Asee peer logo

Use Of Spreadsheets In Solving Heat Conduction Problems In Fins

Download Paper |


2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Thermodynamics, Fluids and Heat Transfer - I

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1321.1 - 13.1321.21



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Amir Karimi University of Texas-San Antonio

visit author page

Amir Karimi is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and an Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). He received his Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kentucky in 1982. His teaching and research interests are in thermal sciences. He has served as the Chair of Mechanical Engineering (1987 to 1992 and September 1998 to January of 2003), College of Engineering Associate Dean of Academic Affairs (Jan. 2003-April 2006), and the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies (April 2006-present). Dr. Karimi is a Fellow of ASME, senior member of AIAA, and holds membership in ASEE, ASHRAE, and Sigma Xi. He is the ASEE Campus Representative at UTSA, ASEE-GSW Section Campus Representative, and served as the Chair of ASEE Zone III (2005-07). He chaired the ASEE-GSW section during the 1996-97 academic year.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Use of Spreadsheets in Solving Heat Conduction Problems in Fins


Excel is an effective and inexpensive tool available on all computers equipped with Microsoft Office. This software has the necessary functions for solving a large class of engineering problems, including those related to heat transfer. This paper provides several examples to demonstrate the application of Excel in solving problems involving one-dimensional heat conduction in various fin configurations. It provides formulas for the temperature distribution and heat transfer for several different fin profiles.


An introductory course in heat transfer typically covers the basic analysis of one-dimensional heat conduction problems involving fins with simple geometrical configurations. The analytical coverage is usually limited to fins of uniform cross-sectional area. For more complex fin configurations, only fin efficiency charts are provided in most heat transfer textbooks.1-15 These charts approximate the rate of heat transfer, but do not provide any information on the temperature distribution in fins. Microsoft Excel, can be a useful tools in solving heat conduction problems for a variety of fin configurations.

Numerical solution of heat transfer problems has been an evolving phenomenon. In the early stages, the application tools have undergone a gradual progression through slide rules, simple calculators, mainframe computers, desktop and laptop computers. Prior to 1972, slide rules were the essential computational tools for solving engineering problems and computers were seldom used for analysis of heat transfer problems at the undergraduate level. Many of the more complex analytic solutions to heat transfer problems were given in graphs or charts. A few examples include graphs for fin efficiencies, transient temperature distribution charts for heat transfer in slabs, cylinders, or spheres (Heisler Charts), and radiation shape (view) factor charts.

In the early 1970’s calculators replaced slide rules as the basic computational tool for solving engineering problems. A few years later programmable calculators were available. Modules containing basic solutions to heat transfer problems were developed for these calculators. Authors included sections in their textbooks to introduce students to numerical techniques for solving heat transfer problems.

The computer application software for solving engineering problems has also changed. Prior to the introduction of personal computers (PCs) in the early 1980’s, complex computer codes were needed for numerical solution of heat transfer problems and the knowledge of a computer programming language was essential for integrating numerical solutions into heat transfer courses. Access to mainframe computers and proficiency in such programming languages as FORTRAN and PASCAL were necessary for solving complex heat transfer problems. Therefore, mechanical engineering programs required a course in one of the structured computer programming languages.

Karimi, A. (2008, June), Use Of Spreadsheets In Solving Heat Conduction Problems In Fins Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--4070

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015