Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Ice cream heat transfer

The other day, I set out a gallon of ice cream so it could thaw enough for me to actually be able to scoop some out with a plastic fork, because I am a lazy college student who doesn't want to do the dishes. In considering what this melting entails, I thought about heat transfer.

In order for the ice cream to melt, heat is is absorbed. Enough heat needs to be absorbed to first melt the ice cream, Lf for ice cream, and then heat continues to absorb so that the ice cream can reach thermal equilibrium with its surroundings. Obviously, no one wants to eat room temperature ice cream. Therefore, the ideal situation is to scoop the ice cream before it can absorb enough heat to completely melt. The energy being transferred to melt the ice cream comes from the surroundings such as the counter or air. It also explains why people will run an ice cream scooper under hot water prior to scooping. The warm scooper provides energy necessary to melt the ice cream, and make it easier to scoop. Therefore, it's unfortunate I am a broke college student and don't own an ice cream scooper.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a scale to weigh the half empty ice cream container, but the heat of fusion for vanilla ice cream is about 204kj/kg, meaning it's okay if you forget about the ice cream for a few minutes, as it takes quite a bit of energy to melt. According to the internet, it takes more energy to melt vanilla ice cream than chocolate or strawberry. I don't really have an explanation for this, but just thought it was an interesting reasoning for next time your friend's chocolate ice cream is melting faster than your vanilla.


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