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Fin Convection

By Grant Boursaw Caterina Clark Gwendoly Espe Ryan Knott Kort Reinecke Erik Ladd

May 27, 2011


Procedure and Apparatus

The fin lab consists of the analysis of the temperature distribution of four different pin fins configurations: a copper square rod, copper cylinder, stainless steel cylinder, and aluminum cylinder. The apparatus of the fin lab is shown in Figure 1. It consists of the fins themselves with threaded ends that fasten into the base. Along the length of each fin are thermocouples. The heater and the base are bound by insulation to force the heat generated by the power supply to exit through the rod. The heater is powered by a VARIAC and is controlled and measured through a meter that produces a voltage signal.

Fan Thermocouples Rod


Figure 1. Experiment apparatus

Figure 2. Base, heater and insulation exploded view The following are procedures for the experiment:
1. Ensure that all of the parts of the apparatus are present and in place. 2. Turn the unit on and set voltage for free convection trial (See Table 1) 3. Wait roughly for 30-60 minutes for the thermocouples to reach steady state (when the temperature does not vary) 4. Record temperature for each thermocouple 5. Repeat steps 2-4, but with the fan running and reset the machine to the forced convection voltage. For different materials, replace the current rod with the desired rod and use the appropriate voltage with the termocouples plugged into the DAQ.

Table 1: Voltage Settings for Free Convection and Forced Convection

Fin Description Square Copper Rod Round Copper Rod Round Aluminum Rod Round Stainless Steel Rod Free Convection 30 V 30 V 35 V 20 V Forced Convection 35 V 35 V 40 V 25 V



Temperatures along the rod were recorded by thermocouples as described above and raw data is given in Appendix A. Graphs comparing these values are given below in Figures 3 and 4 for both free and forced convection. In order to find the convection coefficients, these values were compared to the predicted temperatures along the rod which were found using the convective tip boundary condition.

140.0 120.0 Temperature (C) 100.0 80.0 60.0 40.0 20.0 0.0 0 50

Square Copper Rod Copper Cylinder Aluminum Cylinder Stainless Steel Cylinder

100 150 200 Distance From the Base (mm)



Figure 3. Free convection experimental temperatures along the rod

120.0 100.0 Temperature (C) 80.0 60.0 Square Copper Rod Copper Cylinder Aluminum Cylinder Stainless Steel Cylinder

20.0 0.0 0 50 100 150 200 Distance From the Base (mm) 250 300

Figure 4. Forced Convection Experimental Temperatures Along the Rod The experimental convective heat transfer coefficients are summarized in Table 2. To obtain these values we predicted temperatures at the same locations as the actual thermocouples and found the total root mean square error. We then optimized the convective heat transfer coefficient so that the root mean square error was a minimum. The detailed calculations are found in Appendix B.

Table 2: Heat Transfer Coefficients for Free Convection and Forced Convection
Fin Description Square Copper Rod Round Copper Rod Round Aluminum Rod Round Stainless Steel Rod h Value for Free Convection (W/K*m2 ) 15.4 23.8 14.9 17.2 h Value for Forced Convection (W/K *m2 ) 105.7 119.3 81.4 111.6



According to our results, the round copper rod undergoing a forced convection has the greatest heat transfer coefficient at 119.3W/K*m2. The lowest heat transfer coefficient due to forced convection is the aluminum rods at 81.44W/K*m2. With free convection, the highest heat transfer coefficient was the round copper rod at 23.82W/K*m2. The lowest heat transfer coefficient for free convection is the aluminum rod at 14.88W/K*m2. Therefore, the round copper rod or the aluminum rod should be considered when trying to maximize or minimize the heat transfer coefficient, respectively. After all, the roughness of the surface and the shape of the surface are factored into the h value. However, it is likely that the difference of 40 W/K* m2 between copper and aluminum for the forced convection cases is not just from different surfaces but also from experimental errors. An interesting comparison between different types of materials with the same shape and length involves the aluminum and stainless steel samples. During the experiment, there was the possibility of errors occurring. For example, the stainless steel sample was not pressed all the way into the insulated base, creating an air pocket around the base of the rod which could have let heat escape around the rod and not through the rod. Additionally, not all the groups could be present during each experiment, and therefore the fan setting is unknown. Different speeds of air moving over the rods produce different heat transfer coefficients. The greater the air speed, the greater the convection coefficient. As a result, the calculations presented in this report are based on the assumption that the fan was consistently set to the highest setting possible. Another source of error is the wooden support at the end of the rod. Heat could have escaped through the wood rather than be convected to the air. However, the wood support was used in all of the experiments with the 285mm rods, so comparisons between them can neglect the wood support. Tip convection will allow for the rod to dissipate more heat and have a lower temperature. To account for tip convection one should use the convective tip

boundary condition as prescribed in Appendix B. If the convective tip is neglected in the analysis and an insulated boundary condition is used instead, the h value will appear to be greater because the extra heat loss from the tip is lumped with the side heat loss. One can test whether the heat loss from the tip is negligible by having a test where the tip is insulated and comparing the two experiments total heat losses. If the heat losses for both experiments are close, then the tip convection is negligible. Lastly, if radiation was not accounted for (like in our analysis) the h value would appear slightly greater than it actually is. This is because the heat loss through radiation would be lumped with the heat loss through convection thus causing a higher h coefficient. However, the radiation is assumed to be small, if not negligible.



This experiment successfully found convective h values for several metal fins. The procedure attempted to reduce error by using a well insulated heater on one side and an insulated holder on the other. The dimensions of the fins and the thermocouples on them were carefully measured. Finally, the rods were allowed to reach steady state before taking a complete digital reading of the data. The values of h were then calculated using the convective fin equation and an iterative root mean square error algorithm. These values ranged from 119.3W/K*m2 for forced convection of the round copper rod to 14.88W/K*m2 for free convection of the aluminum rod. Further experimentation should be based on repeating this procedure, as a single data point for each temperature does not allow for statistically significant predictions. Further analysis can be done to examine the tip effects and radiation effects.

Appendix A: Dimensions and Temperature Measurements

Prior to the experiment, the diameter and length of each rod as well as distance of each thermocouple were measured from the base. A picture of the apparatus is given in Figures 1 and 2. A summary of the measurements are given in Table A.1 below. Table A.1. Measured Dimensions
Cu Cylinder Cu Square Rod Diameter (in) 0.5 0.5* T1 (mm) 0 0 T2 (mm) 30 30 T3 (mm) 55 55 T4 (mm) 100 100 T5 (mm) 170 170 T6 (mm) 220 T7 (mm) 283 Total Length (mm) 172 285 * D for the copper square is the size of one side of the square Al Cylinder 0.5 0 30 55 100 170 220 283 285 SS Cylinder 0.375 0 30 55 100 170 220 283 285

For each of the rods, the thermocouples listed above collected the experimental temperatures. The final temperatures at steady state were used in the calculations in Appendix B. Table A.2. Experimental Temperature Values
Location T1 (Base) T2 T3 T4 T5 T6 T7 Free(Fr)/ Forced (F) Cu Cylinder Temperature (C) Cu Square Rod Al Cylinder SS Cylinder

Free Forced Free Forced Free Forced Free Forced Free Forced Free Forced Free Forced

103 68.4 93.6 53.9 91.4 50.7 88.2 45.6 86.6 43.3 -

90.4 61.1 81.5 48.1 79.4 45.0 75.5 40.0 71.7 35.9 69.8 33.7 68.4 32.7

121 96.4 103 69.6 96.0 60.2 85.9 47.3 75.1 37.1 69.8 32.8 67.4 31.3

91.3 69.9 58.1 33.6 45.5 27.5 34.0 25.1 27.8 25.1 25.8 24.4 27.1 26.0

Appendix B: Calculation of Convective Heat Transfer Coefficients

An initial value for the convective coefficient h was guessed and used in the fin equation assuming a convective tip boundary condition (B.1)

where (B.2)

to yield temperatures at x values corresponding to the locations of the thermocouples. These calculated temperatures Tc (Table B.1) were then compared to measured temperatures T by means of the root mean squared error (B.3)

An iterative scheme was implemented using a built-in function in Excel to vary the value of the convective coefficient by minimizing the root mean squared error between the measured and predicted temperatures. This process was repeated for the temperature distributions of each case to produce values for h which are displayed in Table 2 above. The predicted temperature values are shown in Table B.1 below.

Table B.1. Predicted Temperature Values

Location T1 (Base) T2 T3 T4 T5 T6 T7 Free(Fr)/ Forced (F) Cu Cylinder Temperature (C) Cu Square Rod Al Cylinder SS Cylinder

Free Forced Free Forced Free Forced Free Forced Free Forced Free Forced Free Forced

103 68.4 97.1 58.4 93.1 52.2 87.9 44.9 84.7 40.8 -

90.4 61.1 85.6 52.8 82.0 47.4 76.7 40.4 71.0 34.2 68.6 32.0 67.4 31.0

121 96.4 109 74.5 99.7 61.5 87.0 46.3 73.8 34.7 68.4 31.2 65.9 29.7

91.3 69.9 59.9 33.8 45.4 27.1 32.6 25.0 26.4 24.8 25.3 24.8 24.9 24.8