Fundamental Modes of Heat Transfer

Generally I like to write about cool stuff. Whether it is a new product like our TurboBlast Safety Air Gun, an application that really helped cool down a process for a customer, or even something cool I have done like a GORUCK event or training. Well, today is not one of those days, today we are going to talk about the opposite of cool … HEAT and more importantly the methods it is transferred.

1 – Energy Transfer – Heat

The process of how heat is generated all starts with a conversion of energy. Whether it is friction, or converting energy to light, or even converting energy to a different voltage through something like a transformer. No matter how it is generated, heat will begin to transfer. On the molecular level, atoms are storing the energy which will cause electrons to enter into an excited state and rapidly switch between shells. When the electron returns back to a lower shell (closer to the nucleus) energy is released; the energy released is then absorbed by atoms at a lower energy state and will continue until the thermal energy is equal between the two objects. Heat has four fundamental modes of transferring energy from surface to surface and they are as follows:

Conduction
Conduction can also be referred to as diffusion and is the transfer of energy between two objects that have made physical contact. When the two objects come into contact with each other thermal energy will flow from the object with the higher temp to the object with the lower temp. A good example of this is placing ice in a glass of water. The temperature is much lower than the room temperature therefore the thermal energy will flow from the water to the ice.

Radiation
Radiation is the transfer of thermal energy through empty space and does require a material between the two objects. Going back to the how thermal energy is released from atoms; when the electron returns to a lower energy shell the energy is released in the form of light ranging from infrared light to UV light. Energy in the form of light can then be absorbed by an object in the form of heat. Everyone experiences radiation transfer every day when you walk outside; the light from the sun’s radiation is what keeps this planet habitable.

Convection
Convection is the transfer of thermal energy between an object and a fluid in motion. The faster the fluid moves the faster heat is transferred. This relies on the specific heat property of a molecule in order to determine the rate at which heat will be transferred. The low the specific heat of a molecule the faster and more volume of the fluid will need to move in order to get full affect of convection. Convection is used in modern ovens in order to get a more even heat through out the food while cooking.

Advection
Advection is the physical transport of a fluid from point A to point B, which includes all internal thermal energy stored inside. Advection can be seen as one of the simpler ways of heat transfer.

No matter how the heat is transferred to an object, if it needs to be cooled there is a good chance that one of our Application Engineers has approached a similar issue and can help. To discuss, contact us and we will walk through the best method to eliminate the heat you need to.

Brian Farno
Application Engineer
BrianFarno@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_BF

1 – “Energy Transfer – Heat” by Siyavula Education is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Heat Transfer – How Energy Can Move

Heat. One word can bring to mind so many different things from cooking to sun tanning. But what is heat and how does it move. Heat is essentially a form of energy that flows in the form of changing temperatures; this form of energy will flow from high to low. When you describe something as being hot, you are actually describing that the item in question has a higher temperature than your hand thus the thermal (heat) energy is flowing from that object to your hand. This phenomenon is what is referred to as heat transfer. Heat transfer can be observed all the way down to the atomic scale with the property known as specific heat. Every molecule and atom can carry a set amount of energy which is denoted by specific heat; this value is the ration of energy (usually in Joules) divided by the mass multiplied by the temperature (J/g°C).

Energy moving through atoms in an object

But how does this heat move from object to object? On the atomic scale, the atoms are storing the energy which will cause electrons to enter into an excited state and rapidly switch between shells. When the electron returns back to a lower shell (closer to the nucleus) energy is released; the energy released is then absorbed by atoms at a lower energy state and will continue until the thermal energy is equal between the two objects. Heat has four fundamental modes of transferring energy from surface to surface and they are as follows:

Advection
Advection is the physical transport of a fluid from point A to point B, which includes all internal thermal energy stored inside. Advection can be seen as one of the simpler ways of heat transfer.

Conduction
Conduction can also be referred to as diffusion and is the transfer of energy between two objects that have made physical contact. When the two objects come into contact with each other thermal energy will flow from the object with the higher temp to the object with the lower temp. A good example of this is placing ice in a glass of water. The temperature is much lower than the room temperature therefore the thermal energy will flow from the water to the ice.

Convection
Convection is the transfer of thermal energy between an object and a fluid in motion. The faster the fluid moves the faster heat is transferred. This relies on the specific heat property of a molecule in order to determine the rate at which heat will be transferred. The low the specific heat of a molecule the faster and more volume of the fluid will need to move in order to get full affect of convection. Convection is used in modern ovens in order to get a more even heat through out the food while cooking.

Radiation
Radiation is the transfer of thermal energy through empty space and does require a material between the two objects. Going back to the how thermal energy is released from atoms; when the electron returns to a lower energy shell the energy is released in the form of light ranging from infrared light to UV light. Energy in the form of light can then be absorbed by an object in the form of heat. Everyone experiences radiation transfer every day when you walk outside; the light from the sun’s radiation is what keeps this planet habitable.

EXAIR’s engineered compressed air products are used every day to force air over hot surfaces to cool, as well as dry and/or blow off hot materials. Let us help you to understand and solve your heat transfer situations.

If you have any questions about compressed air systems or want more information on any of EXAIR’s products, give us a call, we have a team of Application Engineers ready to answer your questions and recommend a solution for your applications.

Cody Biehle
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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The picture “Energy Transfer – Heat” by Siyavula Education is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Convective Heat Transfer: How Do We Use It?

Vortex Tubes have been studied for decades, close to a century. These phenoms of physics and the theory behind them have been discussed on this blog before. Many customers gravitate toward Vortex Tubes when needing parts and processes cooled. The fact of the matter is there is still more to be discussed on how to correctly select the which product may be needed in your application. The reason being, area, temperatures, and air flow volumes play a large role in choosing the best product for cooling. The tendency is to say, well I need to cool this down as far as possible so I need the coldest air possible which leads to the assumption that a Vortex Tube will be the right solution. That isn’t always the best option and we are going to discuss how to best determine which will be needed for your application. The first step, is to call, chat, or email an Application Engineer so that we can learn about your application and assist with the implementation of the Vortex Tube or other cooling product for you. You may also want to try and take some initial readings of temperatures. The temperatures that would help to determine how much cooling is going to be needed are listed below:
  • Part temperature
  • Part dimensions
  • Part material
  • Ambient environment temperature
  • Compressed air temperature
  • Compressed air line size
  • Amount of time desired to cool the part: Lastly desired temperature

With these bits of information, we use cooling equations to help determine what temperature and volume of air will best suit your needs to generate the cooling required. One of the equations we will sometimes use is the Forced or Assisted Convective Heat Transfer. Why do we use convective heat transfer rather than Natural Heat Transfer? Well, the air from EXAIR’s Intelligent Compressed Air Products® is always moving so it is a forced or assisted movement to the surface of the part. Thus, the need for Convective Heat Transfer.
Calculation of convection is shown below: q = hc A dT Where: q = Heat transferred per unit of time. (Watts, BTU/hr) A = Heat transfer area of the surface (m2 , ft2) hc= Convective heat transfer coefficient of the process (W/(m2°C), BTU/(ft2 h °F) dT = Temperature difference between the surface and the bulk fluid (compressed air in this case) (°C, °F)

The convective heat transfer coefficient for air flow is able to be approximated down to hc = 10.45 – v + 10 v1/2

Where: hc = Heat transfer coefficient (kCal/m2 h °C) v = relative speed between the surface of the object and the air (m/s)

This example is limited to velocities and there are different heat transfer methods, so this will give a ballpark calculation that will tell us if we have a shot at a providing a solution.  The chart below is also useful to see the Convective Heat Transfer, it can be a little tricky to read as the units for each axis are just enough to make you think of TRON light cycles. Rather than stare at this and try to find the hidden picture, contact an Application Engineer, we’ve got this figured out. convective_heat_transfer_chart

1 – Convective Heat Transfer Chart
Again, you don’t have to figure any of this out on your own. The first step to approach a cooling application is to reach out to an Application Engineer, we deal with these types of applications and equations regularly and can help you determine what the best approach is going to be.
Brian Farno Application Engineer BrianFarno@EXAIR.com @EXAIR_BF
1 – Engineering ToolBox, (2003). Convective Heat Transfer. [online] Available at: https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/convective-heat-transfer-d_430.html [02/10/2021]

Different Types of Heat Transfer and How to Calculate their Values

Heat transfer like the name states is the way that heat transfers from one entity to another.  Heat is defined as a motion of molecules.  So, heat is anything above the absolute temperature of 0 Kelvin (-460 deg. F or -273.15 deg. C).  Thus, heat is relative.  Now, for heat to transfer, we need to have a difference in temperatures.  Energy like heat will always travel from the higher temperatures toward the lower temperatures; and there are three major ways that this can happen; conduction, convection, and radiation.  By the first Law of Thermodynamics, energy is neither created or destroyed, only transferred.  In this blog, I will explain each type of heat transfer.

  • Heat Transfer by Conduction

Conduction is about two stationary objects that are in contact.  The vibration of the molecules of one object will affect the vibration of the molecules adjacent to it.  Examples of conduction would be the cold air outside a window pane in a warm room.  Or a hot iron sitting on your wrinkled pants.  The heat from the hotter object will flow to the cooler object.  Thus, the hot object will become cooler while the cool object will become hotter.  This can be explained in Equation 1:

Equation 1 :

Q = -k * A * (T2 – T1) / x

Q – Heat Transfer (Watts)

k – Thermal Conductivity of material (Watts/K-m)

A – Heat Transfer Area (m2)

T2 – Temperature of object 2 (Kelvin, K)

T1 – Temperature of object 1 (Kelvin, K)

x – Material Thickness (m)

 

  • Heat Transfer by Convection

Convection describes heat transfer between surfaces that are in motion. This happens by moving a fluid which can be a liquid or air across an object.  There are two types, free convection and assisted convection.  Free convection is caused by gravity or buoyancy.  The basement will be cooler than the second floor because hot air will rise.  The density of warm air is less than cold air, so it will rise.  As for assisted or forced convection, the fluid will be moved over a surface with a pump, fan, or some other type of mechanical device.  An example of forced convection would be blowing your breath over your cup of coffee to cool.  Another example is the EXAIR Super Air Amplifier.  This device uses a small amount of compressed air to amplify the volume of ambient air.  When blown across a heated surface, it can cool the object quickly.   The calculation for heat transfer by convection is shown in Equation 2.

Equation 2:

Q = h * A * (T2 – T1)

Q – Heat Transfer (Watts)

h – Convective Coefficient (Watts/K-m2)

A – Heat Transfer Area (m2)

T2 – Temperature of object 2 (Kelvin, K)

T1 – Temperature of object 1 (Kelvin, K)

 

  • Heat Transfer by Radiation

Radiation refers to the transfer of heat through electromagnetic waves. Of course, the largest radiation source is our sun.  You can feel the difference when you wear a black shirt versus a white shirt.  Any object will adsorb, reflect, and transmit the radiation at different values depending on the color, surface finish, and material type.  This is called emissivity.  Emissivity, or e, is a coefficient that determines the ability of that object to adsorb the heat from radiation.  Thus, the value of e is between zero and one, and it is unitless.  By definition, 0 < e < 1.  Thus, a black object can have an emissivity of 1.  .  This is important for the EXAIR Cabinet Cooler Systems.  If the panel is outside and in full sun, we would use the color to determine the additional heat that can be absorbed by your electrical panel.  The equation for radiation heat transfer is shown in Equation 3.

Equation 3:

Q = e * A * s * ((Th)4 – (Tc)4)

Q – Heat Transfer (Watts)

e – Emissivity Coefficient

A – Heat Transfer Area (m2)

s – Stefan-Boltzmann Constant (5.6708 * 10-8 Watts/K4 m2)

Th – Temperature of hot body (Kelvin, K)

Tc – Temperature of cold body (Kelvin, K)

Thank you for reading the blog about the three main methods for heat transfer.  If you need to cool products, or remove the heat, EXAIR has many types of products to accomplish this.  You can contact an Application Engineer to discuss any of your applications dealing with heat and heat transfer.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

 

Image courtesy of Arman Cagle, Creative Commons License