from The Open University
Alternatively you can skip the navigation by pressing 'Enter'.
Wild Weather with Richard Hammond: Temperature: The Driving ForceTuesday, 24th November 2015 00:35 - BBC FourRichard Hammond investigates the crucial role temperature plays in all weather. Without heat, there would be no... Read more: Wild Weather with Richard Hammond: Temperature: The Driving Force
The Educators: Series 2: Character LessonsTuesday, 24th November 2015 15:00 - BBC Radio 4
Power to the People: Episode 2: It's Not Easy Being GreenTuesday, 24th November 2015 21:00 - BBC Four
All in the Mind: Mindfulness, porn addiction and slothfulnessTuesday, 24th November 2015 21:00 - BBC Radio 4
The Educators: Series 2: Character LessonsAvailable for over a yearCan character education really improve someone's chances in life? Read more: The Educators: Series 2: Character Lessons
Wild Weather with Richard Hammond: Temperature: The Driving ForceAvailable until Thursday, 24th December 2015 01:35
Ireland with Simon Reeve: Episode 1Available until Thursday, 24th December 2015 00:45
The Hunt: Episode 4: Hunger at SeaAvailable until Tuesday, 29th December 2015 17:50
What is the 2015 Autumn Statement all about?The OU's Alan Shipman offers a guide to the things to watch for when George Osborne presents his... Read more: What is the 2015 Autumn Statement all about?
OpenLearn Live: 24th November 2015Part of Ireland that started out by the South Pole. Then more free learning through the day. Read more: OpenLearn Live: 24th November 2015
English: skills for learningThis course is for anybody who is thinking of studying for a university degree and would like to... Try: English: skills for learning now
Succeed with maths – Part 1If you feel that maths is a mystery that you want to unravel then this short 8-week course is for... Try: Succeed with maths – Part 1 now
Engineering: The challenge of temperature
Engineering is about extending the horizons of society by solving technical problems,...
Engineering is about extending the horizons of society by solving technical problems, ranging from the meeting of basic human needs for food and shelter to the generation of wealth by trade. This unit looks at the impact of changes in temperature on a variety of objects and looks at the problem of boiling water.
After studying this unit you should be able to:
- relate the temperature of a solid to the mean kinetic energy of its atoms;
- use models for thermally induced effects that involve linear, exponential and step changes;
- use exponentials, logarithms and graphical methods to interpret data from a thermally activated process in terms of Arrhenius's law;
- identify the changes of phase taking place in a variety of critical phenomena;
- provide examples of gradual, accelerating and sudden changes in the properties of materials that accompany changes in temperature;
- develop and extend performance specifications for devices that respond to changes in temperature.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Temperature – problem or solution?
- 2 Getting into hot water
- 3 Gradual temperature effects
- 4 Accelerating temperature effects
- 4.1 Characteristics of processes activated by thermal energy
- 4.2 Energy distribution
- 4.3 Thermally activated processes
- 4.4 Summary of Section 4
- 5 Sudden temperature effects
- 6 The water boiler again
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn and track your progress. Make your learning visible!
Engineering: The challenge of temperature
In this unit we examine one factor that very often seems to be found skulking around close to problems and solutions: temperature.
Almost whatever we do, wherever we are, temperature changes. Stay in the same spot and you'll find daytime and night-time temperatures can be markedly different. You may even find significant changes in temperature during the day. When moving you can encounter more rapid variations. For example, an aircraft might leave a tropical runway where the air temperature is thirty degrees Celsius and climb within minutes to a height where the outside temperature is minus fifty degrees.
It turns out that almost all the properties of a material change with temperature. So, anything you make will to some extent be sensitive to temperature. That sensitivity needs to be known about. ‘What if the temperature changes?’ is an excellent prompt for engineers.
There are advantages and disadvantages to thermal sensitivity and some of these are explored in her. On the one hand, we can do amazing things with thermal energy, such as moving matter around within a solid without risking melting or changing the basic shape of a component. On the other hand, it can be a real nuisance. It can make magnetic disks ‘forget’. It can leave materials ‘sapped’ of their strength. Just a few degrees of temperature change can make some things unrecognisably different. Temperature really does present a universal challenge that must be faced – ignore it at your peril.
This unit is an adapted extract from the Open University course
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Friday, 22nd July 2011
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements section.
- This site has Copy Reuse Tracking enabled - see our FAQs for more information.
If you enjoyed this, why not follow a feed to find out when we have new things like it? Choose an RSS feed from the list below. (Don't know what to do with RSS feeds?)
Remember, you can also make your own, personal feed by combining tags from around OpenLearn.