Everyone knows that using heat is necessary to boil water, but thanks to new research, less heat could soon be needed.
New methods for treating the inner surfaces of containers allow them to reach the boiling point more easily and therefore require less energy to do so, according to New Atlas, citing Advanced Materials.
When the water in a bowl or container approaches the boiling point, numerous bubbles form along the surface of the bottom of the container. The more bubbles, the more efficient the boiling process, but only up to a certain point.
Also, if the bubbles crowd together to the point where they combine to form one continuous vapor layer along the bottom, this layer will slow the heat transfer from the surface of the container to the liquid. Thus, reaching the boiling point will take more time and energy.
At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a team of researchers, including Researcher Yongsap Song and Professor Evelyn Wang, has maximized bubble formation while avoiding the formation of a vapor layer at the bottom on the surface of a container or vessel, by creating a treatment that can be applied in three ways:
- A series of micro-scratches 10 micrometers wide and about 2 mm apart are placed on the surface to act as anchor points for the bubbles so that they do not move and form a continuous film at the bottom of the container.
- Cover the surface of the container or container with scratches with nanoscale edges. The nanoedges increase the heated surface area, which increases the rate of evaporation of liquid water into bubble-forming vapor.
- Small columns are individually distributed over the surface of the bottom of the boiling pot of water or liquids.
The small column or dent pulls in the water to continually form a layer of liquid between the boiling surface and the bubble, increasing the boiling efficiency because the surface is continually heating the liquid water, rather than passing heat through steam into the bubble.
More research still needs to be done, as the current version of the new technology has only been tested in small-scale settings.
It is hoped that once it is further developed, surface treatment could be used in applications such as steam generation or electronics cooling, and of course, could reduce the time it takes to make a cup of tea.