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Original Title: Rate of Moisture Absorption

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Absorption

1. Introduction & Importance

Textile Materials play a vital role in our lives but aspects of textiles related to

moisture are probably amongst the most important ones. It is noted that

textile materials take too long to attain dynamic equilibrium (regarding

absorption of moisture) with their surroundings. One of the prime examples of

this is drying of clothing material if hanged in open air for the very purpose.

There are multitude of factors impacting the attainment of such equilibrium

like temperature, air humidity, wind velocity, surrounding space, thickness of

material, density of material, nature of fibre just to name a few.

Doesnt matter how irksome it may prove; this slow attainment of dynamic

equilibrium with surroundings has its benefits. For example, in situations

where material retains water, it prevents rapid changes in humidity or

temperature and thus exercises stabilising or control influence.

We are attempting to study the factors that play key role in changing

conditions of textile materials. To simplify matters, the material taking in

water shall be assumed. It then becomes clear that drying shall follow the

reverse path.

2. Diffusion of Moisture

2.1

Diffusion Equation and its solution

The slowness of drying or wetting can be explained with a reasonable /

obvious assumption that it takes long for the material to get dry or wet

because it takes water molecules a while to move into fibre from air or to

move into air from fibre.

In case the concentration of water or any diffusing fluid varies within the

medium of concern (e.g. air or fibre) from one place to another, the

molecules of diffusing fluid move from the region with higher

concentration to the region with lower concentration. This movement

continues until the concentration of the diffusing fluid in the medium

becomes equal. When such a situation is reached, a dynamic equilibrium

is said to be achieved. There is hardly any movement of the fluid

molecules (in the medium) once the equilibrium has been reached except

under circumstances where ambient temperature or humidity changes

with respect to the medium itself. In such a case the gradient of

concentration becomes available and the diffusion process starts over and

continues unless a new state of equilibrium is reached.

We are going to consider a section / stratum in the medium of diffusing

fluid that has the depth and height of unity but has the thickness dx as

dm

dt across the section /

dimension, say x for convenience) was first given by Adolf Fick [1]. Under

steady state assumption, diffusive flux is related to concentration of

diffusing fluid according to Ficks First Law which has the generic form (for

two or more dimensions) as given under: -

J=

dm

=DA c (1)

dt

m = Mass being transported across the stratum / section

A = Area of the stratum / section across which diffusion is taking

place

t = Time taken by mass m to diffuse across the stratum / section

c = Concentration of diffusing fluid

J = Diffusive flux (equal to mass transport rate)

= Nabla Operator

dx

If the concentration of the fluid on the left face of the section / stratum, as

shown in Fig. 1, is c then its clear that the concentration, with gradient

c

c

c+

dx .

on

the

right

face

(also

shown

in

Fig.

1)

will

be

x

x

The equation (1), for one dimension (namely x), can be written as: -

dm

c

=DA

(2)

dt

x

From equation (2), a differential equation can be derived that interrelates

concentration, time and position.

Considering the section / stratum shown in Fig. 1, the mass that diffuses

into the left face (of the

dm=D

c

dt (3)

x

Now, replacing the concentration of right face into equation (3) gives us

the mass diffusing out of the right face across the section / stratum during

same time dt : -

dm=D

c

c+

dx dt( 4)

x

x

dm=D

c

c

D

dx dt (5)

x

x x

(3) and (5) and is same as the change of concentration multiplied by the

volume of the section / stratum: -

c

c

c

c

dt . dx=D

dt + D

+D

dx dt (6)

t

x

x

x x

( )

c

c

=

D

( 7)

t x

x

The equation (7)1 is the diffusion equation for one dimension. This can also

be generalised to be applied in two or more dimensions.

Assuming that the coefficient of diffusion D remains constant throughout

the medium, equation (7) can simply be written as: 2

c

c

=D 2 (8)

t

x

Equation (8) can be solved for appropriate boundary values but doing that

here is not possible as it demands a book of its own. A collection of

solutions for variety of cases like one discussed here and many others

have been provided in detail by Crank [2] to which enthusiastic reader(s)

is / are duly referred.

However, Morton & Hearle [3] have assumed conditions far simpler than

one shall encounter in real life. They have adopted analytical approach

which for most of the purposes (also for fibres of textile use), provides

satisfactory solution without sacrificing much of the accuracy & precision

fibres are amongst the most complicated structures.

In systems as complicated as fibrous structures, the coefficient of diffusion

varies with concentration itself. There are other problems that may

present themselves. For example, absorption taking place with diffusion

removes the molecules from diffusion process thus making it hard to keep

track of diffusion itself. Also, the swelling sets the medium in motion along

with diffusing substance. All such complicated scenarios have been

discussed in detail by Crank [2].

The analytical approach of solving PDEs cannot be applied to equation (7)

unless some relationship between D and c is established / used /

employed.

However, simpler approach can be adopted by avoiding mathematical

complexities of the solution for PDEs derived herein. The scenario for such

a solution is shown in Fig. 2. We are going to make a special case of it

where diffusion is taking place from a source of infinite concentration c 0

to a receiver with mean concentration c at time t.

In this case we can write (refer to Fig. 2): -

dc dm dc

[( cc 0 ) ] (9)

dt dt

cx

( )

C0

C = 0 at t = 0

dc

dt

= (10)

cc 0

Where = Time constant.

Now at the start where t = 0, c = 0; integrating with these boundary

conditions: -

t

log ( c 0c ) = log c 0

(11)

c=c ( 1e ) (12)

0

( 1e )(13)

c=c0 1

It can be inferred from equation (13) that is the time it takes for the

process to reach 63% of its total progress.

If we differentiate equation (12): -

dc c 0

= e

dt

(14)

dc c 0

= (15)

dt

Equation (15) says that is also the time the process shall take for

completion provided that it progressed at initial rate. The pictorial

portrayal of equations (13) and (15) is given in Fig. 3.

diffusion from a source of infinite concentration c0. Here is

time constant and depends on specific diffusion conditions[3].

As can be seen that pictorial representation is just a plot between relative

concentration c/c0 of receiver and time constant . The plot shows an

exponential trend and at first rises fast due to lack of diffusive fluid

molecules in receiver. As receiver is filled, empty space gets low leaving

less and less for incoming ones. This is the spot where curve starts

flattening and once receiver is filled up completely, means have no

emptier space, incoming is blocked and curve gets flatened. The height of

the curve is dependent on the capacity of the receiver and to some extent

on source concentration level. If source is large enough, then source

concentration level has hardly anything to do with height the curve takes.

Further Reading: 1. A. Fick, Ueber Diffusion, Annalen der Physik, 1855, pp. 59 86.

2. J. Crank, The Mathematics of Diffusion, Second Edition, Clarendon Press,

Oxford, England, 1975.

3. W. E. Morton & J. W. S. Hearle, Physical Properties of Textile Fibres, Fourth

Edition, Woodhead Publishing Limited, Cambridge, England, 2008.

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