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Thermal Expansion Examples

Thermal Expansion Examples

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prediction that the cavity volume decreases because of the expansion of the glass is consistent

with an alcohol level higher than it would be if only the alcohol expanded. Increasing the cavity

volume corresponds to an alcohol level lower than it would be if only the alcohol expanded.

When an objects temperature changes, we assume the change in length experienced

by each dimension of the object is proportional to its change in temperature . This model is

valid as long as is not too large. We can express this linear relationship as an equation:

where Li is the original length and is known as the Material ( 10-6 /C)

linear thermal expansion coefficient, which depends on the Aluminum 23

material (see Table 13.1).

Brass 19

Another way to express the linear nature of the model is Copper 17

to relate the initial length to the new length L. Because Diamond 1

we can express the new length as: Glass 8.5

Gold 14

. (Equation 13.5) Iron or steel 12

Lead 29

Stainless steel 17

Consider now a rectangular object with an area that is

the product of its height and its width . Both the height and Table 13.1: Values of , the linear

thermal expansion coefficient, for

width change with temperature, so the new area is:

various materials at 20C.

Because values of are small, for small temperature changes is significantly less

than 1. Squaring a number less than 1 makes it even smaller, so the term in the previous

equation is negligible compared to the term. Thus we can write the area equation as:

. (Equation 13.6: Area thermal expansion)

A similar process can be followed to show that the equation for the volume resulting

from imposing a temperature change on an object of original volume is:

. (Equation 13.7: Volume thermal expansion)

You are building a plane, but the stainless steel rivets you are using will not fit through

the holes in the skin of the plane. At 20C, each rivet has a diameter of 12.050 mm, while the

diameter of a hole is 12.000 mm. To what temperature should you cool a rivet so it fits in a hole?

SOLUTION

We need to find the temperature change required so the diameter of the rivet equals the

diameter of the hole. To find this we can use Equation 13.5, , with the thermal

expansion coefficient from Table 13.1 for stainless steel, . Solving for gives:

Because the initial temperature is 20C, we get a final temperature of 78C. Note that

the equation involves , so we can work entirely in Celsius.

Also, there is no reason to convert the lengths to meters because

the length units cancel out. One way to cool the rivets this much

would be to immerse them in liquid nitrogen, which has a

temperature of about 196C, or 77K.

Imagine trying to fit a brass ball through a brass ring

that has an inner radius just a little smaller than the ring. Should

we heat the ring or cool it so that the ball can pass through?

radius of the ring. Draw a circle on this disk so the radius of

the circle matches the inner radius of the ring. What happens

when the temperature of the disk increases? A picture of this

situation is shown in Figure 13.2. The disk expands when its

temperature increases, and so does the circle drawn on the disk.

Removing the material inside the circle leaves a ring.

Step 2 Reverse the order of the actions. First remove the Figure 13.2: When the temperature of a disk

inner part of the circle and then increase the temperature. increases, the entire disk expands, including

What is the result? Figure 13.2 shows that changing the order of the circle that was drawn on the disk.

the actions makes no difference. The ring is the same size in Removing the area within the circle leaves a

both cases a hole expands or contracts as if it were solid. ring with an inside diameter larger than the

original diameter of the circle. Doing this in

Key idea for holes: Holes and cavities in materials expand reverse order, removing the inside of the

and contract as if they were made from the surrounding circle and then raising the temperature, has

material. the same result. Holes expand as if they are

Related End-of-Chapter Exercises: 17 19. filled with the surrounding material.

solid makes its atoms vibrate more

energetically, so each atom effectively

needs more space. If we imagine a circle

of atoms around the inside diameter of the

ring, as in Figure 13.3, the atoms spread

out when heated, making the hole in the

ring larger.

not quite fit over an aluminum cylinder.

Can you fit the ring over the cylinder by Figure 13.3: An object expands when its temperature

increasing or decreasing the temperature of both increases because its atoms vibrate more energetically.

objects at the same time? Explain. This causes the circle of atoms along the inside diameter

of a ring to expand when the temperature increases.

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