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Paper Title:- A Review on Thermal Insulation and Its Optimum Thickness to Reduce Heat Loss

Author Name:- Dinesh Kumar Sahu

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Abstract:- An understanding of the mechanisms of heat transfer is becoming increasingly important in today’s world. Conduction and convection heat transfer phenomena are found throughout virtually all of the physical world and the industrial domain. A thermal insulator is a poor conductor of heat and has a low thermal conductivity. In this paper we studied that Insulation is used in buildings and in manufacturing processes to prevent heat loss or heat gain. Although its primary purpose is an economic one, it also provides more accurate control of process temperatures and protection of personnel. It prevents condensation on cold surfaces and the resulting corrosion. We also studied that critical radius of insulation is a radius at which the heat loss is maximum and above this radius the heat loss reduces with increase in radius. We also gave the concept of selection of economical insulation material and optimum thickness of insulation that give minimum total cost.

Keywords: Heat, Conduction, Convection, Heat Loss, Insulation

I.  Introduction

Heat flow is an inevitable consequence of contact between objects of differing temperature. Thermal insulation provides a region for insulation in which thermal conduction is reduced or thermal radiation is reflected rather than absorbed by the lower temperature body. To change the temperature of an object, energy is required in the form of heat generation to increase the temperature, or heat extraction to reduce the temperature. Once the heat generation or heat extraction is terminated a reverse flow of heat occurs to reverse the temperature back to ambient. To maintain a given temperature considerable continuous energy is required. Insulation will reduce this energy loss.

Heat may be transferred in three mechanisms: conduction, convection and radiation. Thermal conduction is the molecular transport of heat under the effect of temperature gradient. Convection mechanism of heat occurs in liquids and gases, whereby the flow processes transfer heat. Free convection is flow caused by the differences in density as a result of temperature differences. Forced convection is flow caused by external influences (wind, ventilators, etc.). Thermal radiation mechanism occurs when thermal energy is emitted similar to light radiation.

Heat transfers through insulation material occur by means of conduction, while heat loss to or heat gain from atmosphere occurs by means of convection and radiation. Materials, which have a low thermal conductivity, are those, which have a high proportion of small voids containing air or gases. These voids are not big enough to transmit heat by convection or radiation, and therefore reduce the flow of heat. Thermal insulation materials come into the latter category. Thermal insulation materials may be natural substances or man-made.

II.  The Need for Insulation

A thermal insulator is a poor conductor of heat and has a low thermal conductivity. Insulation Is used in buildings and in manufacturing processes to prevent heat loss or heat gain. Although its primary purpose is an economic one, it also provides more accurate control of process temperatures and protection of personnel. It prevents condensation on cold surfaces and the resulting corrosion. Such materials are porous, containing large number of dormant air cells. Thermal insulation delivers the following benefits: [1][2]

A.      Energy Conservation

Conserving energy by reducing the rate of heat flow (fig 1) is the primary reason for insulating surfaces. Insulation materials that will perform satisfactorily in the temperature range of -268°C to 1000°C are widely available.

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Fig. 1: Thermal insulation retards heat transfer by acting as a barrier in the path of heat flow

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