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Lab 11: Heat Transfer and Thermal Insulation Competition

EG1003 Section K1

Lab Partners: Hrithik Vemparala, Stanley Zeng, Minjoon Park

Date of Experiment: 11/14/2017

Date Due: 11/28/2017

Hrithik Vemparala Sec K1. Lab 11 11/26/2017


The objective of the lab was to evaluate different methods of minimizing heat loss

through thermal insulation. A second objective was to enter and win the competition by

achieving the highest minimal design ratio, which was calculated from the cost of the model, the

total capacity of the design, and the temperature of the surroundings. The model successfully

reduced the temperature loss from the egg from the initial temperature of 74 degrees Fahrenheit.

The total cost incurred for the construction of the model was $1.05. The model ended the

competition with a minima design ratio of 0.28 and a rank of 4th place. The flexible rules of the

competition, which allowed for the use of multiple insulators to minimize heat loss, helped the

model remain competitive throughout the course of the competition. The results of the lab were

noted, and it was concluded that thermal insulation was a viable method of preventing heat loss

during interaction from the surroundings. The potential for using plastics to build insulators was

also demonstrated.


Equilibrium is the condition of a system in which the materials present inside the system

are balanced in their composition. The state in which the reactants and products are present in

concentrations have no further tendency to change with time. Thus, there are no net changes in

the concentrations of the reactants and products. This is also known as dynamic equilibrium.

Heat is a form of energy. Heat is generated due to a temperature difference in a system of

equilibrium. Heat always travels from higher to lower temperatures. Heat can be transferred

from one place to another by three methods: conduction in solids, convection of fluids, and

radiation through both solids and fluids. (NYU Tandon, 2017)

Conduction occurs when systems at different temperatures come in direct contact with

each other. Heat flows from the warmer to the cooler object until an equilibrium in temperature

Hrithik Vemparala Sec K1. Lab 11 11/26/2017

is achieved. This process continues until heat generated from the warmer object spreads

throughout the cooler object. Conduction is determined by the following formula:

Figure 1: Formula for determining conduction

In this equation, Q refers to the heat transferred in time t. K is the thermal conductivity

constant. A refers to the area of the material and T denotes the surrounding temperature. Finally,

d refers to the thickness of the materials in contact with the system.

Convection is used in liquids and gases to transfer heat. Conduction occurs when warmer

areas of a liquid or gas rise to cooler areas of the system. Due to this process, cooler areas of

liquid or gas overtake the warmer areas of the system. An example of convection is the hot oil

boiling in a pan. The oil transfers the heat out of the pan by applying the principles of

convection. Convection is determined by the following formula:

Figure 2: Formula for determining convection

In this equation, Q refers to the heat transferred in time t. T denotes the difference in

temperature between the system and its surroundings. H refers to the convection coefficient of

the system, and A is the surface area of the material

Radiation is a method of heat transfer that does not rely upon contact between the heat

source and the object. Thus, radiation differs from conduction and convection, which require

contact for the transfer of heat. An example of radiation is the infrared image of the center of our

Hrithik Vemparala Sec K1. Lab 11 11/26/2017

galaxy. This heat from numerous stars and interstellar clouds travel through space by radiation to

reach the scale of the infrared telescopes. Radiation is determined by the following formula:

Figure 3: Formula for determining radiation

Electromagnetic radiation is the transfer of energy when an atom absorbs energy in its

surroundings. The energy absorbed by the atom causes the electrons to shift from its original

position, which generates an electromagnetic wave. The form of the electromagnetic waves

depends on the type of atom and the amount of energy absorbed by the system.

A thermodynamic system is the region in space in which the heat energy is generated. The

mass or region outside the system is called its surroundings. The surface which separates the

system and its surroundings is called the boundary of the thermodynamic system

The system in which the transfer of mass as well as energy can take place across its

boundary is called an open system. An example of an open system is the engine of an electric

machine. In an electric machine, the fuel provided to the engine generates power which is given

out. Thus, there is exchange of mass along with energy. (Columbia, 2017) The engine also

emits heat which is exchanged with the surroundings.

The system in which the transfer of energy takes place across its boundary without a

transfer of mass is called a closed system. The closed system is fixed mass system. An example

of a closed system is the compression of the gaseous materials within the piston and its internal

cylinder arrangement.

Hrithik Vemparala Sec K1. Lab 11 11/26/2017

The system in which there is no transfer of mass or energy across its boundary with the

surroundings is called as isolated system. An example of an isolated system is the cylinder

arrangement in which the fluid like air or gas is being compressed or expanded.

The principles of minimal design were crucial in assembling the final model of the

insulator. The main factor taken into consideration while designing the model was to use the

fewest resources while maintaining the efficiency of the model. All the materials were chosen

after careful consideration of their costs, and the least expensive model that could successfully

achieve the objective was constructed. Only three items were used to build the model, and the

design had a total cost of $1.05. This ensured that the model was created in line with the

principles of minimal design.

The minimal design ratio was calculated by the following formula:

Figure 4: Formula for determining the minimal design ratio

In this ratio, the IC denotes the insulating capacity of the model while the cost referred to

the cost of the container. The TR reflected the temperature of the room at the start of the

competition, and TF was the final temperature read by the thermocouple. With the cost factored

in determining the ratio, the model had to be designed to be as inexpensive as possible.

The rules of the competition required the container to be purchased before the initial

design sketch. Additionally, all materials used to build the insulator were to be placed inside the

container. The size of the container was required to be smaller than the size of the cups. Finally,

the container was not to be held over the course of the competition. If the design violated any of

these rules, it would be disqualified from the competition. The rules of the competition, which

Hrithik Vemparala Sec K1. Lab 11 11/26/2017

emphasized the importance of having a minimalistic design, ensured that the model would need

to optimally use all the materials provided to the team.


A large foam cup, a pair of lids, a paper cup, and two strips of aluminum foils were all

used to build the model of the insulator.

First, the competition rules were reviewed, and an initial design was implemented. The

weight, material properties, and the cost of building the model were all taken into consideration

during the design search process. Next, approval for the design was obtained, making it possible

to procure all the required materials. The insulator was connected to the container by using

cellophane tape. The egg was placed inside the insulator and the efficiency of the device was

measured. The initial and final temperature of the egg was also recorded.

The materials of the insulator were tested. A pair of lids were connected to the insulator

to ensure that the egg would not break due to excess temperature. An aluminum foil was attached

to the top of the model to ensure that the heat would not be allowed to flow out of the design.

The foam cup was added to the base of the model to check for the temperature of the insulator.

Finally, a VI was initialized by connecting it to the power source of the design.

After the design was finalized, it was taken to the lab table and placed on the insulating

material provided. A thermometer was used to measure the total change in temperature of the

material. The model successfully minimized the heat loss of the material and acted as an

insulator for the material. The total change in temperature was calculated and the cost of building

the insulator was also determined. Next, the minimal design ratio was calculated. The lab was

concluded, and the workstation was cleared. The viability of using insulators to prevent heat loss

during chemical reactions was also demonstrated.

Hrithik Vemparala Sec K1. Lab 11 11/26/2017


After the insulator was built, the model was verified to ensure that the design was built in

accordance with the competition rules. Next, the insulator was placed on the lab table and a

mock trial was conducted. The insular worked smoothly, and the loss of heat from the egg was

successfully prevented, indicating that the device was ready for the competition. The time was

noted, and it showed that the design was built just at the end of the time allotted to enter the


After it was determined that the design of the insulator had conformed to the rules of the

competition, the insulator was taken to the lab table and tested in the competition. The insulator

worked well initially but eventually holes were formed on the aluminum foil of the insulator due

to the heat generated by the system. This resulted in the loss of heat from the model. This caused

the temperature of the thermocouple to decline further than if the aluminum foil had stayed

intact. The model finished third in the competition, largely due to the damage sustained to the

foil, which was observed by the TA. After the competition was completed, pictures of the

insulator system were taken. The initial and final temperatures of the thermocouple was also

measured. Finally, the insulator was taken back to the lab and dissembled.

The following table (Table 1) shows the cost breakdown for the model:

Item Unit cost Unit of measure Quantity Total cost

Lid $0.25 Each 1 $0.25

Foam cup $0.5 Each 1 $0.5

Aluminum foil $0.3 Each 1 $0.3

Grand Total: $1.05

Table 1: Cost Breakdown

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As demonstrated above in Table 1, the total cost of the model was $1.05. A minimalistic

approach to the model was used, and all the materials were carefully chosen to ensure that the

model could win the competition while using optimum materials for its design.

The results of the competition are shown below in Table 2:

Stanley, Hrithik, MJ
74 135
-0.49 $1.05 MDR: 0.28 Rank: 3
Alex, Brandon, Hanyi
74 139
-0.87 $1.20 MDR: 0.55 Rank: 5
Donny, Iqra, Anjali
74 116
-0.57 $0.77 MDR: 0.28 Rank: 2
Nahom, Aidan, Rohan, Kaleb
74 143
-0.39 $1.10 MDR: 0.22 Rank: 1
Anjali, Jesse, Grace
74 135
-0.45 $1.77 MDR: 0.44 Rank: 4

Table 2: Results of the competition

As shown above in Table 2, the design of the insulator was based on a minimalistic

approach, which can be observed as the model had the third lowest total cost in the competition.

Hrithik Vemparala Sec K1. Lab 11 11/26/2017

Figure 4 shows a sample model of the thermal insulator used in the competition:

Figure 4: Sample of the thermal insulator used in the competition

Figure 5 shows the temperature-time graph of the competition:

Figure 5: Temperature-time graph of the competition

As shown above in Figure 5, the temperature of the system proportionally increased with the

time it was placed into contact with the surroundings. The temperature steady increased

throughout the course of the competition and peaked at the end of the lab.

Hrithik Vemparala Sec K1. Lab 11 11/26/2017


Using the data shown above in Table 2 of the Data/Observations sections, it can be

observed that an insulator was created that could minimize the loss of heat by the egg, achieving

the objective of the lab. Overall, the model finished in the third position in the first trial, which

ended up as the only trial conducted due to time constraints.

The performance of the insulator could be improved by adding additional coil to the sides

of the model. This would ensure that the heat generated inside the insulator would be deflected

back into the model after contact with the radiators of the coil. A second improvement would be

to use kevlar strings to form a curtain lining around the model, which would act as a protective

layer to the design. This would increase the internal insulation of the model.

The minimal design ratio of the model could be improved by using standard tape to

connect the edges of the insulator. This would enhance the minimal design ratio due to its low

cost. Also, it would provide an additional layer on the model, which would prevent heat loss.

Finally, a foam cup could be added to the base of the design containing the egg. This would

allow the insulator to have a firm grip on the egg and decrease the loss of heat and energy from

its surface. This is crucial because of the importance of temperature difference in determining the

minimal design ratio.

The winning design had a minimal design ratio of 0.22 and had a total design cost of

$1.10. The main reason for their success was the low cost of the model, which was supplanted by

the low temperature difference between the insulator and the surroundings. An important

characteristic of the insulator was the usage of aluminum foils rather than Styrofoam to connect

the edges of the insulator. The large area of the aluminum foil and its low conductivity ensured

that excess heat would not be lost from the model over the course of the competition.

Hrithik Vemparala Sec K1. Lab 11 11/26/2017

To improve the lab, the experiment could be conducted in an empty area to prevent

external factors from interfering with the temperature of the system and its surroundings. Also,

the overall performance of the lab could be improved by providing further materials to design the

model, which would provide a greater variety of electric cables and power sources to run the


Works Cited
Columbia. 2017. Heat and Light Transfer. Heat and Light get Larger: Nanoscale
Accessed 24 November 2017 from engineering.columbia.edu/heat-and-light-get-larger-nanoscale

NYU Tandon. 2017. Lab 11: Thermal Insulation Competition. EG1003 Lab Manual
Accessed 25 November 2017 from manual.eg.poly.edu

Lab Notes
Figure 6 shows the lab notes taken over the course of the competition

Figure 6: Lab Notes

Hrithik Vemparala Sec K1. Lab 11 11/26/2017