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Capillary Action

liquid water force surface

Capillary action is the tendency of a liquid to rise in narrow tubes or to be drawn into small openings such as those between grains of a rock. Capillary action, also known as capillarity, is a result of the intermolecular attraction within the liquid and solid materials. A familiar example of capillary action is the tendency of a dry paper towel to absorb a liquid by drawing it into the narrow openings between the fibers.

The mutual attractive force that exists between like molecules of a particular liquid is called cohesion. This force is responsible for holding a raindrop together as a single unit. Cohesion produces the phenomenon known as surface tension, which may allow objects that are more dense than the liquid to be supported on the surface of the liquid without sinking. When an attractive force exists between two unlike materials, such as a liquid and a solid container, the attractive force is known as adhesion. Adhesion is the force that causes water to stick to the inside of a glass. If the adhesive force between the liquid and solid is greater than the cohesive force within the liquid, the liquid is said to wet the surface and the surface of the liquid near the edge of the container will curve upward. In cases where the cohesive force is greater than adhesion, the liquid is said to be nonwetting and the liquid surface will curve downward near the edge of the container.

The combination of the adhesive forces and the surface tension that arises from cohesion produces the characteristic upward curve in a wetting fluid. Capillarity is the result of cohesion of water molecules and adhesion of those molecules to the solid material forming the void. As the edges of the container are brought closer together, such as in a very narrow tube, the interaction of these phenomena causes the liquid to be drawn upward in the tube. The more narrow the tube, the greater the rise of the liquid. Greater surface tension and increased ratio of adhesion to cohesion also result in greater rise. However, increased density of the liquid will cause it to rise to a lesser degree.

The force with which water is held by capillary action varies with the quantity of water being held. Water entering a natural void, such as a pore within the soil, forms a film on the surface of the material surrounding the pore. The adhesion of the water molecules nearest the solid material is greatest. As water is added to the pore, the thickness of the film increases, the capillary force is reduced in magnitude, and water molecules on the outer portion of the film may begin to flow under the influence of gravity. As more water enters the pore the capillary force is reduced to zero when the pore is saturated. The movement of groundwater through the soil zone is controlled, in part, by capillary action. The transport of fluids within plants is also an example of capillary action. As the plant releases water from its leaves, water is drawn upward from the roots to replace it.

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over 2 years ago

What is the in-text reference for this article? It has helped a lot!

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over 2 years ago


Potential energy and capillary action:

http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/54128-continuous-frictioned-motion-machine/page__st__55

Thx.

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almost 6 years ago

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over 3 years ago

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about 7 years ago

i think this is a very helpful site.i like it.it is good 4 school projects

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about 3 years ago

how does the capillary action of clay soil compare to that of sand soil?

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over 5 years ago

the movement of water through plant tissues is not due to capillary action. trees can be over 100 meters tall, capillary action is too weak to explain this. The movement is through negative pressure in the xylem caused by evaporation of the leave, and hypertonic root cells causing water to flow in from the soil via osmosis and up to the leaves via atmospheric pressure being greater than that inside the xylem (due to evaporation of water in the leaves).

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about 3 years ago

Best explanation I've seen on the web.
Thanks.

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over 3 years ago

im in grade 7 and understand all of this. Your learning it in college???Anyway thx 4 the help

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about 4 years ago

The information is good and helped my kid in 5th grade for his science project. The combined effect of negative pressure created because of evaporation of water from leaves and the capillary action results in the water being pushed up to the leaves and flowers of the plants and tallest of the trees. But nature is too complicated to give 100% answers to all questions we may be 80% close to the correct answer

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almost 2 years ago

Fu.ck all you bi.tcha.ss nerds!

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about 5 years ago

My 8 yr old daughter today looked at me and said "I know how water moves up plants" where she went on to explain (using my words) that "water enters a plant and expands the stalk. As the stalk above the water begins to expand (due to pressure and 'soaking') it too begins to expand, resulting in a suction process pulling more water up into the void. The action continues up and throughout the plant." Not bad at all.

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almost 6 years ago

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almost 6 years ago

I think that this is a wonderful website. It helped me out with gathering information about capillary action. This site is very useful and informal. Thank you very much!!!!

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almost 6 years ago

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almost 6 years ago

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about 6 years ago

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over 5 years ago

wait...ok...so is capillary action like "tubes" of whatever that the water flows through to get the water to the plants??

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almost 6 years ago

The force with which water is held by capillary action varies with the quantity of water being held. Water entering a natural void, such as a pore within the soil, forms a film on the surface of the material surrounding the pore. The adhesion of the water molecules nearest the solid material is greatest. As water is added to the pore, the thickness of the film increases, the capillary force is reduced in magnitude, and water molecules on the outer portion of the film may begin to flow under the influence of gravity. As more water enters the pore the capillary force is reduced to zero when the pore is saturated. The movement of groundwater through the soil zone is controlled, in part, by capillary action. The transport of fluids within plants is also an example of capillary action. As the plant releases water from its leaves, water is drawn upward from the roots to replace it.



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almost 2 years ago

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almost 2 years ago

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almost 2 years ago

Niger

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almost 7 years ago

I totally luv this web page. It is so helpful! Like in my Chemistry Homework about capillary action I totally could use this page. I really mean it. It has a lot of good info! :-)

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almost 7 years ago

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almost 7 years ago

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over 3 years ago

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over 3 years ago

is there any liquid that does not exhibit capillary action

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over 3 years ago

this was good for our researech paper hopefullly we get an A+++++

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over 3 years ago

this defenition really helped me with my Science Project.Thanks.

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almost 4 years ago

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almost 4 years ago

I need more information to explain EXAMPLES not just imagining something going up a tube..

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about 4 years ago

Does the number of molecules in the liquid have any affect on how high the liquid will climb. For instance, if a liquid has more molecules than the second, will it climb higher up the tube than the second?

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over 4 years ago

is the capillary action applies to the gravure industry and how it acts with gravure cylinder and substrate used

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over 5 years ago

capillary action is used by plants to spread water to its apendiges and leaves!!

dont doubt the strenght of capillary action!

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almost 6 years ago

this is nice description it really helps me for my homework continue with these good ideas in science that i can learn more and morer about it.


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about 3 years ago

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over 3 years ago

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over 4 years ago

the capillary action is rising awater in anarrow tube because the tube is narrow and adhensive force is greater than cohensive

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over 6 years ago

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over 3 years ago

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over 7 years ago

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almost 3 years ago

Thx this help us in ur tp of plant physiology

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almost 6 years ago

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about 6 years ago

hi, i'm doing a science expo next week and this is my experiment, so id like to say thanks for giving me all this info, ive learnt alot and my teacher said that is a really good one and she likes it so thanks.

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about 6 years ago

what is the use of capillary action and the surface tension?plz. . .

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over 6 years ago

How does capillary action and blotting action relate? Wiki seams to use them to mean the same thing.

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over 6 years ago

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over 6 years ago

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almost 3 years ago

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about 3 years ago

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over 3 years ago

Thanks for the interesting article. Can you tell me if water undergoing capillary action is under raised or lowered pressure? Thanks.

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almost 2 years ago

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about 6 years ago

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9 days ago

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9 months ago

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9 months ago

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