Can you stop water expanding when it freezes?

18 September 2011

Question

Can you mix water with something to stop it expanding when it freezes?

Answer

Water and glycerol have really fantastic properties. You can freeze water, as we know, at around 0Ã?,°C whereas glycerol, pure glycerol, freezes at a much higher temperature. If you mix the two components together, you can actually reduce the freezing temperature to below 0. I believe at a concentration of 0.3 mole fraction, so 30% glycerol, 70% water, you can get the freezing temperature of that solution, all the way down to -45Ã?,°C. now what's that doing to the actual hydrogen bonded network of water, that's exactly what we're trying to find out, using this neutron diffraction technique.

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