Boiling

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Boiling is the rapid vaporization of a liquid, which occurs when a liquid is heated to its boiling point, the temperature at which the vapor pressure of the liquid is equal to the pressure exerted on the liquid by the surrounding environmental pressure. While below the boiling point a liquid evaporates from its surface, at the boiling point vapor bubbles come from the bulk of the liquid. For this to be possible, the vapor pressure must be sufficiently high to win the atmospheric pressure, so that the bubbles can be "inflated". Thus, the difference between evaporation and boiling is "mechanical", rather than thermodynamical. The boiling point is lowered when the pressure of the surrounding atmosphere is reduced, for example by the use of a vacuum pump or at high altitudes. Boiling occurs in three characteristic stages, which are nucleate, transition and film boiling. These stages generally take place from low to high heating surface temperatures, respectively.

Contents

Boiling stages

Nucleate boiling

Nucleate boiling is characterized by the growth of bubbles on a heated surface, which rise from discrete points on a surface, whose temperature is only slightly above the liquid’s. In general, the number of nucleation sites are increased by an increasing surface temperature.

An irregular surface of the boiling vessel (i.e. increased surface roughness) can create additional nucleation sites, while an exceptionally smooth surface, such as glass, lends itself to superheating. Under these conditions, a heated liquid may show boiling delay and the temperature may go somewhat above the boiling point without boiling.

Transition boiling

Transition boiling may be defined as the unstable boiling, which occurs at surface temperatures between the maximum attainable in nucleate and the minimum attainable in film boiling.

The formation of bubbles in a heated liquid is a complex physical process which often involves cavitation and acoustic effects, such as the broad-spectrum hiss one hears in a kettle not yet heated to the point where bubbles boil to the surface.

Film boiling

If a surface heating the liquid is significantly hotter than the liquid then film boiling will occur, where a thin layer of vapor, which has low thermal conductivity insulates the surface. This condition of a vapor film insulating the surface from the liquid characterizes film boiling.

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