Heat Transfer

Heat transfer is a discipline of thermal engineering that concerns the generation, use, conversion, and exchange of thermal energy and 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 by 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.

The final major form of heat transfer is by radiation, which occurs in any transparent medium (solid or fluid) but may also even occur across vacuum (as when the Sun heats the Earth). Radiation is the transfer of energy through space by means of electromagnetic waves in much the same way as electromagnetic light waves transfer light. The same laws that govern the transfer of light govern the radiant transfer of heat.

Read more about Heat Transfer:  Overview, Mechanisms, Phase Changes, Applications and Techniques

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