A Phase Transition uses phenomena occurring during phase transitions, such as volume changes and the loss or absorption of heat. For example, unlike most other liquids, water expands when frozen.
Hannibal and Hot Air Balloons
Hannibal is reputed to have used this principle when marching on Rome. There were large rocks blocking his passage through the Alps. Hannibal supposedly poured water in the cracks of the rocks at night. The cold night air froze the water, and the expansion to a solid state split the rocks into small pieces that could be easily pushed aside.
Think about the way refrigerators and condensers work. These machines use the phase transition of gas to a liquid. As high-pressure, superheated vapor travels through the condenser, the vapor loses heat and undergoes a phase transition to become a cooled liquid. The heat can then be extracted and used to heat a home. In a refrigerator, the heat is taken from inside the fridge and released into the environment. Have you ever felt the warm air on your feet while standing in front of the refrigerator? The heat is the byproduct of the phase transition.
One of the biggest selling points of Guinness beer is the creaminess of the drink. The creamy texture is achieved by injecting nitrogen into the beer. The nitrogen changes the phase of the beer, making it a more gaseous, and creamy solution. The phase transition of the beer gives it unique properties not found in other ales.
Did you know that hot air balloons run on propane? Most people think of propane as the gas or vapor stored in their barbecue grill tank. However, the average hot air balloon is approximately 90,000 cubic feet and requires a lot of pounds per second of fuel. A standard propane tank doesn’t work because you have to burn a lot of propane quickly to be able to generate enough energy to heat the entire balloon.
You can’t burn vapor and have enough energy per second, and you can’t run vapor from the tank to the burner because you can’t move enough pounds per second. So, hot air balloons use propane tanks that differ from your traditional barbecue grill tanks. These tanks allow liquid propane to come out of the tanks, up to the burner, and run coils around the flame in such a way that you’re moving liquid in a much stronger and larger mass up to the burner. The propane changes from a liquid to a vapor at the flame point.
The only way to get enough pounds per second of energy to the burner is to have a phase transition and turn the propane from a liquid to a gas immediately before it is burned. Hot air balloons require that the propane undergo a phase transition.
Would a phase transition make your product or service more efficient or profitable?