`` NEWTON: Energy from Freezing Water to Burst Pipe
 
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Name: Arif
Status: student
Grade: 9-12
Country: India
Date: Spring 2013


Question:
When water freezes in confined metallic pipe line, it cracks the metallic pipes. where does this huge energy comes from?

Replies:
Hi Arif,

When water freezes into ice, the hydrogen bonds in the water expand. The expansion places mechanical stress on the pipes, and can cause them to burst.

Debb Glosser Geology and Planetary Science


Hi Arif,

Water is unique in it's chemical structure in may ways - one of which is the heat of the hydrogen(H) bonds it forms. Water has H-bonds that are very loose and far apart as steam; closer, but still flexible at room temperature as a liquid and then as ice, very rigid. The H-bonds of water are the closest(most dense) to each other at about 4 C. Water will become compacted at 4 C, then the bonds stretch and form a solid at 0 C. The H-bonds become more rigid as the temperature decreases.

The energy comes from the formation of H bonds, they expand and are very effective at cracking materials. The Egyptians used freezing water to help with the splitting of the stones used for pyramid building!

Peter E. Hughes, Ph.D. Milford, NH


\ Arif -

The energy important here is not thermal energy and is not directly related to the temperature of the fluid. It is the construction of the ice crystals that cause the expansion. The arrangement of the crystals is very specific and requires a great deal more space than the liquid form of the fluid. The formation of the crystals is what causes the pipes to burst.

Larry Krengel


Arif,

Atoms in ice are locked in place and move around very little. It takes a great deal of energy to break them apart and get them moving around enough that they do not lock back together. This is why melting takes a great deal of energy. Liquid water at the melting point has much more energy than solid water (i.e. ice) at the same energy.

When water freezes, a great deal of energy is released, just as much as must be added to melt the ice. When bursting a pipe, some of this released energy goes to the pipe and some goes to the environment. If there were no pipe to burst, all of the released energy would go to the environment. The energy comes from within the water.

Dr. Ken Mellendorf Physics Instructor Illinois Central College


Arif,

Atoms in ice are locked in place and move around very little. It takes a great deal of energy to break them apart and get them moving around enough that they do not lock back together. This is why melting takes a great deal of energy. Liquid water at the melting point has much more energy than solid water (i.e. ice) at the same energy.

When water freezes, a great deal of energy is released, just as much as must be added to melt the ice. When bursting a pipe, some of this released energy goes to the pipe and some goes to the environment. If there were no pipe to burst, all of the released energy would go to the environment. The energy comes from within the water.

Dr. Ken Mellendorf Physics Instructor Illinois Central College


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