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Which metal conducts heat best?

Thermal conductivity metal the ability of a metal  conducts heat. This property varies by type of metal and is important to consider in applications where high operating temperatures are common.

In pure metal, the thermal conductivity remains roughly constant with increasing temperature. In alloys, however, the thermal conductivity increases with temperature.

  • Common metal conducts arranged by thermal conductivity
  • Rank metal thermal conductivity [BTU/(HR · Ft ·°F)]
  • 1 copper 223
  • 2 aluminium 118
  • 3 brass 64
  • 4 steel 17
  • 5 bronze 15
  • As you can see, among the more common metals, copper and aluminum have the highest thermal conductivity, while steel and bronze have the lowest. Thermal conductivity is a very important attribute when deciding which metal to use for a particular application. Because copper is an excellent conductor of heat, it is suitable for heat exchangers, radiators and even the bottom of a pan. Because steel is a poor conductor of heat, it is suitable for high temperature environments such as aircraft engines.
  • Here are some important applications that require metals that conduct heat well:

Heat exchanger of metal conducts

Heat exchangers are a common application in which good thermal conductivity is important. Heat exchangers do their job by transferring heat to heat or cool.

Copper is a popular choice for heat exchangers in industrial facilities, air conditioning, refrigeration, hot water tanks, and floor heating systems. Its high thermal conductivity allows heat to pass through it quickly. Copper has additional characteristics required for heat exchangers, including resistance to corrosion, biological contamination, stress, and thermal expansion.

As a more cost-effective alternative, aluminum can also be used in certain heat exchanger applications.

Heat exchangers are often used in the following situations:

Metal Conducts1

Industrial facilities of metal conducts

Heat exchangers in industrial facilities include fossil and nuclear power plants, chemical plants, desalination plants, and Marine services.

In industrial facilities, copper-nickel alloys are used to make heat exchanger pipes. The alloy has good corrosion resistance and can prevent corrosion in saltwater environment. It also has a good resistance to biological fouling, can avoid the formation of algae and nori. Aluminum-brass alloys have similar properties and can be used as substitutes.

Solar water heating system of metal conducts

Solar water heaters are a cost-effective form of hot water heating in which copper tubes are used to transfer solar thermal energy to the water. Copper is used because of its high thermal conductivity, resistance to air and water corrosion, and mechanical strength.

Metal Conducts2

Gas water heater

An air-water heat exchanger transfers heat from gaseous fuel to the water supply. They are common in residential and commercial boilers. For gas water heaters, copper is the material of choice because of its high thermal conductivity and ease of fabrication.

Forced air heating and cooling

Heat pumps that use air have long been used for residential and commercial heating. They work by air to air heat exchange through the evaporator unit. They can be used in wood stoves, boilers and furnaces. Similarly, copper is commonly used for its high thermal conductivity.

Heat sinks of metal conducts

  • A radiator is a heat exchanger that transfers heat generated by electronic or mechanical equipment to a moving coolant. The fluid transfers heat away from the device and cools it to the desired temperature. Use metals with high thermal conductivity.
  • Computers use radiators to cool the central processing unit or graphics processor. Radiators are also used in high-power devices such as power transistors, lasers, and light-emitting diodes (leds).
  • The radiators are designed to maximize the surface area in contact with the coolant.
  • Aluminum alloy is the most common radiator material. That’s because aluminum costs less than copper. However, copper is used where higher levels of thermal conductivity are required. Some radiators use a combination of aluminum fins and copper bases.

Metal cookers of metal conducts

Metals with good thermal conductivity are more commonly used for domestic purposes in cookware. When you heat food, you don’t want to wait all day. That’s why copper is used in the bottom of high-quality cookware, because the metal conducts heat quickly and spreads it evenly over its surface.

However, if your budget is limited, you can use aluminum cookware as an alternative. It may take a little longer to heat up your food, but your wallet will thank you!

Metal Conducts
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