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Liquefaction[1] is a term used in materials sciences to refer to any process which either generates a liquid from a solid or a gas,[2] or generates a non-liquid phase which behaves in accordance with fluid dynamics.[3] Liquefaction occurs both as part of natural processes, and in man-made processes used in science and commerce. For example, "[a] major commercial application of liquefaction is the liquefaction of air to allow separation of the constituents, such as oxygen, nitrogen, and the noble gases",[4] while another application is the conversion of solid coal into a liquid form usable as a substitute for liquid fuels.[5]


The effects of soil liquefaction, seen after 2011 Canterbury earthquake

In geology, soil liquefaction refers to the process by which water-saturated, unconsolidated sediments are transformed into a substance that acts like a liquid, often in an earthquake. By undermining the foundations and base courses of infrastructure, liquefaction can cause serious damage.[6]

Physics and chemistry[edit]

In physics and chemistry, the phase transitions from solid and gas to liquid (melting and condensation, respectively) may be referred to as liquefaction. The melting point (sometimes called liquefaction point) is the temperature and pressure at which a solid becomes a liquid.

In commercial and industrial situations, the process of condensing a gas to liquid is sometimes referred to as liquefaction of gases.


Coal liquefaction is the production of liquid fuels from coal using a variety of industrial processes.


Liquefaction is also used in commercial and industrial settings to refer to mechanical dissolution of a solid by mixing, grinding or blending with a liquid.

Food preparation[edit]

In kitchen or laboratory settings, solids may be chopped into smaller parts sometimes in combination with a liquid, for example in food preparation or laboratory use. This may be done with a blender, or liquidiser in British English.


In biology, liquefaction often involves organic tissue turning into a more liquid-like state. For example, liquefactive necrosis in pathology,[7] or liquefaction as a parameter in semen analysis.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Some authors contend that there is a distinction between liquefaction and liquification (which is more commonly considered a misspelling), with the latter term applying only to processes involving heat. Ray Knox, David Stewart, The New Madrid Fault Finders Guide (1995), p. 36.
  2. ^ "Pharmeceutical Processes: Processes of Liquefaction", The Pharmaceutical Era (April 20, 1899), Vol. 21, p. 503, stating that "[by] a process of liquefaction is meant any process the effect of which is to cause a solid or gaseous body to assume or pass into the liquid state".
  3. ^ "Liquefaction", The American Heritage Science Dictionary (2005), p. 363.
  4. ^ Marshall Cavendish Corporation Staff, How It Works: Science and Technology (2003), p. 64.
  5. ^ James G. Speight, The Chemistry and Technology of Coal, Third Edition (2012), p. 545.
  6. ^ USGS. "About Liquefaction". 
  7. ^ Robbins and Cotran: Pathologic Basis of Disease, 8th Ed. 2010. Pg. 15
  8. ^ Gardner, Kavid (2001). Textbook of Assisted Reproductive Technology Laboratory and Clinical Perspectives. Taylor and Francis. p. 63. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 

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