Journal of Undergraduate Research


origami, folds, apparent absorptivity, heat transfer


Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology


Mechanical Engineering


There are three major types of heat transfer: conduction, convection, and radiation. In many cases, radiation is ignored due to the fact that the amount of heat transferred by this method tend to be small compared to conduction and convection. However, in space and in some settings on earth, radiation is dominant and important. Absorptivity is a measure of an object’s ability to absorb radiation, and apparent absorptivity is a measure of how the shape of an object affects the amount of radiation that it absorbs. For example, if you were to shine a flashlight on a mirror, the light will hit the mirror once and bounce off. The tiny fraction of the light that the mirror absorbed would be the absorptivity. Now imagine that you had two parallel mirrors such as the mirrors that are located in the sealing room of an LDS temple. If you then were to shine a flashlight at these mirrors, it is possible that the light would bounce back and forth many times, with the mirrors absorbing a little bit of light each time. This greater fraction of light absorbed because of how the mirrors are arranged would be the apparent absorptivity. In the past, researchers have come up with ways to calculate the apparent absorptivity of very simple shapes, like the V-groove shown in Figure 1. However, with more complicated shapes like the origami fold called the Miura fold, coming up with an exact equation would be impossible. However, computer programs can help solve for the apparent absorptivity of surfaces using mathematical techniques called numerical methods, which can help scientists and engineers design satellites that will not overheat or freeze in space.