Combustion Of Alcohols

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Combustion Of Alcohols


This investigation involves burning alcohol in the air. Key science- Chemistry by Eileen Ramsden says that " an alcohol is a series of organic, homologous compounds, with the general formula Cn H2n+1OH". The alcohol reacts with the oxygen in the air to form the products water and carbon dioxide:

Cn H2n+1OH +(n+n/2)-1O2 ? nH2O + nCO2

The structure of the molecules in this reaction is:

H H | | H - C - C - O- H + 3[O=O] ? 1/2[O=C=O] + 3[H-O-H] | | H H

This reaction is exothermic, as heat is given out. This is because the amount reactant energy is more than the product energy the difference between this is ?H, therefore some energy has been given out in the form of heat.The energy is given out when forming the bonds between the new water and carbon dioxide molecules. This can be shown in an energy level diagram: Reaction co-ordinate ?H is the heat content, which is the enthalpy, which is negative in exothermic reactions as the diagram shows that energy is 'lost' as heat. Enthalpy is defined as the energy of reaction, or the heat energy associated with a chemical change. Chemical Principles By Master & Slowinski says that "For any reaction carried out directly at a constant pressure, the heat flow is exactly equal to the difference between enthalpy of products and that of the reactants", or: Qp = Hp - Hr = ?H Where Qp is the heat flow at constant pressure, Hp is heat energy of products, and Hr is the heat energy of the reactants.

To measure ?H given off, we must use this energy to heat something, this will be water. This is assuming that all the heat produced by combustion of fuel (?H) will equal the amount of heat absorbed by the water (q). So I will measure the amount of energy required to do so. This can be worked out by useing the formula: q = mass X specific heat capacity X temperature rise 1000 Where q is the quantity of heat. The specific heat capacity is the amount of energy required to heat the substance,...
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