Convection: Surface Heat Transfer

Topics: Heat transfer, Heat, Heat transfer coefficient Pages: 14 (2523 words) Published: December 7, 2012
This is the second tutorial in the series on basic heat transfer theory plus some elements of advanced theory. The tutorials are designed to bring the student to a level where he or she can solve problems ranging from basic level to dealing with practical heat exchangers.

On completion of this tutorial the student should be able to do the following. •

Explain the use of the surface heat transfer coefficient.

Explain the use of the overall heat transfer coefficient.

Combine convection and conduction theory to solve problems involving flat, cylindrical and spherical surfaces.

Explain the basic theory behind radiated heat transfer.

Explain the affect of the emissivity and shape of the surface.

Calculate effective surface heat transfer coefficient.

(c) D. J. Dunn

Explain natural and forced convection.

Solve basic problems involving convection and radiation.


Convection is the study of heat transfer between a fluid and a solid body. Natural convection occurs when there is no forced flow of the fluid. Forced convection occurs when the fluid is forced to flow over the object.

Consider a hot vertical surface placed in a cool fluid. The
molecules in contact with the surface will receive heat transfer through the process of conduction. The fluid in contact with the surface will become hotter and less dense. If the fluid is a liquid that evaporates, the vapour will be less dense than the liquid. Because the fluid is less dense than the bulk fluid, it will rise and cool fluid will replace it. Natural convection currents are set up.

Clearly the rate of heat transfer depends on the thermal conductivity of the fluid in contact with the surface and the volumetric expansion properties of the fluid. The flow of fluids over a surface is also a major topic in fluid mechanics and the work on boundary layers covered in other tutorials is important for a deep understanding of the topic.

When a fluid is in contact with a solid surface, the
temperature of the fluid will vary in the region close to the surface. The diagram shows how the temperature might vary
in a hot fluid in contact with a cooler solid surface. Clearly if we can make the temperature at the interface greater, the heat transfer will be increased.

Consider a hot fluid flowing through a long pipe with heat transfer required into the wall of the pipe. The fluid in contact with the surface will reach the same temperature as the pipe at some point and further contact will not increase the transfer. The heat transfer will decrease with distance as shown.

To improve the heat transfer, it is necessary to promote turbulent flow so that the fluid in the core is moved to the edges and comes in contact with the wall.

The heat transfer rate between a fluid and a solid surface by convection is usually given as Φ = -h A ∆θ = h A (θh - θc )
h is called the surface heat transfer coefficient and has units of W/m2 K. A is the surface area.
The thermal resistance is R = 1/hA and this may be used for compound problems. The values of h depend on all the points raised previously and have largely been determined by empirical methods for specific conditions. For example, the value would be different for a flat vertical surface and a flat horizontal surface even if all other conditions are the same. Advanced studies will reveal formulae for finding h under a variety of conditions but at this stage we will simply use the values given.

(c) D. J. Dunn


Calculate the heat transfer per square meter between a fluid with a bulk temperature of 66oC with a wall with a surface temperature of 25oC given h = 5 W/m2 K. SOLUTION
Φ = h A (θh - θc ) = 5 x 1 (66 – 25) = 205 W

We can now solve problems involving conduction and convection. Consider the case of the heat transfer from a hot fluid...
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