Metals Metals

Measuring the Thermal Conductivity of Metallic Materials

Metals are used in a wide variety of industries, from nuclear and automotive to usage in electronics and aviation. Metals tend to be highly thermally conductive and are sought out for their ability to quickly dissipate heat. This is important for many industries that wish to maintain structural stability while maintaining effective heat dissipation in avoiding overheating.

As the thermal conductivity of the materials is a critical performance attribute, an effective means of verifying the performance of the material is highly desirable. Ideally, researchers are seeking a fast, easy and accurate means of verifying the thermal conductivity of the material as incoming material quality increasingly becomes a concern.

  • Trident Instrument with MTPS

    Trident Instrument with MTPS

  • Testing Copper with MTPS

    Testing Copper with MTPS

  • Testing Aluminium Slab with FLEX

    Testing Aluminium Slab with FLEX

  • Axel Products

    As a contract test lab, we need dependable instrumentation so we can serve our customers. After many years using a different transient method, we now use the C-Therm TCi Thermal Conductivity Analyzer and it works great!”

    Kurt Miller, President,
    Axel Products (Sector: Contract Lab)

    More Testimonials

Case Highlights

Thermal Conductivity of Thin Metal Sheets (Slab Utility)

Trident’s TPS Slab utility is recommended when the approximation of a “semi-infinite” sample size is no longer valid due to a restriction in the thickness of a sample. This effectively means when the thermal conductivity and thickness of the sample are such that the depth of penetration of the heat pulse will exceed the boundary condition of the sample itself. Samples must be classified as isotropic for the utility to function as intended.

Thermal Conductivity Testing of Aluminium

With the use of the utility, thin sample slabs, sheets or plates can be tested despite not meeting the TPS method’s general requirement for a semi-infinite sample behaviour. The size of the samples must be large enough that thermal boundary effects aren’t observed on the time scale of the test in the plane normal to the sensor surface, but thin enough to have boundary effects in the direction normal to the sensor surface which the Slab utility accounts for. The external slab surfaces must be adequately insulated against heat loss, or alternatively, the measurement can be conducted in a vacuum. As in the bulk mode, two identical samples are used.

Thermal Conductivity Testing Slab

Slab Thermal Conductivity Testing

Nominal Value[1] ISO Acceptable Range[2] Exp. Results Pass/Fail
k (W/mK) α (m2/s) k (W/mK) α (m2/s) k (W/mK) α (m2/s) Pass
112 3.46E-05 104 – 120 3.08 – 3.84E-05 115.97 3.81E-05

In the example above in testing a brass slab sample, results fell approximately within 3.5% of the expected nominal value for thermal conductivity and are well within the tolerance outlined in ISO 22007-2

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[1] Nominal value was experimentally determined using an independent method.

[2] ISO 22007 specifies accuracy up to 7% k and 11% α when using the Slab Utility.

MTPS Extended Range for Highly-Conductive Metals

Researchers seeking thermal conductivity values of metals tend to lean towards book values. Although these figures are accurate they lack the ability to determine the conductivity of new advanced composite metals that contain various quantities of other materials.

Copper (Cu) is among the most thermally conductive metals. The high thermal efficiency of copper makes it a better solution than some lower priced solutions. Recently, the TCi’s range was extended to measure highly-conductive metals such as copper, (~ 400 W/mK). Recent test results on the three samples of pure copper are presented below.


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