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Heat Loss

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Mechanical Engineering

INTRODUCTION

Steam pipes are very important in engineering

application and are widely used. The main

applications include household boilers, industrial

steam generating plants, locomotives, steam

engines, different building works, etc. to name but

a few. Lack of proper insulation results in large

energy losses which in turn cost a lot of money

over time. Without proper insulation, the amount

of energy lost can be 10 times greater than the

energy being delivered through those pipes.

Insulation is defined as those materials or

combinations of materials which retard the flow of

heat energy by performing one or more of the

following functions:

thermal resistance to heat flow out of the pipe.

However, it also increases the surface area that

dissipates heat to the surrounding environment.

Initially, the increase in heat transfer area

outweighs the increase in thermal resistance. As

more insulation is added the heat loss reaches a

maximum and then decreases as the thermal

resistance eventually wins out. There is a critical

radius of insulation at which the heat loss is a

maximum. Calculate the value of this critical

insulation radius and the radius beyond which the

insulation starts to be effective as an insulator.

MATHEMATICAL MODEL

gain

protection and comfort

4. Prevent vapor flow and water condensation

on cold surfaces

5. Increase

operating

efficiency

of

heating/ventilating/cooling, plumbing, steam,

process and power systems found in

commercial and industrial installations

exposure to fire or corrosive atmospheres

The temperature range within which the term

"thermal insulation" applies is from 73.3C (

100F) to 815.6C (1500F). All applications

below 73.3C (100F) are termed "cryogenic"

and those above 815.6C (1500F) are termed

"refractory".

In analogy to electrical resistance, the overall

effect of an insulator can be described in terms of

its thermal resistance. The higher the thermal

resistance the less the heat flow for a given

temperature difference across the insulator, just

as the higher the electrical resistance the less the

current flow for a given potential difference across

a resistor.

PROBLEM STATEMENT

An engineer wishes to insulate bare steam pipes

in a boiler room to reduce unnecessary heat loss

and to prevent people from burning themselves.

After putting a thin layer of insulation material

onto a pipe the engineer is surprised to find the

heat loss actually increases! This is because

there are two competing effects at work. The

some steam will be condensing on the inside of

the pipe. The entire inside of the pipe will be at a

constant temperature corresponding to the

saturation temperature of water, Tsat (sat

representing saturation) at the steam pressure.

The thermal conductivity of the copper pipe is

many orders of magnitude larger than that of the

insulation material, so we can assume the

temperature drop through the thickness of the

pipe is negligible, and that the temperature at the

outside surface of the pipe (hence, the inside

surface of the insulation) is also Tsat .

Well assume the pipe is very long relative to its

diameter, so heat flow is essentially onedimensional, in the radial direction only. Please

note: one-dimensional heat transfer assumes that

heat flows in a straight line, from the warm side of

a component to the cold side, and perpendicular

to the plane of the component. Then, within the

insulation, Fouriers law of heat conduction states

that the heat flowing out over a length, L , of the

pipe is given by:

Q = kAr

dTr

(1)

dr

thermal conductivity of the insulation [W/

(m.degK)], T is temperature [K] and r is the radial

distance [m]. The area is given by:

Ar = 2 r L (2)

P=

1 R+ t

1 (9)

+

ln

(

k

R

h

R

+ t)

Tsat = 100C = 373.15 deg K,

by

P=

2 (Tsat Tair )

R = 6 cm = 0.06 m,

Q

(3)

L

k = 0.13 W/(m.degK),

h = 2 W/(m2.degK).

P = 2 k r

dTr

(4)

dr

P=

insulation to the surrounding air is given by

Newtons law of cooling. This states that:

Q = hAR + t (TR + t Tair )

or

2 ( 373.15 293.15 )

1

(10)

1

0.06 + t

ln

+

values of t at which P is a maximum and the

value at which the insulation actually starts to

insulate, in other words the value of t for which P

is less than its value when t = 0 .

surface of the insulation [K] and Tair is the

temperature of the air [K]. The parameter, h , is

called the heat transfer coefficient [W/(m2.degK)].

By equating (4) and (5) and performing a little

algebraic manipulation we get:

h( R + t )(TR + t Tair ) 1

dTr

=

(6)

dr

k

r

TR + t

dTr =

Tsat

h( R + t )(TR + t Tair )

k

R+ t

dr

r

Figure-2: Graph of Power per Unit Length vs. Radius

Tsat TR + t =

h( R + t )(TR + t Tair ) R + t

ln

k

R

Tsat TR + t =

P

R+

ln

2 k R

t

(7)

TR + t Tair

P

=

(8)

2 h (R + t )

with about 5 mm of insulation (for a total radius of

~65 mm), and that about 11 mm of insulation is

needed (for a total radius of ~71 mm) before P is

less than that for the bare pipe, i.e. for the

insulation to actually insulate!

WHERE TO FIND MORE

1.

2007, published by Elsevier Ltd.

2.

Bird, 2007, published by Elsevier Ltd.

3.

http://micainsulation.org/standards/materials.h

tm

Tsat Tair =

P

P

R+ t

ln

+

2 k R 2 h (R + t )

(Retired, Rolls-Royce)

Spent 35 years as an industrial mathematician in the Submarines division of

Rolls-Royce, dealing primarily with heat transfer and fluid-flow behaviour of the

nuclear reactors used to power the Royal Navys submarines.

The teachers should have some knowledge of

How to plot the graphs of simple functions using Excel or Autograph or Mathcad

Topic 4: Functions

LEARNING OUTCOMES

LO 04: Understand the mathematical structure of a range of functions and be familiar with their graphs

LO 06: Know how to use differentiation and integration in the context of engineering analysis and

problem solving

ASSESSMENT CRITERIA

AC 10.1: Read critically and comprehend longer mathematical arguments or examples of applications.

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