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This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 44 No. 6, p. 1323-1325
    Received: June 2, 1980
    Accepted: June 27, 1980

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A Finite Element Calculation for Determining Thermal Conductivity1

  1. Susan J. Riha,
  2. K. J. McInnes,
  3. S. W. Childs and
  4. G. S. Campbell2



A new simple method for in situ measurement of thermal conductivity of porous materials was developed. A heated or cooled Al or glass probe was placed in soil, and its temperature was monitored over time. Thermal conductivity was determined using a finite element method to solve the radial heat flow equation for the temperature of the heated or cooled probe. The probe temperature, as a function of time, was modeled, and model thermal conductivity was adjusted until predicted probe temperatures agreed with measured values. Conductivities for sand, silt loam, and forest litter were measured over a range of water contents. Values obtained using a glass probe were not significantly different from those obtained using an Al probe. Conductivities were in good agreement with those obtained using a water bath method or computed from the deVries equation. There were significant differences between values obtained with heated and cooled probes in sand at intermediate water content.

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