials Science and Engineering
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 5286168, 10 pages
Research Article

The Effect of Natural Convection on Equiaxed Dendritic Growth: Quantitative Phase-Field Simulation and Comparison with Synchrotron X-Ray Radiography Monitoring Data

Shenyang National Laboratory for Materials Science, Institute of Metal Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenyang, Liaoning 110016, China

Received 18 May 2016; Accepted 30 August 2016

Academic Editor: Paolo Ferro

Copyright © 2016 Xin Bo Qi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A two-dimensional (2D) quantitative phase-field model solved by adaptive finite element method is employed to investigate the effect of natural convection on equiaxed dendritic growth of Al-4 wt.%Cu alloy under continuous cooling condition. The simulated results are compared with diffusion-limited simulations as well as the experimental data obtained by means of in situ and real-time X-ray imaging technique. The results demonstrate that natural convection induced by solute gradients around the dendritic crystal has an obvious influence on the dendrite morphology and growth dynamics. Since the rejected solute cooper from solid is heavier than aluminum, it sinks down along the interface from the top arm tip to the bottom arm which results in the formation of a circulatory flow vortex on both sides of the dendrite. Hence, the convection promotes the top arm advancing into the melt progressively whereas it suppresses the growth of bottom severely. As the dendrite grows into a large size, the convection becomes more intense and the morphology shows distinguished asymmetric shape. When compared with experimental data, the growth velocity is found to agree substantially better with the simulation incorporating natural convection than the purely diffusive phase-field predictions.