Thermoses are great for those who pack their lunch for work. They are designed to maintain the temperature of the liquid inside, whether it’s hot or cold. Want to keep your soup or morning coffee hot during your morning commute? How about a cold cup of orange juice you want to enjoy once you’ve settled into the office? A thermos is the perfect solution, but have you ever wondered how it’s able to maintain temperatures? Here’s how a thermos container works!
Before we get into how a thermos container works, let’s begin with how heat transfers. Heat is the random motion of matter particles, or internal energy. The more particles move, the hotter an object is. Heat transfers in three ways: conduction, convection, and radiation.
● Conduction: The flow of heat that follows physical contact. If you touch a hot stove, your finger will get burned as a result. When we touch an object to test its temperature, we are feeling the temperature of our skin rather than the temperature of the object.
● Convection: Heat transfer caused by the motion of a liquid or gas. When boiling water in a pot, the water at the bottom heats up faster. Hotter fluids have lower density, so they rise up. The hot water at the bottom will rise to the top and the colder water falls to the bottom. This repeats, evenly distributing the heat to all of the water.
● Radiation: Heat transferred by electromagnetic waves. When the waves are absorbed by an object, the object heats up. Radiation doesn’t require a medium for heat transfer to occur and is the method the sun uses to heat the planet.
A thermos works by minimizing the amount of heat transfer that gets inside due to radiation and conduction. Surprisingly, convection isn’t a part of this because it keeps the temperature even. This means that the liquid inside will be hotter at the top and colder at the bottom. Thermos containers are technically known as a vacuum flask.
This is because it’s made up of a bottle inside of a bottle which is separated by a vacuum. This vacuum minimizes conduction because it eliminates direct heat contact with the contents inside the thermos. A hot liquid will still radiate hate, but thermoses are coated with a silver surface that helps prevent electromagnetic waves from getting through.
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