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Introduction and Background

Natural convection is a mechanism, or type of heat transport, in which the fluid motion is not
generated by any external source (like a pump, fan, suction device, etc.) but only by density
differences in the fluid occurring due to temperature gradients. Forced convection is a
mechanism, or type of transport in which fluid motion is generated by an external source (like
a pump, fan, suction device, etc.). It should be considered as one of the main methods of
useful heat transfer as significant amounts of heat energy can be transported very efficiently.
Objective
To measure thermal resistance for flat plate, finned heatsink, and pinned heatsink under
natural and forced convection conditions.
Pre-Lab Questions
Lowest Tp
Pinned

Middle Tp
Finned

Hottest Tp
Flat Plate

Methodology
Experiment 1 (Forced Convection)
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

The fan is placed assembly on the top of the duct.


The finned heatsink is placed into the duct.
The heater switch is turned on.
The heater power control is set to 15 Watts (the control knob is turned clockwise).
The air flow velocity is set to 0.5 m/s (the control knob is turned clockwise).
Heatsink temperature is recorded in every 1 minute. When the temperature does not
change in 1 minute, it can be considered that the system reached steady state.
7. Finned and pinned heatsink geometry is measured and their approximate surface areas is
calculated.
8. Steady state and ambient temperatures is recorded.
9. The fan speed control knob is set to give a reading of 1.0, 1.5, and 0.0 m/s air speed.
10. Step 6 and 8 is repeated.
11. The same experiment for pinned heatsink and flat plate is repeated only for 0.5m/s air
velocity case.
12. The flat plate size is measured and its surface are is calculated.
The heatsink temperature is affected by not only natural/forced convection but also
conduction and radiation heat transfer. Still, the effect from conduction and radiation heat
transfer is considered negligible for this experiment.
Results

Data sheets
Ambient temperature:
Surface areas: finned heatsink (0.130m2), pinned heatsink (0.056m2), flat plate (0.011m2)

Time (min)
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
Experiment 1

Finned Heatsink (c)


Heatsink Temperature, Tp (c)
Ambient Temperature, Tp-Ta (c)
0.5 (m/s)
1.0 (m/s)
1.5 (m/s)
0.5 (m/s)
33.5
35.1
31.3
7.9
33.8
35.0
31.1
8.2
34.2
34.7
30.8
8.6
34.5
34.4
30.6
8.9
34.7
34.1
30.4
9.1
34.9
33.9
30.2
9.3
35.1
33.7
30.1
9.5
35.2
33.5
30.1
9.6
35.4
33.4
30.1
9.8
35.7
33.2
30.1
10.1
36.0
33.0
10.4
36.2
32.9
10.6
36.2
32.7
10.6
36.2
32.6
10.6
32.4
32.3
32.2
32.1
32.0
31.9
31.8
31.7
31.6
31.6
31.6

Finned heatsink, Input power: 15W


Air velocity
(m/s)

Heatsink
Temperature, Tp
(c)

Ambient
Temperature, Ta
(c)

Temperature
Rise, Tp - Ta
(c)

0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5

57.6
36.2
32.5
31.5

24.9
25.6
24.7
24.2

32.7
10.6
7.8
7.3

Pinned heatsink, Input power: 15 W

Thermal
Resistance
(Tp Ta)/Q
(c/W)
2.18
0.71
0.52
0.49

Air velocity
(m/s)

Heatsink
Temperature, Tp
(c)

Ambient
Temperature, Ta
(c)

Temperature
Rise, Tp - Ta
(c)

0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5

48.5
37.4
31.7
31.2

24.8
24.5
24.2
25.1

23.7
12.9
7.5
6.1

Thermal
Resistance
(Tp Ta)/Q
(c/W)
1.58
0.86
0.50
0.41

Flat plate, Input power: 15 W


Air velocity
(m/s)

Heatsink
Temperature, Tp
(c)

Ambient
Temperature, Ta
(c)

Temperature
Rise, Tp - Ta
(c)

0.0
0.5
1.0
1.5

78.7
71.6
68.6
63.1

25.1
24.9
24.5
24.4

53.6
46.7
44.1
38.7

Thermal
Resistance
(Tp Ta)/Q
(c/W)
3.57
3.11
2.94
2.58

Thermal Resistance(c/W) Vs Air Velocity (m/s)


4
3.5
3
2.5
Thermal Resistance (c/W)

2
1.5

Finned heatsink
Pinned heatsink
Flat plate

1
0.5
0
0 0.5 1 1.5 2
Air Velocity (m/s)

Figure 1: Thermal Resistance against Air Velocity


Based on the experiment, figure 1 shows thermal resistance against air velocity. For 0.5m/s
air velocity case, it shows that flat plate thermal resistance is the highest which is 3.11 (C/W)
compare to pinned heatsinks and finned heatsinks which are 0.86 (C/W) and 0.71 (C/W)
respectively. The thermal resistances for pinned and finned heatsinks are almost same as
compared to flat plate. The relationships between air flow velocity and thermal resistance are
linear for finned heatsinks. As the air flow velocity increase, the thermal resistance decreases.
It shows that air flow velocity and thermal resistance are linear for finned heatsinks. From the
graph, as the air velocity increase, the thermal resistance decrease. It is the same for all of the
three cases which are finned and pinned heatsinks and flat plate. Air velocity 0 m/s means the
heatsinks is cooled by natural convection. When the velocity is 0 m/s, flat plate shows the
highest thermal resistance which is 3.57 (C/W) followed by finned heatsinks which is 2.18
(C/W) and pinned heatsinks which is 1.58 (C/W). The forced convection means that the air
flow velocity is more than 0 m/s. It shows that the thermal resistance decreased because of
higher air flow velocity. Forced convection was more efficient compared to natural
convection at dissipating heat.

Time (min) Vs Temperature Rise (c)


12
10
8
Temperature Rise (c)

Finned Heatsinks

4
2
0
0

10 12 14

Time (min)

Figure 2: Temperature Rise (C) against Time (min)


Based on the experiment, figure 2 shows temperature rise against time for finned heatsinks.
The relationships between time (min) and temperature rise (C) are not linear. The system has
reached steady state when the temperature rise was constant. The temperature decrease as the
time progress.

Discussion
Based on the experiment, thermal performance (temperature) for pinned heatsinks, pinned
heatsinks and flat plate are different. This is due to the different surface area. The larger the
surface area, the lower the thermal resistance. By comparing the three cases which are finned
heatsinks, pinnd heatsinks and flat plate, finned heatsinks is the larger surface area which is
0.130 m2 as compared to pinned heatsinks and flat plate which are 0.056 m 2 and 0.011 m2
respectively. Basically, the larger the surface area, the more heat energy is needed to heat the
surface and it needs more time to reach the heatsinks temperature. The plate or heatsinks will
become hot when temperature rise within the time. Previously, my pre-lab prediction is flat
plate has the hottest heatsink temperature. Followed by finned heatsink as the middle heatsink
temperature and lastly pinned heatsink as the lowest heatsink temperature. The experiment
result agrees with the pre-lab prediction. The heatsinks temperature changes as air velocity
changes because of the heat transfer. Besides, heat will dissipate faster when the air velocity
contacting the surface of the heatsinks increases. Higher velocity causes the heat transfer to
the surface lower and the temperature of the heatsink also lower. When air temperature has
essentially reached the heatsinks temperature, no cooling take place. After certain condition,
the air temperature inside finned and the finned surface temperature are same, heat transfer
did not occurs. There are some errors occurs during the experiment. The possible causes of
error in temperature measurement is because of the power is not consistent. It changes
throughout the experiment. It is set to be 15 W, but during the experiment it changes to
1.

This may happen due to the surrounding and machine itself. The other causes of

errors are the air flow velocity that we set on the machine. The velocity is not consistent
throughout the experiment. It is set to be at a certain value, but during the experiment it
change to

2.

Of this cause of error, I supposed that the most significant error was it is

hard to set the power of the heater.

Conclusions
In conclusions, the larger the surface area, the lower the thermal resistance. Between the three
cases which are finned heatsinks, pinned heatsinks and flat plate, finned heatsinks has the
largest surface area. Hence that, thermal resistance of the finned heatsinks is the lower than
the others. As the air velocity changes, the temperature also changes. Forced convection was
more efficient compared to natural convection at dissipating heat.
References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_convection
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forced_convection
http://www.dummies.com/.../transferring-heat-through-convection-natural-vers...