Analytical solution for three-dimensional, unsteady heat conduction in a multilayer sphere

Suneet Singh, Prashant K. Jain, Rizwan-Uddin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An analytical solution has been obtained for the transient problem of three-dimensional multilayer heat conduction in a sphere with layers in the radial direction. The solution procedure can be applied to a hollow sphere or a solid sphere composed of several layers of various materials. In general, the separation of variables applied to 3D spherical coordinates has unique characteristics due to the presence of associated Legendre functions as the eigenfunctions. Moreover, an eigenvalue problem in the azimuthal direction also requires solution; again, its properties are unique owing to periodicity in the azimuthal direction. Therefore, extending existing solutions in 2D spherical coordinates to 3D spherical coordinates is not straightforward. In a spherical coordinate system, one can solve a 3D transient multilayer heat conduction problem without the presence of imaginary eigenvalues. A 2D cylindrical polar coordinate system is the only other case in which such multidimensional problems can be solved without the use of imaginary eigenvalues. The absence of imaginary eigenvalues renders the solution methodology significantly more useful for practical applications. The methodology described can be used for all the three types of boundary conditions in the outer and inner surfaces of the sphere. The solution procedure is demonstrated on an illustrative problem for which results are obtained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101301
JournalJournal of Heat Transfer
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • analytical
  • conduction
  • multilayer
  • spherical
  • transient

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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