Nav: Home

Researchers solve a scientific mystery about evaporation

January 13, 2020

Evaporation can explain why water levels drop in a full swimming pool, but it also plays an important role in industrial processes ranging from cooling electronics to power generation. Much of the global electricity supply is generated by steam plants, which are driven by evaporation.

But determining when and how quickly a liquid will convert to a vapor has been stymied by questions about how - and how much - the temperature changes at the point where the liquid meets the vapor, a concept known as temperature discontinuity. Those questions have made it more difficult to create more efficient processes using evaporation, but now researchers from the University of Houston have reported answers to what happens at that interface, addressing 20 years of conflicting findings. The work was reported in the Journal of Physical Chemistry.

The temperature discontinuity was first reported in 1999 by Canadian researchers G. Fang and C.A. Ward, who noted that they were unable to explain the phenomenon through classical mechanics. The new work solves that mystery.

Hadi Ghasemi, Cullen Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at UH, said the new understanding eliminates the "bottleneck" that has complicated predictions and simulations of processes involving evaporation.

"We demonstrated the physics of what happens within the space of a few molecules at the interface and accurately developed a theory on the evaporation rate," Ghasemi said. "That allowed us to explain all of the conflicting findings that have been reported in the last 20 years and solve this mystery."

In addition to Ghasemi, co-authors for the paper included first author Parham Jafari, a PhD student at UH, and Amit Amritkar, a research assistant professor at UH.

The researchers first approached the question in the lab, but Ghasemi said they were unable to get the needed spatial resolution for a definitive answer. They used a computational approach in order to find the properties of liquid and vapor within the length of a few molecules.

The explanation - developed using the Direct Simulation Monte Carlo method - will allow scientists to more accurate simulate the performance of all systems based on the theory of evaporation.

"With this understanding, we can more accurately develop simulations of performance and efficiency, as well as design and predict the behavior of advanced systems," Ghasemi said.

That would have applications for energy, electronics, photonics and other fields.

As just one example of the importance of evaporation, Ghasemi noted that 80% of electric power globally is generated through steam plants, which work based on evaporation phenomena.

University of Houston

Related Electronics Articles:

The ink of the future in printed electronics
A research group led by Simone Fabiano at the Laboratory of Organic Electronics, Linköping University, has created an organic material with superb conductivity that doesn't need to be doped.
Integrating electronics onto physical prototypes
MIT researchers have invented a way to integrate 'breadboards' -- flat platforms widely used for electronics prototyping -- directly onto physical products.
Something from nothing: Using waste heat to power electronics
Researchers from the University of Tsukuba developed an improved thermocell design to convert heat into electricity.
A new stretchable battery can power wearable electronics
The adoption of wearable electronics has so far been limited by their need to derive power from bulky, rigid batteries that reduce comfort and may present safety hazards due to chemical leakage or combustion.
Electronics at the speed of light
A European team of researchers including physicists from the University of Konstanz has found a way of transporting electrons at times below the femtosecond range by manipulating them with light.
Electronics integrated to the muscle via 'Kirigami'
A research team in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Information Engineering and the Electronics-Inspired Interdisciplinary Research Institute (EIIRIS) at Toyohashi University of Technology has developed a donut-shaped kirigami device for electromyography (EMG) recordings.
Creating 2D heterostructures for future electronics
New research integrates nanomaterials into heterostructures, an important step toward creating nanoelectronics.
Researchers report a new way to produce curvy electronics
Contact lenses that can monitor your health as well as correct your eyesight aren't science fiction, but an efficient manufacturing method has remained elusive.
A new 'golden' age for electronics?
Scientists at Nagoya University, Japan, have created materials that shrink uniformly in all directions when heated under normal everyday conditions, using a cheap and industrially scalable process.
Remaining switched on to silicon-based electronics
It has been assumed that we are approaching the performance limits of silicon-based power electronics.
More Electronics News and Electronics Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans 2.0
More than test scores or good grades–what do kids need for the future? This hour, TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, both during and after this time of crisis. Guests include educators Richard Culatta and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

One of the most consistent questions we get at the show is from parents who want to know which episodes are kid-friendly and which aren't. So today, we're releasing a separate feed, Radiolab for Kids. To kick it off, we're rerunning an all-time favorite episode: Space. In the 60's, space exploration was an American obsession. This hour, we chart the path from romance to increasing cynicism. We begin with Ann Druyan, widow of Carl Sagan, with a story about the Voyager expedition, true love, and a golden record that travels through space. And astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson explains the Coepernican Principle, and just how insignificant we are. Support Radiolab today at