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Wright State University, Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering

ME 495: THERMAL-FLUID SCIENCES LABORATORY


Determination of the Thermal Conductivity of a Metallic Rod
Objective: Utilize Fouriers law of heat conduction to determine the thermal
conductivity of a metallic rod with a round cross section for heat flow.
Experimental Procedure: Based on scoping runs made by the students, an experimental
procedure will be determined.
Report: The objective of the written report is to show that the students are capable of
collecting the appropriate data to determine the thermal conductivity of the rod. The
report must include an experimental procedure, hand calculations, and a discussion of the
results including appropriate plots and conclusions.
CAUTION: The heater voltage must not be greater than 110 V. Do not let any
temperature in the system go above 200oC!
Experimental Setup
The objective of the experiment was to measure the thermal conductivity of two sample
metallic rods using Fouriers law of heat conduction. Heat was transferred to the rod
using an electric heater at one end of the rod, and heat was extracted at the other end
using a water-cooled calorimeter, as shown in Figure 1. The cooling water was supplied
by a constant head pressure tank which maintained a constant flow rate. The coolant
water flow was filtered and controlled using a ball valve. The mass flow rate of coolant
was measured using an electronic turbine flow meter. The temperature increase in the
cooling water was measured using thermocouple probes inserted into the coolant stream.
Power was supplied to the electrical heater using a variable AC transformer and measured
using a digital voltmeter. The axial temperature gradient within the sample rod was
measured using thermocouple probes mounted in the sample in small-diameter holes, as
shown in Figure 2. Layers of ceramic wool insulation and aluminum foil provided
convective and radiative insulation along the sides of the samples and around the heater
and calorimeter. The thermal conductivities of the samples were determined by using the
heat removed by the calorimeter due to heat losses from the heater to the ambient.
However, the electrical power input to the heater was calculated to provide information
on the validity of the measured heat removed by the calorimeter.
In order to supply a sufficient amount of heat to the sample, a 6.35-mm-thick copper heat
spreader plate was silver-soldered (Alloy number 20233, Ag56/Cu22/Zn17/Sn5, solidus
temperature 620C, liquidus temperature 650C) to each sample rod using an oxygenacetylene torch as shown in Figure 3 and Figure 4. An electric heater (Marathon Heater,
Model ST060-060B, R H = 30.0 ) was directly mounted to the copper heat spreader
plate for heat input. A 12.5-mm-thick piece of ceramic fiber insulation (FiberFrax
Durablanket) was held next to the electric heater with a steel backer plate to provide even

pressure against the heater. Electrical power was supplied to the heater by a variable AC
transformer (Powerstat, Model BP57515). The voltage across the heater was monitored
using a digital multi-meter (National Instruments, Model USB-4065). Calorimeters were
constructed using 6.35-mm-thick copper plate and copper tubing as shown in Figure 5.
Grooves were machined in the plates using a 6.35-mm ball end mill to a depth of 1.6 mm.
Copper pipe (6.35-mm-outside diameter) was soldered onto the copper plate using tinantimony solder (Alloy number 2011, Sn95/Sb5, solidus temperature 235C, liquidus
temperature 240C) in a temperature-controlled furnace. The calorimeters were
successfully pressure-checked to 1.3 atm. The calorimeters were then soldered to the
copper rod samples using tin-lead solder (Alloy number 2030, Sn62/Pb38, eutectic
temperature 183C) in the temperature-controlled furnace, as shown in Figure 6. Brass
fittings were used to place the thermocouple probes (Omega, Model EMQSS-062G-12)
in the coolant stream of the calorimeter, as shown in Figure 7. The 1.016-mm-diameter
(0.040 inch) sample thermocouple probes (Omega, Model EMQSS-040G-12) were
mounted in the sides of the rods to a depth of 19.1 mm. The mounting holes were drilled
with a precision micro drill press (Dayton, Model 2LKU8) using a 1.041 mm (0.041
inch) solid carbide drill bit, as shown in Figure 8. The sample thermocouples were held in
place using aircraft wire, as shown in Figure 9. The temperatures sensed by the
thermocouples were monitored and recorded by using a data acquisition system (DAS),
which consisted of a data acquisition board (National Instruments, Model SCC-68), four
thermocouple modules (National Instruments, Model SCC-TC01) mounted to the DAQ
Board, and a data acquisition card (National Instruments, Model PCI-6221) installed in a
PC. The assembled system is shown in Figure 10, where the samples were uninsulated.
Figure 11 shows one of the fully insulated samples, where four layers of ceramic fiber
insulation and four layers of aluminum foil were installed using aircraft wire. Both
samples were insulated in the same manner to provide a meaningful comparison.
Thermal Conductivity Calculation
The thermal conductivities of the copper rod samples were calculated using Fouriers law
of heat conduction (Incropera & DeWitt, 1990):
dT

Q=kA
dx

or

k=

Q
A ( dT /dx )

The rate of heat removed from the sample bar by the calorimeter is given by the first law
of thermodynamics (Cengel & Boles, 2006):
m
C p ( T out T in )
Q=
is the mass flow rate of water measured by the flow meter, and T in and
where m
T out are the inlet and outlet temperatures of the water measured by the calorimeter
thermocouples, respectively. The specific heat at constant pressure is evaluated at the
average of the inlet and outlet temperatures, and is given by (Lide & Kehiaian, 1994):
C p= A1 + A2 T + A 3 T 2+ A 4 T 3 + A 5 T 4

(J K-1 mol-1)

where T
is in degrees Kelvin. The numerical coefficients are as follows:
A 1=917.5 ,
A 2=10.1016 ,
A 3=0.0454134 ,
A 4 =9.07517 105 ,
A 5=6.80700 108 . The valid range for this equation is 273 T 373 K at nearatmospheric pressure. The cross-sectional area of the rod is
A=

2
D
4 s

where Ds is the diameter of the sample rod as measured by using digital Vernier
calipers. The axial temperature gradient in the rod is given by
dT T H T L
=
dx
LCC
where T H and T L are the sample temperatures measured by the thermocouples
installed in the sides of the rods. For the sample, T H =TC03 and T L =TC04 . The
center-to-center distance between the sample thermocouples was measured as follows.
Each sample was placed on a Starrett Crystal Pink precision granite surface. A precision
pin was placed into the bottom hole and then the height to the top of the pin was zeroed
using a Mitutoyo height gage with an attached Interapid indicator. This distance was then
replicated using a precision slide gage block. The height to the top of the second hole
was then measured using the same pin and that height was replicated using precision gage
blocks placed onto the slide gage block. The height was then calculated based on the
gage blocks used to zero the height of the second hole.
In terms of the eight measured quantities, the thermal conductivity of the sample rods is
given by

4m
C p ( T out T in ) LCC
Q
k=
=
2
A ( dT /dx )
Ds ( T H T L )
Measurement Uncertainty Estimates
Thermal Conductivity
The root-sum-square uncertainty for the thermal conductivity is given in terms of the
eight measured quantities as follows:

[(

2
2
k
k
k

k=
m +
Cp +
T out

m
Cp
T out

[(

)(

C p ( T out T in ) LCC
4m
D2s ( T H T L )

)(

)(
+

)(

2
2
2
k
k
k
k
T in +
LCC +
Ds +
TH
T in
LCC
Ds
TH

C p ( T out T in ) L CC
4m
D2s ( T H T L )

)(

)(
+

C p T out LCC
4m
D 2s ( T H T L )

) (

)(
+

) (

p T in LCC
4 mC
D2s ( T H T L )

Specific Heat of Water


The calculation of the uncertainty of the heat removed by the calorimeter requires an
estimate of the uncertainty of the value of the specific heat of the water coolant. Since

)(
+

p( T
4 mC

D2s

this information was not available in the archival reference (Lide & Kehiaian, 1994), a
conservative value of 1% of the reading was taken.
Bibliography
Cengel, Y., & Boles, M. (2006). Thermodynamics: An Engineering Approach. New York:
McGraw-Hill.
Incropera, F., & DeWitt, D. (1990). Fundamentals of Heat and Mass Transfer. New York:
Wiley.
Lide, D., & Kehiaian, H. (1994). CRC Handbook of Thermophysical and
Thermochemical Data. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Constant Head
Pressure Tank
Ball
Valve

Filter

Water-Cooled Calorimeter
Tin TL

Turbine
Flow Meter

Tout
Copper Rod Sample

TH

Electric
Heater
Digital Voltmeter
+

Variable AC Transformer

Figure 1: Schematic diagram of the experimental setup.

Tin

Copper Tubing Calorimeter


Copper Heat Spreader PlateTout

Coolant
Water In

Coolant
Water Out

Copper Rod Sample


Ceramic Wool Insulation Layers
TL
Sample Thermocouples

LCC
Aluminum Foil Layers
TH

Copper Heat Spreader Plate


Electric
Heater

Ceramic Wool Insulation


Steel Backer Plate
Figure 2: Schematic diagram of the experimental setup, cont.

Figure 3: Cut-away view of the assembled heat spreader plates, calorimeter,


and sample rod.

Figure 4: Copper heat spreader plate soldered to the sample rod using silver
solder.

Figure 5: Copper calorimeter constructed using tin-antimony solder.

Figure 6: Calorimeter soldered to the sample rod using tin-lead solder.

Figure 7: Brass fittings used to place 1/16-inch-diameter thermocouple probes


into the coolant stream of the calorimeter.

Figure 8: Setup for drilling 0.041-inch-diameter holes for sample


thermocouples using the precision micro drill press.

Figure 9: Installed 0.040-inch-diameter sample thermocouple probes held in


place with stainless steel aircraft wire.

Figure 10: Uninsulated experimental setup.

Figure 11: Fully insulated sample.

Figure 12: Calibration equation for sample thermocouple TC03.

Figure 13: Calibration equation for sample thermocouple TC04.

Table 1: Values used to determine the calibration uncertainty of sample


thermocouple TC03.
PRTD Block
Temperature
(C)
48.71971
71.90097
96.9267
122.20842
147.43681
172.57366
197.89573
222.60953
247.26067

T WELL95
(C)
0.002465
8
0.002270
9
0.007376
3
0.007821
9
0.007376
1
0.006225
7
0.004609
2
0.004502
4
0.004710
9

TC03 Block
Temperature
(C)

TC03
Calibration
Prediction
(C)

49.03569

48.55204

71.59958

71.84586

95.92662

96.95989

120.48850

122.31634

144.98130

147.60148

169.27022

172.67615

193.73850

197.93598

217.57960

222.54834

241.35802

247.09599

T BF

T CAL

(C)

(C)

0.1676
6
0.0551
03
0.0331
94
0.1079
2
0.1646
7
0.1024
9
0.0402
50
0.0611
89
0.1646
7

0.17443
0.06167
4
0.04487
0
0.12004
0.17635
0.11301
0.04915
9
0.06999
2
0.17368

Table 2: Values used to determine the calibration uncertainty of sample


thermocouple TC04.
PRTD Block
Temperature
(C)
48.71971
71.90097
96.9267
122.20842
147.43681
172.57366
197.89573
222.60953
247.26067

T WELL95
(C)
0.002465
8
0.002270
9
0.007376
3
0.007821
9
0.007376
1
0.006225
7
0.004609
2
0.004502
4
0.004710
9

TC04 Block
Temperature
(C)

TC04
Calibration
Prediction
(C)

48.89668

48.54351

71.47360

71.84470

95.80870

96.96047

120.37820

122.31816

144.88528

147.61142

169.18238

172.68798

193.64406

197.93439

217.48726

222.54248

241.27156

247.08978

T BF

T CAL

(C)

(C)

0.1761
9
0.0562
60
0.0337
77
0.1097
4
0.1746
1
0.1143
2
0.0386
61
0.0670
48
0.1708
8

Table 3: Summary of calibration uncertainties.


Device
TC03

Calibration Uncertainty
0.176C

0.18295
0.06283
1
0.04545
3
0.12186
0.18629
0.12484
0.04757
0
0.07585
1
0.17989

TC04

0.186C

Table 4: Length measurements and uncertainties.


Measurement
Ds (mm)

LCC (mm)

50.880 0.0254
44.958 0.0254

Labview virtual instrument for taking temperature and voltage data:


http://www.cs.wright.edu/people/faculty/sthomas/reader06.vi