Q:

How does the thermal energy of solid water change as it melts?

A:

Quick Answer

The thermal energy, or temperature, of solid water does not change as it melts into liquid water. Instead, all the thermal energy absorbed from its environment is converted into potential energy through the breaking of the rigid hydrogen bonds in water ice. The thermal energy of boiling water, as well as condensing or freezing water, also remains constant as all transferred thermal energy goes from or to potential energy.

Continue Reading

Full Answer

Pure materials in general do not change into thermal energy during phase changes. However, it holds true only with pure compounds or elemental substances. Solutions such as salt water do change into thermal energy as they undergo phase changes, both because of the different thermal properties of the dissolved particles and the changes in their concentration. For instance, salt water boils at a higher temperature than fresh water, and as it boils, the concentration of salt increases, raising the boiling temperature further.

The ability of substances to absorb heat as potential energy rather than increasing in temperature is useful for situations where insulation or other temperature control is needed, according to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. In certain advanced structural walls, for instance, tiny cells of paraffin begin to melt in hot temperatures. This reduces and slows down the transmission of heat because while it melts, the wall does not increase in temperature.

Learn more about Thermodynamics
Sources:

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is an example of an isothermal process?

    A:

    An isothermal process is a change in a system in which the temperature of the system isn't affected (the change in temperature equals zero). Some examples of systems undergoing isothermal processes are a refrigerator or a computer utilizing some sort of heat sink and warm-blooded animals maintaining an internal temperature.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How do thermistors work?

    A:

    Thermistors measure temperature as a function of change in potential difference at constant current or a change in current at constant temperature. These temperature sensors are constructed of semiconductor materials, and their resistance is either a direct or inverse function of temperature.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is thermal expansion?

    A:

    Thermal expansion occurs when a transfer of heat causes matter to change in volume in response to a change in temperature. When a substance heats up, the particles within it begin moving around, which creates space between the particles. As the space between the particles expands, the substance begins to increase in size.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is the definition of the first law of thermodynamics?

    A:

    The first law of thermodynamics sets the relationship of the change of internal energy as equal to the addition of heat minus the work a system completes. This is one of three laws that determines the characteristics of thermodynamics.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore