Thermal Conductivity Measurements of Graphite Samples

All materials have a property of thermal conductivity (k). As a measure of ability to conduct heat energy, k is a valuable number in heat transfer design and analysis. Knowing a material's value of thermal conductivity allows for proper selection in its use. The Applied Engineering Technology group at Los Alamos National Laboratory wishes to measure the thermal conductivity of various solid samples with minimal error. An apparatus was built in an attempt to measure a large range and variety of samples using a method combined from ASTM standards and the writer's ideas. The sample was heated on one end and cooled on the other. The temperature distribution across the sample was measured and a value of k calculated. Using Fourier's Law the results of the one material tested, graphite, produced a k value of 129.16 4.69 W/mK the first time, 126.63 2.90 W/mK the next and 127.31 2.27 W/mK in the final run. The expected result based on the manufacturer's data sheet was 130 W/mK. The apparatus can now be used to measure various samples. Additionally, methods have been developed to estimate the errors associated with each new measurement.

The Journal of Young Investigators is not affiliated with the US Department of Energy. This paper was written by a student intern with the Department of Energy and does not constitute a declarative position of either the Department of Energy or the Journal of Young Investigators.
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