Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering


College of Engineering


Glen Thorncroft

Advisor Department

Mechanical Engineering

Advisor College

College of Engineering


Heat transfer is a critical part of engineering design, from the cooling of rocket engines to the thermal management of the increasingly dense packaging of electronic circuits. Even for the most fundamental modes of heat transfer, a topic of research is devoted to finding novel ways to improve it. In recent decades, investigators experimented with the idea of exposing systems to acoustic waves with the hope of enhancing thermal transfer at the surface of a body. Ultrasound has been applied with some success to systems undergoing nucleate boiling and in single-phase forced and free convection heat transfer in water. However, little research has been done into the use of sound waves to improve heat transfer in air.

In this thesis the impact of acoustic waves on natural convection heat transfer from a horizontal cylinder in air is explored. An experimental apparatus was constructed to measure natural convection from a heated horizontal cylinder. Verification tests were conducted to confirm that the heat transfer could be described using traditional free convection heat transfer theory. The design and verification testing of the apparatus is presented in this work. Using the apparatus, experiments were conducted to identify if the addition of acoustic waves affected the heat transfer. For the first set of experiments, a 40 kHz standing wave was created along the length of the heated horizontal cylinder. While our expectation was that our results would mirror those found in the literature related to cooling enhancement using ultrasound in water (cited in the body of this thesis), they did not. When a 40 kHz signal was used to actuate the air surrounding the heated cylinder assembly, no measurable enhancement of heat transfer was detected. Experiments were also performed in the audible range using a loudspeaker at 200 Hz, 300 Hz, 400 Hz, 500 Hz, and 2,000 Hz. Interestingly, we found that a 200 Hz acoustic wave causes a significant, measurable impact on natural convection heat transfer in air from a horizontal cylinder. The steady-state surface temperature of the cylinder dropped by approximately 12℃ when a 200 Hz wave was applied to the system.