How does a thermos flask keep warm?


Quick Answer

Thermos flasks are designed to hinder heat transfer between the liquid placed within them and the surrounding environment. The insides and outsides of flasks are often silvered to impede heat transfer through radiation. The interior of the flask is also made of a thermal insulator to impede heat conduction.

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Full Answer

A thermos flask prevents heat transfer through conduction and convection using a partial vacuum between two containers, one placed within the other. This partial vacuum impedes the transfer of thermal kinetic energy between the molecules within the flask and those outside it, making it suitable for keeping chilled drinks cold and hot drinks warm. The inner flask is often made from borosilicate glass of low thermal conductivity to further aid in preventing conduction. Flasks may also feature a silver coating that prevents heat transfer through infrared radiation.

The original vacuum flask was invented by Sir James Dewar in 1892. The Dewar flask was similar to the modern design, consisting of two flasks placed one within the other, with contact only at the neck. Dewar’s original design was made to keep palladium samples at a constant temperature to facilitate calorimetry measurements. In 1904, Dewar’s design was commercialized by German glassblowers, who renamed the flask Thermos.

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