# Clarification about Heat Conduction equations

• WK95
In summary, the conversation discusses the relationship between Fourier's Law of Heat Conduction, the Heat Conduction Equation, and the Energy Balance Equation. It also touches on how these equations can be applied to a system, specifically a metal pot with hot water inside and cooler water outside. The concept of energy balance and temperature distribution over time is also mentioned. Additionally, the correct way to calculate the rate of heat transfer through a distance is clarified.
WK95
How do I relate Fourier's Law of Heat Conduction for 1-D Heat Conduction with the Heat Conduction Equation in a large plane wall and energy balance equation?

Fourier

Energy Balance
energy in - energy out = system energy change
rate of energy in - rate of energy out = rate of system energy change

Heat Conduction Equation

So is Q_dot.cond is the rate of heat transfer through a distance x by conduction due to a temperature difference. That means there is heat energy flowing from into the body from the higher temperature side and exiting through the lower temperature side. Does that mean Q_dot.cond = Q_dot.x + Q_dot.x+deltax (The first two terms of the Heat Conduction equation except they are summed) which is the sum of energy in one direction from high to low.

Asked another way, if I were considering heat conduction through some body, how is the energy balance equation applied to such a body?

Trying to approach this confusion intuitively, I'm imagining a fully enclosed metal pot of really hot water but with water that is not in motion (no convection) surrounded by a cooler body of water in an insulated metal pot. At some instant, the hot water in the inner pot has a temperature T_I and the hot cooler water in the outer pot has a temperature T_O. due to the temperature difference, I can use Fourier's equation to determine the rate of heat transfer by conduction from the hot water through the pot to the outside air. But where I'm confuse about the topic of conduction is when I consider how the energy of the pot with the energy balance equation. Heat has to flow into the pot then out of it into the air due to the temperature difference. At all times, I'd imagine that (T_O+T_I)/2 is constant and as the hot water cools and the cooler water warms until equilibrium is reached. So that means the metal pot separating the two bodies of water isn't changing in temp. In other words, for that pot, the rate of energy of the pot system separating the two bodies of water is equal to zero.

So going back to the original question, since the rate of energy change of the pot system is equal to zero and there is not heat generation, Q_dot.in - Q_dot.out=0. I also know that Q_dot.conduction=-kA(dT/dx) and heat conduction through some body has energy going in then energy out. So is it valid to say that Q_dot.conduction=Q_dot.in + Q_dot.out, e.g. with the two terms being or equal magnitude?

Last edited:
WK95 said:
Asked another way, if I were considering heat conduction through some body, how is the energy balance equation applied to such a body?

It sounds like you want to determine the temperatures of the regions of water and the pots, and possibly their internal temperature distributions, over time.

In general, for a sufficiently simple geometry and conditions (e.g., a single symmetric shape), the differential Fourier's equation can be integrated (or solved another way) to produce the temperature profile. For more complicated problems, you can solve the differential equation(s) numerically or use the finite element method. In your case, you might have conduction equations for the hot water, the hot pot, the cool water, and perhaps the cool pot if you can't assume its temperature is uniform. At interfaces, the temperatures are equal, and energy balance equations need to be satisfied.

If you assume the water is well mixed with a uniform temperature, your problem simplifies somewhat. You can treat the water as simply two temperatures on either side of the inner pot wall. The temperature in the inner pot wall would then change over time. (The profile would be linear with a plane wall but is instead somewhat nonlinear because of the curving wall of the pot. However, you might wish to ignore this subtlety.)

Incropera and deWitt's book on heat transfer (and most heat transfer textbooks) covers all of these issues pretty clearly with examples.

WK95 said:
So is it valid to say that Q_dot.conduction=Q_dot.in + Q_dot.out, e.g. with the two terms being or equal magnitude?

No, you wouldn't add the terms. It's the same energy moving in different locations, one on one side of the wall and the other side of the wall.

WK95 said:
I'd imagine that (T_O+T_I)/2 is constant

This is also not correct unless the amounts of water are equal, the thermal mass of the pots is insignificant, zero heat transfer occurs to the outside, and you assume the specific heat of water is independent of temperature.

## 1. What is heat conduction?

Heat conduction is the transfer of thermal energy from one point to another within a medium or between two mediums in physical contact. This transfer occurs due to the temperature difference between the two points and is a result of the random motion of particles within the medium.

## 2. What is the heat conduction equation?

The heat conduction equation is a mathematical representation of the process of heat conduction. It is a differential equation that relates the rate of heat transfer to the temperature gradient and thermal properties of the medium, such as thermal conductivity and specific heat.

## 3. How is the heat conduction equation derived?

The heat conduction equation is derived from the fundamental laws of thermodynamics, such as the conservation of energy and the second law of thermodynamics. It can also be derived using Fourier's law, which states that the rate of heat transfer is proportional to the temperature gradient.

## 4. What are the assumptions made in the heat conduction equation?

The heat conduction equation makes several assumptions, including: the medium is homogeneous and isotropic, there are no internal heat sources, the thermal properties of the medium are constant, and the temperature gradient is small enough for the equation to be linear.

## 5. What are some practical applications of heat conduction equations?

Heat conduction equations have many practical applications, including predicting the temperature distribution in various systems, designing heating and cooling systems, and understanding the behavior of materials under different thermal conditions. They are also used in fields such as engineering, physics, and materials science.

• Mechanical Engineering
Replies
7
Views
1K
• Classical Physics
Replies
1
Views
696
• Classical Physics
Replies
6
Views
1K
• Thermodynamics
Replies
32
Views
2K
• Mechanical Engineering
Replies
3
Views
2K
• Mechanical Engineering
Replies
12
Views
2K
• Mechanical Engineering
Replies
3
Views
2K
• Mechanical Engineering
Replies
6
Views
12K
• Thermodynamics
Replies
2
Views
2K
• Mechanical Engineering
Replies
5
Views
2K