Class and Homework Problems: The Break-Even Radius of Insulation Computed Using Excel Solver and WolframAlpha

Greg Foley


A problem that illustrates two ways of computing the break-even radius of insulation is outlined. The problem is suitable for students who are taking an introductory module in heat transfer or transport phenomena and who have some previous knowledge of the numerical solution of non- linear algebraic equations. The potential for computer algebra, especially readily available online tools, is discussed in terms of not only their computational value but their pedagogical value as well. 

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