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Thermal Engineering 

Thermal Engineering

Thermal Engineering deals with heat energy and its control or transfer between different mediums or into other forms of energy within an enclosed environment. It revolves around the science of fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, energy conversions, heat and mass transfer.

Applications of Thermal Engineering

Thermal Engineering is applied in so many fields and to solve so many problems. These all bother around heat transfer and conversion.

Heating, Ventilation, and Air conditioning (HVAC) Systems

HVAC systems provide vehicular and indoor comfort through a thermal conditioning of the environment. In clean rooms, HVAC systems uses thermal engineering and energy transfer to filter out polluted or unwanted air from the clean room environment. In car or vehicular air conditioning systems, thermal engineering and heat transfer is used to either make the interior of vehicles hot or cold by taking away or bringing in heat. In heating systems, heat is generated through other forms of energy and transferred to a specific enclosed environment.

These systems require thermal engineering which makes use of a suitable combination of heat transfer, energy conversion, and fluid mechanics to keep the environment comfortable and at desired temperature.


Sometimes classified under HVAC systems, refrigeration makes use of fluid mechanics and heat transfer to keep an enclosed environment cold. This application of thermal engineering is made use of in refrigerators, freezers, refrigerated vehicles, and in the cold chain industry. They utilize heat transfer properties of fluids referred to as coolants to draw away heat from an enclosed environment.

This enclosed environment or the refrigerator compartment mostly is used to hold perishable products in order to preserve them. The systems also come with a temperature control feature that utilizes thermal insulation to keep the temperature at a desired degree and prevent transfer of heat from outside to the inside.

Heat Exchangers

Heat Exchangers almost share same properties as refrigeration devices or machines. They facilitate the exchange of heat between two mediums of fluids. This means that unlike in refrigeration, they cannot only cool an environment but also heat it up. They utilize fluid mechanics and heat transfer to maintain temperature control between two fluids.

Heat exchangers are used in refrigeration, air conditioning, natural gas processing, space heating, and in power stations. An example of the heat exchanger is the heat sink which is used to transfer the heat generated by electronic equipment to the air or a fluid.

Thermal Power Plants

Thermal power plants utilize thermal engineering and fluid mechanics to convert heat energy to electricity or other forms of energy. Water is heated and used to drive a turbine which in turn generates energy that can be converted to electricity. Some thermal power plants also utilize some other fluids as fuel.

Cooling of Computer Chips

Thermal engineering is utilized in electronic equipment to cool computer chips. This is done using heat sinks that transfers heat energy from the chip to another medium usually air or a fluid. It is a dedicated form of heat exchanger that utilizes fluid mechanics and heat transfer to ensure the chips do not heat up and cause significant damage to the electronic equipment.


A boiler is used to heat water or some other fluid in a closed environment. The fluid is heated to a certain degree (must not boil) and channelled to other devices where it is used in performing suitable work or for other purposes.

Thermal Insulation

This is a very important discipline of thermal engineering that is used to reduce heat transfer between mediums or objects in thermal contact. Heat transfer being almost inevitable between objects in contact and at different temperatures means thermal insulation is not easily achieved. Thermal insulation uses knowledge of material science and thermodynamics to limit this heat transfer to its barest minimum. It is made use of in refrigeration, insulated buildings, spacecraft, and in mechanical systems to shield objects or environments from destructive or undesirable heat energy.

Cooling Efficiency of Refrigerated Vehicles

Thermal engineering and thermal insulation is made use of in refrigerated vehicles to keep the perishable items being transported at a desired and controlled temperature. This means that no matter the degree of hotness outside the refrigerated van, the temperature inside needs to remain at the same, set, and stable degree.

Glacier Vehicles achieves this by using refrigeration systems which make use of 4 part refrigeration process…

  • The Styrofoam (polystyrene foam) which has trapped air bubbles that prevent heat energy from flowing through it. It is 50 mil thick in fridge vans and 75 mil thick in freezer fans. The density of foam also is very instrumental in the insulation process.