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Researchers Boil Water with Ice to Expand an 18th century Phenomenon

Researchers have made a discovery about the properties of water that could provide an exciting addendum to a Phenomenon established over two centuries ago. The discovery also holds interesting possibilities for cooling devices and processes in industrial applications using only the basic properties of water. Their work was published today in the journal Physical Review Fluids.

Water can exist as a frozen solid, a liquid, and a gas. When heat is applied to a frozen solid, it becomes a liquid. When applied to the liquid, it becomes vapor. This elementary principle is familiar to anyone who has observed a glass of iced tea on a hot day, or boiled a pot of water to make spaghetti. When the heat source is hot enough, the water’s behavior changes dramatically. According to Boreyko, a water droplet deposited onto an aluminum plate heated to 150 degrees Celsius or above will no longer boil.

Researchers Boil Water with Ice to Expand an 18th century PhenomenonThe vapor that forms when the droplet approaches the surface will become trapped beneath the droplet, creating a cushion that prevents the liquid from making direct contact with the surface. The trapped vapor causes the liquid to levitate, sliding around the heated surface like an air hockey puck. This Phenomenon is known as the Leidenfrost effect, named for the German doctor and theologian who first described it in a 1751 publication.

As the team explored possibilities for practical application, they looked to their existing work. Since Edalatpour had extensive research in heat transfer, that topic became a logical fit. Heat transfer comes most into play for cooling off things like computer servers or car engines.

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