The amount of thermal energy ΔQ transferred through an area A per unit time Δt is called the heat flux. In the case of conduction, the heat flux is governed by the following relationship:

ΔQ/Δt=-kAΔT/Δx

where ΔT is the temperature difference along a distance Δx in the direction of conduction and k is the thermal conductivity of the material. This is known as Fourier's Law of Heat Conduction.

Properties of some materials:


Material Conductivity (W/m·°C) Specific heat (J/kg·°C) Density (kg/m3)
Water (20°C) 0.58 4181 1000
Air (20°C) 0.024 1012 1.024
Copper 401 385 8940
Foam 0.08 1300 30-120


The following simulations examine how each of these factors affects the rate of heat conduction. Click an image to open the corresponding simulation.



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