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Generating High Pressure with Heat

  1. May 30, 2010 #1
    I'm doing research for an upcoming project that involves accelerating a small polyproylene ball using electricity to heat and ablate a substance, creating pressure behind the projectile.

    Currently, I'm planning to use a material such as tungsten or aluminum in a very thin film or wire to arc and consequently heat and vaporize the other substance.

    My inquiry is what material with a given amount of energy in the form of heat, will create the highest pressure?

    Obviously water has been used for a long time for these types of applications in, for example steam engines and nuclear power plants. It seems to me, though, that water has a high heat of vaporization when compared to other substances, in other words, it takes a larger amount of energy to vaporize a given amount of water.

    Is this important in this application? Or, would it be more important to have a substance that has a higher vapor pressure at the temperatures that will be experiences inside the chamber, which will probably be in the tens of thousands of degrees F.

    Any advice will be appreciated.
  2. jcsd
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