Archive for February, 2010

Off-gassing of Water in a Vacuum

off-gassing effects of water in a vacuum

Reboiling Water in Vacuum

name         James
status       other
grade        other
location     MD

Question -   We put tap water in a glass jar, sealed the jar and
applied vacuum to approximately 28".  The water boiled rapidly for
about 50 to 60 seconds, then it slowed to a stop. That same jar of
water will  no longer boil at 28" of vacuum.  If we replace the
water with fresh water the same thing occurs, it boils the first
time but then will not boil after that. What change occurs to the
properties of the water (which remains in liquid form) that
prevents it from boiling the second time?
Two things: the dissolved gases that were in the water escape, and
the water gets colder, so that its temperature is below the boiling
point at 28" (I presume you mean inches of mercury?) vacuum.  That
temperature is about 37 C, which is probably warmer than your tap
water to begin with.  Most likely, then, the boiling you observe is
actually outgassing.  Either way, you should notice that the "spent"
water you remove from the vacuum chamber is cooler than when it went in.

Richard Barrans
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Wyoming

What you are seeing is not really water boiling. Rather, gases
trapped within the water sample is outgassing. The bubbles you see
is not water turning into water vapor, but air that is escaping from
the liquid water. The boiling point of water at 29.5" (atmospheric
pressure at sea-level) is 100 degC. Reducing the pressure down to
28" will minimally change the boiling point of the water to
approximately 99 degC. Thus, unless you happen to be heating the
water to this temperature, the water is not really boiling.

Greg (Roberto Gregorius)
The information you have provided is incomplete.  Did it "boil" just
by pulling a vacuum or did you have to apply heat?  Did you continue
to pump on it to maintain the 28" of mercury vacuum?

If you were not applying heat and you were maintaining vacuum I
would suggest that it never boiled but that you were pulling
dissolved air out of the water.  Once all of it had come out, the
"boiling" stopped and could not be repeated.

To find out if this is the case:

  1    bring it back to atmospheric pressure in air
  2    stir or shake it vigorously in air for a few minutes
  3    pump to 28" of mercury vacuum & observe the results

  1   seal it off at 28" of mercury vacuum
  2   stir or shake it vigorously under vacuum for a few minutes
  3   pump to 28" of mercury vacuum & observe the results

If it "boils" again in experiment A but not in experiment B then it
is likely you are not boiling (vaporizing the water) but pulling
dissolved air out of the water.

Greg Bradburn
    Only two things can be happening.
     1) dissolved air can be out-gassing. This is irreversible, only happens
once. Just like what you observed.
     2) the water, by boiling, will be cooling down. This is reversible.
           In an hour or so, if you close off the vacuum port but
 let in no air,
          the water will have warmed back up to room temperature,
          and you could show boiling again by opening the vacuum again.

When water is heated on the stove, the air bubbles leaving are usually much
smaller than the water vapor-bubbles of boiling.
Think about it: by reducing the heating rate, the boiling bubbles would get
a little smaller.
    And by reducing atmospheric pressure, the dissolved-air out-gassing
bubbles would get bigger.
The perceptible difference between out-gassing and boiling would be reduced,
     conceivably even obliterated or reversed.
When water is cooled by vacuum-evaporation (boiling at room temperature),
   it gets cooler than room temperature, but probably not as cold as
   Room temp. is 20-25C, freezing is 0C, so the ambient is only 20C warmer
than the boiled water.
   Probably less.  And the jar is glass not metal, so it has poor thermal
   So the heat-flow from room air into the beaker will be a lot slower
       than it is for a pot over high heat on the stove.

To cause repetition of the dissolved-air out-gassing,
one would re-saturate the water with air.
Close off the vacuum line, insert a tube to the bottom
(maybe with many small holes like the tip of a fish-tank bubbler),
and pump air through it for some time.
Not sure, I would start with an hour, but less might be enough.
Opening the lid and waiting overnight might be enough too.
Stirring would have some rate in between.
The water will re-saturate with air,
and appear to boil when you again evacuate it.
If you have not dissolved as much air as it had before, the bubbling will
seem less.

I'd look up the vapor pressure of water, if I were you. Get a table.
There is a little graph at Wikipedia: Vapor_Pressure:,  halfway down the page.
You could use a more precise pressure-gauge too.
29.9"Hg -28"Hg =1.9"Hg absolute pressure.
2"Hg absolute pressure is more than the vapor pressure of water at room
I think your vacuum pressure might not be low enough to force actual
boiling at room temperature.
Maybe all you have seen is the out-gassing stage that always happens before
and then the action stopped because you did not have enough vacuum to do the
next stage.
Tell you what, put a hot-plate under that beaker (set too low to boil a
water drop),
   or a couple of big light-bulbs beside it, to warm it gently.
If you warm your water up, at some temp (~50C?) it will boil continuously,
(and your vacuum pump will have to cope with a lot of re-liquefied water in
its exhaust.)
You can learn your real vacuum pressure from that temperature the
vapor-pressure table.

Jim Swenson
   It is difficult to analyze exactly what is going on without
knowing more of the detailed experimental conditions. For example
the "capacity" of your pump -- not just the final pressure, but
what volume per unit of time the pump can remove volatile
components. Without that information, I would suspect that the
initial "boiling" you see is not actually boiling, in the sense of
removing converting liquid water to water vapor. Rather, in the
absence of more details, I would suspect that what you are
observing is the removal of the components of air dissolved in the
water. These would include mainly carbon dioxide and oxygen. This
would be consistent your observation that there is no "boiling" the
second time you carried out the evaporation process.
   You could test this hypothesis by taking the water that has had
the air removed and shaking it vigorously to re-dissolve the
components of air. If just shaking the water, from which the
components of air have been removed, and then allowing those
components to redissolve -- and then you see the "boiling" reoccur
-- you could be pretty much on the right track that the "boiling"
is not the evaporation of water itself, but more the de-gassing of the water.
   You could then confirm this observation by boiling the water at
its normal boiling point -- which would remove the atmospheric components --
then re-do the boiling experiment. If you do not let this water stay
round long, you would not expect to see the "boiling" of dissolved gases.
   You could further confirm this hypothesis by freezing the water
a couple of times before carrying out the "boiling" experiment.
Gases are not very soluble in ice, so you would expect that a
couple of freeze/thaw cycles before the "boiling" would remove the
dissolved gases and you would not expect to see any bubbles that
you are calling "boiling".
    These kinds of experiments are how science works. Observation:
 Test(1) -- Hypothesis(1) -- Test(2) -- Hypothesis(2) -- and so on.

Vince Calder

Waterborne Pool Illnesses

Waterborne Pool Illnesses

Swimming pools are exposed bodies of water and are thus subject to contamination. The contamination can be carried into the pool water by the environment (e.g. wind, rain) or by swimmers.

There has been a dramatic increase in infections and infectious diseases from swimming pools over the past few years. Some strains of bacteria and viruses have built up resistance to the chlorine we use as a sanitiser in our swimming pools. Others are destroyed very slowly. Consequently, there has been an increasing demand for alternative sanitisers able to quickly and effectively destroy the disease carrying organisms.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to prevent bacteria and viruses from entering the pool water. In swimming pools with a high swimmer load, the level of contaminants entering the water are especially high. Ill or recovering people are requested to abstain from swimming, but many ignore this plea. Chlorine breaks down very fast in the presence of high contamination and swimmer load and due to the effects of the sun’s UV rays and heat. With these factors in mind, many swimming pool maintainers over-chlorinate the pool water in the hope that illness can be prevented.

This creates another dilemma – chlorine, too, can cause health problems and overuse should be avoided at all costs. Mineral water sanitisers such as the Pool Wizard can reduce chlorine consumption by 75%, thus creating a safer and healthier swimming environment. The Pool Wizard also effectively destroys potentially harmful bacteria, viruses and algae before they can strike.

A total reliance on chlorine for swimming pool disinfection is illogical in the light of research results. There is unequivocal proof of the efficacy of non-chlorine additives or pool water treatments that can supplement chlorine to create safer pool water. Elements such as copper and silver have become widely accepted as potent anti-bacterial and anti-viral agents. Patented products like the Pool Wizard make good use of this knowledge in producing swimming pool disinfectants able to cope with the micro-organisms that chlorine cannot destroy.

These are some of the diseases that can result from infected pool water:

  • Gastroenteritis, Dysentery, Amoebic dysentery, Cholera, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Giardiasis, Cryptosporidiosis, Salmonellosis, Shigellosis, Dermatitis. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Below are some references to illnesses resulting from swimming pool water:

  • Chlorine can take up to 4 days to neutralise Cryptosporidium parvum, the causes of severe illness and transmitted through pool water, despite a balanced pool chemistry and free chlorine levels 0f 2.oppm. (CDC – Emerging Infectious Diseases)
  • . . . out of 282 pools tested, over 50% of the pools which had a chlorine level above 2.0 ppm still had both E. Coli and Pseudonomas bacteria present. (Dr. Peter Gaffney, Professor of Microbiology at Georgia State University, “Microbiological Evaluation of Swimming Pools in Fulton County Georgia (Atlanta)”)
  • “Swimmers had significantly more eye, ear and skin infections than non-swimmers, largely because of high bacteria and virus levels in pools, according to Illinois Public Health Researcher, Linda Berrafato.” (USA Today)
  • “Swimming asthma” has been observed, especially in young children, as a result of breathing in the by-products (trihalomethanes) of chlorine used in swimming pools. (Reuters Health; Toxicology Letters, 72)
  • Liver, kidney or central nervous system problems and increased risk of cancer have been observed as a result of the by-products (trihalomethanes) of chlorine use. (EPA – Safe Water Regulations)
  • Eye and nose irritation, stomach discomfort and anemia can occur as a result of chlorine (Cl2 or ClO2) or chloramines in the water. (EPA – Safe Water Regulations)
  • Outbreaks of illness from recreational water in 2000 were 228% higher compared to 2 years earlier. (Center for Disease Control)
  • Diarrhea has been steadily on the rise since the mid-1980s as new germs appear that are increasingly resistant to chlorine used to disinfect pools. (Michael Beach, CDC medical epidemiologist)
  • “The EPA has raised skin absorption of chlorine to its top 10 carcinogen Watch List.” (The Washington Post, June 1994)

Chlorine Decay

Modeling Chlorine Decay and the Formation of Disinfection By-Products (DBPs) in Drinking Water1
A major objective of drinking water treatment is to provide microbiologically safe drinking water. The combination of conventional drinking water treatment and disinfection has proved to be one of the major public health advances in modern times.
In the U.S., chlorine is most often the final disinfectant added to treated water for microbiological protection before it is discharged into a drinking water distribution system. However, disinfectants, especially chlorine, react with natural organic matter (NOM) to form disinfection by-products (DBPs), which are considered to be of concern from a chronic exposure point of view.
Drinking water disinfection, therefore, poses the dilemma of a risk tradeoff. Chemical disinfection reduces risk of infectious disease, but the interaction between chemical disinfectants and precursor materials in source water results in the formation of DBPs. Although disinfection of public drinking water has dramatically reduced outbreaks of diseases attributable to waterborne pathogens, the iden-tification of chloroform, a DBP, in drinking water (Rook 1974; Bellar and Lichtenberg 1974) raised questions about possible health risks posed by these DBPs. Since 1974, additional DBPs have been identified, and concerns have intensified about health risks resulting from exposures to DBPs.
All natural waters and even treated drinking water exerts disinfectant demand due to the reactions with NOM and other constituents in water. Therefore, the applied disinfectant dose must be sufficient to meet the inherent demand in the treated water, to provide sufficient protection against microbial infection, and at the same time minimize exposure to DBPs.
Consequently, much research has been invested in attempting to characterize the nature of DBPs and the conditions that govern their formation in drinking water. One aspect of this research is the devel-opment of mathematical models for predicting the decay of chlorine and other disinfectants and for predicting the formation of DBPs themselves.
This chapter reviews current and historical research efforts related to the development of models for predicting the decay of disinfectants and the formation of DBPs. It focuses on chlorine as a disinfec-tant and emphasizes U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) research efforts in this area. The conditions that govern the interaction of NOM and chlorine and the resulting formation of DBPs are discussed. Research devoted to models for chlorine decay and the formation of DBPs are reviewed. The factors that affect exposure to DBPs are examined, and EPA field research studies that have driven the current research on chlorine decay and DBP formation are presented. The development of EPANET, a state-of-the-art public sector water quality/hydraulic model, is reviewed, along with the evolution of numerical modeling techniques. The topic of storage tanks and their impact on water quality and the public policy issues associated with this research is also discussed.
1Robert M. Clark, Lewis A. Rossman, Mano Sivagesean, Kathleen Schenck: ORD/NRMRL/ WSWRD, AWBERC Mailstop 689, 26 West Martin Luther King Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45268. Corresponding Author: Robert M. Clark, 513-569-7201,