1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Evaporation requires the removal of heat?

  1. Sep 1, 2013 #1
    I'm missing out on something here.

    I'm studying how the cooling tower works and it says that the "water evaporates and removes heat". The thing is, shouldn't the heat be added to the water for it to evaporate and thus increasing the heat? If we want water to evaporate, we boil it with fire, which is once again heat addition.

    Care to clarify this for me?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 1, 2013 #2
    Water needs heat to evaporate, but the heat does not increase temperature of water: the heat is used to free the water molecules. It is called the latent heat. Water gets this latent heat from the sorrounding material, so the sorroundings get cooler.
  4. Sep 1, 2013 #3
    We boil it so that the water is hotter than the air and then it evaporates quickly. If we don't boil it then it will be room temperature, and it will still evaporate. This is because water has many molecules in it and some are more energetic than others. The "hotter" (more energetic) molecules and bits of water have enough momentum to escape the liquid and go into the atmosphere. This leaves the liquid cooler because the hot molecules have escaped. This should jive with your personal experience. If we boil water it cools down as it evaporates, the hot water is leaving. If you sweat you cool down because the hot water molecules on your body leave and what is left are colder molecules.
  5. Sep 1, 2013 #4
    Thanks to both of you but the answer I was looking for was answered by mpv_plate. Appreciated!
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook