A German engineer, born on November 25, 1882 at Nürnberg, Nusselt studied machinery at the Technical Universities of Berlin-Charlottenburg and München where he graduated in 1904 and conducted advanced studies in mathematics and physics. He became an assistant to O. Knoblauch at the laboratory for technical physics in München and 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 of Mollier in Dresden, qualifying himself for a professorship with a work on heat and momentum transfer in tubes.
In 1915, Nusselt published his pioneer 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. Among the primarily mathematical works of Nusselt, the well known solutions for laminar heat transfer in the entrance region of tubes, for heat exchange in crossflow and the basic theory of regenerators should be mentioned.
Nusselt was professor at the Technical Universities of Karlsruhe from 1920 to 1925 and at München from 1925 until his retirement in 1952. He was awarded the Gauss-medal and the Grashof commemorative medal. Nusselt died in München on September 1,1957.