Consumed at special events such as weddings, job promotions and New Year’s, Champagne is a seasonal beverage. Most of us drank it at least once and enjoyed its bubbles coming out right after the cork’s pop. But few know that those bubbles might be the link between Champagne and more efficient power-generators.
Champagne bubbles puzzled a group of scientists at the Kyuyu University in Tokyo who researched the physical properties of this exquisite drink.
Basically, when the bottle of Champagne is opened, weight exercises a rapid pressure increase and the liquid springs out from the bottle quickly, leading to the creation of ‘air pockets’ which continue developing in a manner called Ostwald ripening, or in other words in a chaotic manner. This phenomenon is not something new and scientists have long been aware of it.
For instance, Ostwald maturing can be also seen on a bigger scale, inside a power- generating turbine. More precisely, every force station requires a boiler for turning water into steam. But the transition stage from water to steam is in fact highly complex and most have not figured out what exactly takes place inside the boiler during phase transition.
This is the process that the group at Kyuyu University is trying to uncover. A group of virtual atoms in a compartment with consigned starting speeds was put together by the specialists and then analyzed through Newton’s law of motion. The researchers attempted to establish the molecules’ individual positions at each stage in time. However, the encounter quite a few challenges in their attempts.
According to the team, an extensive range of molecules is needed to create bubbles. Just one bubble needs 10,000 molecules. As a result, the scientists concluded that virtually recreating the environment in a bottle of Champagne, on a single computer is not really feasible as they would need hundreds of millions of particles. The exact number they found was 700 million.
One of the research partners at the University of Tokyo’s Institute for Solid State Physics, Hiroshi Watanabe said that initially, the scientists did not believe that the classical theory of nucleation rate could apply in the bubble experiments but it actually did. According to him surfactants make air pockets stable while defoamers make them shaky. The researcher believes that innovations in computational power will eventually, allow researchers to virtually recreate the complex systems at the sub-atomic level.
Of course, the research aims higher than explaining Champagne bubbles. The idea is to understand these air pockets so that scientists could then later develop more proficient propellers and power stations.
The full research is available in the Journal of Chemical Physics.
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