To use all functions of this page, please activate cookies in your browser.
With an accout for my.chemeurope.com you can always see everything at a glance – and you can configure your own website and individual newsletter.
- My watch list
- My saved searches
- My saved topics
- My newsletter
The Mpemba effect is the observation that, in some specific, fairly common circumstances, hotter water freezes faster than colder water.
Additional recommended knowledge
The effect is named for the Tanzanian high-school student Erasto B. Mpemba. Mpemba first encountered the phenomenon in the classroom of Eugene Marschall at Mkwawa Secondary (formerly High) School, Iringa, Tanzania, where Mpemba was a student. Eugene Marschall, a member of the Teachers for East Africa/TEA program, taught chemistry and physics at this school from 1965 to 1967. Mpemba first noticed the effect in 1963 after his account of the freezing of hot ice cream mix in cookery classes, and went on to publish experimental results with Dr. Denis G. Osborne in 1969.
At first sight, the behaviour seems contrary to thermodynamics. However, most thermodynamicists believe that each observation of the Mpemba effect can be explained with standard physical theory. Many effects can contribute to the observation, depending on the experimental set-up:
According to an article by Monwhea Jeng, there is no unique explanation yet for why, in some specific circumstances, hotter water freezes faster than colder water. The article makes no attempt to focus on the relevant transport phenomena concepts such as temperature and fluid flow fields. Indeed when temperature fields are introduced, the author states:
Analysis of the situation is now quite complex, since we are no longer considering a single parameter, but a scalar function, and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is notoriously difficult. The greatest difficulties with CFD are with turbulent flow; with laminar (streamline) flow, as we have in this case, there is much better consistency between independent analyses, and a CFD analysis could be expected to be illuminating.
This effect is a heat transfer problem, therefore well suited to be studied from a transport phenomena viewpoint, based on continuum mechanics. When heat transfer is analyzed in terms of partial differential equations, whose solutions depend on a number of conditions, it becomes clear that measuring only a few lumped parameters, such as the water average temperature is generally insufficient to define the system behaviour, since conditions such as geometry, fluid properties and temperature and flow fields play an important role. The counterintuitiveness of the effect, if analyzed only in terms of simplified thermodynamics illustrates the need to include all the relevant variables and use the best available theoretical tools when approaching a physical problem.
Similar behavior may have been observed by ancient scientists such as Aristotle, and Early Modern scientists such as Francis Bacon and René Descartes. Aristotle's explanation involved a physical property he called antiperistasis, defined as "the supposed increase in the intensity of a quality as a result of being surrounded by its contrary quality". He used the concept of antiperistasis to provide evidence for his conjecture that human bodies and bodies of water were hotter in the winter than in the summer, a theory that was later disproved by Medieval and Renaissance observations.
External links and references
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Mpemba_effect". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|