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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Convective and radiative heat transfer coefficients for individual human body segments


Human thermal physiological and comfort models will soon be able to simulate both transient and spatial inhomogeneities in the thermal environment. With this increasing detail comes the need for anatomically specific convective and radiative heat transfer coefficients for the human body. The present study used an articulated thermal manikin with 16 body segments (head, chest, back, upper arms, forearms, hands, pelvis, upper legs, lower legs, feet) to generate radiative heat transfer coefficients as well as natural- and forced-mode convective coefficients. The tests were conducted across a range of wind speeds from still air to 5.0 m/s, representing atmospheric conditions typical of both indoors and outdoors. Both standing and seated postures were investigated, as were eight different wind azimuth angles. The radiative heat transfer coefficient measured for the whole-body was 4.5 W/m2 per K for both the seated and standing cases, closely matching the generally accepted whole-body value of 4.7 W/m2 per K. Similarly, the whole-body natural convection coefficient for the manikin fell within the mid-range of previously published values at 3.4 and 3.3 W/m2 per K when standing and seated respectively. In the forced convective regime, heat transfer coefficients were higher for hands, feet and peripheral limbs compared to the central torso region. Wind direction had little effect on convective heat transfers from individual body segments. A general-purpose forced convection equation suitable for application to both seated and standing postures indoors was hc=10.3v0.6 for the whole-body. Similar equations were generated for individual body segments in both seated and standing postures.

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