Wilhelm Nusselt, a German engineer, was born November 25, 1882, at Nurnberg, Germany. He studied machinery at the Technical Universities of Berlin-Charlottenburg and Munchen and graduated in 1904. He conducted advanced studies in mathematics and physics and became an assistant to O. Knoblauch at the Laboratory for Technical Physics in Munchen. He completed his doctoral thesis on the "Conductivity of Insulating Materials" in 1907, using the "Nusselt Sphere" for his experiments. From 1907 to 1909 he worked as an assistant to Millier in Dresden, and qualified for a Professorship with his work on "Heat and Momentum Transfer in Tubes."
In 1915, Nusselt published his pioneering paper: The Basic Laws of Heat Transfer, in which he first proposed the dimensionless groups now known as the principal parameters in the similarity theory of heat transfer. Other famous works were concerned with the film condensation of steam on vertical surfaces, the combustion of pulverized coal and the analogy between heat and mass transfer in evaporation. Found among the primarily mathematical works of Nusselt are the well known solutions for laminar heat transfer in the entrance region of tubes, for heat exchange in cross-flow and the basic theory of regenerators.
Nusselt was a professor at the Technical Universities of Karlsruhe
from 1920-1925 and at Munchen from 1925 until his retirement in 1952. He
was awarded the Gauss-Medal and the Grashof Commemorative Medal. Nusselt
died in Munchen on September 1, 1957.