Unexpected water flow through Nafion-tube punctures

Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2011 May;83(5 Pt 2):056305. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevE.83.056305. Epub 2011 May 4.


When a Nafion tube is immersed in water and a small hole is punched in the tube's wall, an unexpected phenomenon occurs: Water flows continuously into the tube through the hole. The phenomenon has proved repeatable, and dynamic aspects were therefore explored, including the effects of altered pH and introduction of a second hole. It appears that the flow is closely tied to the recently discovered "exclusion zone" that forms as an annulus inside the Nafion tube. These zones generate protons in the core of the tube, which exert pressure on the menisci; once a hole is punched, the pressure is relieved by sucking water through the hole. This hypothesis is consistent with the observed experimental evidence and may be relevant to the mechanism of water transport in trees.

MeSH terms

  • Fluorocarbon Polymers / chemistry*
  • Hydrochloric Acid / chemistry
  • Hydrodynamics*
  • Microspheres
  • Water / chemistry*


  • Fluorocarbon Polymers
  • Water
  • perfluorosulfonic acid
  • Hydrochloric Acid