Objects expand in all dimensions, as illustrated in Figure 2. That is, their areas and volumes, as well as their lengths, increase with temperature. Holes also get larger with temperature. If you cut a hole in a metal plate, the remaining material will expand exactly as it would if the plug was still in place. The plug would get bigger, and so the hole must get bigger too. (Think of the ring of neighboring atoms or molecules on the wall of the hole as pushing each other farther apart as temperature increases. Obviously, the ring of neighbors must get slightly larger, so the hole gets slightly larger).

**Thermal Expansion in Two Dimensions: **

For small temperature changes, the change in area

where

**Thermal Expansion in Three Dimensions: **

The change in volume

where is the coefficient of volume expansion and

*in Table 1 are almost exactly equal to*β β size 12{β} {}

In general, objects will expand with increasing temperature. Water is the most important exception to this rule. Water expands with increasing temperature (its density *decreases*) when it is at temperatures greater than *decreasing* temperature when it is between

**Making Connections: Real-World Connections—Filling the Tank: **

Differences in the thermal expansion of materials can lead to interesting effects at the gas station. One example is the dripping of gasoline from a freshly filled tank on a hot day. Gasoline starts out at the temperature of the ground under the gas station, which is cooler than the air temperature above. The gasoline cools the steel tank when it is filled. Both gasoline and steel tank expand as they warm to air temperature, but gasoline expands much more than steel, and so it may overflow.

This difference in expansion can also cause problems when interpreting the gasoline gauge. The actual amount (mass) of gasoline left in the tank when the gauge hits “empty” is a lot less in the summer than in the winter. The gasoline has the same volume as it does in the winter when the “add fuel” light goes on, but because the gasoline has expanded, there is less mass. If you are used to getting another 40 miles on “empty” in the winter, beware—you will probably run out much more quickly in the summer.

### Example 2: **Calculating Thermal Expansion: Gas vs. Gas Tank**

Suppose your 60.0-L (15.9-gal) steel gasoline tank is full of gas, so both the tank and the gasoline have a temperature of

*Strategy*

The tank and gasoline increase in volume, but the gasoline increases more, so the amount spilled is the difference in their volume changes. (The gasoline tank can be treated as solid steel.) We can use the equation for volume expansion to calculate the change in volume of the gasoline and of the tank.

*Solution*

1. Use the equation for volume expansion to calculate the increase in volume of the steel tank:

2. The increase in volume of the gasoline is given by this equation:

3. Find the difference in volume to determine the amount spilled as

Alternatively, we can combine these three equations into a single equation. (Note that the original volumes are equal.)

*Discussion*

This amount is significant, particularly for a 60.0-L tank. The effect is so striking because the gasoline and steel expand quickly. The rate of change in thermal properties is discussed in Heat and Heat Transfer Methods.

If you try to cap the tank tightly to prevent overflow, you will find that it leaks anyway, either around the cap or by bursting the tank. Tightly constricting the expanding gas is equivalent to compressing it, and both liquids and solids resist being compressed with extremely large forces. To avoid rupturing rigid containers, these containers have air gaps, which allow them to expand and contract without stressing them.