Unit Converters

Thermal Conductivity Converter

Thermal conductivity is an important property that determines how well a material can transfer heat. By accurately measuring thermal conductivity, scientists and engineers can determine how well a material can conduct heat and make informed decisions about its suitability for specific applications.

Btu (th) foot/hour/sq. foot/°F watt/centimeter/°C kilocalorie (IT)/hour/meter/°C calorie (th)/second/cm/°C kilowatt/meter/K (kW,(m*K))Btu (IT) inch/hour/sq. foot/°F Btu (IT) foot/hour/sq. foot/°F kilocalorie (th)/hour/meter/°C Btu (th) inch/hour/sq. foot/°F Btu (th) inch/second/sq. foot/°F calorie (IT)/second/cm/°C watt/meter/K (W,(m*K))Btu (IT) inch/second/sq. foot/°F
Btu (th) foot/hour/sq. foot/°F watt/centimeter/°C kilocalorie (IT)/hour/meter/°C calorie (th)/second/cm/°C kilowatt/meter/K (kW,(m*K))Btu (IT) inch/hour/sq. foot/°F Btu (IT) foot/hour/sq. foot/°F kilocalorie (th)/hour/meter/°C Btu (th) inch/hour/sq. foot/°F Btu (th) inch/second/sq. foot/°F calorie (IT)/second/cm/°C watt/meter/K (W,(m*K))Btu (IT) inch/second/sq. foot/°F

What is Thermal Conductivity?

Thermal conductivity is a property of materials that describes their ability to conduct heat. It quantifies how well a material can transfer heat energy through it. When there is a temperature difference across a material, heat flows from the higher temperature region to the lower temperature region. The rate at which this heat is conducted through the material is determined by its thermal conductivity.

Materials with high thermal conductivity are efficient heat conductors, as they allow heat to flow through them quickly. These materials are often used in applications where efficient heat transfer is desired, such as in cooling systems, heat exchangers, and thermal management of electronic devices.

On the other hand, materials with low thermal conductivity are considered insulators. They impede the transfer of heat and are used to reduce heat flow or provide thermal insulation. Insulating materials are commonly employed in building construction, refrigeration, and other applications where minimizing heat transfer is important.

Thermal conductivity is influenced by several factors, including the material's molecular or atomic structure, density, and temperature. Generally, materials with closely packed and highly conductive structures, such as metals, tend to have higher thermal conductivities.

How to calculate the thermal conductivity of a material

Thermal conductivity can be calculated using different methods depending on the available information and the complexity of the material being analyzed.

Experimental Measurement: This method involves conducting experiments to directly measure the thermal conductivity of a material. The most straightforward approach is the guarded hot plate method, where a sample of known thickness and area is placed between two plates at different temperatures, and the heat flow through the sample is measured. By knowing the dimensions and temperatures, and measuring the heat flow, the thermal conductivity can be determined using the formula:

Thermal Conductivity (k) = (Heat Flow (Q) × Thickness (L)) / (Area (A) × Temperature Difference (ΔT))

Mathematical Models: For some materials, mathematical models can be used to estimate thermal conductivity based on their composition or properties. These models rely on empirical or theoretical relationships derived from experimental data. For example, the Wiedemann-Franz Law relates thermal conductivity to electrical conductivity and temperature for metals.

Effective Medium Theory: In cases where the material is a composite or a mixture of different components, the effective medium theory can be applied. This theory considers the thermal conductivity of each component and their volume fractions to calculate the effective thermal conductivity of the composite material. This method is commonly used for analyzing thermal conductivity in porous materials, composites, and mixtures.

Molecular Dynamics Simulations: Molecular dynamics simulations involve modelling the behaviour of atoms and molecules in a material to determine thermal properties. By simulating the interactions between particles and applying statistical mechanics principles, thermal conductivity can be estimated. Molecular dynamics simulations are particularly useful for studying materials at the atomic scale.


How to use the thermal conductivity calculator

Determine the material: Select or identify the material for which you want to calculate the thermal conductivity. Different materials have different thermal conductivities, so it's crucial to specify the material accurately.

Gather material properties: Take note of the required properties the calculator needs. Common properties include density, specific heat capacity, and thermal diffusivity.

Enter the inputs: Input the required material properties into the calculator. Fill in the appropriate values for density, specific heat capacity, thermal diffusivity, and any other parameters requested by the calculator.

Select units: Ensure that you provide the inputs in the correct units as specified by the calculator.

Calculate the thermal conductivity: Once you have entered all the necessary inputs, activate the calculator to perform the calculation. 

Review the result: After the calculation is complete, the thermal conductivity calculator will display the result.

Which units can be converted using our thermal conductivity calculator?

Watts per meter-kelvin (W/(m·K))

Watts per centimeter-kelvin (W/(cm·K)): 1 W/(m·K) = 100 W/(cm·K)

Watts per inch-kelvin (W/(in·K)): 1 W/(m·K) = 0.0254 W/(in·K)

British thermal units per hour-foot-fahrenheit (BTU/(h·ft·°F))

BTU per hour-inch-fahrenheit (BTU/(h·in·°F)): 1 BTU/(h·ft·°F) = 12 BTU/(h·in·°F)

Watts per meter-kelvin (W/(m·K)): 1 BTU/(h·ft·°F) = 1.73073 W/(m·K)

How Accurate is the Thermal Conductivity Converter?

The accuracy of the converter depends on the conversion factors and data used in the calculations. The converter is designed to provide accurate results based on established conversion relationships between different units. The converter's accuracy is influenced by the precision and accuracy of the input values. If the input values are rounded or imprecise, the converted results may introduce some degree of error.