
Thermal FAQ, Volume 1
 Absolute Zero:
 Temperature at which thermal energy is at a minimum. Defined as
0 Kelvin, calculated to be 273.15°C or 459.67°F.
 Albedo:
 Earth reflected solar radiation.
Perihelion 
Aphelion 
Mean 
0.30+/0.01 
0.30+/0.01 
0.30+/0.01 
global annual average 
 Ambient Temperature:
 The average or mean temperature of the surrounding air which comes
in contact with the equipment and instruments under test.
 Analogous Systems:
 Two systems are said to be analogous when they both have similar
equations and boundary conditions and the equations can be transformed
into the equations for the other system by simply changing symbols
of the variables. Thermal and electrical systems are
two such analogous systems.
Quantity 
Thermal System 
Electrical System 
Potential 
T 
E 
Flow 
q 
I 
Resistance 
R 
R 
Conductance 
G 
1/R 
Capacitance 
C 
C 
Ohm's Law 
q=GT 
I=E/R 
The analogy between thermal and electrical systems allows the engineer
to utilize the widely known basic laws such as Ohm's Law and Kirchhoff's
Laws used for balancing networks. Numerical techniques such as finite
differencing, are used to solve the partial differential equations
describing such systems. TAK 2000 has been developed around such techniques.
It enables engineers to readily compute temperature distributions and
gradients of very complex thermal networks.
 Arithmetic Nodes
 An arithmetic node can be used to represent the surface of a material.
It could also represent the interface between two dissimilar materials,
(for example a bondline). Arithmetic nodes have no thermal capacitance.
They are sometimes called steady state nodes. Their temperatures are
calculated by being brought into a steady state heat balance with the
neighboring nodes. It can be used to represent nodes with very small
capacitance relative to the rest of the model. In a transient analysis,
this could result in a significant reduction in computer run time with
only minor changes in overall accuracy.
 Blackbody:
 A theoretical object that radiates the maximum amount of energy
at a given temperature, and absorbs all the energy incident upon it.
A blackbody is not necessarily black. (The name blackbody was chosen
because the color black is defined as the total absorption of light
energy.) For example freshly fallen snow and white paint have an IR
absorptivity approaching 0.95
 BTU:
 British thermal units. The quantity of thermal energy required to
raise one pound of water at its maximum density, 1 degree F. One BTU
is equivalent to .293 watt hours, or 252 calories. One kilowatt hour
is equivalent to 3412 BTU.
 Boundary Nodes:
 Boundary nodes are used to represent constant temperature sources
or sinks. Effectively, they have infinite thermal capacitance. Boundary
conditions such as ambient air, electronic baseplates, or deep space
can be simulated by using boundary nodes.
Boundary node temperatures are not altered by the solution routines.
However, time varying boundary conditions can be modeled with modern
thermal analyzers.
 Calorie:
 The quantity of thermal energy required to raise one gram of water
1°C at 15°C.
 Capacitance (thermal):
 A thermal modeling term. The capacitance C of a node is computed
from the thermophysical properties of the subvolume evaluated at temperature
T of the node.
C = M * Cp
where:
C 
Capacitance of the node 
M 
Mass of the node 
Cp 
Specific Heat of the node 
Steady state thermal modeling solutions are not dependent upon
thermal mass The transient solution routine does require the
thermal mass of the nodes. Nodes with small thermal capacitance
(when compared to the rest of the model) can be input as arithmetic
nodes. The computational time step used in the transient solution
is driven by small thermal capacitance diffusion nodes which are
connected by large thermal conductors. Therefore, arithmetic nodes,
when used with discretion, can save considerable computer time.
 Celsius (centigrade):
 A temperature scale defined by 0°C at the ice point and 100°C
at boiling point of water at sea level.
 Conductance:
 The measure of the ability to carry a heat flow.
 Conduction (thermal):
 A thermal modeling term. Heat flows from a region of higher temperature
to a region of lower temperature. Conduction is the process by which
heat flows within a medium or between different mediums in direct contact.
The energy is transmitted by molecular communication.
Conductors which represent conduction or convection paths are referred
to as linear conductors because the heat flow is a function of the
temperature difference between nodal temperatures to the first power.
Qdot = G * (T1  T2)
Linear conductors representing solid conduction are computed from
the equation:
G = k * A / L
where:
G 
thermal conductance (i.e. Btu/hrF or W/C ) 
k 
thermal conductivity (i.e. Btu/hrftF or W/cmC ) 
A 
crosssectional area through which heat flows (i.e. FT^{2} or
cm^{2} ) 
L 
length between adjoining node centers ( i.e. ft or cm ) 
 Conductivity (thermal):
 The property of a material to conduct heat in the form of thermal
energy. Typical values.
 Conductors:
 A thermal modeling term. Conductors are used to represent heat flow
paths from node to node. Two basic types of conductors may be defined
by the modeler: linear and radiation. In this network, conductor "G" connect
nodes "T1" and "T2" which have a thermal capacitance of "C1" and C2".
 Convection:
 1. The circulatory motion that occurs in a fluid at a nonuniform
temperature owing to the variation of its density and the action of
gravity. 2. The transfer of heat by this automatic circulation of fluid.
For heat transfer by convection, the conductor is calculated by
the following equation:
G = hc * A
where:
hc 
is the convection coefficient (energy/length^{2}timedeg) 
A 
surface area in contact with the fluid (length^{2}) 
 Cryogenics:
 Measurement of temperature at extremely low values, i.e., below
200°C.
 Density:
 Mass per unit of volume of a substance. I.E.: grams/cm^{3} or
pounds/ft^{3}
 Diffusion Nodes:
 A diffusion node is used to represent normal materials. Diffusion
nodes have thermal mass (capacitance) and store and release energy
with time. This process is characterized by a gain or loss of potential
energy which depends on the capacitance value, the net heat flow, and
the time over which the heat is flowing. In the transient solution
routine, diffusion node temperatures are calculated by a finite difference
representation of the partial differential heat transfer equation.
Typically three items are stored for each diffusion node: temperature,
thermal capacitance, and nodal heating (if any).
Thermal capacitance is the product of the mass of the node and
the specific heat of the material that comprises the node. The mass
can be calculated and the Specific Heat can be found in reference
materials.
 Earth radius:
 6.37E+06 meters
 Emissivity:
 The ratio of energy emitted by an object to the energy emi tted
by a blackbody at the same temperature. The emissivity of an object
depends upon its material and surface texture; Typical
values. Yet
more values! Checkout
this site for the last word om emmissivity.
 Endothermic:
 Absorbs heat. A process is said to be endothermic when it absorbs
heat.
 Enthalpy:
 The sum of the internal energy of a body and the product of its
volume multiplied by the pressure.
 Eutectic Temperature:
 The lowest possible melting point of a mixture of alloys.
 Exothermic:
 Gives off heat. A process is said to be exothermic when it releases
heat.
 First Surface Mirrors:
 First
surface mirrors usually have polyimide or polyester substrates. Multilayer
insulation blankets use first surface mirrors for infrared head reflection.
The most common metal used is aluminum, followed by gold and on
rare occasion, silver. All metals have low emittances.
Aluminized polyester curbs insulation blanket costs for large surfaces.
Higher temperature requirements or nonburning material requirements
dictate a polyimide substrate.
Metal
Deposit 
Typical
Emittance 
Typical
Absorptance 
Gold 
0.02 
.28 
Silver 
0.02 
0.07 
Aluminum 
0.03 
0.12 
 Freezing Point:
 The temperature at which the substance goes from the liquid phase
to the solid phase.
 Heat Sink:
 1. Thermodynamic. A body which can absorb thermal energy. 2. Practical.
A finned piece of metal used to dissipate the heat of solid state components
mounted on it.
 Heat Transfer:
 The process of thermal energy flowing from a body of high energy
to a body of low energy. Means of transfer are:
 Conduction
 Convection
 Radiation
 Mass Flow
 Heat:
 Thermal energy. Heat is expressed in units of calories or BTU's.
In the real world, there are many reasons why thermal energy can enter
a system. For example;
 Electrical components produce Joule heating.
 Two parts rubbing together can generate frictional heat
 A clothes dryer with a gas burner
 Electric elements of a toaster
 A laser beam striking a mirror will leave a part of its energy
with the mirror.
 Gamma radiation can interact with the atomic structure of a
material to cause internal heating.
 A satellite, orbiting the earth, is exposed to three major types
of environmental heating.
 Direct sunlight incident on its surfaces
 Albedo, or reflected sunlight, from the surface of the planet
 Infrared (IR) radiation from the planet.
 Heat Pipe:
 A heat pipe is a self contained heat pump that has the capability
of transporting heat at a high rate over fairly substantial distances
with no external pumping power. The heat pipe is composed of three
sections; an evaporator, an adiabatic section, and a condenser. A porous
capillary wick covers the inside surface and extends over the length
of the pipe. Heat is applied at the evaporator end and is removed at
the condenser end. At the evaporator end, heat applied by the external
source vaporizes that portion of the working fluid located at the evaporator.
This creates a difference in pressure between the evaporator and the
condenser ends which drives the vaporized fluid through the adiabatic
section. At the condenser end the heat is removed by condensation.
 Heaters:
 A proportional heater controller varies continuously (and smoothly)
as a function of the temperature of a control sensor. A thermostatic
heater is turned full on or off as a function of the temperature of
a control sensor.
 Infrared:
 An area in the electromagnetic spectrum extending beyond red light
from 760 nanometers to 1000 microns (106 nm). It is the form of radiation
used for making noncontact temperature measurements.
 Insulation Resistance:
 The resistance measured between two insulated points on a transducer
when a specific dc voltage is applied at room temperature.
 Isothermal:
 A process or area that is a constant temperature.
 Joule:
 The basic unit of thermal energy.
 Kelvin:
 Symbol K. The unit of absolute or thermodynamic temperature scale
based upon the Celsius scale with 100 units between the ice point and
boiling point of water. 0°C = 273.15K
 Latent Heat:
 Expressed in BTU per pound. The amount of heat needed (absorbed)
to convert a pound of boiling water to a pound of steam.
 Linear Conductors:
 A thermal modeling term. The conductance of a linear conductor is
input in units of energy per unit time per unit degree, and the heat
rate through such a conductor is calculated in the network solution
routines as:
Q = G * (Ti  Tj)
where:
Q 
Heat rate (energy/time) 
G 
Conductance (note G = 1 / R ) 
T 
Temperature 
Several types of physical heat transfer mechanisms can be modeled
as linear conductors, including conduction, convection, and mass
flow.
 Louvers:
 Louvers are active thermal control devices used on spacecraft. As a rule of thumb, louvers reject six times as much heat in the open position as it does in the closed position. They
are devices which mask a highemissivity radiator with a lowemissivity
surface. As the temperature of the radiator gets hotter, the mask is
withdrawn, exposing the radiator. The drive mechanism is usually a
bimetallic actuator, but active control could be used. There are several
styles of louvers. A bladed version is shown below.
 Mass Flow Conductor:
 A thermal modeling term. Mass flow conductors are actually a special
type of linear conductor. The use of a mass flow conductor in a thermal
network is a convenient method for the transfer of energy from one
point to another due to the actual movement (flow) of a fluid from
one point to another. The mass flow conductor simply accounts for the
internal energy term of a mass moving from one location to another.
Such a conductor is defined by prefixing the up stream node number
with a minus sign. The node so designated will not be allowed to lose
or gain heat through the conductor, even though its temperature will
be used to calculate a heat flow to the downstream node. Mass flow
conductors are computed from the equation:
G = Mdot * Cp
where;
G 
the flow conductor (energy/timedeg) 
Mdot 
is the mass flow rate (mass/time) 
Cp 
is the specific heat of the fluid (energy/massdeg) 
 Melting Point:
 The temperature at which a substance transforms from a solid phase
to a liquid phase.
 Mil:
 One thousandth of an inch (.001").
 Millimeter:
 One thousandth of a meter, symbol mm.
