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Living With Thermal Expansion and Contraction

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Jamie Tse

on 16 June 2014

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Transcript of Living With Thermal Expansion and Contraction

What is it?
Thermal expansion is the expansion of a material which increases in size when heated. Thermal contraction is the opposite of expansion and as the temperature goes down the length and size of the object gets smaller.
A gas expands when heated and contracts when cooled. This is because the warmer the object is, the more the particles move around, increasing the size the object. The opposite happens when cooled. The particles will move around less, making the object contract. Many sports balls are affected by thermal expansion and contraction, for example, a soccer ball left out in the winter will soften. If it is taken back inside, its will expand and become less soft.
As temperatures increase and the solid expands, the space in between the molecules expands as well as the potential energy in the solid. An example of thermal expansion would be bread rising when being baked because of the heat and yeast. Another example would be that bridges and buildings must have steel rods which expands with the same rate as the concrete used in building. In the case that the steel rods is expanding at different rates the structure would eventually crash down.

Experimental Video
Why is Thermal Expansion and Contraction important?
When designers and engineers build things they have to work very hard to choose a material suitable for building. Suppose the designers had to choose between two materials that expands and contracts differently. If they choose the wrong material, it could damage the structure when the material is exposed in the heat or coolness of the weather.
Liquids can expand and contract too, for example, oceans and lakes. When the water temperatures rise, so does the sea level of the water. If it rises too high, it will spill over and flood. When the liquid is heated, the volume increases, but when it is cooled the volume decreases and a liquid will contract even when it is frozen.

Where Does Thermal Expansion and Contraction occur?
Thermal expansion and contraction occurs in the three states of matter which are solid, liquid and gas. Solids have a definite shape and volume and cannot fit into a space smaller than its size. Liquids have a definite size and take its shape when put into a container. Gases have no definite shape or volume and most gases cannot be visible to the eye.
Living With Thermal Expansion and Contraction
By: Tyler, Jamie, and Ashvinan
An example of thermal contraction and expansion
Everyday we see and use thermal contraction and expansion whether we notice or not, for example, sidewalks and roads have expansion joints which allow steel and concrete to function without cracking. However concrete will eventually wear out due to weathering, or if the concrete is designed with expansion joints, it will crack due to the expansion in the heat and contraction in the coolness‏. That is just one example of daily thermal expansion and contraction. What other examples can you find in your life?
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