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Q & A: Freezing rate of water in various containers

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Most recent answer: 09/13/2009
Q:
I am doing a science fair project and want to know what water freezes better in: paper, plastic, Styrofoam, or glass cups. I have found very little about the conduction and convection properties these types of cups have. HELP!
- Bob Nates
A:
Sounds like a great project.  There are many variables that affect the freezing rate such as the type of material, shape and thickness of the cup, etc.  So you should try to use cups of a similar size and shape.   Given that if all the cups are identical, except for the material, then the freezing rate should depend mainly on the coefficient of thermal conductivity.  
There is a nice web site: 
that gives an explanation of this idea as well as a table of the conductivities of many common materials.  By the way, the chemical name for styrofoam is polypropene.

LeeH


(published on 09/13/2009)

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