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Versatile Heat Transfer Lab For Conducting Bench Top Experiments

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Thermal Systems

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1444.1 - 10.1444.12



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Paper Authors

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Andrew Smith

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Ralph Volino

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Andrew N. Smith and Ralph J. Volino

Mechanical Engineering Department United States Naval Academy Annapolis, MD

Abstract This paper describes heat transfer benches that were developed at the U.S. Naval Academy, and several basic experiments that have been implemented to date. Each bench contains the necessary equipment for a variety of experiments. Using the heat transfer bench, and working in groups of four or five, students perform hands-on heat transfer and thermo-fluids experiments. These experiments include measuring the thermal conductivity of different materials; measuring an overall heat transfer coefficient; testing the performance of heat sinks; monitoring transient heat conduction; measuring convection heat transfer coefficients and measuring the effectiveness of different sized heat exchangers. The students are required to perform uncertainty analyses, and recommend methods for reducing uncertainty. The flexibility of the heat transfer bench also allows the students to design and conduct their own experiments. Involving the students in the design of the experiment places the responsibility for the outcome on them, and challenges their basic understanding of the subject. A description of each experiment is presented along with some anecdotal student evaluations.

Background In recent years, the U.S. Naval Academy has invested in a number of pieces of “self-contained” educational laboratory equipment. This type of educational laboratory equipment is commercially available and generally comes completely instrumented. The individual units tend to demonstrate a single concept, and different units are available for a number of subjects including thermal conductivity; free and forced convection; transient heat conduction; boiling and condensation heat transfer, heat exchangers, internal combustion engines, air conditioning systems and many other topics. This type of equipment can and has been used effectively. Shawn Kim [1] presents an interesting article on getting students involved in thermal design by improving existing commercial equipment. There are a number of papers that describe apparatuses for single experiments that can be built relatively easily and for significantly less expense than comparable commercial products [2,3].

In order for every student to be directly involved in each exercise, multiple units must be purchased. This can be cost prohibitive and requires additional storage space for the units not actively being used. With only a single unit, the exercises tend to be demonstrations rather than

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Smith, A., & Volino, R. (2005, June), Versatile Heat Transfer Lab For Conducting Bench Top Experiments Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14966

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