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Memo Ice Skating

Ice skating become difficult if the temperature is too low as the ice becomes very hard.
Low temperatures can cause the person to fall down constantly. The reason behind
enjoyable ice skating is the pressure induced melting of ice at lower temperatures than
the normal melting point.
If we analyze the phase diagram of water [1], we can easily deduce the reason (refer to
Figure 1 in the attachments section). Water is unusual in the sense that its solid state is
less dese that its liquid state. This is represented by the negative slope of the line
separating the solid and liquid phase. If the pressure increases, the melting temperature
of ice decreases. When a person is skating, the weight of the person applies force on
the ice. Pressure is described as the force per unit area. In equation for we can
represent this as:

= (1)

Where pressure is in units of Pascal (or kg/ms2), force has units of Newton (or kgm/s2)
and area has units of m2. The lower the area, the higher the pressure and lower the
temperature the ice will melt at. Since the blades beneath the skates are thin, the area
of application is small and thus the force of the person results in a high pressure
resulting in pressure induced melting of ice (see Figure 2 [2]).
The melting of ice leads to a layer of water forming which helps aids in the sliding
across the ice floor. We can calculate the minimum temperature required for enjoyable
skating using the Clapeyron equation [3] which can be derived by realizing that at the
solid-liquid phase boundary the Gibbs energy must be equal since water and ice will be
at equilibrium. The Clapeyron can be written as:
= H (2)
( )
Where P is the pressure in units of Pascal (or kg/ms2), T is the temperature in Kelvin,
VL and VS are the specific volumes of the liquid and solid phases in m3/kg and H is the
heat of fusion in J/kg. We can then make an approximation that dP = P and dT = T. With this
assumption and rearrangement of the equation (2) we get:
= (3)
1 ( 0 ) VH

Using equation (3) and the description of the skates provided, the calculated T min comes
out to be -0.78C. Since ice melts at 0C at normal atmospheric pressure, slightly
thinner/shorter blades should be considered. Temperature of the ice skating rink needs
to be kept at temperatures below 0C to prevent bulk melting of ice while considering
the fact that it is not very low that pressure induced melting fails. A Tmin of -1.0C should
at least be considered which would require a blade area of 0.00004 m 2.

Figure 1. Phase diagram of water. Pressure in atm is shown on the y-axis and
temperature in C is shown on the x-axis. This phase diagram shows the unusual
characteristic of water which is the negative slope of the line separating the solid and
liquid states. This represents the fact that ice is less dense than water.
Figure 2. This figure shows how the weight of the person acting on the ice leads to a
high pressure due to the thin blades.

1. Navigation
OLD/PHY313/doku.php?id=lectures%3A6 (accessed Oct 7, 2017).
2. Intermediate, C. K. Phase Diagram for Water
(accessed Oct 7, 2017).
3. Dahm, K. D.; Visco, D. P.; Singh, J. Fundamentals of chemical engineering
thermodynamics; Cengage Learning: Stamford, CT, 2015.