The initiation of natural convection in a fluid confined above and below by rigid, perfectly conducting surfaces and laterally by vertical walls of arbitrary thermal conductivity which form a rectangle is examined. The linearized perturbation equations are obtained in the usual manner and reduced to an eigenvalue problem. The Rayleigh number is the eigenvalue and is a function of the lateral-wall conductance and horizontal plan form (aspect ratios). The problem associated with satisfying the no-slip boundary conditions on all surfaces is surmounted by using the Galerkin method. Results are compared with experiments and shown to be in good agreement.

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