What is the difference between convection, conduction and radiation?

In simple terms, conduction is the transfer of heat along an object. In automotive terms this could be heat travelling through an engine. A carburettor or intake manifold can get hot due to the heated molecules in the metal around a combustion chamber passing the heat onto the surrounding metal.

Convection is where the heat is transferred to a fluid such as air or a liquid is heated and then carries the heat away. Naturally a car radiator carries out this process along with most home heaters.

Radiation or thermal radiation transfers heat by the emission of electromagnetic waves. Holding your hands in front of a fire is an example of radiation or radiated heat. Electric bar heaters do the same thing.

The theories of convention, conduction and radiation are nicely explained in this article.


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