Pros and Cons of Natural Convection and Radiation

Natural convection is more prevalent at lower temperatures whereas radiation is more prevalent at higher temperatures Possible Sources of error: conduction from the heated cylinder to its housing tube changes in ambient temperature Variations in surface temperature Heat Transfer by Convection and uses possible Heat typically does not flow through liquids and gases by means of conduction. Liquids and gases are fluids, their particles are not fixed in place, they move bout the bulk of the sample of matter.

The model used for explaining heat transfer through the bulk of liquids and gases involves convection.

Convection is the process of heat transfer from one location to the next by the movement of fluids. The moving fluid carries energy with it. The fluid flows from a high temperature location to a low temperature location (Images courtesy Peter Lewis and Chris West of Standard’s SLAC). To understand convection in fluids, Consider the heat transfer through the water that is being heated in a pot on a stove.

The source of the heat is the stove burner.

The metal pot that holds the water is heated by the stove burner. As the metal becomes hot, it begins to conduct heat to the water. The water at the boundary with the metal pan becomes hot. Fluids expand when heated and become less dense. So as the water at the bottom of the pot becomes hot, its density decreases. The differences in water density between the bottom of the pot, and the top of the pot results in the gradual formation of circulation currents.

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Hot water begins to rise to the top of the pot displacing the colder water that was originally there.

And the colder water that was present at the pop of the pot moves towards the bottom of the pot where it is heated and begins to rise. These circulation currents slowly develop over time, providing the pathway for heated water to transfer energy from the bottom of the pot to the surface. Convection also explains how an electric heater placed on the floor of a cold room warms up the air in the room. Air present near the coils of the heater warm up. As the air warms up, it expands, becomes less dense and begins to rise. As the hot air rises, it pushes some of the cold air near the top of the room out of the way.

The cold air moves towards the bottom of the room to place the hot air that has risen. As the colder air approaches the heater at the bottom of the room, it becomes warmed by the heater and begins to rise. Once more, convection currents are slowly formed. Air travels along these pathways, carrying energy with it from the heater throughout the room. Convection is the main method of heat transfer in fluids such as water and air. It is often said that heat rises in these situations. The more appropriate explanation is to say that heated fluid rises.

For instance, as the heated air rises from the heater on a floor, it carries more energetic particles with it. As the more energetic particles of the heated air mix with the cooler air near the ceiling, the average kinetic energy of the air near the top of the room increases. This increase in the average kinetic energy corresponds to an increase in temperature. The net result of the rising hot fluid is the transfer of heat from one location to another location. The convection method of heat transfer always involves the transfer of heat by the movement of matter.

The two examples of convection discussed here – heating water in a pot and heating air in a room – are examples of natural convection. The riving force of the circulation of fluid is natural – differences in density between two locations as the result of fluid being heated at some source. (Some sources introduce the concept of buoyant forces to explain why the heated fluids rise. We will not pursue such explanations here). Natural convection is common in nature. The earth’s oceans and atmosphere are heated by natural convection.

In contrast to natural convection, forced convection involves fluid being forced from one location to another by fans, pumps and other devices. Many home heating systems involve force air heating. Air is heated at a furnace and blown by fans through ductwork and released into rooms at vent locations. This is an example of forced convection. The movement of the fluid from the hot location (near the furnace) to the cool location (the rooms throughout the house) is driven or forced by a fan. Some ovens are forced convection ovens; they have fans that blow heated air from a heat source into the oven.

Some fireplaces enhance the heating ability of the fire by blowing heated air from the fireplace unit into the adjacent room. This is another example of forced convection. Heat Transfer by Radiation A final method of heat transfer involves radiation. Radiation is the transfer of heat by means of electromagnetic waves. To radiate means to send out or spread from a central location. Whether it is light, sound, waves, rays, flower petals, wheel spokes or pain, if something radiates then it protrudes or spreads outward from an origin.

The transfer of heat by radiation involves the carrying of energy from an origin to the space surrounding it. The energy is carried by electromagnetic waves and does not involve the movement or the interaction of matter. Thermal radiation can occur through matter or through a region of pace that is void of matter (i. E., a vacuum). In fact, the heat received on Earth from the sun is the result of electromagnetic waves traveling through the void of space between the Earth and the sun. All objects radiate energy in the form of electromagnetic waves.

The rate at which this energy is released is proportional to the Kelvin temperature (T) raised to the fourth power. Radiation rate = kit (Images courtesy Peter Lewis and Chris West of Standard’s SLACK). The hotter the object, the more it radiates. The sun obviously radiates off more energy than a hot mug of coffee. The temperature also affects the wavelength and frequency of the radiated waves. Objects at typical room temperatures radiate energy as infrared waves. Being invisible to the human eye, we do not see this form of radiation.

An infrared camera is capable of detecting such radiation. Perhaps you have seen thermal photographs or videos of the radiation surrounding a person or animal or a hot mug of coffee or the Earth. The energy radiated from an object is usually a collection or range of wavelengths. This is usually referred to as an emission spectrum. As the temperature of an object increases, the avalanches within the spectra of the emitted radiation also decrease. Hotter objects tend to emit shorter wavelength, higher frequency radiation.

The coils of an electric toaster are considerably hotter than room temperature and emit electromagnetic radiation in the visible spectrum. Fortunately, this provides a convenient warning to its users that the coils are hot. The tungsten filament of an incandescent light bulb emits electromagnetic radiation in the visible (and beyond) range. This radiation not only allows us to see, it also warms the glass bulb that contains the filament.

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Pros and Cons of Natural Convection and Radiation. (2019, Dec 06). Retrieved from

Pros and Cons of Natural Convection and Radiation
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