Summary
Thermal insulation is the reduction of heat transfer (i.e., the transfer of thermal energy between objects of differing temperature) between objects in thermal contact or in range of radiative influence. Thermal insulation can be achieved with specially engineered methods or processes, as well as with suitable object shapes and materials. Heat flow is an inevitable consequence of contact between objects of different temperature. Thermal insulation provides a region of insulation in which thermal conduction is reduced, creating a thermal break or thermal barrier, or thermal radiation is reflected rather than absorbed by the lower-temperature body. The insulating capability of a material is measured as the inverse of thermal conductivity (k). Low thermal conductivity is equivalent to high insulating capability (resistance value). In thermal engineering, other important properties of insulating materials are product density (ρ) and specific heat capacity (c). Thermal conductivity Thermal conductivity k is measured in watts-per-meter per kelvin (W·m−1·K−1 or W/m/K). This is because heat transfer, measured as power, has been found to be (approximately) proportional to difference of temperature the surface area of thermal contact the inverse of the thickness of the material From this, it follows that the power of heat loss is given by Thermal conductivity depends on the material and for fluids, its temperature and pressure. For comparison purposes, conductivity under standard conditions (20 °C at 1 atm) is commonly used. For some materials, thermal conductivity may also depend upon the direction of heat transfer. The act of insulation is accomplished by encasing an object in material with low thermal conductivity in high thickness. Decreasing the exposed surface area could also lower heat transfer, but this quantity is usually fixed by the geometry of the object to be insulated. Multi-layer insulation is used where radiative loss dominates, or when the user is restricted in volume and weight of the insulation (e.g.
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