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Conduction is a mode of transfer of energy within and between bodies of matter due to a temperature gradient. Heat spontaneously tends to flow from a higher temperature to a lower temperature. In the absence of external parameters, temperature differences, after some time thermal equilibrium is attained.

As the matter, mostly solids are heated, the particles vibrate, these vibrations make the adjacent particles to vibrate, and so on and so on, the vibrations are passed along the metal and so is the heat. This is the main principle of heat conduction.

The ability to conduct heat often depends more on the structure of a material than on the material itself. Conduction occurs as rapidly moving or vibrating atoms and molecules interact with neighboring particles, transferring some of their kinetic energy. Heat is transferred by conduction when adjacent atoms vibrate against one another, or as electrons move from one atom to another. Conduction is greater in solids because the atoms or molecules are closely packed to each other which help to transfer energy between them by vibration.

Figure 1 Conduction in a Metal Rod

The inter-molecular transfer of energy could be primarily by elastic impact as in fluids or by free electron diffusion as in metals or phonon vibration as in insulators. In insulators the heat flux is carried almost entirely by phonon vibrations.


There are different types of heat conduction depending upon the variation in temperature and amount of heat that is transferred from one gradient to the other. 3.1 THERMAL CONTACT CONDUCTION It is the study of heat conduction between solid bodies in contact. A temperature drop is often observed at the interface between the two surfaces in contact. This phenomenon is said to be a result of a thermal contact resistance existing between the contacting surfaces. 3.2 STEADY STATE CONDUCTION It is the form of conduction that happens when the temperature difference driving the conduction are constant, so that after an equilibration time, the spatial distribution of temperatures in the conducting object does not change any further. For example, a bar may be cold at one end and hot at the other, but after a state of steady state conduction is reached, the spatial gradient of temperatures along the bar does not change any further, as time proceeds. Instead, the temperature at any given section of the rod remains constant, and this temperature varies linearly in space, along the direction of heat transfer.

Figure 2 Steady State Conduction


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3.3 TRANSIENT CONDUCTION The type of conduction in which temperatures are changing in time at any place within an object, this mode of thermal energy flow is termed transient conduction or unsteady state conduction. If changes in external temperatures or internal heat generation changes are too rapid for equilibrium of temperatures in space to take place, then the system never reaches a state of unchanging temperature distribution in time instant, the system is in a transient state.

3.4 RELATIVISTIC CONDUCTION The theory of relativistic heat conduction is a model that is compatible with the theory of special relativity. For most of the last century, it was recognized that Fourier equation is in contradiction with the theory of relativity because it admits an infinite speed of propagation of heat signals.


Figure 3 Transient Conduction

The phenomenon in which heat transfer occurs by wave like motion, rather than by the more usual mechanism of diffusion. Heat takes the place of pressure in normal sound waves. This leads to a very high thermal conductivity. It is known as "second sound" because the wave motion of heat is similar to the propagation of sound in air. Second sound is observed in liquid helium (3He as well as 4He) and in 6Li at temperatures below the lambda point. In this state, known as helium II, 4He has the highest thermal conductivity of any known material (several hundred times higher than copper).


Thermal conductivity k is the property of a material's ability to conduct heat. It appears primarily in Fourier's Law for heat conduction. Heat transfer across materials of high thermal conductivity occurs at a faster rate than across materials of low thermal conductivity.


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4.1 FACTORS EFFECTING THE CONDUCTIVITY There are different factors that influence the conduction.

The effect of temperature on thermal conductivity is different for metals and nonmetals. In metals conductivity is primarily due to lattice vibrations and free electron, however, free electrons play a dominant role. Therefore any increase in temperature increases the lattice vibrations but affects the movement of free electrons adversely thereby decreasing the conductivity. On the other hand conductivity in nonmetals is only due to lattice vibrations which increase with increasing temperature, and so the conductivity of nonmetals increases with increasing temperature.

When a material undergoes a phase change from solid to liquid or from liquid to gas the thermal conductivity may change. An example of this would be the change in thermal conductivity that occurs when ice (thermal conductivity of 2.18 W/(mK) at 0 C) melts into liquid water (thermal conductivity of 0.58 W/(mK) at 0 C).


Pure crystalline substances exhibit very different thermal conductivities along different crystal axes, due to differences in phonon coupling along a given crystal axis. Sapphire is a notable example of variable thermal conductivity based on orientation and temperature, with 35 W/(mK) along the c-axis and 32 W/(mK) along the a-axis.

In metals, thermal conductivity approximately tracks electrical conductivity according to the Weidman-Franz law, as freely moving valence electrons transfer not only electric current but


also heat energy. However, the general correlation between electrical and thermal conductance does not hold for other materials, due to the increased importance of phonon carriers for heat in non-metals. As shown in the table below, highly electrically conductive silver is less thermally conductive than diamond, which is an electrical insulator.
Figure 4 Low Conductive Exhaust Pipe

There are vast applications of heat conduction in our daily life and in industry. 5.1 COOKING The main principle of cooking process is conduction. The heat transfers from the stove to the cooking pan. Due to conduction the pan becomes hot and transfer heat to the food and cooks it.

Figure 5 Cooking pot

5.2 INSULATION & RADIENT BARRIERS Thermal insulators are materials specifically designed to reduce the flow of heat by limiting conduction, convection, or both. 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 an insulator is indicated by its Rvalue, or resistance value. The R-value of a Figure 6 Radiation Pipe material is the inverse of the conduction coefficient (k) multiplied by the thickness (d) of the insulator. In most of the world, R-values are measured in SI units: square-meter Kelvins per watt (mK/W). In the United States, R-values


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are customarily given in units of British thermal units per hour per square-foot degrees Fahrenheit (Btu/hftF). 5.3 HEAT EXCHANGERS In industry different types of heat exchangers are used for different cooling processes and process of heat exchanging between different fluids in flow by conduction. 5.4 SHELL & TUBE HEAT EXCHANGER Shell and tube heat exchangers consist of a series of tubes. One set of these tubes contains the fluid that must be either heated or cooled. The second fluid runs over the tubes that are being heated or cooled so that it can either provide the heat or absorb the heat required trough tube walls.

Figure 7 Shell & Tube Heat Exchanger

5.5 PLATE HEAT EXCHANGER Another type of heat exchanger is the plate heat exchanger. One is composed of multiple, thin, slightly separated plates that have very large surface areas and fluid flow passages for heat transfer. This stacked-plate arrangement can be more effective, in a given space, than the shell and tube heat exchanger through the plates of the exchanger.

Figure 8 Plate Heat Exchanger


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5.6 DOUBLE PIPE HEAT EXCHANGER It is the type of heat exchanger in which two concentric pipes are used for heat transfer between fluids in flow. There is a space between inner and outer pipe in which fluid flows in co current and counter current ways. 5.7 BUILDING In cold climates, houses with their heating Figure 9 Double Pipe Heat Exchanger systems form dissipative systems. Thermal transmittance is the rate of transfer of heat through a structure divided by the difference in temperature across the structure. It is expressed in watts per square meter per Kelvin, or W/mK. Well-insulated parts of a building have a low thermal transmittance, whereas poorly-insulated parts of a building have a high thermal transmittance.

As the consequences of above mentioned detailed description of conduction it is concluded that the process of conduction is vital for the heat exchanging process and also in functioning of natural phenomenons.


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1. 2. 3. 4. 5. I. Pomeranchuk (1941). "Thermal conductivity of the paramagnetic dielectrics at low temperatures". J. Phys.(USSR) 6. Lienhard, John H., IV; Lienhard, John H., V (2008). A Heat Transfer Textbook (3rd ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Phlogiston Press. 7. material_and_surface.pdf 8. 0708_conduction_convection_radiation.pdf


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