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Forced convection

In this case, the heat transfer coefficient h depends on the flow velocity u, characteristic length
scale L, fluid conductivity k, viscosity , specific heat capacity Cp and density . These
parameters and their dimensions are listed in Table. Using the fundamental dimensions of M for
mass, L for length, T for time and for temperature
Table: Variables and dimensions for forced convection


MT-3 -1
MLT-3 -1
ML-1 T-1
L2T-2 -1
ML -3

We start then by writing the functional relationship as;

h= f ( u,L,k,Cp,, )
The number of variables is 7 and the number of dimensions is four, so we will be able to get
three non-dimensional parameters. We choose a set of repeated variables containing the four
dimensions such that they do not form a group on their own. By inspection, we can see that the
variables k, L, and cannot form a because only the first one contains the dimension .
We then use this set of variables with one of the remaining variables one at a time to extract the
non-dimensional groupings.
ka, Lb, c, d h = (MLT-3 -1)a ( L)b ( ML-1 T-1)c (ML -3)d ( MT-3 -1 ) = 1
We can then create a system of linear equations to compute the values of the exponents a,b,c and
d that lead to a non-dimensional group. So:

For M:
For T:
For :
For L:

- 3a - c - 3= 0
a + b - c - 3d = 0

Solving these equations simultaneously gives:

a= -1 b= 1 c= 0 d= 0

This leads to the following non-dimensional group k-1 Lh. Thus the first non-dimensional group

1 = h L/k
Repeating the same process with the variable u

ka Lb c d u = (MLT-3 -1)a ( L )b ( ML-1 T-1)c (ML -3)d (LT-1) = 2

For M
For L
For T

a+ b c -3d +1 = 0
-3a c -1 = 0
-a = 0

Solving these equations simultaneously gives

a =0
b =1 c = -1
d =1
This results in the following non-dimensional group:

2 = u L /
Repeating the procedure using the variable Cp leads to a third non-dimensional group of the

3 = Cp / k
Using the above non-dimensional groups, the functional relation in Equation
( u,L,k,Cp,, ) can be expressed as:

h= f

h L/k = f { u L / , Cp / k}
We will now give a physical interpretation of the three non-dimensional groups derived above

h L/k : This group is called the Nusselt number Nu. This represents the dimensionless heat
transfer coefficient and can be thought of as the ratio of the heat transfer by convection to that of
conduction through the fluid.
q conv
= =Nusselt No . Nu
q cond k T /L k
Nu = 1 pure conduction.

A value of Nusselt number around 1 implies either convective effect is weak or not present. The
local Nusselt number is usually termed Nux. If the average value is used over a surface, then the
term Nu L is used.

u L / :

This group is known as the Reynolds number Re. It represents the ratio of the
inertia forces to the viscous forces in the fluid.

Inertia forces u L
Viscous forces

Its value can give an indication of the state of the boundary layer and whether the flow is
laminar, turbulent or in transition. At large Reynolds numbers (turbulent flow) the inertia forces
are large relative to the viscous forces. At small or moderate Reynolds numbers (laminar flow),
the viscous forces are large enough to suppress these fluctuations and to keep the fluid inline.
Again here the local Reynolds number is termed Rex and the Reynolds number based on the
length scale of the flow domain is termed ReL.

Cp / k: The Prandtl number Pr. This can be written as follows

Pr = Cp / k = (/)( k/ Cp) = /

Molecular diffusivity of momentum Cp

= =
Molecular diffusivity of heat

From which, we can se the Pr is the ratio of the momentum diffusivity () to the thermal
Diffusivity () It provides a measure of the relative effectiveness of the transport by diffusion of
momentum and energy in the velocity and the thermal boundary layers respectively. Heat
diffuses very quickly in liquid metals (Pr1) and very slowly in oils (Pr1) relative to
For gasses Pr~1.0 and in this case momentum and energy transfer by diffusion are comparable.
In liquid metals Pr << 1 and the energy diffusion rate is much greater than the momentum
diffusion rate. For oils Pr >> 1 and the opposite is true.
From the above interpretation it follows that the Pr number affects the growth of the velocity and
the thermal boundary layers, i.e. in laminar flow
Thermal boundary layer thickness
Velocity boundary layer thickness


( n is a positive number)

Equation h L/k = f { u L / , Cp / k} forms the basis for general formulations for the
non-dimensional heat transfer coefficient as a function of the Reynolds number and the Prandtl
numbers as follows:

Nu (Re)a (Pr)b
Nu = C (Re)a (Pr)b
The constants C, a and b can be obtained either by experiments, numerical methods or from
analytic solutions if they were possible. In the following subsection we will present the values of
these coefficients for common geometries encountered in engineering applications


Laminar flow over a flat plate
In the simple case of an isothermal flat plate, as mentioned earlier, analytical methods can be used to
solve either the Navier-Stokes equations or the boundary layer approximation for Nux. This then can be
integrated to obtain an overall Nusselt number NuL for the total heat transfer from the plate. The
derivation of the analytic solution for the boundary layer equations can be found in Long (1999). This
leads to the following solutions:

hx x/k = 0.332 [ Cp / k ]1/3 [ u x


Nux = 0.332 (Pr)1/3 ( Rex )1/2

The above physical properties (k, c p , , ) of the fluid can vary with temperature and are therefore
evaluated at the mean film temperature


T s +T

Where T s is the plate is surface temperature and T is the temperature of the fluid in the far stream.

Above equation is applicable for Rex < 5x105 i.e. laminar flow and Pr 0.6 (air and water
In most engineering calculations, an overall value of the heat transfer coefficient is required
rather than the local value. This can be obtained by integrating the heat transfer coefficient over
the plate length as follows:

qx = (area of element ) hx (Ts T ) =bdx(Ts T )

And for the plate entire length

q x =bhL(Ts T )


Where hL is the average convective coefficient and Q is the total heat transfer from the plate.
If we substitute for qx from Equation qx = (area of element) hx (Ts T ) = bdx(Ts T )
and rearrange we have,

hL =

1 hx dx
Type equation here.

hx = L


If we now substitute for h x from Equation



= 0.332 [


]1/3 [ u


and integrate the resulting equation the average heat transfer coefficient is



= 0.664 Pr1/3 ReL1/2


NuL = 0.664 Pr1/3 ReL1/2

This is valid for ReL < 5x105
Comparing the above equation with Nux

= 0.332 (Pr)1/3 ( Rex )1/2

hL = 2hat x=L
Turbulent flow over a flat plate
Transition from laminar to turbulent flow over a flat plate generally takes place at a Reynolds number of
approximately 5x10 5. This value however can vary up to an order of magnitude either way dependent on
the state of free stream turbulence and the smoothness of the plate.
Figure 3.8 shows a schematic of the velocity profile near the wall for turbulent and laminar flow

It is apparent that the velocity gradient is much steeper for turbulent flow.
For the same temperature difference between the wall and the free stream flow, turbulent flow will
produce a larger heat transfer coefficient. Physically, this can be explained by the fact that there is more
mixing of the flow due to turbulent fluctuations leading to a higher heat transfer.

NuL = [0.664 Rex,c0.5 + 0.037( ReL0.8- Rex,c0.8)] Pr 1/3

Where Rex,c is the Reynolds number at which transition occurs. Assuming that transition
At ReL = 5x105 ,

NuL = 0.037( ReL0.8- 871)] Pr


If the length at which transition occurs is much smaller than the total length L of the plate, then above
equation can be approximated by

NuL = 0.037ReL0.8 Pr


External Flow Across Cylinders And Spheres

Flow across cylinders and spheres are frequently encountered in practice. For
example, the tubes in a shell-and-tube heat exchanger involve both internal
flow through the tubes and external flow over the tubes, and both flows must
be considered in the analysis of the heat exchanger. Also, many sports such
as soccer, tennis, and golf involve flow over spherical balls.
The characteristic length for a circular cylinder or sphere is taken to be the
external diameter D. Thus, the Reynolds number is defined as

Re =Du/
Where u is the uniform velocity of the fluid as it approaches the cylinder or
sphere. The critical Reynolds number for flow across a circular cylinder
sphere is about
Re 2 x 105. That is, the boundary layer remains laminar for about Re
2 x 105 and becomes turbulent for Re 2 x105.
Cross flow over a cylinder exhibits complex flow patterns, as shown in Figure.
The fluid approaching the cylinder branches out and encircles the cylinder,
forming a boundary layer that wraps around the cylinder. The fluid particles
on the mid plane strike the cylinder at the stagnation point, bringing the fluid
to a complete stop and thus raising the pressure at that point. The pressure
decreases in the flow direction while the fluid velocity increases.

Stagnation point: Location of zero velocity and maximum pressure.

Followed by boundary layer development under a favorable pressure
gradient and hence acceleration of the free stream flow.
Location of separation depends on boundary layer transition. Since the
momentum of fluid in a turbulent boundary layer is larger than in the laminar
boundary layer, it is reasonable to expect transition to delay the occurrence
of separation.

At very low upstream velocities (Re 1), the fluid completely wraps around
the cylinder and the two arms of the fluid meet on the rear side of the
cylinder in an orderly manner. Thus, the fluid follows the curvature of the
At higher velocities, the fluid still hugs the cylinder on the frontal side, but it
is too fast to remains attached to the surface as it approaches the top of the
cylinder. As a result, the boundary layer detaches from the surface, forming a
separation region behind the cylinder. Flow in the wake region is
characterized by random vortex formation and pressures much lower than
the stagnation point pressure.
For Reynolds number > 200,000 on a smooth cylinder, the boundary
becomes turbulent. Flow separation is delayed, and the wake is small
then that when the boundary is laminar.
Flow separation occurs at about 80o (measured from the stagnation
point) when the boundary layer is laminar and at about 140o when it is

Effect of Surface Roughness

The surface roughness, in general, increases the drag coefficient in turbulent

flow. This is especially the case for streamlined bodies.
For blunt bodies such as a circular cylinder or sphere, however, an increase
in the surface roughness may actually decrease the drag coefficient for a
sphere. This is done by tripping the flow into turbulence at a lower Reynolds
number, and thus causing the fluid to close in behind the body, narrowing
the wake and reducing pressure drag considerably. This result in a much
smaller drag coefficient and thus drag force for a rough surfaced cylinder or
sphere in a certain range of Reynolds number compared to a smooth one of
identical size at the same velocity. At Re = 105, for example, CD = 0.1 for a
rough sphere with /D = 0.0015, whereas CD =0.5 for a smooth one.
Therefore, the drag coefficient in this case is reduced by a factor of 5 by
simply roughening the surface. Note, however, that at Re =106, CD = 0.4 for
the rough sphere while CD =0.1 for the smooth one. Obviously, roughening
the sphere in this case will increase the drag by a factor of 4.

The discussion above shows that roughening the surface can be used to
great advantage in reducing drag, but it can also backfire on us if we are not
careful specifically, if we do not operate in the right range of Reynolds
With this consideration, golf balls are intentionally roughened to induce
turbulence at a lower Reynolds number to take advantage of the sharp drop
in the drag coefficient at the onset of turbulence in the boundary layer (the
typical velocity range of golf balls is 15 to 150 m/s, and the Reynolds number
is less than 4 x105). The critical Reynolds number of dimpled golf balls is
about 4 x 104. The occurrence of turbulent flow at this Reynolds number
reduces the drag coefficient of a golf ball by half. For a given hit, this means
a longer distance for the ball.

Heat Transfer Coefficient

Flows across cylinders and spheres, in general, involve flow separation,

which is difficult to handle analytically. Therefore, such flows must be studied
experimentally or numerically.
Generally the overall average Nusselt number for heat transfer with the
entire object is important. As with a flat plate, correlations developed from
experimental data to compute Nu as a f(Rem,Prn)
Overall Average Nusselt number

Nu D
C Re mD Pr1 3
All properties are evaluated at the bulk mean temperature.
For circular cylinders the value of C and m are as under

Range of Reynolds Number

Nusselt number


Nu =0.989Re0.330 Pr1/3
Nu = 0.911Re0.385 Pr1/3
Nu = 0.683Re0.466 Pr1/3
Nu = 0.193Re0.618 Pr1/3
Nu = 0.027Re0.805 Pr1/3


Laminar Flow In Pipes
If the Reynolds number Red, based on the pipe diameter is less than about 2300, then the flow laminar.
For Reynolds number above 2300 the boundary layer developing at the entrance of the pipe undergoes
transition and becomes turbulent leading to a fully developed turbulent flow
In pipe flow, we seek to determine a heat transfer coefficient such that Newtons law of cooling
is formulated as:

q = h( T s - T m)
Where T sis the pipe-wall temperature and T m is the mean temperature in the fully developed profile in
the pipe. The mean fluid temperature is used instead of the free stream temperature for external flow.
In a similar fashion to the average Nusselt number for a flat plate, we define the average Nusselt number
for pipe flow as:

Nu d =hd / k, where d is the pipe diameter.

From the derivation of formulae for the average Nusselt number for laminar follow resulting from the
solution of the flow equations, it turns out the the Nusselt number is constant, and does not depend on
either the Reynolds or Prandtl numbers so long as the Reynolds number is below
However, two different solutions are found depending on the physical situation. For constant heat flux
pipe flow, the Nusselt number is given by

Nud = 4.36
While for a pipe with constant wall temperature, it is given by:

Nud =3.66
Note that to determine h from above equations, the heat transfer coefficient needs to be determined at the
mean temperature T m. For pipes where there is a significant variation of temperature between entry and
exit of the pipe (such as in heat exchangers), then the fluid properties need to be determined at the
arithmetic mean temperature between entry and exit
i.e. at

T miT me

Turbulent Flow In Pipes

Determination of the heat transfer coefficient for turbulent pipe flow analytically is much more involved
than that for laminar flow. Hence, greater emphasis is usually placed on empirical correlations.
The classic expression for local Nusselt number in turbulent pipe flow is given by:

Nud = 0.023 (Red )4/5Pr2/3

However, it is found that the Dittus-Boelter equation below provides a better correlation with measured

Nud = 0.023 (Red )4/5Prn

where n = 0.4 for fluid is heating (Ts > Tm) and n = 0.3 for fluid is cooling (Ts < Tm)
The above equation is valid for:

Red > 104, and L / D > 10


< 5 C for liquids and


< 55 C for gases

For larger temperature differences use of the following formula is recommended

Nud = 0.027 (Red )4/5Pr2/3 [

For 0.7 Pr 16700,

Re d 10,000 and L/ d 10
Where s is the viscosity evaluated at the pipe surface temperature. The rest of the parameters are
evaluated at the mean temperature.

Flow Through Tube Annulus

Some simple heat transfer equipments consist of two concentric tubes, and are properly called doubletube heat exchangers. In such devices, one fluid flows through the tube while the other flows through the
annular space. The governing differential equations for both flows are identical. Therefore, steady laminar
flow through an annulus can be studied analytically by using suitable boundary conditions.

If the channel through which the fluid flows is not of circular cross section, it is recommended that the
heat-transfer correlations be based on the hydraulic diameter DH, defined by

DH =


where A is the cross-sectional area of the flow and P is the wetted perimeter. This particular grouping of
terms is used because it yields the value of the physical diameter when applied to a circular cross section.
The hydraulic diameter should be used in calculating the Nusselt and Reynolds numbers
Consider a concentric annulus of inner diameter Di and outer diameter Do. The hydraulic diameter of
annulus is

DH =


= 4 Do2 Di2

(Do + Di ) = Do Di

When Nusselt numbers are known, the convection coefficients for the inner and the outer surfaces are
determined from

Nui = hi DH / k

Nuo = ho DH / k

Natural convection
An example of heat transfer by natural convection is that resulting from the external surface of radiators
of a central heating system or an electric heating element. In this case, as the surrounding fluid is heated,
its density reduces. This results in this fluid rising and will be replaced by colder fluid from the
surrounding resulting in a circulation loop as shown in Figure
Generally speaking, natural convection velocities are much smaller than those associated with
forced convection resulting in smaller heat transfer coefficients.
If is the density of the undisturbed cold fluid and is the density of warmer fluid then the
buoyancy force per unit volume F of fluid is:

F = (


.. 1

Where g is the acceleration due to gravity

The variation of density with temperature is:

( 1 + T) .

where is the volumetric thermal expansion coefficient ( 1/ K ) and T is the temperature difference
between the two fluid regions. If we substitute for from Equation 2 into
Equation 1 then the buoyancy force per unit volume of fluid is given a

F ={ ( 1 + T) } g
F=g T


Therefore, in the case of natural convection, h could depend on a characteristic length L. A temperature
difference T, the conductivity k, the viscosity the specific heat capacity c p , the density , and the
volumetric thermal expansion coefficient of the fluid.
is usually grouped with g and T as one term ( gT ) as this group is proportional to the buoyancy
We will now use the principles of dimensional analysis to work out a set of non-dimensional parameters
to group the parameters affecting natural convection. Thus

( L, k,, C


( gT ),

These have the dimensions as shown in Table

Table: Parameters affecting natural convection and their dimensions



L T-2

ML T-3-1
ML-1 T-1
L2 T-2-1

Again there are seven parameters and four dimensions which should lead to three non dimensional
Selecting the following repeated variables: k, L, and as they cannot form a non dimensional group
because only k has the dimension of temperature. We will then use the remaining variables as repeated
variables one at a time. If we start with h, we get the following:

k aLb c d h = ( ML T-3-1)

(L)b (ML-1 T-1)c (ML-3)d (MT-3-1)

which leads to the following non-dimensional group

1 = hL/k
If we choose gT , we get:

= M0 T0 L0 0

k aLb c d gT = ( ML T-3-1)

(L)b (ML-1 T-1)c (ML-3)d (L T-2) = M0 T0 L0 0

- 3a - c - 2 = 0
a + b - c - 3d + 1 = 0

For M:
For T:
For :
For L:

Solving these equations simultaneously gives:

a = 0 , b = 3 , c = -2 , d = 2
This results in the following non-dimensional group:

2 = 2gTL3 / 2
Repeating the procedure using the variable Cp leads to a third non-dimensional group :

3 = Cp / k
Using the above non-dimensional groups, the functional relation can be expressed as:



2gTL3 , Cp

or Nu = f [ Gr, Pr ]
where Gr =

gTL3 / 2

is the Grashof number.

This dimensionless group is the ratio of the buoyancy forces to the square of the viscous forces in the
fluid. Its role in natural convection is similar to the role of the Reynolds number in forced convection. At
high Gr numbers the buoyancy forces are large compared to the viscous forces which tend to hold the
fluid particles together and thus convection can occur.
In natural convection, we are also likely to encounter what is known as the Rayleigh number which is the
product of the Grashof number and the Prandtl number:

Ra = Gr Pr = gTL3 / v
This is the ratio of the thermal energy liberated by buoyancy to the energy dissipated by heat conduction
and viscous drag.

It is customary to use the following expression for the Nusselt number in free convection, in a similar
fashion to that used in forced convection:

Ra = C Gra Prb
where C, a and b are constants that can be determined either analytically experimentally, or using
computational methods. Traditionally, experimental were methods used, but numerical procedures are
becoming increasingly more used in recent years. Analytical methods are only possible for a limited
number of very simple cases.
In all cases, the fluid properties should be evaluated at T film = (T s + T
for gasses = 1 / T film