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Utilizing the Integral Technique to Determine the Similarity Variable in Classical Heat Transfer Problems: Thermal Boundary Layer Theory

[+] Author Affiliations
Chris J. Kobus

Oakland University, Rochester, MI

Paper No. IMECE2018-88662, pp. V08AT10A037; 4 pages
  • ASME 2018 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 8A: Heat Transfer and Thermal Engineering
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, November 9–15, 2018
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5211-8
  • Copyright © 2018 by ASME


In advanced heat transfer courses, a technique exists for reducing a partial differential equation, where the dependent variable is a function of two independent variables, to an ordinary differential equation where that same dependent variable becomes a function of only one. The key to this technique is finding out what the functional form of the similarity variable is to make such a transformation. The difficulty is that the form of the similarity variable is not intuitive, and many heat transfer textbooks do not reveal how this variable is found in classical problems such as viscous and thermal boundary layer theory. It turns out that one way to find this variable is by utilizing the integral technique. By employing the integral technique to boundary layer theory, it will be shown that when the approximate functional relationship for the dependent variable (temperature, velocity, etc) can be represented by an nth order polynomial, the similarity variable can be found very simply. This is seen to be a good tool especially in heat transfer education, but may have applications in research as well. The approach described here is a variation of a well-known technique used for isothermal momentum boundary layer consideration.

Copyright © 2018 by ASME



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