Expansion Joint Covers
Temperature is defined as the average molecular kinetic energy of a substance. When a substance is heated, the kinetic energy of its molecules increases. Thus, the molecules begin moving more and usually maintain a greater average separation. Materials which contract with increasing temperature are unusual; this effect is limited in size, and only occurs within limited temperature ranges. The degree of expansion divided by the change in temperature is called the material's coefficient of thermal expansion and generally varies with temperature. Thermal expansion is the tendency of matter to change in volume in response to a change in temp, through heat transfer.
If an equation of state is available, it can be used to predict the values of the thermal expansion at all the required temperatures and pressures, along with many other state functions.
A number of materials contract on heating within certain temperature ranges; this is usually called negative thermal expansion, rather than "thermal contraction". For example, the coefficient of thermal expansion of water drops to zero as it is cooled to 3.983 °C and then becomes negative below this temperature; this means that water has a maximum density, at this temperature, and this leads to bodies of water maintaining this temperature at their lower depths during extended periods of sub-zero. Also, fairly pure silicon has a negative coefficient of thermal expansion for temperatures between about 18 and 120 Kelvin.
Factors affecting the thermal expansion
Unlike gases or liquids, solid materials tend to keep their shape when undergoing thermal expansion.
Thermal expansion generally decreases with increasing bond energy, which also has an effect on the melting point of solids, so, high melting point materials are more likely to have lower thermal expansion. In general, liquids expand slightly more than solids. The thermal expansion of glasses is higher compared to that of crystals. At the glass transition temperature, rearrangements that occur in an amorphous material lead to characteristic discontinuities of the coefficient of thermal expansion or specific heat. These discontinuities allow detection of the glass transition temperature where a supercooled liquid transforms to a glass.
Absorption or desorption of water (or other solvents) can change the size of many common materials; many organic materials change size much more due to this effect than they Coefficient of thermal expansion
The volumetric thermal expansion coefficient is the most basic thermal expansion coefficient. In general, substances expand or contract when their temperature changes, with expansion or contraction occurring in all directions. Substances that expand at the same rate in every direction are called isotropic. For isotropic materials, the area and linear coefficients may be calculated from the volumetric coefficient.
IThe subscript p indicates that the pressure is held constant during the expansion, and the subscript "V" stresses that it is the volumetric (not linear) expansion that enters this general definition. In the case of a gas, the fact that the pressure is held constant is important, because the volume of a gas will vary appreciably with pressure as well as temperature. For a gas of low density, this can be seen from the ideal gas law.