In recent years evidence has accumulated suggesting that the gas in galaxy clusters is heated by non-gravitational processes. Here we calculate the heating rates required to maintain a physically motived mass flow rate, in a sample of seven galaxy clusters. We employ the spectroscopic mass deposition rates as an observational input along with temperature and density data for each cluster. On energetic grounds we find that thermal conduction could provide the necessary heating for A2199, Perseus, A1795 and A478. However, the suppression factor, of the clasical Spitzer value, is a different function of radius for each cluster. Based on the observations of plasma bubbles we also calculate the duty cycles for each AGN, in the absence of thermal conduction, which can provide the required energy input. With the exception of Hydra-A it appears that each of the other AGNs in our sample require duty cycles of roughly 106 ? 107 yrs to provide their steady-state heating requirements. If these duty cycles are unrealistic, this may imply that many galaxy clusters must be heated by very powerful Hydra-A type events interspersed between more frequent smaller-scale outbursts. The suppression factors for the thermal conductivity required for combined heating by AGN and thermal conduction are generally acceptable. However, these suppression factors still require ‘fine-tuning‘ of the thermal conductivity as a function of radius. As a consequence of this work we present the AGN duty cycle as a cooling flow diagnostic
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