A purely kinetic description of the evaporation of water droplets

Frances A Houle*, Rachael E H Miles, Connor J Pollak, Jonathan P Reid

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
138 Downloads (Pure)


The process of water evaporation, although deeply studied, does not enjoy a kinetic description that captures known physics and can be integrated with other detailed processes such as drying of catalytic membranes embedded in vapor-fed devices and chemical reactions in aerosol whose volumes are changing dynamically. In this work, we present a simple, three-step kinetic model for water evaporation that is based on theory and validated by using well-established thermodynamic models of droplet size as a function of time, temperature, and relative humidity as well as data from time-resolved measurements of evaporating droplet size. The kinetic mechanism for evaporation is a combination of two limiting processes occurring in the highly dynamic liquid–vapor interfacial region: direct first order desorption of a single water molecule and desorption resulting from a local fluctuation, described using third order kinetics. The model reproduces data over a range of relative humidities and temperatures only if the interface that separates bulk water from gas phase water has a finite width, consistent with previous experimental and theoretical studies. The influence of droplet cooling during rapid evaporation on the kinetics is discussed; discrepancies between the various models point to the need for additional experimental data to identify their origin
Original languageEnglish
Article number054501
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number5
Early online date1 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2021


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