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Heats of Vaporization and Condensation

Calculations of energy changes during chemical processes

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Poolside Thermodynamics

Where can we observe the effects of heat of vaporization in our daily lives?

License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Ever wonder why standing around wet by the pool can make a pleasant summer breeze feel like a torrential arctic wind? The answer lies in the thermodynamic properties of vaporization. When the water on your skin evaporates, it absorbs energy from its surroundings, breaking the attractions between molecules and transitioning to a gaseous state. The transfer of heat energy from your skin to the water molecules makes you feel colder. The amount of energy transacted in this process is known as the heat of vaporization. Now imagine that these gaseous water molecules float around and come into contact with a cold object, like a glass window. The decreased temperature will cause the molecules to slow down and condense. This releases energy from the molecules into the enivronment, known as the heat of condensation. Condensation and vaporization are opposite processes.

Creative Applications

1. Based on the effects described above, which process is exothermic and which one is endothermic?

2. How does heat of vaporization process help explain the mechanism of human sweating?

3. Take a look at the Heat of Vaporization values for some other common substances: http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/fluids-evaporation-latent-heat-d_147.html

What do you notice about the values for compounds labeled as "refrigerants?" How do they compare to water?

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