Thermal diffusivity
The thermal conductivity or thermal diffusivity , and occasionally " thermal diffusivity " (from English thermal diffusivity ), is a material property that the spatial distribution of the description of the temporal change temperature by heat conduction serves as a consequence of a temperature gradient.
It is related to thermal conductivity , which is used to describe energy transport.
Definition and unity
The thermal diffusivity is defined as:
With
The thermal diffusivity has the SI unit . In the US, the specification in is also common.
It is a temperaturedependent material property, since all underlying parameters are temperaturedependent.
Thermal equation
The spatial and temporal distribution of the temperature in a body can be calculated using Fourier's law (according to JBJ Fourier ) and the heat conduction equation that follows. In the first considerations it goes back to Newton and expresses a simple fact: The change in the heat content of a spatial area flows as a heat flow through its envelope.
For isotropic bodies with inhomogeneous thermal conductivity but constant thermal capacity per volume, the following applies:
In mathematical symbolism:
 : Position vector (symbolized by the vector arrow above the position variable )
 : Nabla operator : Differentiation rule with regard to the local derivatives, which can be applied in different ways to scalar quantities, vectors and operators.
For homogeneous, isotropic media, the thermal conduction equation, assuming a temperatureindependent thermal diffusivity, is simplified to:
 .
In mathematical symbolism:
 : Laplace operator : Differentiation rule with regard to the local derivatives, which is applied here to the scalar variable temperature .
The differential equation is called the heat conduction equation and generally describes transport processes such as B. also the diffusion , or as here a migration of the temperature distribution in a body due to a temporary temperature gradient. From a mathematical point of view, the thermal diffusivity is therefore the “ transport coefficient of the heat conduction problem”. The two specified variants of the heat conduction equation only apply if no heat is generated or consumed in the body. If that were the case, a socalled source term would have to be added.
Practical use
The analytical calculation of the unsteady temperature distribution is not possible in many cases. Thermal conduction problems are therefore often calculated numerically using the finite element method . The result is temporal and spatial temperature distributions (temperature fields). So you can z. B. infer the spatial expansion behavior of components or determine the local internal stress state . The temperature field calculation is therefore an important basis for technical design tasks in which temporary thermal residual stresses cannot be neglected.
Another example of the importance of thermal diffusivity is thermal insulation that is exposed to changing temperature gradients. These are, for example, fire doors or house insulation. The resistance of a fire door is expressed by the time it takes for the heat to penetrate the door. The door must not only insulate well from heat, but the insulating material should also have a low thermal conductivity. The situation is similar with a house insulation layer, for example in the roof area facing south: here, the low thermal conductivity of a less thick insulation can prevent the interior from heating up with temporary solar radiation.
Density ρ (kg / dm ^{3} ) 
specific heat capacity (kJ / (kg K)) 
Thermal conductivity λ (W / (m · K)) 
Thermal conductivity a (mm ^{2} / s) 


aluminum  2.7  0.888  237  98.8 
lead  11.34  0.129  35  23.9 
bronze  8.8  0.377  62  18.7 
chrome  6.92  0.44  91  29.9 
CrNi steel (X _{12} CrNi _{18.8} ) 
7.8  0.5  15th  3.8 
iron  7.86  0.452  81  22.8 
gold  19.26  0.129  316  127.2 
cast iron  7.8  0.54  42 ... 50  10… 12 
Steel (<0.4% C )  7.85  0.465  45… 55  12… 15 
copper  8.93  0.382  399  117 
magnesium  1.74  1.02  156  87.9 
manganese  7.42  0.473  21st  6th 
molybdenum  10.2  0.251  138  53.9 
sodium  0.97  1.22  133  112 
nickel  8.85  0.448  91  23 
platinum  21.37  0.133  71  25th 
silver  10.5  0.235  427  173 
titanium  4.5  0.522  22nd  9.4 
tungsten  19th  0.134  173  67.9 
zinc  7.1  0.387  121  44 
Tin (white)  7.29  0.225  67  40.8 
Silicon  2.33  0.700  148  87 
Density ρ (kg / dm ^{3} ) 
specific heat capacity (kJ / (kg K)) 
Thermal conductivity λ (W / (m · K)) 
Thermal conductivity a (mm ^{2} / s) 


Acrylic glass (plexiglass)  1.18  1.44  0.184  0.108 
asphalt  2.12  0.92  0.70  0.36 
concrete  2.4  0.88  2.1  0.994 
Ice (0 ° C)  0.917  2.04  2.25  1.203 
Dirt (grobkiesig)  2.04  1.84  0.52  0.14 
Sandy soil (dry)  1.65  0.80  0.27  0.20 
Sandy soil (moist)  1.75  1.00  0.58  0.33 
Clay soil  1.45  0.88  1.28  1.00 
Window glass  2.48  0.70  0.87  0.50 
Mirror glass  2.70  0.80  0.76  0.35 
Quartz glass  2.21  0.73  1.40  0.87 
Glass wool  0.12  0.66  0.046  0.58 
plaster  2.2 to 2.4  1.09  0.51  0.203 
granite  2.75  0.89  2.9  1.18 
Carbon (graphite)  2.25  0.709  119 ... 165  74… 103 
Cork boards  0.19  1.88  0.041  0.115 
marble  2.6  0.80  2.8  1.35 
mortar  1.9  0.80  0.93  0.61 
paper  0.7  1.20  0.12  0.14 
Polyethylene  0.92  2.30  0.35  0.17 
Polytetrafluoroethylene  2.20  1.04  0.23  0.10 
Polyvinyl chloride  1.38  0.96  0.15  0.11 
Porcelain (95 ° C)  2.40  1.08  1.03  0.40 
sulfur  1.96  0.71  0.269  0.193 
Hard coal  1.35  1.26  0.26  0.15 
Fir wood (radial)  0.415  2.72  0.14  0.12 
Plastering  1.69  0.80  0.79  0.58 
Brick  1.6 ... 1.8  0.84  0.38 ... 0.52  0.28 ... 0.34 
air  0.0013  1.01  0.026  20th 
water  1.0  4.18  0.6  0.14 
literature
 Ralf Bürgel: Handbook high temperature materials technology. 3. Edition. Friedrich Vieweg & Sohn Verlag, Wiesbaden 2006, ISBN 9783528231071 .
 M. ten Bosch: The heat transfer. A textbook and reference book for practical use, third edition, Springer Verlag, Berlin / Heidelberg 1936.
See also
Web links
 A universal method for determining thermal conductivity (accessed January 3, 2020)
 Determination of the temperature and degree of hardeningdependent thermal conductivity using finite volumebased inverse methods (accessed on January 3, 2020)
 Heat and impulse transport in slip reaction sintered metal foams (accessed January 3, 2020)
 The heat transport in crystalline rocks under the conditions of the continental crust (accessed on January 3, 2020)
 Specific heat, specific volume, temperature and thermal conductivity of some disubstituted benzenes and polycyclic systems (accessed on January 3, 2020)
Individual evidence
 ↑ The term number should be avoided because it is not a dimensionless ratio, but a quantity of the dimension .
 ^ John H. Lienhard IV and John H. Lienhard V: A Heat Transfer Textbook, 3rd edition, 2001, p. 55, Gl. 2.10.