Heat transfer

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Simulation of thermal convection in the Earth's mantle. Colors span from red and green to blue with decreasing temperatures. A hot, less-dense lower boundary layer sends plumes of hot material upwards, and cold material from the top moves downwards. Convection-snapshot.png
Simulation of thermal convection in the Earth's mantle. Colors span from red and green to blue with decreasing temperatures. A hot, less-dense lower boundary layer sends plumes of hot material upwards, and cold material from the top moves downwards.

Heat transfer is a discipline of thermal engineering that concerns the generation, use, conversion, and exchange of thermal energy (heat) between physical systems. Heat transfer is classified into various mechanisms, such as thermal conduction, thermal convection, thermal radiation, and transfer of energy by phase changes. Engineers also consider the transfer of mass of differing chemical species, either cold or hot, to achieve heat transfer. While these mechanisms have distinct characteristics, they often occur simultaneously in the same system.


Heat conduction, also called diffusion, is the direct microscopic exchange of kinetic energy of particles through the boundary between two systems. When an object is at a different temperature from another body or its surroundings, heat flows so that the body and the surroundings reach the same temperature, at which point they are in thermal equilibrium. Such spontaneous heat transfer always occurs from a region of high temperature to another region of lower temperature, as described in the second law of thermodynamics.

Heat convection occurs when bulk flow of a fluid (gas or liquid) carries heat along with the flow of matter in the fluid. The flow of fluid may be forced by external processes, or sometimes (in gravitational fields) by buoyancy forces caused when thermal energy expands the fluid (for example in a fire plume), thus influencing its own transfer. The latter process is often called "natural convection". All convective processes also move heat partly by diffusion, as well. Another form of convection is forced convection. In this case the fluid is forced to flow by use of a pump, fan or other mechanical means.

Thermal radiation occurs through a vacuum or any transparent medium (solid or fluid or gas). It is the transfer of energy by means of photons in electromagnetic waves governed by the same laws. [1]


Earth's long wave thermal radiation intensity, from clouds, atmosphere and surface. Erbe.gif
Earth's long wave thermal radiation intensity, from clouds, atmosphere and surface.

Heat is defined in physics as the transfer of thermal energy across a well-defined boundary around a thermodynamic system. The thermodynamic free energy is the amount of work that a thermodynamic system can perform. Enthalpy is a thermodynamic potential, designated by the letter "H", that is the sum of the internal energy of the system (U) plus the product of pressure (P) and volume (V). Joule is a unit to quantify energy, work, or the amount of heat.

Heat transfer is a process function (or path function), as opposed to functions of state; therefore, the amount of heat transferred in a thermodynamic process that changes the state of a system depends on how that process occurs, not only the net difference between the initial and final states of the process.

Thermodynamic and mechanical heat transfer is calculated with the heat transfer coefficient, the proportionality between the heat flux and the thermodynamic driving force for the flow of heat. Heat flux is a quantitative, vectorial representation of heat-flow through a surface. [2]

In engineering contexts, the term heat is taken as synonymous to thermal energy. This usage has its origin in the historical interpretation of heat as a fluid (caloric) that can be transferred by various causes, [3] and that is also common in the language of laymen and everyday life.

The transport equations for thermal energy (Fourier's law), mechanical momentum (Newton's law for fluids), and mass transfer (Fick's laws of diffusion) are similar, [4] [5] and analogies among these three transport processes have been developed to facilitate prediction of conversion from any one to the others. [5]

Thermal engineering concerns the generation, use, conversion, and exchange of heat transfer. As such, heat transfer is involved in almost every sector of the economy. [6] Heat transfer is classified into various mechanisms, such as thermal conduction, thermal convection, thermal radiation, and transfer of energy by phase changes.


The four fundamental modes of heat transfer illustrated with a campfire Heat-transmittance-means2.jpg
The four fundamental modes of heat transfer illustrated with a campfire

The fundamental modes of heat transfer are:

Advection is the transport mechanism of a fluid from one location to another, and is dependent on motion and momentum of that fluid.
Conduction or diffusion
The transfer of energy between objects that are in physical contact. Thermal conductivity is the property of a material to conduct heat and evaluated primarily in terms of Fourier's Law for heat conduction.
The transfer of energy between an object and its environment, due to fluid motion. The average temperature is a reference for evaluating properties related to convective heat transfer.
The transfer of energy by the emission of electromagnetic radiation.


By transferring matter, energy—including thermal energy—is moved by the physical transfer of a hot or cold object from one place to another. [7] This can be as simple as placing hot water in a bottle and heating a bed, or the movement of an iceberg in changing ocean currents. A practical example is thermal hydraulics.[ citation needed ] This can be described by the formula:



On a microscopic scale, heat conduction occurs as hot, rapidly moving or vibrating atoms and molecules interact with neighboring atoms and molecules, transferring some of their energy (heat) to these neighboring particles. In other words, heat is transferred by conduction when adjacent atoms vibrate against one another, or as electrons move from one atom to another. Conduction is the most significant means of heat transfer within a solid or between solid objects in thermal contact. Fluids—especially gases—are less conductive. Thermal contact conductance is the study of heat conduction between solid bodies in contact. [8] The process of heat transfer from one place to another place without the movement of particles is called conduction, such as when placing a hand on a cold glass of water—heat is conducted from the warm skin to the cold glass, but if the hand is held a few inches from the glass, little conduction would occur since air is a poor conductor of heat. Steady state conduction is an idealized model of conduction that happens when the temperature difference driving the conduction is constant, so that after a time, the spatial distribution of temperatures in the conducting object does not change any further (see Fourier's law). [9] In steady state conduction, the amount of heat entering a section is equal to amount of heat coming out, since the change in temperature (a measure of heat energy) is zero. [8] An example of steady state conduction is the heat flow through walls of a warm house on a cold day—inside the house is maintained at a high temperature and, outside, the temperature stays low, so the transfer of heat per unit time stays near a constant rate determined by the insulation in the wall and the spatial distribution of temperature in the walls will be approximately constant over time.

Transient conduction (see Heat equation) occurs when the temperature within an object changes as a function of time. Analysis of transient systems is more complex, and analytic solutions of the heat equation are only valid for idealized model systems. Practical applications are generally investigated using numerical methods, approximation techniques, or empirical study. [8]


The flow of fluid may be forced by external processes, or sometimes (in gravitational fields) by buoyancy forces caused when thermal energy expands the fluid (for example in a fire plume), thus influencing its own transfer. The latter process is often called "natural convection". All convective processes also move heat partly by diffusion, as well. Another form of convection is forced convection. In this case the fluid is forced to flow by using a pump, fan or other mechanical means.

Convective heat transfer, or simply, convection, is the transfer of heat from one place to another by the movement of fluids, a process that is essentially the transfer of heat via mass transfer. Bulk motion of fluid enhances heat transfer in many physical situations, such as (for example) between a solid surface and the fluid. [10] Convection is usually the dominant form of heat transfer in liquids and gases. Although sometimes discussed as a third method of heat transfer, convection is usually used to describe the combined effects of heat conduction within the fluid (diffusion) and heat transference by bulk fluid flow streaming. [11] The process of transport by fluid streaming is known as advection, but pure advection is a term that is generally associated only with mass transport in fluids, such as advection of pebbles in a river. In the case of heat transfer in fluids, where transport by advection in a fluid is always also accompanied by transport via heat diffusion (also known as heat conduction) the process of heat convection is understood to refer to the sum of heat transport by advection and diffusion/conduction.

Free, or natural, convection occurs when bulk fluid motions (streams and currents) are caused by buoyancy forces that result from density variations due to variations of temperature in the fluid. Forced convection is a term used when the streams and currents in the fluid are induced by external means—such as fans, stirrers, and pumps—creating an artificially induced convection current. [12]


Convective cooling is sometimes described as Newton's law of cooling:

The rate of heat loss of a body is proportional to the temperature difference between the body and its surroundings.

However, by definition, the validity of Newton's law of Cooling requires that the rate of heat loss from convection be a linear function of ("proportional to") the temperature difference that drives heat transfer, and in convective cooling this is sometimes not the case. In general, convection is not linearly dependent on temperature gradients, and in some cases is strongly nonlinear. In these cases, Newton's law does not apply.

Convection vs. conduction

In a body of fluid that is heated from underneath its container, conduction and convection can be considered to compete for dominance. If heat conduction is too great, fluid moving down by convection is heated by conduction so fast that its downward movement will be stopped due to its buoyancy, while fluid moving up by convection is cooled by conduction so fast that its driving buoyancy will diminish. On the other hand, if heat conduction is very low, a large temperature gradient may be formed and convection might be very strong.

The Rayleigh number () is the product of the Grashof () and Prandtl () numbers. It is a measure which determines the relative strength of conduction and convection. [13]


The Rayleigh number can be understood as the ratio between the rate of heat transfer by convection to the rate of heat transfer by conduction; or, equivalently, the ratio between the corresponding timescales (i.e. conduction timescale divided by convection timescale), up to a numerical factor. This can be seen as follows, where all calculations are up to numerical factors depending on the geometry of the system.

The buoyancy force driving the convection is roughly , so the corresponding pressure is roughly . In steady state, this is canceled by the shear stress due to viscosity, and therefore roughly equals , where V is the typical fluid velocity due to convection and the order of its timescale.[ citation needed ] The conduction timescale, on the other hand, is of the order of .

Convection occurs when the Rayleigh number is above 1,000–2,000.


Red-hot iron object, transferring heat to the surrounding environment through thermal radiation Hot metalwork.jpg
Red-hot iron object, transferring heat to the surrounding environment through thermal radiation

Radiative heat transfer is the transfer of energy via thermal radiation, i.e., electromagnetic waves. [1] It occurs across vacuum or any transparent medium (solid or fluid or gas). [14] Thermal radiation is emitted by all objects at temperatures above absolute zero, due to random movements of atoms and molecules in matter. Since these atoms and molecules are composed of charged particles (protons and electrons), their movement results in the emission of electromagnetic radiation which carries away energy. Radiation is typically only important in engineering applications for very hot objects, or for objects with a large temperature difference.

When the objects and distances separating them are large in size and compared to the wavelength of thermal radiation, the rate of transfer of radiant energy is best described by the Stefan-Boltzmann equation. For an object in vacuum, the equation is:

For radiative transfer between two objects, the equation is as follows:


The blackbody limit established by the Stefan-Boltzmann equation can be exceeded when the objects exchanging thermal radiation or the distances separating them are comparable in scale or smaller than the dominant thermal wavelength. The study of these cases is called near-field radiative heat transfer.

Radiation from the sun, or solar radiation, can be harvested for heat and power. [16] Unlike conductive and convective forms of heat transfer, thermal radiation – arriving within a narrow angle i.e. coming from a source much smaller than its distance – can be concentrated in a small spot by using reflecting mirrors, which is exploited in concentrating solar power generation or a burning glass. [17] For example, the sunlight reflected from mirrors heats the PS10 solar power tower and during the day it can heat water to 285 °C (545 °F).[ citation needed ]

The reachable temperature at the target is limited by the temperature of the hot source of radiation. (T4-law lets the reverse-flow of radiation back to the source rise.) The (on its surface) somewhat 4000 K hot sun allows to reach coarsly 3000 K (or 3000 °C, which is about 3273 K) at a small probe in the focus spot of a big concave, concentrating mirror of the Mont-Louis Solar Furnace in France. [18]

Phase transition

Lightning is a highly visible form of energy transfer and is an example of plasma present at Earth's surface. Typically, lightning discharges 30,000 amperes at up to 100 million volts, and emits light, radio waves, X-rays and even gamma rays. Plasma temperatures in lightning can approach 28,000 kelvins (27,726.85 degC) (49,940.33 degF) and electron densities may exceed 10 m . Lightning in Arlington.jpg
Lightning is a highly visible form of energy transfer and is an example of plasma present at Earth's surface. Typically, lightning discharges 30,000 amperes at up to 100 million volts, and emits light, radio waves, X-rays and even gamma rays. Plasma temperatures in lightning can approach 28,000 kelvins (27,726.85 °C) (49,940.33 °F) and electron densities may exceed 10 m .

Phase transition or phase change, takes place in a thermodynamic system from one phase or state of matter to another one by heat transfer. Phase change examples are the melting of ice or the boiling of water. The Mason equation explains the growth of a water droplet based on the effects of heat transport on evaporation and condensation.

Phase transitions involve the four fundamental states of matter:


Nucleate boiling of water. Kochendes wasser02.jpg
Nucleate boiling of water.

The boiling point of a substance is the temperature at which the vapor pressure of the liquid equals the pressure surrounding the liquid [20] [21] and the liquid evaporates resulting in an abrupt change in vapor volume.

In a closed system, saturation temperature and boiling point mean the same thing. The saturation temperature is the temperature for a corresponding saturation pressure at which a liquid boils into its vapor phase. The liquid can be said to be saturated with thermal energy. Any addition of thermal energy results in a phase transition.

At standard atmospheric pressure and low temperatures, no boiling occurs and the heat transfer rate is controlled by the usual single-phase mechanisms. As the surface temperature is increased, local boiling occurs and vapor bubbles nucleate, grow into the surrounding cooler fluid, and collapse. This is sub-cooled nucleate boiling, and is a very efficient heat transfer mechanism. At high bubble generation rates, the bubbles begin to interfere and the heat flux no longer increases rapidly with surface temperature (this is the departure from nucleate boiling, or DNB).

At similar standard atmospheric pressure and high temperatures, the hydrodynamically-quieter regime of film boiling is reached. Heat fluxes across the stable vapor layers are low, but rise slowly with temperature. Any contact between fluid and the surface that may be seen probably leads to the extremely rapid nucleation of a fresh vapor layer ("spontaneous nucleation"). At higher temperatures still, a maximum in the heat flux is reached (the critical heat flux, or CHF).

The Leidenfrost Effect demonstrates how nucleate boiling slows heat transfer due to gas bubbles on the heater's surface. As mentioned, gas-phase thermal conductivity is much lower than liquid-phase thermal conductivity, so the outcome is a kind of "gas thermal barrier".


Condensation occurs when a vapor is cooled and changes its phase to a liquid. During condensation, the latent heat of vaporization must be released. The amount of the heat is the same as that absorbed during vaporization at the same fluid pressure. [22]

There are several types of condensation:

Dropwise condensation is difficult to sustain reliably; therefore, industrial equipment is normally designed to operate in filmwise condensation mode.


Ice melting Melting icecubes.gif
Ice melting

Melting is a thermal process that results in the phase transition of a substance from a solid to a liquid. The internal energy of a substance is increased, typically with heat or pressure, resulting in a rise of its temperature to the melting point, at which the ordering of ionic or molecular entities in the solid breaks down to a less ordered state and the solid liquefies. Molten substances generally have reduced viscosity with elevated temperature; an exception to this maxim is the element sulfur, whose viscosity increases to a point due to polymerization and then decreases with higher temperatures in its molten state. [23]

Modeling approaches

Heat transfer can be modeled in various ways.

Heat equation

The heat equation is an important partial differential equation that describes the distribution of heat (or variation in temperature) in a given region over time. In some cases, exact solutions of the equation are available; [24] in other cases the equation must be solved numerically using computational methods such as DEM-based models for thermal/reacting particulate systems (as critically reviewed by Peng et al. [25] ).

Lumped system analysis

Lumped system analysis often reduces the complexity of the equations to one first-order linear differential equation, in which case heating and cooling are described by a simple exponential solution, often referred to as Newton's law of cooling.

System analysis by the lumped capacitance model is a common approximation in transient conduction that may be used whenever heat conduction within an object is much faster than heat conduction across the boundary of the object. This is a method of approximation that reduces one aspect of the transient conduction system—that within the object—to an equivalent steady state system. That is, the method assumes that the temperature within the object is completely uniform, although its value may be changing in time.

In this method, the ratio of the conductive heat resistance within the object to the convective heat transfer resistance across the object's boundary, known as the Biot number , is calculated. For small Biot numbers, the approximation of spatially uniform temperature within the object can be used: it can be presumed that heat transferred into the object has time to uniformly distribute itself, due to the lower resistance to doing so, as compared with the resistance to heat entering the object. [26]

Climate models

Climate models study the radiant heat transfer by using quantitative methods to simulate the interactions of the atmosphere, oceans, land surface, and ice.


Heat exposure as part of a fire test for firestop products Nelson tulsa test.jpg
Heat exposure as part of a fire test for firestop products

Heat transfer has broad application to the functioning of numerous devices and systems. Heat-transfer principles may be used to preserve, increase, or decrease temperature in a wide variety of circumstances.[ citation needed ] Heat transfer methods are used in numerous disciplines, such as automotive engineering, thermal management of electronic devices and systems, climate control, insulation, materials processing, chemical engineering and power station engineering.

Insulation, radiance and resistance

Thermal insulators are materials specifically designed to reduce the flow of heat by limiting conduction, convection, or both. Thermal resistance is a heat property and the measurement by which an object or material resists to heat flow (heat per time unit or thermal resistance) to temperature difference.

Radiance or spectral radiance are measures of the quantity of radiation that passes through or is emitted. Radiant barriers are materials that reflect radiation, and therefore reduce the flow of heat from radiation sources. Good insulators are not necessarily good radiant barriers, and vice versa. Metal, for instance, is an excellent reflector and a poor insulator.

The effectiveness of a radiant barrier is indicated by its reflectivity, which is the fraction of radiation reflected. A material with a high reflectivity (at a given wavelength) has a low emissivity (at that same wavelength), and vice versa. At any specific wavelength, reflectivity=1 - emissivity. An ideal radiant barrier would have a reflectivity of 1, and would therefore reflect 100 percent of incoming radiation. Vacuum flasks, or Dewars, are silvered to approach this ideal. In the vacuum of space, satellites use multi-layer insulation, which consists of many layers of aluminized (shiny) Mylar to greatly reduce radiation heat transfer and control satellite temperature.[ citation needed ]


Schematic flow of energy in a heat engine. Heat engine.png
Schematic flow of energy in a heat engine.

A heat engine is a system that performs the conversion of a flow of thermal energy (heat) to mechanical energy to perform mechanical work. [27] [28]

A thermocouple is a temperature-measuring device and widely used type of temperature sensor for measurement and control, and can also be used to convert heat into electric power.

A thermoelectric cooler is a solid state electronic device that pumps (transfers) heat from one side of the device to the other when electric current is passed through it. It is based on the Peltier effect.

A thermal diode or thermal rectifier is a device that causes heat to flow preferentially in one direction.

Heat exchangers

A heat exchanger is used for more efficient heat transfer or to dissipate heat. Heat exchangers are widely used in refrigeration, air conditioning, space heating, power generation, and chemical processing. One common example of a heat exchanger is a car's radiator, in which the hot coolant fluid is cooled by the flow of air over the radiator's surface.[ citation needed ] [29]

Common types of heat exchanger flows include parallel flow, counter flow, and cross flow. In parallel flow, both fluids move in the same direction while transferring heat; in counter flow, the fluids move in opposite directions; and in cross flow, the fluids move at right angles to each other. Common types of heat exchangers include shell and tube, double pipe, extruded finned pipe, spiral fin pipe, u-tube, and stacked plate. Each type has certain advantages and disadvantages over other types.[ further explanation needed ]

A heat sink is a component that transfers heat generated within a solid material to a fluid medium, such as air or a liquid. Examples of heat sinks are the heat exchangers used in refrigeration and air conditioning systems or the radiator in a car. A heat pipe is another heat-transfer device that combines thermal conductivity and phase transition to efficiently transfer heat between two solid interfaces.



Efficient energy use is the goal to reduce the amount of energy required in heating or cooling. In architecture, condensation and air currents can cause cosmetic or structural damage. An energy audit can help to assess the implementation of recommended corrective procedures. For instance, insulation improvements, air sealing of structural leaks or the addition of energy-efficient windows and doors. [30]

Climate engineering

An example application in climate engineering includes the creation of Biochar through the pyrolysis process. Thus, storing greenhouse gases in carbon reduces the radiative forcing capacity in the atmosphere, causing more long-wave (infrared) radiation out to Space. Biochar.jpg
An example application in climate engineering includes the creation of Biochar through the pyrolysis process. Thus, storing greenhouse gases in carbon reduces the radiative forcing capacity in the atmosphere, causing more long-wave (infrared) radiation out to Space.

Climate engineering consists of carbon dioxide removal and solar radiation management. Since the amount of carbon dioxide determines the radiative balance of Earth atmosphere, carbon dioxide removal techniques can be applied to reduce the radiative forcing. Solar radiation management is the attempt to absorb less solar radiation to offset the effects of greenhouse gases.

Greenhouse effect

A representation of the exchanges of energy between the source (the Sun), the Earth's surface, the Earth's atmosphere, and the ultimate sink outer space. The ability of the atmosphere to capture and recycle energy emitted by the Earth surface is the defining characteristic of the greenhouse effect. The green house effect.svg
A representation of the exchanges of energy between the source (the Sun), the Earth's surface, the Earth's atmosphere, and the ultimate sink outer space. The ability of the atmosphere to capture and recycle energy emitted by the Earth surface is the defining characteristic of the greenhouse effect.

The greenhouse effect is a process by which thermal radiation from a planetary surface is absorbed by atmospheric greenhouse gases, and is re-radiated in all directions. Since part of this re-radiation is back towards the surface and the lower atmosphere, it results in an elevation of the average surface temperature above what it would be in the absence of the gases.

Heat transfer in the human body

The principles of heat transfer in engineering systems can be applied to the human body in order to determine how the body transfers heat. Heat is produced in the body by the continuous metabolism of nutrients which provides energy for the systems of the body. [31] The human body must maintain a consistent internal temperature in order to maintain healthy bodily functions. Therefore, excess heat must be dissipated from the body to keep it from overheating. When a person engages in elevated levels of physical activity, the body requires additional fuel which increases the metabolic rate and the rate of heat production. The body must then use additional methods to remove the additional heat produced in order to keep the internal temperature at a healthy level.

Heat transfer by convection is driven by the movement of fluids over the surface of the body. This convective fluid can be either a liquid or a gas. For heat transfer from the outer surface of the body, the convection mechanism is dependent on the surface area of the body, the velocity of the air, and the temperature gradient between the surface of the skin and the ambient air. [32] The normal temperature of the body is approximately 37 °C. Heat transfer occurs more readily when the temperature of the surroundings is significantly less than the normal body temperature. This concept explains why a person feels cold when not enough covering is worn when exposed to a cold environment. Clothing can be considered an insulator which provides thermal resistance to heat flow over the covered portion of the body. [33] This thermal resistance causes the temperature on the surface of the clothing to be less than the temperature on the surface of the skin. This smaller temperature gradient between the surface temperature and the ambient temperature will cause a lower rate of heat transfer than if the skin were not covered.

In order to ensure that one portion of the body is not significantly hotter than another portion, heat must be distributed evenly through the bodily tissues. Blood flowing through blood vessels acts as a convective fluid and helps to prevent any buildup of excess heat inside the tissues of the body. This flow of blood through the vessels can be modeled as pipe flow in an engineering system. The heat carried by the blood is determined by the temperature of the surrounding tissue, the diameter of the blood vessel, the thickness of the fluid, velocity of the flow, and the heat transfer coefficient of the blood. The velocity, blood vessel diameter, and the fluid thickness can all be related with the Reynolds Number, a dimensionless number used in fluid mechanics to characterize the flow of fluids.

Latent heat loss, also known as evaporative heat loss, accounts for a large fraction of heat loss from the body. When the core temperature of the body increases, the body triggers sweat glands in the skin to bring additional moisture to the surface of the skin. The liquid is then transformed into vapor which removes heat from the surface of the body. [34] The rate of evaporation heat loss is directly related to the vapor pressure at the skin surface and the amount of moisture present on the skin. [32] Therefore, the maximum of heat transfer will occur when the skin is completely wet. The body continuously loses water by evaporation but the most significant amount of heat loss occurs during periods of increased physical activity.

Cooling techniques

Evaporative cooling

A traditional air cooler in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, India Air cooler.jpg
A traditional air cooler in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, India

Evaporative cooling happens when water vapor is added to the surrounding air. The energy needed to evaporate the water is taken from the air in the form of sensible heat and converted into latent heat, while the air remains at a constant enthalpy. Latent heat describes the amount of heat that is needed to evaporate the liquid; this heat comes from the liquid itself and the surrounding gas and surfaces. The greater the difference between the two temperatures, the greater the evaporative cooling effect. When the temperatures are the same, no net evaporation of water in air occurs; thus, there is no cooling effect.

Laser cooling

In quantum physics, laser cooling is used to achieve temperatures of near absolute zero (−273.15 °C, −459.67 °F) of atomic and molecular samples to observe unique quantum effects that can only occur at this heat level.

  • Doppler cooling is the most common method of laser cooling.
  • Sympathetic cooling is a process in which particles of one type cool particles of another type. Typically, atomic ions that can be directly laser-cooled are used to cool nearby ions or atoms. This technique allows cooling of ions and atoms that cannot be laser cooled directly.[ citation needed ]

Magnetic cooling

Magnetic evaporative cooling is a process for lowering the temperature of a group of atoms, after pre-cooled by methods such as laser cooling. Magnetic refrigeration cools below 0.3K, by making use of the magnetocaloric effect.

Radiative cooling

Radiative cooling is the process by which a body loses heat by radiation. Outgoing energy is an important effect in the Earth's energy budget. In the case of the Earth-atmosphere system, it refers to the process by which long-wave (infrared) radiation is emitted to balance the absorption of short-wave (visible) energy from the Sun. The thermosphere (top of atmosphere) cools to space primarily by infrared energy radiated by carbon dioxide (CO2) at 15 μm and by nitric oxide (NO) at 5.3 μm. [35] Convective transport of heat and evaporative transport of latent heat both remove heat from the surface and redistribute it in the atmosphere.

Thermal energy storage

Thermal energy storage includes technologies for collecting and storing energy for later use. It may be employed to balance energy demand between day and nighttime. The thermal reservoir may be maintained at a temperature above or below that of the ambient environment. Applications include space heating, domestic or process hot water systems, or generating electricity.

See also

Related Research Articles

Troposphere Lowest layer of Earths atmosphere

The troposphere is the first and lowest layer of the atmosphere of the Earth, and contains 75% of the total mass of the planetary atmosphere, 99% of the total mass of water vapour and aerosols, and is where most weather phenomena occur. From the planetary surface of the Earth, the average height of the troposphere is 18 km in the tropics; 17 km in the middle latitudes; and 6 km in the high latitudes of the polar regions in winter; thus the average height of the troposphere is 13 km.

Convection Fluid flow that occurs due to heterogeneous fluid properties and body forces.

Convection is single or multiphase fluid flow that occurs spontaneously due to the combined effects of material property heterogeneity and body forces on a fluid, most commonly density and gravity. When the cause of the convection is unspecified, convection due to the effects of thermal expansion and buoyancy can be assumed. Convection may also take place in soft solids or mixtures where particles can flow.

Thermal insulation Minimization of heat transfer

Thermal insulation is the reduction of heat transfer between objects in thermal contact or in range of radiative influence. Thermal insulation can be achieved with specially engineered methods or processes, as well as with suitable object shapes and materials.

Thermal conduction is the transfer of internal energy by microscopic collisions of particles and movement of electrons within a body. The colliding particles, which include molecules, atoms and electrons, transfer disorganized microscopic kinetic and potential energy, jointly known as internal energy. Conduction takes place in all phases: solid, liquid, and gas.

Newton's law of cooling states that the rate of heat loss of a body is directly proportional to the difference in the temperatures between the body and its surroundings. The law is frequently qualified to include the condition that the temperature difference is small and the nature of heat transfer mechanism remains the same. As such, it is equivalent to a statement that the heat transfer coefficient, which mediates between heat losses and temperature differences, is a constant. This condition is generally met in heat conduction as the thermal conductivity of most materials is only weakly dependent on temperature. In convective heat transfer, Newton's Law is followed for forced air or pumped fluid cooling, where the properties of the fluid do not vary strongly with temperature, but it is only approximately true for buoyancy-driven convection, where the velocity of the flow increases with temperature difference. Finally, in the case of heat transfer by thermal radiation, Newton's law of cooling holds only for very small temperature differences.

Heat exchanger Equipment used to transfer heat between fluids

A heat exchanger is a system used to transfer heat between two or more fluids. Heat exchangers are used in both cooling and heating processes. The fluids may be separated by a solid wall to prevent mixing or they may be in direct contact. They are widely used in space heating, refrigeration, air conditioning, power stations, chemical plants, petrochemical plants, petroleum refineries, natural-gas processing, and sewage treatment. The classic example of a heat exchanger is found in an internal combustion engine in which a circulating fluid known as engine coolant flows through radiator coils and air flows past the coils, which cools the coolant and heats the incoming air. Another example is the heat sink, which is a passive heat exchanger that transfers the heat generated by an electronic or a mechanical device to a fluid medium, often air or a liquid coolant.

Latent heat Thermodynamic phase transition energy

Latent heat is energy released or absorbed, by a body or a thermodynamic system, during a constant-temperature process — usually a first-order phase transition.

The Biot number (Bi) is a dimensionless quantity used in heat transfer calculations. It is named after the eighteenth century French physicist Jean-Baptiste Biot (1774–1862), and gives a simple index of the ratio of the thermal resistances inside of a body and at the surface of a body. This ratio determines whether or not the temperatures inside a body will vary significantly in space, while the body heats or cools over time, from a thermal gradient applied to its surface.

Thermal radiation Electromagnetic radiation generated by the thermal motion of particles

Thermal radiation is electromagnetic radiation generated by the thermal motion of particles in matter. All matter with a temperature greater than absolute zero emits thermal radiation. Particle motion results in charge-acceleration or dipole oscillation which produces electromagnetic radiation.

Lapse rate

The lapse rate is the rate at which an atmospheric variable, normally temperature in Earth's atmosphere, falls with altitude. Lapse rate arises from the word lapse, in the sense of a gradual fall. In dry air, the adiabatic lapse rate is 9.8 °C/km.

Lumped-element model

The lumped-element model simplifies the description of the behaviour of spatially distributed physical systems into a topology consisting of discrete entities that approximate the behaviour of the distributed system under certain assumptions. It is useful in electrical systems, mechanical multibody systems, heat transfer, acoustics, etc.

Heat pipe

A heat pipe is a heat-transfer device that combines the principles of both thermal conductivity and phase transition to effectively transfer heat between two solid interfaces.

For fluid power, a working fluid is a gas or liquid that primarily transfers force, motion, or mechanical energy. In hydraulics, water or hydraulic fluid transfers force between hydraulic components such as hydraulic pumps, hydraulic cylinders, and hydraulic motors that are assembled into hydraulic machinery, hydraulic drive systems, etc. In pneumatics, the working fluid is air or another gas which transfers force between pneumatic components such as compressors, vacuum pumps, pneumatic cylinders, and pneumatic motors. In pneumatic systems, the working gas also stores energy because it is compressible.

Temperature control

Temperature control is a process in which change of temperature of a space, or of a substance, is measured or otherwise detected, and the passage of heat energy into or out of the space or substance is adjusted to achieve a desired temperature.

Thermal hydraulics is the study of hydraulic flow in thermal fluids. The area can be mainly divided into three parts: thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat transfer, but they are often closely linked to each other. A common example is steam generation in power plants and the associated energy transfer to mechanical motion and the change of states of the water while undergoing this process. Thermal-hydraulic analysis can determine important parameters for reactor design such as plant efficiency and coolability of the system.

Thermosiphon Method of heat exchange in which convection drives pumpless circulation

Thermosiphon is a method of passive heat exchange, based on natural convection, which circulates a fluid without the necessity of a mechanical pump. Thermosiphoning is used for circulation of liquids and volatile gases in heating and cooling applications such as heat pumps, water heaters, boilers and furnaces. Thermosiphoning also occurs across air temperature gradients such as those utilized in a wood fire chimney or solar chimney.

Atmospheric thermodynamics is the study of heat-to-work transformations that take place in the earth's atmosphere and manifest as weather or climate. Atmospheric thermodynamics use the laws of classical thermodynamics, to describe and explain such phenomena as the properties of moist air, the formation of clouds, atmospheric convection, boundary layer meteorology, and vertical instabilities in the atmosphere. Atmospheric thermodynamic diagrams are used as tools in the forecasting of storm development. Atmospheric thermodynamics forms a basis for cloud microphysics and convection parameterizations used in numerical weather models and is used in many climate considerations, including convective-equilibrium climate models.

Convection (heat transfer) Heat transfer due to combined effects of advection and diffusion

Convection is the transfer of heat from one place to another due to the movement of fluid. Although often discussed as a distinct method of heat transfer, convective heat transfer involves the combined processes of conduction and advection. Convection is usually the dominant form of heat transfer in liquids and gases.

Heat Thermodynamic energy transfer, other than by thermodynamic work or by transfer of matter

In thermodynamics, heat is energy in transfer to or from a thermodynamic system, by mechanisms other than thermodynamic work or transfer of matter. The various mechanisms of energy transfer that define heat are stated in the next section of this article.

In engineering, physics and chemistry, the study of transport phenomena concerns the exchange of mass, energy, charge, momentum and angular momentum between observed and studied systems. While it draws from fields as diverse as continuum mechanics and thermodynamics, it places a heavy emphasis on the commonalities between the topics covered. Mass, momentum, and heat transport all share a very similar mathematical framework, and the parallels between them are exploited in the study of transport phenomena to draw deep mathematical connections that often provide very useful tools in the analysis of one field that are directly derived from the others.


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