heat conduction is the transfer of thermal energy between neighboring molecules in a substance due to a temperature gradient. It always takes place from a region of higher temperature to a region of lower temperature, and acts to equalize the temperature differences. Conduction takes place in all forms of matter, viz. solids, liquids, gases and plasmas, but does not require any bulk motion of matter. In solids, it is due to the combination of vibrations of the molecules in a lattice and the energy transport by free electrons. In gases and liquids, conduction is due to the collisions and diffusion of the molecules during their random motion.Heat can also be transferred by radiation and/or convection, and often more than one of these processes occurs in a given situation.
Convection is the movement of molecules within fluids (i.e. liquids, gases) and rheids. It cannot take place in solids, since neither bulk current flows nor significant diffusion can take place in solids.
Convection is one of the major modes of heat transfer and mass transfer. Convective heat and mass transfer take place through both diffusion– the random Brownian motion of individual particles in the fluid – and by advection, in which matter or heat is transported by the larger-scale motion of currents in the fluid. In the context of heat and mass transfer, the term “convection” is used to refer to the sum of advective and diffusive transfer.
Radiation heat transfer is concerned with the exchange of thermal radiation energy between two or more bodies. Thermal radiation is defined as electromagnetic radiation in the wavelength range of 0.1 to 100 microns (which encompasses the visible light regime), and arises as a result of a temperature difference between 2 bodies.
No medium need exist between the two bodies for heat transfer to take place (as is needed by conduction and convection). Rather, the intermediaries are photons which travel at the speed of light.
The heat transferred into or out of an object by thermal radiation is a function of several components. These include its surface reflectivity, emissivity, surface area, temperature, and geometric orientation with respect to other thermally participating objects. In turn, an object’s surface reflectivity and emissivity is a function of its surface conditions (roughness, finish, etc.) and composition.