A. What is thermal expansion?

When the temperature of a substance (solid, liquid or gas) is increased, the molecules or atoms in it vibrate faster and they tend to move away from each other, on average. This results in an expansion (increase of length, breadth and depth) of the substance as a whole. Thermal expansion generally decreases with increasing bond energy, which also has an effect on the hardness of solids, so, harder materials are more likely to have lower thermal expansion. In general, liquids expand slightly more than solids. In many common materials, changes in size can also be due to water (or other solvents) being absorbed/desorbed, and many organic materials change size much more due to this effect than they do to thermal expansion. Common plastics exposed to water can, in the long term, expand many percent. This phenomenon can also be put to good use, for example in the process of thermal shrink-fitting parts are assembled with each at a different temperature, and sized such that when they reach the same temperature, the thermal expansion of the parts forces them together to form a stable joint. The property of thermal expansion (and contraction) of solid is often utilized in a number of ways. Sometimes, trouble arises due to the expansion or contraction with temperature and our knowledge of this is used to avoid the trouble. B. Beneficial Effects of Thermal Expansion:

• Metal lids: Metal lids on glass jars or metal caps of glass bottles are often loosened by heating under hot water. This is possible since the expansion of glass is negligible compared to a metal lid or cap. Thermal expansion may also used as : Use of heat, stream engine. Uses of cooling, compressed gas. • Iron rim: Blacksmiths put red-hot iron rims on wooden wheels of bullock carts. The radius of the rim is taken a little smaller than the outer radius of the wheel so that at normal temperature the rim can not be fitted onto the wheel. The iron rim expands when heated and thus can be easily put on the wheel. When it cools, the rim sits tight on the wheel. • Metal strips: Two metallic strips are placed together and a hole is drilled for riveting. A bolt is inserted through the hole when heated and the two ends of it are beaten flat as shown in the figure to hold the two metal strips tightly. When the rivet is cooled down, it shrinks and holds the two metal strips more strongly. This is a way by which big metal strips are joined to form structures of big steel bridges. • Thermostat: We have already seen in the previous section, how a bimetallic strip bends when heated. This property is used in thermostat. Thermostat is an automatic temperature control device which is used in Electric Micro oven, refrigerator, incubator, electric iron, electric heater, air cooling machine and in many other home appliances and instruments.It has been shown in the adjacent circuit how it works as an automatic switch.Here a bimetallic strip is shown to be made of invar and brass. The brass part is connected to the connecting point A of the

particularly the large driving wheels of locomotives. Again the connection is established and the heater starts heating. • Temperature measurement: A bimetallic strip can be used as a thermometer. When there is fire. The resulting expansion enables the tyre to be slipped easily over the wheel. the bimetallic strip gets heated and it bends towards the invar side as the thermal expansion of invar will be much less than that of brass. it starts bending. Thus the bimetallic strip bends in the opposite direction to the contact that is made. and on cooling it contracts and makes a tight fit. As the temperature is raised higher. Hence the thermostat circuit remainson.thermostat. which have to be renewed from time to time owing to wear. . Thus the contact is established and the current flows to start the alarm. Because of this the circuit is disconnected and the current through the heater stops. the bimetallic strip eventually comes back to normal temperature and becomes straight.The air around the heater gets heated and after a while the bimetallic strip also gets heated and bends. A thermometer works by using the thermal expansion of a liquid to measure temperature. are fitted with steel tyres. As the temperature is increased more than this. To ensure a tight fit the tyre is made slightly smaller in diameter than the wheel. Now the invar side is made to have contact with the thermostat. The bimetallic strip remains straight at ordinary temperature. So the current flows through the connected heater and it keeps heating. A hot-air balloon uses the thermal expansion of air to generate lift. Before being fitted the tyre is heated uniformly by special gas burners arranged in a ring. As the heating stops. The wheels of rolling-stock. The radius of curvature becomes smaller as the bending or curvature is more. Suppose we find out the temperature 0 T at which the bimetallic strip is exactly flat or straight. Fire alarm: Bimetallic strip is used in fire alarm circuit. This way the heating can be limited and thus the temperature can be controlled by controlling the current through the circuit. At an ordinary temperature it remains flat. The coefficient of linear expansion for brass is more than that of invar. the amount of bending becomes greater which can be correctly measured by determining the curvature.