An average heat transfer coefficient, h_bar, is often used to solve heat transfer problems. It should be understood that this is an approximation and may provide inaccurate results, especially when the temperature field is of interest. The proper method to solve heat transfer problems is with a conjugate approach. However, there seems to be a lack of clear explanations of conjugate heat transfer in literature. The objective of this work is to provide a clear explanation of conjugate heat transfer and to determine the discrepancy in the temperature field when the interface boundary condition is approximated using h_bar compared to a local, or variable, heat transfer coefficient, h(x). Simple one-dimensional problems are presented and solved analytically using both h(x) and h_bar. Due to the one-dimensional assumption, h(x) appears in the governing equation for which the common methods to solve the differential equations with an average coefficient are no longer valid. Two methods, the integral equation and generalized Bessel methods are presented to handle the variable coefficient. The generalized Bessel method has previously only been used with homogeneous governing equations. This work extends the use of the generalized Bessel method to non-homogeneous problems by developing a relation for the Wronskian of the general solution to the generalized Bessel equation. The solution methods are applied to three problems: an external flow past a flat plate, a conjugate interface between two solids and a conjugate interface between a fluid and a solid. The main parameter that is varied is a combination of the Biot number and a geometric aspect ratio, A_1^2 = Bi*L^2/d_1^2. The Biot number is assumed small since the problems are one-dimensional and thus variation in A_1^2 is mostly due to a change in the aspect ratio. A large A_1^2 represents a long and thin solid whereas a small A_1^2 represents a short and thick solid. It is found that a larger A_1^2 leads to less problem conjugation. This means that use of h_bar has a lesser effect on the temperature field for a long and thin solid. Also, use of ¯ over h(x) tends to generally under predict the solid temperature. In addition is was found that A_2^2, the A^2 value for the second subdomain, tends to have more effect on the shape of the temperature profile of solid 1 and A_1^2 has a greater effect on the magnitude of the difference in temperature profiles between the use of h(x) and h_bar. In general increasing the A^2 values reduced conjugation.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Mechanical Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





conjugate heat transfer, coupled heat transfer, variable heat transfer coefficient, local, heat transfer coefficient, generalized Bessel equation, Wronskian, variable coefficient differential, equations, average heat transfer coefficient