Convection is the mode of energy transfer between a solid surface and the adjacent liquid or gas that is in motion, and it involves the combined effects of conduction and fluid motion. The faster the fluid motion, the greater the convection heat transfer. In the absence of any bulk fluid motion, heat transfer between a solid surface and the adjacent fluid is by pure conduction. The presence of bulk motion of the fluid enhances the heat transfer between the solid surface and the fluid, but it also complicates the determination of heat transfer rates.

Consider the cooling of a hot block by blowing cool air over its top surface (Fig. 1–31). Energy is first transferred to the air layer adjacent to the block by conduction. This energy is then carried away from the surface by convection, that is, by the combined effects of conduction within the air that is due to random motion of air molecules and the bulk or macroscopic motion of the air that removes the heated air near the surface and replaces it by the cooler air.

Convection is called forced convection if the fluid is forced to flow over the surface by external means such as a fan, pump, or the wind. In contrast, convection is called natural (or free) convection if the fluid motion is caused by buoyancy forces that are induced by density differences due to the variation of temperature in the fluid (Fig. 1–32). For example, in the absence of a fan, heat transfer from the surface of the hot block in Fig. 1–31 will be by natural convection since any motion in the air in this case will be due to the rise of the warmer (and thus lighter) air near the surface and the fall of the cooler (and thus heavier) air to fill its place. Heat transfer between the block and the surrounding air will be by conduction if the temperature difference between the air and the block is not large enough to overcome the resistance of air to movement and thus to initiate natural convection currents.

Heat transfer processes that involve change of phase of a fluid are also considered to be convection because of the fluid motion induced during the process, such as the rise of the vapour bubbles during boiling or the fall of the liquid droplets during condensation. Despite the complexity of convection, the rate of convection heat transfer is observed to be proportional to the temperature difference, and is conveniently expressed by Newton’s law of cooling as



The convection heat transfer coefficient h is not a property of the fluid. It is an experimentally determined parameter whose value depends on all the variables influencing convection such as the surface geometry, the nature of fluid motion, the properties of the fluid, and the bulk fluid velocity.


We mentioned earlier that there are three basic mechanisms of heat transfer:

conduction, convection, and radiation.

Conduction and convection are similar in that both mechanisms require the presence of a material medium. But they are different in that convection requires the presence of fluid motion. Heat transfer through a solid is always by conduction, since the molecules of a solid remain at relatively fixed positions. Heat transfer through a liquid or gas, however, can be by conduction or convection, depending on the presence of any bulk fluid motion. Heat transfer through a fluid is by convection in the presence of bulk fluid motion and by conduction in the absence of it. Therefore, conduction in a fluid can be viewed as the limiting case of convection, corresponding to the case of quiescent fluid (Fig. 6–1).

Convection heat transfer is complicated by the fact that it involves fluid motion as well as heat conduction. The fluid motion enhances heat transfer, since it brings hotter and cooler chunks of fluid into contact, initiating higher rates of conduction at a greater number of sites in a fluid.

Therefore, the rate of heat transfer through a fluid is much higher by convection than it is by conduction. In fact, the higher the fluid velocity, the higher the rate of heat transfers. To clarify this point further, consider steady heat transfer through a fluid contained between two parallel plates maintained at different temperatures, as shown in Figure 6–2. The temperatures of the fluid and the plate will be the same at the points of contact because of the continuity of temperature. Assuming no fluid motion, the energy of the hotter fluid molecules near the hot plate will be transferred to the adjacent cooler fluid molecules. This energy will then be transferred to the next layer of the cooler fluid molecules. This energy will then be transferred to the next layer of the cooler fluid, and so on, until it is finally transferred to the other plate. This is what happens during conduction through a fluid. Now let us use a syringe to draw some fluid near the hot plate and inject it near the cold plate repeatedly. You can imagine that this will speed up the heat transfer process considerably, since some energy is carried to the other side as a result of fluid motion.



Judging from its units, the convection heat transfer coefficient h can be defined as the rate of heat transfer between a solid surface and a fluid per unit surface area per unit temperature difference. You should not be deceived by the simple appearance of this relation, because the convection heat transfer coefficient h depends on the several of the mentioned variables, and thus is difficult to determine. When a fluid is forced to flow over a solid surface that is nonporous (i.e., impermeable to the fluid), it is observed that the fluid in motion comes to a complete stop at the surface and assumes a zero velocity relative to the surface. That is, the fluid layer in direct contact with a solid surface “sticks” to the surface and there is no slip. In fluid flow, this phenomenon is known as the no-slip condition, and it is due to the viscosity of the fluid (Fig. 6–4). The no-slip condition is responsible for the development of the velocity profile for flow. Because of the friction between the fluid layers, the layer that sticks to the wall slows the adjacent fluid layer, which slows the next layer, and so on. A consequence of the no-slip condition is that all velocity profiles must have zero values at the points of contact between a fluid and a solid. The only exception to the no-slip condition occurs in extremely rarified gases.



In this section we derive the equation of motion that governs the natural convection flow in laminar boundary layer. The conservation of mass and energy equations derived in Chapter 6 for forced convection are also applicable for natural convection, but the momentum equation needs to be modified to incorporate buoyancy.



The velocity and temperature profiles for natural convection over a vertical hot plate are also shown in Figure 9–6. Note that as in forced convection, the thickness of the boundary layer increases in the flow direction. Unlike forced convection, however, the fluid velocity is zero at the outer edge of the velocity boundary layer as well as at the surface of the plate. This is expected since the fluid beyond the boundary layer is motionless. Thus, the fluid velocity increases with distance from the surface, reaches a maximum, and gradually decreases to zero at a distance sufficiently far from the surface. At the surface, the fluid temperature is equal to the plate temperature, and gradually decreases to the temperature of the surrounding fluid at a distance sufficiently far from the surface, as shown in the figure. In the case of cold surfaces, the shape of the velocity and temperature profiles remains the same but their direction is reversed.

Consider a differential volume element of height dx, length dy, and unit depth in the z-direction (normal to the paper) for analysis. The forces acting on this volume element are shown in Figure 9–7. Newton’s second law of motion for this control volume can be expressed as



This is the equation that governs the fluid motion in the boundary layer due to the effect of buoyancy. Note that the momentum equation involves the temperature, and thus the momentum and energy equations must be solved simultaneously.

The set of three partial differential equations (the continuity, momentum, and the energy equations) that govern natural convection flow over vertical isothermal plates can be reduced to a set of two ordinary nonlinear differential equations by the introduction of a similarity variable. But the resulting equations must still be solved numerically.



If you have been around smokers, you probably noticed that the cigarette smoke rises in a smooth plume for the first few centimetres and then starts fluctuating randomly in all directions as it continues its journey toward the lungs of others (Fig. 6–14). Likewise, a careful inspection of flow in a pipe reveals that the fluid flow is streamlined at low velocities but turns chaotic as the velocity is increased above a critical value, as shown in Figure 6–15. The flow regime in the first case is said to be laminar, characterized by smooth streamlines and highly-ordered motion, and turbulent in the second case, where it is characterized by velocity fluctuations and highly-disordered motion.

The transition from laminar to turbulent flow does not occur suddenly; rather, it occurs over some region in which the flow fluctuates between laminar and turbulent flows before it becomes fully turbulent. We can verify the existence of these laminar, transition, and turbulent flow regimes by injecting some dye streak into the flow in a glass tube, as the British scientist Osborn Reynolds (1842–1912) did over a century ago. We will observe that the dye streak will form a straight and smooth line at low velocities when the flow is laminar (we may see some blurring because of molecular diffusion), will have bursts of fluctuations in the transition regime, and will zigzag rapidly and randomly when the flow becomes fully turbulent. These zigzags and the dispersion of the dye are indicative of the fluctuations in the main flow and the rapid mixing of fluid particles from adjacent layers. Typical velocity profiles in laminar and turbulent flow are also given in Figure 6–10. Note that the velocity profile is approximately parabolic in laminar flow and becomes flatter in turbulent flow, with a sharp drop near the surface. The turbulent boundary layer can be considered to consist of three layers. The very thin layer next to the wall where the viscous effects are dominant is the laminar sub layer. The velocity profile in this layer is nearly linear, and the flow is streamlined. Next to the laminar sub layer is the buffer layer, in which the turbulent effects are significant but not dominant of the diffusion effects, and next to it is the turbulent layer, in which the turbulent effects dominate.

The intense mixing of the fluid in turbulent flow as a result of rapid fluctuations enhances heat and momentum transfer between fluid particles, which increases the friction force on the surface and the convection heat transfer rate. It also causes the boundary layer to enlarge. Both the friction and heat transfer coefficients reach maximum values when the flow becomes fully turbulent.

So it will come as no surprise that a special effort is made in the design of heat transfer coefficients associated with turbulent flow. The enhancement in heat transfer in turbulent flow does not come for free, however. It may be necessary to use a larger pump to overcome the larger friction forces accompanying the higher heat transfer rate.


VELOCITY BOUNDARY LAYERclip_image048clip_image050clip_image052


Convection heat transfer is closely tied with fluid mechanics, which is the science that deals with the behaviour of fluids at rest or in motion, and the interaction of fluids with solids or other fluids at the boundaries. There are a wide variety of fluid flow problems encountered in practice, and it is usually convenient to classify them on the basis of some common characteristics to make it feasible to study them in groups. There are many ways to classify the fluid flow problems, and below we present some general categories.

Viscous versus Inviscid Flow

When two fluid layers move relative to each other, a friction force develops between them and the slower layer tries to slow down the faster layer. This internal resistance to flow is called the viscosity, which is a measure of internal stickiness of the fluid. Viscosity is caused by cohesive forces between the molecules in liquids, and by the molecular collisions in gases. There is no fluid with zero viscosity, and thus all fluid flows involve viscous effects to some degree. Flows in which the effects of viscosity are significant are called viscous flows. The effects of viscosity are very small in some flows, and neglecting those effects greatly simplifies the analysis without much loss in accuracy. Such idealized flows of zero-viscosity fluids are called frictionless or inviscid flows.

Internal versus External Flow

A fluid flow is classified as being internal and external, depending on whether the fluid is forced to flow in a confined channel or over a surface. The flow of an unbounded fluid over a surface such as a plate, a wire, or a pipe is external flow. The flow in a pipe or duct is internal flow if the fluid is completely bounded by solid surfaces. Water flow in a pipe, for example, is internal flow, and air flow over an exposed pipe during a windy day is external flow (Fig. 6–7). The flow of liquids in a pipe is called open-channel flow if the pipe is partially filled with the liquid and there is a free surface. The flow of water in rivers and irrigation ditches are examples of such flows.

Compressible versus Incompressible Flow

A fluid flow is classified as being compressible or incompressible, depending on the density variation of the fluid during flow. The densities of liquids are essentially constant, and thus the flow of liquids is typically incompressible. Therefore, liquids are usually classified as incompressible substances. A pressure of 210 atm, for example, will cause the density of liquid water at 1 atm to change by just 1 percent. Gases, on the other hand, are highly compressible. A pressure change of just 0.01 atm, for example, will cause a change of 1 percent in the density of atmospheric air. However, gas flows can be treated as incompressible if the density changes are under about 5 percent, which is usually the case when the flow velocity is less than 30 percent of the velocity of sound in that gas (i.e., the Mach number of flow is less than 0.3). The velocity of sound in air at room temperature is 346 m/s. Therefore, the compressibility effects of air can be neglected at speeds under 100 m/s. Note that the flow of a gas is not necessarily a compressible flow.

Laminar versus Turbulent Flow

Some flows are smooth and orderly while others are rather chaotic. The highly ordered fluid motion characterized by smooth streamlines is called laminar. The flow of high-viscosity fluids such as oils at low velocities is typically laminar. The highly disordered fluid motion that typically occurs at high velocities characterized by velocity fluctuations is called turbulent. The flow of low-viscosity fluids such as air at high velocities is typically turbulent. The flow regime greatly influences the heat transfer rates and the required power for pumping.

Natural (or Unforced) versus Forced Flow

A fluid flow is said to be natural or forced, depending on how the fluid motion is initiated. In forced flow, a fluid is forced to flow over a surface or in a pipe by external means such as a pump or a fan. In natural flows, any fluid motion is due to a natural means such as the buoyancy effect, which manifests itself as the rise of the warmer (and thus lighter) fluid and the fall of cooler (and thus denser) fluid. This thermo-siphoning effect is commonly used to replace pumps in solar water heating systems by placing the water tank sufficiently above the solar collectors (Fig. 6–8).




The first step in learning any science is to grasp the fundamentals, and to gain a sound knowledge of it. The next step is to master the fundamentals by putting this knowledge to test. This is done by solving significant real-world problems. Solving such problems, especially complicated ones, requires a systematic approach. By using a step-by-step approach, an engineer can reduce the solution of a complicated problem into the solution of a series of simple problems (Fig. 1–44). When solving a problem, we recommend that you use the following steps zealously as applicable. This will help you avoid some of the common pitfalls associated with problem solving.

Step 1: Problem Statement

In your own words, briefly state the problem, the key information given, and the quantities to be found. This is to make sure that you understand the problem and the objectives before you attempt to solve the problem.

Step 2: Schematic

Draw a realistic sketch of the physical system involved, and list the relevant information on the figure. The sketch does not have to be something elaborate, but it should resemble the actual system and show the key features. Indicate any energy and mass interactions with the surroundings. Listing the given information on the sketch helps one to see the entire problem at once. Also, check for properties that remain constant during a process (such as temperature during an isothermal process), and indicate them on the sketch.


Step 3: Assumptions

State any appropriate assumptions made to simplify the problem to make it possible to obtain a solution. Justify the questionable assumptions. Assume reasonable values for missing quantities that are necessary. For example, in the absence of specific data for atmospheric pressure, it can be taken to be1 atm. However, it should be noted in the analysis that the atmospheric pressure decreases with increasing elevation. For example, it drops to 0.83 atm in Denver (elevation 1610 m) (Fig. 1–45).

Step 4: Physical Laws

Apply all the relevant basic physical laws and principles (such as the conservation of energy), and reduce them to their simplest form by utilizing the assumptions made. However, the region to which a physical law is applied must be clearly identified first. For example, the heating or cooling of a canned drink is usually analysed by applying the conservation of energy principle to the entire can.


Step 5: Properties

Determine the unknown properties at known states necessary to solve the problem from property relations or tables. List the properties separately, and indicate their source, if applicable.


Step 6: Calculations

Substitute the known quantities into the simplified relations and perform the calculations to determine the unknowns. Pay particular attention to the units and unit cancellations, and remember that a dimensional quantity without a unit is meaningless. Also, don’t give a false implication of high accuracy by copying all the digits from the screen of the calculator—round the results to an appropriate number of significant digits.

Step 7: Reasoning, Verification, and Discussion

Check to make sure that the results obtained are reasonable and intuitive, and verify the validity of the questionable assumptions. Repeat the calculations that resulted in unreasonable values. For example, insulating a water heater that uses $80 worth of natural gas a year cannot result in savings of $200 a year (Fig. 1–46). Also, point out the significance of the results, and discuss their implications. State the conclusions that can be drawn from the results, and any recommendations that can be made from them. Emphasize the limitations under which the results are applicable, and caution against any possible misunderstandings and using the results in situations where the underlying assumptions do not apply. For example, if you determined that wrapping a water heater with a $20 insulation jacket will reduce the energy cost by $30 a year, indicate that the insulation will pay for itself from the energy it saves in less than a year. However, also indicate that the analysis does not consider labour costs, and that this will be the case if you install the insulation yourself. Keep in mind that you present the solutions to your instructors, and any engineering analysis presented to others is a form of communication. Therefore neatness, organization, completeness, and visual appearance are of utmost importance for maximum effectiveness. Besides, neatness also serves as a great checking tool since it is very easy to spot errors and inconsistencies in a neat work. Carelessness and skipping steps to save time often end up costing more time and unnecessary anxiety.

The approach just described is used in the solved example problems without explicitly stating each step, as well as in the Solutions Manual of this text. For some problems, some of the steps may not be applicable or necessary. However, we cannot overemphasize the importance of a logical and orderly approach to problem solving. Most difficulties encountered while solving a problem are not due to a lack of knowledge; rather, they are due to a lack of coordination. You are strongly encouraged to follow these steps in problem solving until you develop your own approach that works best for you.


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