Phenomena

Pouring Molten Aluminum on Dry Ice

What happens when you pour molten aluminum on dry ice? As the Backyard Scientist shows, you get what looks like slippery, sliding, boiling metal. In fact, what you see may remind you of the Leidenfrost effect, where a liquid can slide around over an extremely hot surface on a thin film of its own vapor. Despite the opposite temperature extremes–this is a very cold surface rather than a very hot one–a very similar thing is happening here. The molten aluminum is so much hotter than the dry ice that it causes the dry ice to sublimate, releasing gaseous carbon dioxide that the aluminum slides around on. For the same reason, the aluminum appears to boil in the bottom animation. What we’re really seeing is carbon dioxide gas rising and escaping the aluminum so violently that it carries some of the metal with it. Be sure to check out the full video for more awesome physics!  (Image credit: The Backyard Scientist, source; via Gizmodo)

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