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Interesting fact

Water is a better thermal conductor than air and conducts heat away from the body about 20 times more efficiently than air. A person who is not wearing a wetsuit, will lose heat very quickly to the water around them and can be vulnerable to hypothermia (this is when the body temperature drops very low). Wetsuits help to preserve body heat by trapping a layer of water against the skin. This water is then warmed by body heat and acts as an insulator. Wetsuits are made out of closed-cell, foam neoprene. Neoprene is a synthetic rubber that contains small bubbles of nitrogen gas when made for use as wetsuit material. Nitrogen gas has very low thermal conductivity, so it does not allow heat from the body (or the water trapped between the body and the wetsuit) to be lost to the water outside of the wetsuit. In this way a person in a wetsuit is able to keep their body temperature much higher than they would otherwise.

Investigation : a closer look at thermal conductivity

Look at the table below, which shows the thermal conductivity of a number of different materials, and then answer the questions that follow. The higher the number in the second column, the better the material is at conducting heat (i.e. it is a good thermal conductor). Remember that a material that conducts heat efficiently, will also lose heat more quickly than an insulating material.

Material Thermal Conductivity ( W · m - 1 · K - 1 )
Silver 429
Stainless steel 16
Standard glass 1.05
Concrete 0.9 - 2
Red brick 0.69
Water 0.58
Snow 0.25 - 0.5
Wood 0.04 - 0.12
Polystyrene 0.03
Air 0.024

Use this information to answer the following questions:

  1. Name two materials that are good thermal conductors.
  2. Name two materials that are good insulators.
  3. Explain why:
    1. cooler boxes are often made of polystyrene
    2. homes that are made from wood need less internal heating during the winter months.
    3. igloos (homes made from snow) are so good at maintaining warm temperatures, even in freezing conditions.

Interesting fact

It is a known fact that well-insulated buildings need less energy for heating than do buildings that have no insulation. Two building materials that are being used more and more worldwide, are mineral wool and polystyrene . Mineral wool is a good insulator because it holds air still in the matrix of the wool so that heat is not lost. Since air is a poor conductor and a good insulator, this helps to keep energy within the building. Polystyrene is also a good insulator and is able to keep cool things cool and hot things hot. It has the added advantage of being resistant to moisture, mould and mildew.

Remember that concepts such as conductivity and insulation are not only relevant in the building, industrial and home environments. Think for example of the layer of blubber or fat that is found in some animals. In very cold environments, fat and blubber not only provide protection, but also act as an insulator to help the animal keep its body temperature at the right level. This is known as thermoregulation .

Magnetic and non-magnetic materials

We have now looked at a number of ways in which matter can be grouped, such as into metals, semi-metals and non-metals; electrical conductors and insulators, and thermal conductors and insulators. One way in which we can further group metals, is to divide them into those that are magnetic and those that are non-magnetic.

Questions & Answers

anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Siyavula textbooks: grade 10 physical science. OpenStax CNX. Aug 29, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11245/1.3
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