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A PIONEERING ERA IN CONVECTIVE HEAT TRANSFER RESEARCH

E. R. G. Eckert
Department of Mechanical Engineering University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455 USA

Abstract

Convective heat transfer research had a pioneering era in the years between 1900 and 1930. Wilhelm Nusselt demonstrated by similarity analysis that a dimensionless parameter describing heat transfer [the Nusselt number] can be expressed as a function of Reynolds and Prandtl numbers for forced flow of a constant property fluid and as a function of Grashof and Prandtl numbers for natural convection. This created the possibility to correlate and generalize experimental results. Ernst Schmidt formulated the heat-mass transfer analogy, again for a constant property situation, which allows one to obtain relations for mass transfer processes from equations describing analogous heat transfer situations without any additional experiments.
Analysis of heat transfer could be performed after Ludwig Prandtl simplified the Navier-Stokes equations to the boundary layer equations for fluids with small viscosity and after he had formulated the mixing length theory describing turbulent transport processes.
Much of our present knowledge and understanding of heat transfer is based on these pioneering contributions.

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