book reviews

Books on Thermal Physics and Engineering

Heat Pipes
Theory, Design and Applications, 5th ed.
by Reay and Kew
BH, 2006, 377 pages


Y ou might think a book called Heat Pipes would be one of those tedious engineering books full of dull equations and design considerations that few people other than thermal engineers would find fascinating. Well, yeah. But the technology of heat pipes also touches on fluid dynamics, gas/liquid pressure waves, and physics of bubble formation, as well as manufacturing technology and treatment of metals. For example, you will learn that nucleated boiling water has a peak thermal flux over one megawatt per square meter. On page 64 you will find a formula for calculating the gas pressure inside a soap bubble. You will learn about the conditions for laminar vs. turbulent flow and viscosity in solvents and liquid metals such as molten lithium and sodium. And, of course, you will learn how to design, manufacture, and test thermosiphons and heat pipes, which are hundreds of times more efficient than solid metals such as copper and aluminum at transferring heat from one place to another.

The first hundred pages covers the theory of heat pipes and thermosiphons. Later chapters discuss electrokinetics, electrohydrodynamics, ultrasonics, micro-heat pipes, and rotating heat pipes, which were used on the Space Shuttle. The writing style is excellent (albeit with an occasional comma splice). The only drawback is that devices traditionally used along with heat pipes, such as Peltier coolers and heat pumps, are not discussed at all.

 may 13, 2012