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Q & A: Thermal insulators and conductors

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
What material is the best thermal insulator and what material is the best thermal conductors?
- Johny (age 15)
There are many excellent thermal insulators ranging from styrofoam to wool to feathers.  The choice of which one to use is usually based on convenience and cost.  

Near room temperature, the best thermal conductors are metals:  silver beats out copper by a little bit, aluminum is half as good.  Suprisingly, the thermal conductivity of stainless steel is 10 times worse than that of copper..   A short table of thermal conductivities of metals can be found at:

(published on 10/22/2007)

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