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No more bubbles when boiling

Thu, 09/13/2012 - 3:53am

Theoretical physicist Derek Chan from Swinburne University of Technology and colleagues from Saudia Arabia and the U.S. have discovered a specially-engineered surface that allows liquids to boil without bubbling.

Their paper entitled "Stabilization of Leidenfrost vapour layer by textured superhydrophobic surfaces" was featured in Nature.

The research looked at suppressing the bubbling phase during boiling point to prevent damage occurring to common surfaces.

Chan says that to suppress bubbling while boiling, the team of researchers used a highly water-repellent surface to control the boiling state of the liquid, causing the boiling to take place in a continuous vapor film within the hot surface.

The non-bubbling boiling phase is known as the Leidenfrost regime, named after the scientist who studied water drops skittering on a hot skillet owing to their levitation on a cushion of vapor.

The experiments, led by Ivan Vakarelski at the King Abdul University of Science and Technology in Saudia Arabia, proved that this observation doesn't apply to smooth liquid surfaces, as cooling the vapor film collapses and the system switches explosively to nucleate boiling.

Chan says the groundbreaking research is likely to have a significant impact on the industrial sector, reducing the risk of vapor explosions.

"Suppression of the bubbling phase could help to reduce damage to surfaces, or even explosions," Chan says.

"These properties will be useful for example in designing kettles that boil slower, generating less noise and splashing."

Source: Swinburne University of Technology
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