Influence of Ambient Gases on the Rate of Evaporation of Water


IN a recent communication, W. W. Mansfield1 has described some new experiments on the rate of evaporation of water, from which he has concluded that in work on this subject by Sechrist2 and by Kingdon3 the observed effects were influenced more by buoyancy than by any other factor. Hitherto the evaporation of water from a source at fixed temperature, say 50° C, in a quiescent, ambient gas with the total pressure of about 1 atm., has been considered to be principally determined by the rate of diffusion of water vapour through the ambient gas, although it has been recognized that there must be also a hydrodynamic flow of gas and vapour away from the evaporating surface (the Stefan flow4), which has its origin in the diffusion of the ambient gas under its concentration gradient near the water surface. The Stefan flow is the probable reason for the departure of the rate of evaporation of water from linearity with the vapour pressure in the comprehensive experiments of Boelter et al.5. Mansfield's conclusion would add a gravitation-controlled process to these two diffusion-controlled processes.

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  1. 1

    Mansfield, W. W., Nature, 205, 278 (1965).

  2. 2

    Sechrist, F., Nature, 199, 899 (1963).

  3. 3

    Kingdon, K. H., J. Phys. Chem., 67, 2732 (1963).

  4. 4

    See Fuchs, N. A., Evaporation and Droplet Growth in Gaseous Media (Pergamon Press, New York, 1959).

  5. 5

    Boelter, L. K. M., Gordon, H. S., and Griffin, J. R., Indust. Eng. Chem., 38, 596 (1946).

  6. 6

    Langstroth, G. O., Diehl, C. H., and Winhold, E. J., Canad. J. Res., 28 A, 574 (1950).

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KINGDON, K. Influence of Ambient Gases on the Rate of Evaporation of Water. Nature 206, 1148 (1965).

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