This paper deals with the analysis of the main features of forced microconvection of liquid and gas flows through microchannels. A critical overview of the main effects that tends to play an important role in the determination of Nusselt number in microchannels is presented. Some experimental data obtained at the Microfluidics Lab of the University of Bologna together with the main results which appeared recently in the open literature both for liquids and gases are used in order to highlight the peculiar characteristics of the convective heat transfer through microchannels and to suggest the guidelines for a physically based interpretation to the experimental results. By means of specific examples, it is shown that the thermal behavior at microscale of gas and liquid flows through microchannels in terms of convective heat transfer coefficients can be strongly affected by scaling and micro-effects but also by practical issues linked to the geometry of the test rig, the real thermal boundary conditions, the presence of fittings, position and type of the sensors, and so on. All these aspects have to be taken into account during the data post processing in order to obtain a correct evaluation of the Nusselt numbers. It is also highlighted how it is always useful to couple to the experimental approach a complete computational thermal fluid-dynamics analysis of the whole tested microsystem in order to be able to recognize “a priori” the main effects which can play an important role on the convective heat transfer analysis. It is demonstrated in this paper that this “a priori” analysis is crucial in order to: (i) individuate the main parameters which influence the convective heat transfer coefficients (this is important for the development of new correlations); (ii) compare in a right way the conventional correlations with the experimental results.

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