In bolted or riveted joints where the interfacial pressure is not uniform, the total resistance to heat flow in a vacuum is the result of two separate components: the microscopic resistance, which arises due to the constraint of the heat flow through the actual microscopic contact spots, and the macroscopic resistance, which exists because the contact zone, over which these microscopic contact spots are located, is only a fraction of the total interfacial area. Presented here is a review of the recent literature addressing the interfacial pressure distribution and the size of the contact zone, in so far as they affect the heat transfer at these interfaces. A survey of the experimental work on contact pressure and the associated heat transfer in bolted joints is presented, along with the size of the actual contact zone which was identified as an important parameter affecting both the microscopic and the macroscopic resistances. An analysis is performed in which it is formally shown that the exact form of the stress distribution within the contact zone is immaterial for the computation of the total microscopic conductance if the available theoretical results for local solid spot conductance are used. If experimental correlations for local solid spot conductance are used, however, the computed total microscopic conductances may differ about 5 to 10 percent, depending on the type of stress distribution chosen. It is also shown that, for a given load, the total microscopic conductance may be increased by increasing the loading radius and/or the plate thickness.

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