Burt Rutan's White Knight and SpaceShip One, Photo Courtesy of Scaled Composites
Thermodynamics and Propulsion

16.1 Heat Transfer Modes

Figure 16.1: Conduction heat transfer
Image fig8ConductingSlab_web

Heat transfer processes are classified into three types. The first is conduction, which is defined as transfer of heat occurring through intervening matter without bulk motion of the matter. Figure 16.1 shows the process pictorially. A solid (a block of metal, say) has one surface at a high temperature and one at a lower temperature. This type of heat conduction can occur, for example, through a turbine blade in a jet engine. The outside surface, which is exposed to gases from the combustor, is at a higher temperature than the inside surface, which has cooling air next to it. The level of the wall temperature is critical for a turbine blade.

The second heat transfer process is convection, or heat transfer due to a flowing fluid. The fluid can be a gas or a liquid; both have applications in aerospace technology. In convection heat transfer, the heat is moved through bulk transfer of a non-uniform temperature fluid. We will discuss convection beginning in Chapter 17.

The third process is radiation or transmission of energy through space without the necessary presence of matter. Radiation is the only method for heat transfer in space. Radiation can be important even in situations in which there is an intervening medium; a familiar example is the heat transfer from a glowing piece of metal or from a fire. We will defer discussion of radiation until Chapter 19.

Muddy Points

How do we quantify the contribution of each mode of heat transfer in a given situation? (MP 16.1)