About this book

We set out to write clearly and accurately about heat transfer in the 1981 1st edition of A Heat Transfer Textbook. Now, this 5th edition embodies all we have learned about how best to do that.

The 1st edition went through many printings. A 2nd edition followed in 1987; and John H. Lienhard V, who had done some work on the 1st edition, added a new chapter on mass transfer. That edition went through more printings before we allowed it to briefly go out of print.

We decided, in the late ’90s, to create a new free-of-charge, 3rd edition for the Internet. The idea of an ebook was then entirely new, and not readily accepted. But the Dell Star Program funded the major updating and recoding of the text. That 3rd edition became a part of MIT’s new OpenCourseWare initiative in 2000. We also put out paperback versions of the 3rd edition through Phlogiston Press.

Continued revision and updating of the on-line version led to a 4th edition in 2010. By that time, people in almost every country, had downloaded it a quarter million times. Dover Publications then offered a low-cost paperback 4th edition in 2011.

We have since kept improving the ebook version until we must now designate a 5th edition. And Dover joins us by printing a new paperback edition to match the online book. A few of the many changes include:

  • Rewriting text for improved clarity throughout the entire book.
  • Revising the problems for clarity throughout. We now include answers to many more of them. And we add dozens of new problems.
  • Recreating many of the graphs—updating content, offering better ranges of coverage, and making them more readable. The transient heat conduction charts, for example, have been uniquely redrawn.
  • Reworking parts of the convection coverage, especially for turbulent convection in boundary layers and in tube flow of liquid metals.
  • Revising and updating the phase change heat transfer material, including the peak heat flux on small surfaces.
  • Updating the gaseous radiation material, including replacement of the old Hottel charts.
  • Reorganizing and streamlining the mass transfer chapter.

The book is meant for juniors, seniors, and first-year graduate students. We also want it to be of use to those who choose to learn the subject on their own, and to practicing engineers who use it as a reference. Whether one studies alone or with a class, learning means posing, then answering, one’s own questions. We hope the book facilitates that process.

We hope to create a physical sense of heat transfer phenomena beyond mere analysis. And we hope to connect the subject to the real world that it serves. We want to foster insight into heat transfer phenomena that goes beyond results that merely encapsulate thermal behavior.

Since the subject is more meaningful when students stay grounded in real-world issues, we begin with a three-chapter introduction—not only to conduction, convection, and radiation, but also to the design of heat exchangers. Students with that background find far more meaning in the later and more analytical material. We draw upon material from those first three chapters throughout the rest of the book. In particular, later chapters put the tools of heat exchanger analysis to use in their analyses.

We have designed the remaining chapters to serve the choices of instructors or independent students. Most of those chapters begin with foundational material, then move into more applied topics. An instructor (or an independent reader) may choose not to cover all the later material. Take Chapter 4, for example: We develop a new way to treat dimensional analysis early in Chapter 4. Then we use it throughout the book. On the other hand, we deal with fin design at the end of Chapter 4. It is useful material; but we do not depend upon it subsequently.

We owe thanks to many people. Colleagues and students at MIT, the University of Houston, the University of Kentucky, and elsewhere, have provided suggestions, advice, and corrections. We are especially grateful to the many thousands of people worldwide who have emailed us with thanks, ideas, and encouragement to continue this project. Finally, we are so very grateful to the members of our immediate families for their continuing support, which they have all provided in so many creative ways.

JHL IV, University of Houston
JHL V, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
July 2019