Research

Boiling Water in Oil

Most people know that throwing water into hot oil is a bad idea. But, as dramatic as the results can be, the boiling of a water droplet submerged in oil is remarkably beautiful, as seen in the animations above. The initial water droplet expands as it shifts from liquid to vapor (top). At a critical volume, the expansion occurs explosively (middle), causing the bubble to overexpand relative to the pressure of the surrounding fluid. The higher pressure of the oil around it collapses the drop, which then re-expands, creating the cycle we see in the final two animations. This oscillation triggers a Rayleigh-Taylor type instability along the bubble’s interface, causing the surface corrugations observed. The vapor bubble will continue to rise through the oil, eventually breaking the surface and scattering hot oil droplets.  (Image credits: R. Zenit, source)

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