How do liquids freeze?

How do liquids freeze? Researchers develop a novel method to predict the mechanism

Scientists from the Queen Mary University of London have uncovered a new computational method to comprehend better freezing in diverse types of liquids.

The method of freezing, where a liquid transforms into a solid, is not as easy as it appears. Numerous substances, including water and wax, have various solid phases due to the variations in the organization of their atoms and molecules. But, conducting experiments to visualize the precise molecular arrangements and how they modify between states can be hard.

In the past few years, computational models have progressively been utilized to enhance speculative research, bringing new molecular understandings into the properties of the gas and liquid states in addition to the transitions between them (for example, evaporation).

However, denser phases are yet an obstacle, and the intricacy of the freezing liquids into solids has actually dodged most approaches, specifically where there is over one feasible, solid arrangement.

In the research, released in the Journal of Physical Chemistry B, the researchers developed unique computational techniques to study wax, which is understood to have many frozen arrangements. Utilizing their technique, they could predict its melting point within 2°C of the experimental value.

Analyzing performance

When they analyzed the performance of these methods with existing computational methods, they revealed their modeling method provided a much more reasonable view of what happens when fluids freeze and also might even predict a few of the more ‘exotic’ crystal frameworks created throughout this method.

Dr. Stephen Burrows, Research Assistant, Queen Mary University of London, stated that solid alkanes are unusual as the molecules have an unexpected amount of freedom. If you begin from an ideal crystal and raise the temperature, the molecules swiftly get the capacity to rotate, with an activity comparable to restless sleeper tossing and turning in bed.

They have checked the various extensively utilized techniques to simulate these ‘rotator’ phases, discovering that the Williams model from the 1960s was advanced of its time. It was impossible because of a lack of computational power; it might now undergo a revival for advanced molecular dynamics simulation. Their recently optimized model intends to research the rotator phase of hexadecane, present in the oil, which is difficult to observe analytically due to its unpredictable nature.

Practical Applications

Like waxes, oils like diesel can also freeze at various stages and display various solid properties. Hence, approaches to anticipate the molecular and atomic details of liquid transitions to various kinds of ‘solid’ oils can have many possible practical applications like the better prediction of freezing of oil pipelines (and preventing oil spills), developing better smart insulation, and energy storage.

Knowing solid transitions in wax could likewise cause lighter, stronger-than-steel polymers and aid scientists to enhance the knowledge of recently discovered methods such as artificial morphogenesis. These can allow greener production procedures to ‘grow’ things as seen in nature, reducing byproducts.

Dr. Stoyan Smoukov, reader in Chemical Engineering at the Queen Mary University of London, stated that having the ability to predict the transformation behavior of oils would certainly aid us in our pursuit to establish sustainable production processes. Common lithographic microfabrication resembles sculpturing, cutting/chiseling away from a marble piece, producing lots of waste.

He further stated that the procedure is scalable as each droplet shapes itself because of internal phase transitions. Effective manufacturing of such particles can reform industries from inkjet printing to drug delivery. And the modeling devices they have established will assist them in tuning this control on the molecular range.


How do liquids freeze? Researchers develop a novel method to predict the mechanism

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