The University of Southampton

SESM3032 Heat Transfer and Applications

Module Overview

This module gives a comprehensive coverage of the classical heat transfer syllables, including steady and transient heat conduction, convection and radiation. While the underlying mathematics are properly elaborated, their conceptual significance and physical interpretations are emphasised and enforced through in-class examples. Numerical methods are introduced for problems in 2-3 dimensions and the use of commercial software such as AnsysTM is introduced. In addition to the traditional analysis of heat exchangers, the application section is expanded to introduce heat transfer engineering at different heat flux and/or temperature differences, with emphasis on energy systems and the thermal management of electronic components/devices.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• To give coherent and rigorous treatises of the mechanisms and analysis of heat transfer phenomena routinely encountered in a wide range of mechanical engineering themes. • To develop a concrete understanding of heat transfer as a generic mechanical engineering subject by reviewing classical and modern applications for different scenarios. • To develop practical and transferable problem solving skills including conceptual evaluation, analytical solutions and numerical modelling.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The mechanisms for different heat transfer modes and their relevance to a wide range of mechanical engineering themes
  • The engineering practices for enhancing heat transfer or increasing thermal insulation.
  • The mathematical underpinning of heat transfer analysis and corresponding problem solving techniques.
  • The relevant thermal properties of materials and working fluids and the considerations for material selection according application requirements
  • The use commercial software for heat transfer analysis.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Work as heat transfer and thermal analysis specialist as part of design teams.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Abstract and formulate the heat transfer analysis for a given engineering problem by applying the appropriate equations and/or correlations
  • Use the appropriate method (conceptual, analytical and numerical) to obtain the solution for a given heat transfer problem.
  • Evaluate and critically assess the heat transfer analysis presented.
  • Outline engineering design for heat transfer applications
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Be able to independently assess the relevance and impact of heat transfer process in a given engineering application/context.
  • Identify and advise the dominant heat transfer mode and qualitative estimation of its importance.
  • Be able to appreciate and discuss with specialists the best heat transfer solutions.


This module consists of two organically integrated components: (a) a comprehensive and rigorous treatise of heat conduction, convection and radiation, the three basic modes of heat transfers; and (b) modern engineering applications of heat transfer. Part I: Fundamentals 1.1 Introduction: 1.2 Heat conduction: a. Simple 1d steady state: from Fourier’s law to differential equation, infinite slab and other 1d geometries (thin wire/rod, cylinder and sphere), boundary conditions and boundary value problems, nonlinear conduction and composite materials, equivalent circuits, thermal resistances including convection boundary condition, critical radius of cooling/heating; b. Heat diffusion equation and applications: derivation, introduction to 3d and transient conduction, longitudinal and radial conduction with heat generation, extended surface and fin optimisation; c. Transient heat conduction: qualitative behaviour and the influence (Biot number) of boundary conditions and material properties, lumped heat capacity analysis (characteristic length, criterion, time constant of cooling), analytical solution of transient heat conduction by separation of variables for general temporal solution (thermal diffusivity, Fourier number and time constant of diffusion) and specific spatial solution in 1d slab with mixed boundary conditions), extension to cylinder and sphere and approximate forms (Heisler’s charts and one-term solutions); d. Numerical solutions: finite difference schemes for transient 1d and steady state 2d with implementation in Matlab, problem solving in Ansys. 1.3 Convection a. Concept of boundary layer and flow over flat plate: similarity (Prandtl number) between hydraulic (part II fluid) and thermal boundary layers, Reynolds’ integration, temperature profile and heat transfer coefficient, boundary layer development over flat plate and Nusselt number correlations; b. External flows: differences streamlined and bluff bodies, heat transfer by flow across a cylinder and sphere, correlations for various geometries and configurations; c. Internal flow: fully developed laminar flow in a circular pipe (temperature profile, definition/calculation of bulk average temperature, heat transfer coefficient and pressure drop, Nusselt correlations), non-circular pipes and enhancement of heat transfer by narrow channels, boundary conditions (uniform heat flux or constant temperature on the tube wall), turbulent flow, entry zone; d. Free convection: driving force and Grashof/Raleigh number, boundary layer of free convection, correlations; e. Condensation and boiling: laminar condensation film, pool boiling characteristics (convection, nuclear and film boiling). 1.4 Radiation a. Blackbody radiation: general characteristics (Wien’s displacement law) and Stephan-Boltzmann law; b. Heat exchange between two bodies at different temperature: thermal equilibrium of a radiation body (radiation, reflection, transmission), solid angles and viewing factor. Part II Applications 2.1 Heat exchangers a. Type of heat exchangers and overall heat transfer coefficient; b. Log-mean temperature differences: concentric tube heat exchange, parallel and counter flows and temperature profiles along the flow, correction factors for other types (multi-pass tube-shell, cross-flow); c. Effectiveness e of heat exchangers and the e-NTU method: maximum possible heat transfer and effectiveness, e-NTU relation for concentric tube heat exchangers, other types of heat exchangers, comparison of heat exchanger performances; d. Sizing and rating problems: Independent variable and typical heat exchanger problems, methodology using forward and inverse e-NTU relations; 2.2 Thermal management of electronic components and equipment: a. Electronics cooling specifics: Heat transfer at different length scales from chips to system, non-uniform and non-steady heat generation, high heat flux and low temperature excursion; b. Cooling of micro-chips: conduction and heat dispersion at micro-scales, material properties and chip design/packaging, transient heat load and thermal stress; c. Heat flux and thermal management strategy for electronic equipment: selection of cooling method (effectiveness, cost and environment), optimal distribution of components/units and routing for forced flow; d. Management of very high heat flux (>50 W cm–2): liquid cooling, heat pipes. 2.3 Heat transfer in energy systems: a. Heat recovery and steam generators: Recuperation, boiler efficiency and selection of the pinch-point; b. Combustors and turbines: Radiation from flames; film and effusion cooling technology for combustor walls and for turbine blades; c. Cryogenic heat transfer.

Special Features

Some in-class demonstrations

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The teaching method is based primarily classroom teaching, which consists of systematic development of theoretical fundamentals and problem solving through examples. Comprehensive lecture notes are provided. Problem sheets and solutions are distributed by stages to aid independent study. Some in-class demonstrations (boiling heat transfer, heat pipes etc) are used. Computer based sessions are used for the numerical modelling content.

Follow-up work36
Practical classes and workshops6
Completion of assessment task15
Preparation for scheduled sessions36
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Younes Shabany (2010). Heat Transfer: Thermal Management of Electronics. 

Jack P. Holman, Heat Transfer (2009). Heat Transfer. 

Frank P. Incropera, David P. DeWitt, Theodore L. Bergman, Adrienne S. Lavine (2012). Principles of Heat and Mass Transfer. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 30%
Exam 70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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