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The rate at which heat is transmitted from a hot gas to a cooler metal surface over which the gas is flowing has been the subject of a great deal of investigation both from the experimental and theoretical side. A more or less complete explanation of this process is necessary for a detailed analysis of the performance of steam boilers. Such information at the present is almost entirely lacking and for this reason a boiler, as a physical piece of apparatus, is not as well understood as it might be. This, however, has had little effect in its practical development and it is hardly possible that a more complete understanding of the phenomena discussed will have any radical effect on the present design.
The amount of heat that is transferred across any surface is usually expressed as a product, of which one factor is the slope or linear rate of change in temperature and the other is the amount of heat transferred per unit’s difference in temperature in unit’s length. In Fourier’s analytical theory of the conduction of heat, this second factor is taken as a constant and is called the “conductivity” of the substance. Following this practice, the amount of heat absorbed by any surface from a hot gas is usually expressed as a product of the difference in temperature between the gas and the absorbing surface into a factor which is commonly designated the “transfer rate”. There has been considerable looseness in the writings of even the best authors as to the way in which the gas temperature difference is to be measured. If the gas varies in temperature across the section of the channel through which it is assumed to flow, and most of them seem to consider that this would be the case, there are two mean gas temperatures, one the mean of the actual temperatures at any time across the section, and the other the mean temperature of the entire volume of the gas passing such a section in any given time. Since the velocity of flow will of a certainty vary across the section, this second mean temperature, which is one tacitly assumed in most instances, may vary materially from the first. The two mean temperatures are only approximately equal when the actual temperature measured across the section is very nearly a constant. In what follows it will be assumed that the mean temperature measured in the second way is referred to. In English units the temperature difference is expressed in Fahrenheit degrees and the transfer rate in B. t. u.’s per hour per square foot of surface. Pecla, who seems to have been one of the first to consider this subject analytically, assumed that the transfer rate was constant and independent both of the temperature differences and the velocity of the gas over the surface. Rankine, on the other hand, assumed that the transfer rate, while independent of the velocity of the gas, was proportional to the temperature difference, and expressed the total amount of heat absorbed as proportional to the square of the difference in temperature. Neither of these assumptions has any warrant in either theory or experiment and they are only valuable in so far as their use determine formulae that fit experimental results. Of the two, Rankine’s assumption seems to lead to formulae that more nearly represent actual conditions. It has been quite fully developed by William Kent in his “Steam Boiler Economy”. Professor Osborne Reynolds, in a short paper reprinted in Volume I of his “Scientific Papers”, suggests that the transfer rate is proportional to the product of the density and velocity of the gas and it is to be assumed that he had in mind the mean velocity, density and temperature over the section of the channel through which the gas was assumed to flow. Contrary to [Pg 324]prevalent opinion, Professor Reynolds gave neither a valid experimental nor a theoretical explanation of his formula and the attempts that have been made since its first publication to establish it on any theoretical basis can hardly be considered of scientific value. Nevertheless, Reynolds’ suggestion was really the starting point of the scientific investigation of this subject and while his formula cannot in any sense be held as completely expressing the facts, it is undoubtedly correct to a first approximation for small temperature differences if the additive constant, which in his paper he assumed as negligible, is given a value.