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Overview         (For age - group : Above 16 )

Metals undergo linear, superficial and volumetric expansion when heated, what are the coefficients of expansion and how do we determine are explained in detail in this science animation

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Category : Science

Type : Animation

Effects of thermal expansion - animation contains the following :

1. Examples of thermal expansion : Metal ball, Jam jar cap
2. Linear Expansion in solids
3. Superficial Expansion in solids
4.Volumetric Expansion in solids

Explanatory Notes : More on thermal expansion
Do liquids also undergo expansion
Do gases also undergo expansion

A cold ball easily passes through a metal ring
Thermal expansion - the ball when heated undergoes volumetric expansion and does not pass through the metal ring
A cold ball easily passes through a metal ring
Thermal expansion - the ball when heated undergoes volumetric expansion and does not pass through the metal ring
Linear thermal expansion
Superficial thermal expansion
Linear thermal expansion
Superficial thermal expansion
Volumetric thermal expansion Example of thermal expansion in everyday life : Jam jar screw cap
Volumetric thermal expansion Example of thermal expansion in everyday life : Jam jar screw cap
Details of the animation/ movie /software

Most substances expand when heated and contract when cooled.
The change in length / area or volume (due to contracting/expanding) is directly related to temperature change. Every linear dimension increases by the same percentage with a change in temperature

Not all materials contract/expand at the same rate; the amount of contraction/expansion varies depending on the material. The coefficient of linear expansion, is a proportionality constant that determines the rate of change in length in different materials when they are heated and cooled.

Applications :
In thermometers, thermal expansion is used for measurement. Liquid expand more than solids. Stained red ethanol has a relatively large coefficient of cubic expansion than glass . Temperature can be measured as it rises through the capillary faster.

-If a lid of a glass jar is tight, holding it under hot water for a short time will make it easier to open. This is because the lid will be struck by the hot water more directly than the glass, and so it will expand sooner. Furthermore, metals generally expand more than glass for the same temperature change.


- If steel bridge expand or contract, it can cause structural damage.
However, steel bridges are often mounted on rollers to prevent this problem.

-Expansion gaps also exist in train tracks.

-Water and steam pipes often have a U-bend in them to allow for thermal expansion.

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Q & A
Q1: thanks assad 5/3/2016
Q2: can u define the anomalous expansin of water ? moona 20/1/2013
Q3: A bottle has metallic cap which is very tightly closed and is noting forch to rotate it. how can you open it?n opened easily by apply yashu 15/8/2012
Q4: give another example of thermal expansion of solid fatima 28/5/2012
Q5: Can you prove this statement "Not all materials contract/expand at the same rate; the amount of contraction/expansion varies depending on the material"? Cristy Ramos 17/11/2010
Q6: I love your website. It elaborates concepts in a comprehensive manner Rachael 7/10/2010
Q7: why we can't use the sign of degree on kelvin. M ASMAR 30/9/2010
Q8: jow to make an improvised expansion meter jasmin 26/9/2010
Q9: what is coefficient of thermal expansion of plywood mahesh makwana 4/2/2010
Q10: calculate the volumetric expansion/contraction of a liquid for a given Temperature change. F/ AL MANDOOS 28/10/2009
Q11: calculate the linear expansion/contraction of a solid metallic object for a given temperature change. F/ AL MANDOOS 28/10/2009
Q12: I told my boss that oil expands when heated and he says that it does not. Will you please help me to set the matter striat? Ben 16/9/2009
Ans: Well Ben oil like most substances also expands, The values of the coefficient of thermal expansion for mineral oil are near 6.4 X 10-4 °C-1, The volume of a given oil mass increases with temperature, therefore, its density decreases. Take castor oil ( thick in normal state) heat and then cool it a bit you will find its density and volume has changed
Q13: how does exansion affect the desing of briges? Rad 20/3/2009
Q14: using appropriate concept in physics, explain the modification required to the incubators used to hatch egg so as to efficiently hatch egg mil 25/1/2009
Q15: Give some examples of liquid and gas expansions kalam azad 18/11/2008
Q16: how is heat expansion used everyday? emma 26/9/2008
Q17: concrete and steel expand at almost the same rate. explain why this is important in the construction of tall buildings abby 19/2/2008
Ans: The rate of expansion or contraction of concrete and steel should be similar otherwise uneven expansion between both leads to development of cracks in concrete and subsequent failure of the structure, for this purpose the coefficient of expansion is maintained equal.
Q18: co-efficent of thermal expansion of G.I. Sheet Vipin Dudeja 22/12/2007
Ans: Coefficient of thermal expansion per degree Fahrenheit for galvanized iron sheet is 0.0000065
Q19: how to perform volume expansion?is ti important?why? jonie 26/11/2007
Ans: Volume expansion is best performed by taking a metal sphere and measuring its diameter then heating it and measuring it diameter again and using dia for calculating the volume in both the cases. It is only important for demonstrating the process of volumetric expansion.
Q20: what are the applications of expansion in everyday life??? Zaafir Auleear 16/8/2007
Ans: Gaps between railway tracks, design of bridges to accomodate for expansion, glass cookware design, bimetallic strip used in thermostats, overhead wires sag accomodation
Q21: what are fish plates zulkifel 13/8/2007
Ans: A railway track is made of rail sections each 20 meter long, these are joined together by using steel plates called as fish plates or joint / splice / angle bar between two different rail sections. These are usually 60 cm (2 feet long) and have 4 or 6 holes. They are bolted on each side of rail joint, small gaps are left between the rails to allow for expansion. Also used when welded joint becomes defective or fractured. The boltholes are also oval in shape to allow for expansion.
Q22: Is there a specific type of paint that can be used to coat steel to reduce thermal expansion? Amanda Ruksznis 29/6/2007
Ans: There are ceramic and polymer coatings that insulate a surface from conductive heat as these have encapsulate-type particles that entrap air and make the low emissive and low conductive and coating itself is highly reflective for radiations so radiative heat is minimized, it produces good temperature differential all across its surface but can reduce but not completely prevent thermal expansion.
Q23: Is there a type of iron that is specifically made to either expand of contract? Christina Ann 17/4/2007
Ans: Steel has high thermal expansion but much less as compared to Ni Cr alloys
Q24: Why do we have to learn all this? We are never gunna use it when we are adults! Jade 16/4/2007
Ans: It is now all the more important to understand the concepts of science by even young people because it is the ignorance of adults that has brought us face to face with a serious threat to mankind – Global Warming. The same principle in expansion of metal strip can break a bridge apart or a rock formation apart. Ice melts to expand and on a wider scale will cause the sea level to rise. Action-response study is science and our actions need more scrutiny than before.
Q25: Dont U think this site is kinda nerdy? Aaron Edmondson 16/4/2007
Ans: Hmm Yes, We are semi-nerdy, we enjoy what we do but are quite social (as per wikipedia a nerd is somebody who passionately pursues intellectual or esoteric knowledge or pastimes rather than engaging in a social life, participating in organized sports, or other mainstream activities)
Q26: why do installed prepainted Gi sheets (roofing) produce a"sound" esp. during hot weather? can we prevent it from happening? russell ocon 24/2/2007
Ans: Sheet metal roof are made of Zinc + Galvanized iron and are secured to the roof by Steel Bolts these different materials thermally expand and contract differently, relative to one another producing stress and ‘sound’. To prevent this you have to provide a larger hole with capped bolts for expansion in GI sheets at the points of clamping or slid able clips at clamps below sheet. A white color painted on top of sheet reduces the expansion. Refer US Patent 3975880 for more details.
Q27: how does the electric iron work shannon fernandez 21/1/2007
Ans: Electric iron ‘s heating element is controlled by a thermostat, which switches the current on and off to maintain the selected temperature. The selector dial is connected to freely movable intermediate plate to which a thermostat is attached. As the temperature falls below the setting the plate contracts making the thermostat made of invar to buckle outwards to enable a connecting rod to restore the circuit. At a higher temperature, the expansion of the plate causes the connection to break.

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