Chemistry Investigation on Fuels

Topics: Heat, Ethanol, Combustion Pages: 13 (3669 words) Published: February 23, 2011
The purpose of this investigation is to explore how much energy is stored in different types of fuels and see which one would be better to purchase for a camping trip. The process that was used to find this was called calorimetery and the results from this were compared to the price per milliliter for each fuel. The fuel that was the best to purchase over all was deemed to be Ethanol. Ethanol was the alcohol fuel that held the highest amount of energy compared to the price and had the highest rating compared with the other fuels. The other fuels tested which were; Pentanol, 4 – methyl – 2 – Pentanol and Octanol.

1.1 Introduction
A fuel is a substance that can be used to generate energy in a controlled manner. Throughout history fuels have always been used, from caveman heating their caves with a simple fire to cars running on organic fuels. A fuel is not just charcoal, wood or peat. The most commonly used fuels that are used today are coal, petroleum and natural gas which all belong to the hydrocarbon group. Other groups of fuels that are important include the alcohol group. An alcohol is any organic compound which contains a hydroxyl group that is bound to a carbon atom. A hydroxyl group is oxygen and hydrogen covalently bonded together as shown in the diagram to the left. There are many types of alcohols which are used for different purposes and they include; methanol, ethanol, butanol, pentanol and Octanol. The most commonly used alcohol is ethanol. This is the same type of alcohol used in alcoholic beverages which are drunk for recreational purposes. For this investigation there was a choice of 9 alcohol fuels which required investigating. To investigate the alcohols a hypothesis had to be created to find out how much energy each of these fuels contained. The hypothesis selected was “the bigger the molecule, the more energy it contains”. Considering and examining the molecules sizes for all of the fuels 4 fuels were chosen to investigate was a very important process. The fuels were all chosen for the purpose of testing the hypothesis. The fuel with the smallest molecule (Ethanol) and the fuel with the biggest molecule (Octanol), the other fuels that were tested were 4-methyl-2-pentanol (4M2P) and Pentanol. The reason 4M2P was chosen to investigate was because it only has one small difference to pentanol and that was a side chain and it would be important in the investigation knowing what affect this had on the amount of energy stored in the fuel.

1.2 Information about the alcohol fuels
This section contains information about the fuels that were selected in this investigation. The general information contained in this section (1.2) has been obtained from MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) which are located attached in the appendices 1.21 Methanol

Chemical Properties
Odour: Alcohol Like
Colour: Clear Colourless
Molecular Weight: N/A
pH: 7 Neutral
Boiling Point: Lowest known value is 78.5°C
Specific Gravity: 0.8 g/ml (water =1)
Solubility: Easily soluble in cold water, hot water, methanol, and acetone Stability: This product is stable
Corrosivity: Not corrosive in the presence of glass
Chemical Formula: C2H5OH
Other Properties
Flammability of the Product: Flammable

Auto-Ignition Temperature: The lowest known value is 363°C

Products of Combustion: These products are carbon oxides (CO, CO2)

Fire Hazard in Presence of various substances: Highly flammable in presence of open flames and sparks, of heat. Slightly flammable to flammable in presence of oxidizing materials. Non-flammable in presence of shocks, of reducing materials, of combustible materials, of organic materials, of metals, of acids, of alkalis.

Explosion Hazard in Presence of various substances: Slightly explosive in presence of open flames and sparks, of heat, of oxidizing materials, of acids. Non-explosive in presence of shocks.

Fire Fighting Media and Instructions: Flammable liquid, soluble or dispersed...

Bibliography: Pentanol , MSDS
27/8/10 SSA – Science Supply Australia, 2009-2010 Catalogue
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