Identifying an Unknown Metal

Topics: Thermodynamics, Heat, Water Pages: 2 (697 words) Published: October 29, 2008

The ability to identify metals is an extremely important one. With this ability, we can correctly assign different traits, and use the metal in its most suitable environment. This is important to many industries, where metals play an increasingly large role. Determining the identity of the metal is paramount to determining what conditions to use the metal under. This seemly simple task is, however, can be quite complex, as there are many ways by which one can identify a metal, each with varying amounts of accuracy. In order to test some of these methods, thermal expansion, density, and specific heat were used to identify two small metal rods.

The overall purpose of this experiment was to identify an unknown metal using the three previously stated properties. This means that the percent error should be relatively low, meaning that there would be little difference between the values measured in our experiment and the true values of the metal. Density was the simplest experiment. It basically entailed measuring the length and diameters of the metal cylinders and measuring their mass with a scale. The data collected were then used to calculate the volume, and later the density of the unknown metal. Due to the simplicity and reliability of the density experiment, it was given the most weight during the experiment.

Thermal Expansion was a bit more complicated than density. This experiment entailed using a hot plate to heat water to its boiling point. A Supal testing apparatus was then calibrated to the exact length of the metal in order to measure a difference in length. The metal cylinders were then placed into the boiling water to heat up and expand due to the heat. The cylinders were then placed into the Supal testing apparatus in order to measure the change in length. These values were then taken and used to calculate the thermal expansion coefficient.

Specific heat was the most complicated of the experiments. It entailed...
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