Hide Table of Contents

Electrical Analogy of Heat Conduction

Heat conduction in solids is similar to the conduction of electricity in electrical conductors in many aspects. In a conductor, the flow of electricity is driven by a potential difference and so is the flow of heat driven by a difference in temperature. In electric conduction, electric charge is transported from one point in a conductor to another by the motion of the electrons, in thermal conduction, heat is transported from one point of a solid to another by the vibration of the molecules of the solid due to their increased energy.

Heat conduction is governed by Fourier's law which states that: the rate of heat transfer (Q) between two sufficiently close points in a medium is proportional to the temperature difference between the two points (T1-T2) divided by their separation (Dx) and the area normal to the direction of heat flow (A). The constant of proportionality is called the coefficient of thermal conductivity of the material (k). Mathematically, this statement can be written as:

Q =  k A ( T1 - T2 )/Dx

where Q is the rate of heat transfer in Watts.

Electric current flow is governed by Ohm's law, which states that the electric current (I) flowing between two points in a conductor equals the potential difference between the two points (V1-V2) divided by the electric resistance between them (R). Ohm's law can be written as:

I = ( V1 - V2 )/R

The above equations suggest that the following analogy holds:

Thermal Conduction

Electric Conduction

Heat flow rate: Q

Electric current : I

Temperature difference:  DT = T1 - T2

Potential difference :  DV = V1 - V2

Thermal resistance: Rthermal = Dx/(kA)

Electric resistance = R

The next figure shows the analogy between the two phenomena.

 



Provide feedback on this topic

SOLIDWORKS welcomes your feedback concerning the presentation, accuracy, and thoroughness of the documentation. Use the form below to send your comments and suggestions about this topic directly to our documentation team. The documentation team cannot answer technical support questions. Click here for information about technical support.

* Required

 
*Email:  
Subject:   Feedback on Help Topics
Page:   Electrical Analogy of Heat Conduction
*Comment:  
*   I acknowledge I have read and I hereby accept the privacy policy under which my Personal Data will be used by Dassault Systèmes

Print Topic

Select the scope of content to print:




x

We have detected you are using a browser version older than Internet Explorer 7. For optimized display, we suggest upgrading your browser to Internet Explorer 7 or newer.

 Never show this message again
x

Web Help Content Version: SOLIDWORKS 2012 SP05

To disable Web help from within SOLIDWORKS and use local help instead, click Help > Use SOLIDWORKS Web Help.

To report problems encountered with the Web help interface and search, contact your local support representative. To provide feedback on individual help topics, use the “Feedback on this topic” link on the individual topic page.