Direct and Indirect Heat Flux Measurement Technique

Heat flux can be measured using two different techniques. It can be either measured directly using Heat Flux Sensors, or alternatively, indirectly using Temperature Sensors.


This Heat Flux Measurement Technique relies on 1 Heat Flux Sensor. The gSKIN® Heat Flux Sensors measure the heat passing through the sensor surface. The single heat flux sensor is mounted to the position of interest (see “HFS” on the image on the left).

The main advantages of this method lies in it simple application and the very high heat flux resolution. Typically, the heat flux resolution is < 0.1 W/m2.

An explanation of the working principle of gSKIN® Heat Flux Sensors is available here.

While this Technique is tried and tested, it has major disadvantages with regards to Heat Flux accuracy. This technique relies on highly accurate and costly temperature sensors. Furthermore, it is very difficult to define the absolute thermal resistance between two points. The absolute thermal resistance is a component property and depends on the component shape and size, material properties and the distance between points A and B. Knowing the exact value of these properties is challenging.

The Indirect Heat Flux Measurement Technique uses the relationship between Heat Flux (HF) and the temperature difference (∆T) and absolute thermal resistance (Rth). The Heat Flux HF is calculated from the measurement of two temperature sensors, and the exact absolute thermal resistance between the two spots A and B.

HF = ∆T / Rth

HF = Heat Flux, in W
∆T = Temperature difference TA – TB, in K
Rth = Absolute thermal resistance between point A and B, in K/W

The combination of both techniques allows indirect temperature measurement

The same relationship as the one used in the Indirect Heat Flux Measurement Technique is applied here. Instead of using only two temperature sensors, here it uses one Heat Flux Sensor and one Temperature Sensor mounted at the same spot (see figure on the right). Now the temperature at Spot A can be calculated. This is especially useful when Spot A is difficult to reach.

TA = (HF x Rth) + TB

TA = Temperature at spot A, in K
HF = Heat Flux, in W
Rth = Absolute thermal resistance, in K/W
TB = Temperature at spot B, in K