This article has been reviewed according to Science X's editorial process and policies. Editors have highlighted the following attributes while ensuring the content's credibility:


peer-reviewed publication

trusted source


Examining heat transfer in granular materials

Examining heat transfer in granular materials
The cumulative probability for the heat conductance due to the evanescent electromagnetic (EM) waves (in vacuum), and due to heat conduction in water capillary bridges. Credit: The European Physical Journal B (2023). DOI: 10.1140/epjb/s10051-023-00483-5

Granular materials contain large numbers of small, discrete particles, which collectively behave like uniform media. Their thermal conductivity is crucial to understanding their overall behavior—but so far, researchers haven't considered how this value is affected by the surface roughness of their constituent particles.

Through new analysis published in The European Physical Journal B, Bo Persson at the Peter Grünberg Institute, part of the Jülich Research Centre in Germany, has discovered that when this roughness is considered, in granular materials is heavily influenced by particle sizes. These findings could help physicists to better describe a wide array of granular materials: from sand and snow, to piles of rice, , and fertilizer.

The thermal conductivity of a granular material will typically be much smaller than that of solid blocks of the same material. Its value is affected by several factors: including particle shapes and sizes; the nature of their contact between each other; and the temperature, pressure, and humidity of the gas surrounding the particles.

Most previous studies have only considered how heat is transferred between smooth, spherical particles—but in reality, particles have a on many length scales, which heavily affects the thermal conductivity of the overall material.

In his study, Persson examines the thermal conductivity of granular materials in a humid atmosphere, where heat flows via air and water are especially relevant. Unlike previous studies, he considered particles with a mathematically-defined surface roughness—found in real particles produced through the crushing of brittle minerals.

For particles smaller than 10 microns, he found that in humid air is dominated by water capillaries, which form in the gaps between particles. In contrast, for bigger particles, heat is mostly transferred through the air. These discoveries clarify the mechanisms driving thermal in granular materials, and will enable researchers in future studies to simulate their more closely.

The work is published in The European Physical Journal B.

More information: B. N. J. Persson, Heat transfer in granular media consisting of particles in humid air at low confining pressure, The European Physical Journal B (2023). DOI: 10.1140/epjb/s10051-023-00483-5

Journal information: European Physical Journal B

Provided by Springer

Citation: Examining heat transfer in granular materials (2023, February 23) retrieved 27 May 2024 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further

Scientists develop solid-state electrochemical thermal transistor


Feedback to editors