History of Heat Transfer

Jean Baptiste Biot (1774-1862)

A French physicist, best known for his work in the polarization of light, Jean Baptiste Biot was born in Paris, France, on April 21, 1774. He became a professor of physics in 1800 at the College de France through the influence of Laplace, from whom he had sought and obtained the favor of reading the proof sheets of the Mecanique Celeste. Although younger, Biot worked on the analysis of heat conduction even earlier than Fourier did (1802 or 1803) and attempted, unsuccessfully, to deal with the problem of incorporating external convection effects in heat conduction analysis. Fourier read Biot's work and by 1807 had determined for himself how to solve the elusive problem. In 1804, Biot accompanied Gay Lussac on the first balloon ascent undertaken for scientific purposes. In 1820, with Felix Savart, he discovered the law known as "Biot and Savart's Law." He was especially interested in questions relating to the polarization of light and for his achievements in this field he was awarded the Rumford Medal of the Royal Society in 1840. He died February 3, 1862 in Paris.

Allan Philip Colburn (1904-1955)
Allan Philip Colburn was born in Madison, Wisconsin on June 8, 1904. He graduated with high honors from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in Chemical Engineering in 1926, received his Master of Science degree in 1927 and his Ph.D. in 1929. Colburn's research focused on the condensation of water vapor from saturated air streams, a topic that in its broader aspects interested him to the end of his life. To deal with this complex problem, he brought together for the first time in American engineering work, the fundamentals of momentum and heat and mass transfer along with thermodynamic principles. Although not known formally as a dimensionless parameter, the empirical Colburn 3-factor is indeed an operational one. Colburn joined the Chemical Engineering Department at the University of Delaware in 1938. He was appointed as Assistant to the President of the University in 1947, Acting President in 1950, and served as Provost and Coordinator of Scientific Research until his death in 1955.

Baron Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier (1768-1830)

This French Mathematician and Physicist, famous for his pioneer work on the representation of functions by trigonometric series, was born at Auxere, France on March 21, 1768. He was the son of a tailor who became a teacher of mathematics at age sixteen at the military school in Auxere. He later joined the faculty at the Ecole Normale at Paris in the year of its founding (1795) when he was twenty-seven. His teaching success soon led to the offer of the Chair of Analysis at the Ecole Polytechnique and in 1807, he was made a member of the Academy of Sciences. Fourier's masterpiece was his mathematical theory of heat conduction stated in Theorie Analytique de la Chaleur (1822). As one of the most important books published in the 19th-century, it marked an epoch both in the history of pure and applied mathematics. In it, Fourier developed the theory of the series known by his name and applied it to the solution of boundary-value problems in partial differential equations. This work brought to a close a long controversy, and henceforth it was generally agreed that almost any function of a real variable can be represented by a series involving the sines and cosines of integral multiples of the variable. After a long and distinguished career, Fourier died in Paris on May 16, 1830 at age 62.

Leo Graetz (1856-1941)
Leo Graetz was a German Physicist born at Breslau, Germany on September 26, 1856. He studied Mathematics and Physics at Breslau, Berlin and Strassburg. In 1881, he became the assistant to A. Kundt at Strassburg and in 1883 he went to the University of Munchen where he became a Professor in 1908 and occupied the Second Chair for Physics parallel to Roentgen. His scientific work was first concerned with the fields of heat conduction, radiation, friction and elasticity. After 1890, his work forcused upon problems of electromagnetic waves and cathode rays.
Graetz was a prolific technical writer as evidenced by his twenty-three editions of book Electricity and Its Applications and a five volume work Handbook of Electricity and Magnetism. These works contributed to the wide dissemination of knowledge in electricity which, at their time of printing, was still in its infancy. He died in Munchen on November 12, 1941, at age 85.

Franz Grashof (1826-1893)

A German engineer, born July 11, 1826, at Dusseldorf, Germany, Franz Grashof left school at the age of 15 to work as a mechanic while attending trade school. From 1844 until 1847, Grashof studied mathematics, physics and machine design at the Berlin Royal Technical Institute. In 1849, he set sail on a voyage which took him as far as the Dutch Indies and Australia and where he stayed for nearly three years before returning to Berlin to continue his studies in 1852. Grashof was one of the founding leaders of the Society of German Engineers (Verein Deutscher Ingenieure, VDI) and assumed an enormous load as author, editor, corrector and dispatcher of publications. By 1863, Grashof's name was so esteemed that the Technical of Karlsruhe appointed him to be a successor Superintendent of the Engineering School. He also served as Professor of Applied Mechanics and Mechanical Engineering where his reknowned lectures included "Strength of Materials," "Hydraulics," "Theory of Heat," and "General Engineering." After Grashof's death on October 26, 1893 at Karlsruhe, the Society of German Engineers honored his memory by instituting the Grashof Commemorative Medal as the highest distinction that the society could bestow for merit in the engineering skills.

Max Jakob (1879-1955)
Max Jakob was a German Physicist, born July 20, 1879, in Ludwigshafen, Germany. He studied Electrical Engineering at the Technical University of Munchen where he graduated in 1902. He was awarded a Diploma Ingenieur in Applied Physics in 1903, and the degree of Doctor Ingenieur in 1904. From 1903 until 1906, he was an assistant to O. Knoblauch at the Laboratory for Technical Physics and later joined the Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt at Berlin-Charlottenburg in 1910, where he started his career in thermodynamics and heat transfer. He conducted a large amount of important work in these fields, covering such areas as steam and air at high pressure, devices for measuring thermal conductivity, the mechanisms of boiling and condensation, flow in pipes and nozzles and much more. During this time, he wrote over 200 technical papers and was a prolific source of critical reviews, articles and discussions. In 1936, he emigrated to the United States, and began a one-year lecture tour sponsored by ASME. He became a research professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology and a Consultant in Heat Transfer Research for the Armour Research Foundation. In 1942, he founded and became the first director of IIT's Heat Transfer Laboratory. His long years of research resulted in significant contributions to the literature of the profession; nearly 500 books, articles, reviews and discussions have been published bearing his name. His formal honors include an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Engineering from Purdue University in 1950, and The Worchester Reed Warner medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1952. He was admired by colleagues and students alike, for his warm personality, subtle wit, and rare humility of spirit. He died on January 4, 1955.
The Max Jakob Memorial Award was created in 1961 to commemorate the outstanding contributions of this much admired pioneer. It is bestowed annually by ASME, to honor eminent achievement of distinguished service in the field of Heat Transfer

Ernst Mach (1838-1916)
Working as both an Austrian physicist and philosopher, Ernst Mach's work had a great influence on 20th-century thought, both in physics and in philosophy. He was born on February 18, 1838, at Turas in Moravia and educated in Wien. He was a Professor of Physics at Graz from 1864 -1867, at Prague from 1867-1895, and Professor of Inductive Philosophy at Wien from 1895-1901. He was made a member of the Austrian House of Peers in 1901 and died at Munchen on February 19, 1916. Mach was a thorough-going positivist and took the view, which most scientists now share, that no statement is admissible in natural science unless it is empirically verifiable. His criteria of verifiability were exceptionally rigorous and led him not only to reject such metaphysical conceptions as that of absolute space and time, but also to oppose the introduction of atoms and molecules into physical theory. Nevertheless, it was his criticism along these lines of Sir Isaac Newton's system that made the way clear for Albert Einstein's theory of relativity. As a positivist, he regarded scientific laws as purely descriptive and held that the choice between alternative hypotheses covering the same facts was to be made on the grounds of economy. Mach's name is most closely associated with the Mach Number which expresses the speed of matter relative to the local speed of sound.

Wilhelm Nusslet (1882-1957)

Wilhelm Nusselt, a German engineer, was born November 25, 1882, at Nurnberg, Germany. He studied machinery at the Technical Universities of Berlin-Charlottenburg and Munchen and graduated in 1904. He conducted advanced studies in mathematics and physics and became an assistant to O. Knoblauch at the Laboratory for Technical Physics in Munchen. He completed his doctoral thesis on the "Conductivity of Insulating Materials" in 1907, using the "Nusselt Sphere" for his experiments. From 1907 to 1909 he worked as an assistant to Millier in Dresden, and qualified for a Professorship with his work on "Heat and Momentum Transfer in Tubes."
In 1915, Nusselt published his pioneering paper: The Basic Laws of Heat Transfer, in which he first proposed the dimensionless groups now known as the principal parameters in the similarity theory of heat transfer. Other famous works were concerned with the film condensation of steam on vertical surfaces, the combustion of pulverized coal and the analogy between heat and mass transfer in evaporation. Found among the primarily mathematical works of Nusselt are the well known solutions for laminar heat transfer in the entrance region of tubes, for heat exchange in cross-flow and the basic theory of regenerators. Nusselt was a professor at the Technical Universities of Karlsruhe from 1920-1925 and at Munchen from 1925 until his retirement in 1952. He was awarded the Gauss-Medal and the Grashof Commemorative Medal. Nusselt died in Munchen on September 1, 1957.

Jean Claude Eugene Peclet (1793-1857)

A French physicist, born February 10, 1793, at Besancon, France, Jean Claude Eugene Peclet became one of the first scholars of the Ecole Normale at Paris (Gay-Lussac and Dulong being his teachers). He was elected professor at the College de Marseille in 1816, teaching physical sciences there until 1827. He returned to Paris when he was nominated Maitre de Conferences at the Ecole Normale and was elected Professor at the important Ecole Centrale des Arts et Manufactures. Peclet's publications were famous for their clarity of style, sharp-minded views and well performed experiments. His most famous book Traité de la Chaleur et de Ses Applications aux Arts et aux Manufactures (Paris 1829) was distributed world-wide and translated into German. He retired in 1852 to devote himself exclusively to teaching and continued lecturing until his death on December 6, 1857 in Paris.

Ludwig Prandtl (1875-1953)
Ludwig Prandtl, born at Freising, Bavaria on February 4, 1875, was a German Physicist famous for his work in aeronautics. He qualified at Munchen in 1900 with a thesis on elastic stability and held the position of Professor of Applied Mechanics at Gottingen for forty-nine years (from 1904 until his death there on August 15, 1953). In 1925, Prandtl became the Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Fluid Mechanics. His discovery in 1904 of the Boundary Layer which adjoins the surface of a body moving in a fluid led to an understanding of skin friction drag and of the way in which streamlining reduces the drag of airplane wings and other moving bodies. His work on wing theory, published in 1918 - 1919, followed that of F.W. Lanchester (1902-1907), but was carried out independently and elucidated the flow over airplane wings of finite span. Prandtl's work and decisive advances in boundary layer and wing theories became the basic material of aeronautics. He also made important contributions to the theories of supersonic flow and of turbulence, and contributed much to the development of wind tunnels and other aerodynamic equipment. In addition, he devised the soap-film analogy for the torsion of non-circular sections and wrote on the theory of plasticity and of meteorology.

Lord Rayleigh (1842-1919)

Lord Rayleigh was a British physicist born near Maldon, Essex, on November 12, 1842. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated as Senior Wrangler in 1865. As a successor to James Clerk Maxwell, he was head of the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge from 1879-1884, and in 1887 became Professor of Natural Philosophy at the Royal Institute of Great Britain. He was elected in 1873 as a Fellow of the Royal Society and served as its president from 1905-1908. He received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1904 for his 1894 collaborative discovery (with Sir William Ramsay) of the inert elementary gas argon. Rayleigh's research covered almost the entire field of physics, including sound, wave theory, optics, colour vision, electrodynamics, electromagnetism, the scattering of light, hydrodynamics, the flow of liquids, capillarity, viscosity, the density of gases, photography and elasticity, as well as electrical measurements and standards. His research on sound was embodied in his Theory of Sound and his other extensive studies in physics appeared in his "Scientific Papers." Rayleigh died on June 30, 1919 at Witham, Essex.

Osborne Reynolds (1842-1912)
English engineer and physicist, Osborne Reynolds, was best known for his work in the fields of hydraulics and hydrodynamics. Born in Belfast, Ireland on August 23, 1842, he gained early workshop experience and graduated from Queens College at Cambridge in 1867. He became the first Professor of Engineering at Owens College, Manchester in 1868. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1877 and a Royal Medalist in 1888.
Reynolds'studies of condensation and the transfer of heat between solids and fluids brought about radical revisions in boiler and condenser design, and his work on turbine pumps laid the foundation for their rapid development. A fundamentalist among engineers, he formulated "The Theory of Lubrication" (1886) and in his classical paper on "The Law of Resistance in Parallel Channels" (1883) investigated the transition from smooth, or laminar, to turbulent flow. Later, in 1889, he developed a mathematical framework which became the standard in turbulence work. Other work included the explanation of the radiometer and an early absolute determination of the mechanical equivalent of heat. Reynolds retired in 1905 and died at Watchet, Somerset, on February 21, 1912. His name is perpetuated in the "Reynolds Number," which provides a criterion for dynamic similarity and for correct modeling in many fluid flow experiments.

Ernst Schmidt (1892-1975)

Ernst Schmidt was a German scientist and pioneer in the field of Engineering Thermodynamics, especially in Heat and Mass Transfer. He was born on February 11, 1892 at Vogelsen, near Luneburg, Germany. He studied Civil and Electrical Engineering at Dresden and Munchen and joined the Laboratory for Applied Physics at the Technical University, Munchen, in 1919 (which was then under the direction of Oscar Knoblauch). One of his early research efforts there was a careful measurement of the radiation properties of solids, which caused him to propose and develop the use of aluminum foil as an effective radiation shield. In 1925, he received a call to come serve as Professor and Director of the Engineering Laboratory at the Technical University in Danzig. Here he published papers on the now well known "Graphical Difference Method for Unsteady Heat Conduction" and on "The Schlieren and Shadow Method" to make thermal boundaries visible and to obtain local heat-transfer coefficients. He was the first to measure the velocity and temperature field in a free convection boundary layer and the large heat-transfer coefficients occurring in droplet condensation. A paper pointing out the analogy between heat and mass transfer caused the dimensionless quantity involved to be called the "Schmidt Number." In 1937, he became the Director of the Institute for Propulsion of the newly founded Aeronautical Research Establishment at Braunschweig and Professor at the University there. In 1952, Schmidt occupied the Chair for Thermodynamics at the Technical University of Munchen which before him had been held by Nusselt. Being strongly involved in the development of the international steam tables, Schmidt continued his scientific activity after his retirement in 1961 and until his death in 1975. In recognition of his work, he received numerous honors and awards, including the Ludwig Prandtl Ring, the Max Jakob Award and the Grashof Commemorative Medal.

ThomasKilgore Sherwood (1903-1976)
Thomas Kilgore Sherwood was born in Columbus, Ohio on July 25, 1903 and became one of America's great Chemical Engineers. His energy, research contributions, applied engineering achievements and influence on chemical engineering education were prodigious. Sherwood came to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1923 to do his graduate work in the Chemical Engineering Department and completed his doctoral thesis on The Mechanism of the Drying of Solids under Warren K. Lewis in 1929. From 1930 to 1969 he was Professor at MIT and contributed decisively to the standards of excellence of this famous institution. Sherwood's primary research area was mass transfer and its interaction with flow, chemical reaction and industrial process operations in which those phenomena played an important part. His rapid rise to the position of world authority in the field of mass transfer was accelerated by the appearance of his book Absorption and Extraction, published in 1937 as the first significant text in this area. Although completely rewritten, with Pigford and Wilke in 1974 under the title Mass Transfer, the book has maintained enormous influence and worldwide use of the "Sherwood Number" is a memorial to that effort. In addition to three honorary doctorates, Sherwood received many honors and awards, including: The U.S. Medal for Merit in 1948 and The Lewis Award in 1972. He died January 14, 1976.

Sir Thomas Edward Stanton (1865-1931)

British Engineer Sir Thomas Edward Stanton was born at Atherstone in Warwickshire, England on December 12, 1865. In 1888, he entered Owens College, Manchester, and followed the engineering curriculum at the Whitworth Laboratory under Osborne Reynolds. After taking the degree of B.SC. in 1891 at Victoria University, with first-class honors, he continued to work in Reynolds' laboratory, at first as a Junior and later as Senior Demonstrator until 1896. From 1892 until 1896 he was resident tutor in mathematics and engineering at the Hulme Hall of Residence, Manchester. In June 1896, Stanton obtained a post as Senior Assistant Lecturer in Engineering at University College, Liverpool, under Professor Hele-Shaw. In December 1899, he became a Professor of Engineering at Bristol University College and Superintendent of the Engineering Department of the National Physical Laboratory in Bristol in July 1901. He held this post until his retirement from official duties in December 1930 at the age of 65 and just one year before his death. Stanton's main field of interest was fluid flow and friction and the related problem of heat transmission. From 1902 to 1907 he executed a large research program which focused upon wind forces on structures, such as bridges and roofs. After 1908, the year when the Wright Brothers made their first aerospace flights in Europe, Stanton devoted himself to problems of aeroplane and airship design and the dissipation of heat from air-cooled engines.