Say you have a 14 gauge wire that has been greatly overloaded to the point that it melts the copper conductor. What is happening at the atomic/electron level that causes this to happen. I'm trying to get a better picture of curent flow.
My thinks that with all of those electrons trying to squeeze through that tiny wire the electrons just plain explode outward like a balloon when they can't make it to the other end of the wire. Or, using that water theory, when you try to put too much water pressure on a hose that can't handle ot the hose explodes. To heck with that friction and heating theory. Now back to my martini.
Re: Under the hood of melting wires#130252 03/01/0608:15 AM03/01/0608:15 AM
At one time I was confused by the fact that temperature increased resistance, since in almost all chemical applications where molecules bond, heat is considered a catalyst.
Then someone explained that it was merely a matter of the atoms getting farther and farther apart from expansion as they heated, thus making the "gap" the electron was required to jump larger and, therefore, increased the resistance.
I guess this could be taken one step further to the point that the atomic structure expands to the point the molecules no longer bond adequately, and go from a rigid state to a molten one.
....or maybe not
[This message has been edited by WFO (edited 03-01-2006).]
Re: Under the hood of melting wires#130253 03/01/0605:41 PM03/01/0605:41 PM
Correct. Van der Waals and London forces are weak molecular bonds tending to hold substances together as solids or liquids. Increasing motion of molecules due to raised temperature strains against these forces. Total breaking of the forces causes the substance to melt or boil at a specific temperature and pressure. The increase in temperature in a conductor carrying current comes from friction of the electrons passing. Electrons are not electricity, any more than water is pounds per square inch. You cannot bottle a kick up the ass; it's a force not a substance. Not quite sure why electrical resistance increases with temperature in metals, because it decreases with temperature in carbon.