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Three Physics Principles Important to Heating Ventilation Engineering

How does the ventilation system work in a building like the Sears Tower?

Do radiators produce heat via radiation?

How the heck does a heating ventilation engineer do his or her job?

Like all engineers, a heating ventilation engineer relies on a set of physical principles that span the spectrum from simple to complex. From the rules of thermodynamics to the principles that govern the movement of fluids and gases, these laws of physics govern every decision a heating ventilation engineer makes.

Thermodynamics. The laws of thermodynamics govern transactions of energy; while the first and second laws of thermodynamics confirm that energy will always be lost in any physical process, the third states that absolute zero, a state in which there are no physical process happening, is unattainable. Sound confusing? Don’t worry – every heating ventilation engineer uses these laws to predict how heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems will interact with their environments, how thoroughly they’ll heat or cool your building, and how much energy they’ll use.

Fluid Mechanics. Fluid mechanics don’t just describe how fluids move about in various systems. They also govern the movement of gases (and some enterprising physicists have used fluid dynamics to describe traffic patterns). A thorough understanding of fluid statics (the study of fluids and gases at rest) and fluid dynamics (the study of fluids and gases on the move) is essential to every heating ventilation engineer’s career. By fully grasping and being able to apply fluid dynamics to real-world situations, a heating ventilation engineer can predict how heated air will move through a building’s ductwork, and whether it will move faster or more slowly than unheated or refrigerated air.

Heat Transfer. Warmth doesn’t like to stay in one place. A pot of boiling water, if placed on a countertop, will rapidly cool as it transfers its heat energy to the countertop and the air around it. A qualified heating ventilation engineer will be able to use the properties of heat transfer to his or her advantage, designing and implementing new systems to effectively and efficiently radiate heat throughout a closed space, or to remove heat from a room to cool off the people inside. Heat transfer is a complex physical process that all HVAC engineers must grasp fully if they’re to excel in their field.

A great heating ventilation engineer will have a command of these principles and many more.

The engineers at Enerdyne, Inc. cover a wide range of disciplines, including mechanical engineering, plumbing, consulting services and more. Visit our “Services” page for more information.

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