Searle's bar method

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Searle's bar method (named after George Frederick Charles Searle) is an experimental procedure to measure thermal conductivity of material. A bar of material is being heated by steam on one side and the other side cooled down by water while the length of the bar is thermally insulated. Then the heat ΔQ propagating through the bar in a time interval of Δt is given by


  • ΔQ is the heat supplied to the bar in time Δt
  • k is the coefficient of thermal conductivity of the bar.
  • A is the cross-sectional area of the bar,
  • ΔTbar is the temperature difference between each end of the bar
  • L is the length of the bar

and the heat ΔQ absorbed by water in a time interval of Δt is:


  • Cw is the specific heat of water,
  • Δm is the mass of water collected during time Δt,
  • ΔTwater is difference in the temperature of water before and after it has gone through the bar.

Assuming perfect insulation and no energy loss, then

which leads to


  • Davison, M. (1997). "Searle's Bar (Thermal Conductivity of a Good Conductor)". University of the West of Scotland.