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


  • Greg Foley School of Biotechnology Dublin City University


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. 

Author Biography

Greg Foley, School of Biotechnology Dublin City University

Greg Foley is a chemical Engineer with BE and PhD degrees from University College Dublin and an MS degree from Cornell University. He has been a Lecturer in Bioprocess Engineering in the School of Biotechnology, Dublin City University since 1986. He has published extensively in the chemical engineering literature, mainly in the area of membrane science and engineering and in 2013 he authored the textbook, "Membrane Filtration: A Problem Solving Approach with MATLAB", published by Cambridge University Press. He has been nominated for the DCU President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching on three occasions. As well as focusing on membrane technologies, much of his current research is aimed at developing novel computational methods for general chemical engineering analysis and design.