Fuck Yeah Fluid Dynamics

Celebrating the physics of all that flows. Ask a question, submit a post idea or send an email. You can also follow FYFD on Twitter and Google+. FYFD is written by Nicole Sharp, PhD.

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Posts tagged "vaporization"

The steam hammer phenomenon—and the closely related water hammer one—is a violent behavior that occurs in two-phase flows. Nick Moore has a fantastic step-by-step explanation of the physics, accompanied by high-speed footage, in the video above. Pressure and temperature are driving forces in the effect, beginning with the high-temperature steam that first draws the water up into the bottle. As the steam condenses into the cooler water, the steam’s pressure drops, drawing in more water. Eventually it drops low enough that the incoming water drops below the vapor pressure. This triggers some very sudden thermodynamic changes. The drop in pressure vaporizes incoming water, but the subsequent cloud cools rapidly, which causes it to condense but also drops the pressure further. Water pours in violently, cavitating near the mouth of the bottle because the acceleration there drops the local pressure below the vapor pressure again. The end result is a flow that’s part-water, part-vapor and full of rapid changes in pressure and phase. As you might imagine, the forces generated can destroy whatever container the fluids are in. Be sure to check out Nick’s bonus high-speed footage to appreciate every stage of the phenomenon. (Video credit and submission: N. Moore)

Many situations can generate high-speed liquid jets, including droplet impacts, vibrated fluids, and surface charges. In each of these cases, a concave liquid surface is impulsively accelerated, which causes the flow to focus into a jet. The image above shows snapshots of a microjet generated from a 50 micron capillary tube visible at the right. This jet formed when the meniscus inside the capillary tube was disturbed by a laser pulse that vaporized fluid behind the interface. Incredibly, the microjets generated with this method can reach speeds of 850 m/s, nearly 3 times the speed of sound in air. Researchers have found the method produces consistent results and suggest that it could one day form the basis for needle-free drug injection. You can read more in their freely available paper. (Photo credit: K. Tagawa et al.)

The Leidenfrost effect can make water droplets skitter across a hot griddle or briefly protect a hand dunked in liquid nitrogen. When a liquid is exposed to a solid surface much, much hotter than its boiling point, the contact vaporizes part of the liquid, and, in the case of a droplet, forms a thin lubricating layer of vapor that the liquid drop can skate around on. Researchers have found that releasing these Leidenfrost droplets on textured surfaces creates self-propelling drops by directing the flow of vapor. In this video, one team demonstrates some of the neat tracks they’ve built for their drops.  (Video credit: D. Soto et al.)

Science Friday takes an inside look at self-propelled Leidenfrost droplets like those we’ve featured previously. The Leidenfrost effect takes place when a liquid comes in contact with a surface much, much hotter than its boiling point. Part of the liquid is vaporized, creating a thin gas layer that both insulates the remaining liquid and causes it to move with very little friction. Over a flat surface, this underlying vapor will spread in any direction. But by covering the surface with ratchets, it’s possible to direct the vapor in a particular direction, which propels the droplet in the opposite direction. Check out the video and our previous posts for more! (Video credit: Science Friday; via io9 and submitted by Urs)

A superheated liquid can reach temperatures higher than its boiling point without actually boiling - similar to how liquids can be supercooled below their freezing point without solidifying. The photo sequence above shows how explosive the boiling of a superheated water droplet submersed in sunflower oil can be. Image (a) in the lower left shows the superheated droplet resting on the bottom of its container. Then droplet vaporizes explosively in (b), expanding dramatically. The bubble overexpands and and begins to oscillate around its equilibrium radius. This triggers a Rayleigh-Taylor instability in the bubble’s interface, creating the large lobes in (c) and enlarged in the upper image. Finally, the bubble fragments in (d). See the original paper for more on superheated droplet boiling. (Image credit: M. A. J. van Limbeek et al.; via @AIP_Publishing

One of the most dangerous stunts for any fire-eater is breathing fire. Dr. Tim Cockerill explains some of the science behind the feat in this video. Volatility—the tendency of the liquid fuel to vaporize—is actually the enemy of a fire-eater. Use a fuel that is too volatile and it will catch fire too easily when the vaporous fuel mixes with the air. Instead fire-eaters use less volatile fuels and spray a mist of fine droplets to mix the air and fuel. This atomization of the fuel creates a spectacular fireball without endangering the fire-eater (as much). To see a similar fireball in high-speed, check out this post. (Video credit: T. Cockerill/The Ri Channel; via io9)

Water splattered onto a a hot skillet will skitter and skip across the surface on a thin layer of vapor due to the Leidenfrost effect. The partial vaporization of the droplet provides a low-friction cushion for the droplet to glide on and acts as an insulating layer that delays the vaporization of the rest of the droplet. Modernist Cuisine shows us how serene this common and sometimes explosive effect looks at 3,000 frames per second. (On the topic of cooking, you can use the Leidenfrost effect to see if your skillet is hot enough when making pancakes. If a few droplets of water skitter across the pan before sizzling away, then your pan is ready for batter!) (Video credit: Modernist Cuisine; submitted by Eban B.)

This combined video shows the fall of a heated centimeter-sized steel sphere through water. From left to right, the sphere is at 25 degrees C (left), 110 degrees C (middle), and 180 degrees C, demonstrating how the Leidenfrost effect—which vaporizes the water in immediate contact with the sphere—can substantially reduce the drag on a submerged object. In the middle video, the vaporization of the water around the sphere is sporadic and incomplete, only slightly reducing the sphere’s drag relative to the room temperature case. The much hotter sphere on the right, however, has a complete layer of vapor surrounding it, allowing it to travel through a gas rather than the denser liquid. (Video credit: I. Vakarelski and S. Thoroddsen; from a review by D. Quere)

At your next party, you can break the bottom of a glass bottle with the palm of your hand and the power of fluid dynamics.  As shown in the video above, striking the mouth of the bottle accelerates fluid at the bottom, lowering the local pressure below the vapor pressure and causing the formation of cavitation bubbles. When these bubbles collapse, they form very high temperatures and pressures for an instant, and it is this which can break the glass. (Video credit: J. Daily et al., BYU Splash Lab)

The Leidenfrost effect occurs when a liquid encounters a solid object much hotter than the liquid’s boiling point, like when water skitters on a hot griddle or someone plunges a hand in liquid nitrogen.  A thin layer of vapor forms between the liquid and the solid, thereby (briefly) insulating the remaining liquid. The Leidenfrost effect can be static—like a droplet sitting on a pan—or dynamic, like the video above in which a droplet impacts the hot object.  The video shows both a top and a side view of a droplet striking a plate that is over five times hotter than the liquid’s boiling point.  On impact, the droplet spreads and flattens, and a spray of even tinier droplets is ejected before rebound. (Video credit: T. Tran and D. Lohse, from a review by D. Quere)