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Encyclopedia > Evaporate

Evaporation is the process whereby atoms or molecules in a liquid state (or solid state if the substance sublimes) gain sufficient energy to enter the gaseous state.

The thermal motion of a molecule must be sufficient to overcome the surface tension of the liquid in order for it to evaporate, that is, its kinetic energy must exceed the work function of cohesion at the surface. Evaporation therefore proceeds more quickly at higher temperature and in liquids with lower surface tension. Since only a small proportion of the molecules are located near the surface and are moving in the proper direction to escape at any given instant, the rate of evaporation is limited. Also, as the faster-moving molecules escape, the remaining molecules have lower average kinetic energy, and the temperature of the liquid thus decreases.

If the evaporation takes place in a closed vessel, the escaping molecules accumulate as a vapour above the liquid. Many of the molecules return to the liquid, with returning molecules becoming more frequent as the density and pressure of the vapour increases. When the process of escape and return reaches an equilibrium, the vapour is said to be "saturated," and no further change in either vapour pressure and density or liquid temperature will occur.

Gas has less order than liquid or solid matter, and thus the entropy of the system is increased, which always requires energy input. This means that the entropy change for evaporation (ΔHevaporation) is always positive.

Forced evaporation is a process used in the separation of mixtures, in which a mixture is heated to drive off the more volatile component (e.g. water), leaving behind the dry, less volatile, component.

Although there is a popular notion that water vapour only exists at 100C at 1 atm, the escaping molecules are said to be in vapour form due to the fact that there are different energy levels at which molecules attain the energy to vapourise. If a molecule receives enough energy, it will leave the liquid and turn into vapour. At 100C, a given mass of water has all the energy required to completely turn from liquid into vapour.

Combustion vaporisation

The fuel droplets vapourise as they receive heat by mixing with the hot gases in the combustion chamber. Heat can also be received by radiation from any hot refractory wall of the combustion chamber.

See also

  Results from FactBites:
Evaporation: the conversion of water from a liquid into a gas (156 words)
Water is transferred from the surface to the atmosphere through evaporation, the process by which water changes from a liquid to a gas.
Approximately 80% of all evaporation is from the oceans, with the remaining 20% coming from inland water and vegetation.
Winds transport the evaporated water around the globe, influencing the humidity of the air throughout the world.
Chem4Kids.com: Matter: Evaporation (293 words)
Evaporation is all about the energy in individual molecules, not about the average energy of a system.
Evaporation happens when atoms or molecules escape from the liquid and turn into a vapor.
The rate of evaporation can also increase with a decrease in the gas pressure around a liquid.
  More results at FactBites »



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