In the process of condensation, a gaseous substance passes into a liquid state of aggregation. This product is called condensate. During the condensation process, thermal energy is released to the environment by the condensate. This heat has a conformal value to the heat of evaporation.
However, the principle of condensation, which plays an important role in the weather, is also used in steam power plants, refrigerators or condensation dryers.
Thermodynamic principles of condensation
Two types of condensation processes can be distinguished, even if they are subject to the same basic principle. The prerequisite in both cases is that the gas phase of the condensing component is supersaturated. If several gas particles combine during their meeting within the gas, this is called a homogeneous condensation. Sufficiently slow particles come together to form larger structures without the participation of interfaces. This allows an oversaturation of several hundred percent.
Only very low supersaturation values are necessary for heterogeneous condensation, often a value of less than one percent is sufficient. This form of condensation takes place on surfaces, i.e. as a rule on solid particles suspended in the gas phase, the condensation nuclei, or aerosol particles. These occur in relation to the respective gas as a kind of particle catcher, where the radius and chemical properties of the particle determine how well the gas particles adhere to it.
Physical condensation is the transition of a substance from the gaseous to the liquid state of aggregation. The opposite phase transitions are evaporation and boiling. The condensate is produced as a product. This process takes place under certain pressure and temperature conditions, which are called the condensation point. During the transition, the temperature remains constant, all the heat extracted is invested in the change of state in the form of the heat of condensation. The opposite of condensation is evaporation or evaporation.
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