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# Finding a material's specific heat capacity

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Jonathan Hobbs                                                                     -  -                                                                         09/05/2007

Physics coursework: Finding a material's specific heat capacity

Skill A

Aim:

The aim is to accurately find the specific heat capacity of a material given a certain mass of that material and other experimental equipment.  The specific heat capacity of a substance is the heat energy required to raise one kilogram of the material by one Kelvin or one degree centigrade – it is usually measured in J kg-1 K-1.  The experimental technique and results will be analysed.  The purpose is to be able to conclude the reason for certain materials having higher or lower specific heat capacities than others and to discuss these reasons scientifically.  Perhaps, during the course of the experiment, means could even be devised to reduce energy-loss when heating substances.

In addition, it should be ensured to be an entirely fair test and the results we achieve must be reliably accurate and trustworthy.  Everything will be controlled as best as it can be under the circumstances so a viable conclusion can be generated at the end, the correctness of which can be analysed.

## Planning and method:

Before any experimental data was gathered, a preliminary experiment was carried out to aid the planning process, practise the procedure and to predict any difficulties that may be encountered.  The most successful methods of insulation were tried out to optimise the accuracy of the experiment by minimising heat loss.  It was decided that the specific heat capacity of copper would be found.  In addition, the apparatus that would be used could be decided after comparative tests and after assessing the sensitivities and accuracies of the instruments.  Because of the

Middle

4869

571

4298

1380

23.9

11.2

4869

685

4184

1410

23.8

11.2

4869

685

4184

1440

23.7

11.2

4869

685

4184

1470

23.6

11.2

4869

685

4184

1500

23.6

11.2

4869

685

4184

1530

23.5

11.2

4869

685

4184

1560

23.4

11.2

4869

685

4184

1590

23.3

11.3

4869

800

4070

1620

23.2

11.3

4869

800

4070

1650

23.2

11.3

4869

800

4070

1680

23.1

11.3

4869

800

4070

1710

23.0

11.3

4869

800

4070

1740

23.0

11.3

4869

800

4070

1770

22.9

11.3

4869

800

4070

1800

22.8

11.4

4869

914

3955

1830

22.7

11.4

4869

914

3955

1860

22.7

11.4

4869

914

3955

1890

22.6

11.4

4869

914

3955

1920

22.6

11.4

4869

914

3955

1950

22.5

11.4

4869

914

3955

1980

22.4

11.5

4869

1028

3841

2010

22.3

11.5

4869

1028

3841

2040

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11.5

4869

1028

3841

2070

22.1

11.5

4869

1028

3841

2100

22.0

11.5

4869

1028

3841

2130

21.9

11.5

4869

1028

3841

2160

21.8

11.5

4869

1028

3841

2190

21.7

11.6[3]

4869

1142

3727

2220

21.6

11.6

4869

1142

3727

2250

21.5

11.6

4869

1142

3727

2280

21.5

11.6

4869

1142

3727

2310

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11.6

4869

1142

3727

2340

21.3

11.6

4869

1142

3727

2370

21.3

11.6

4869

1142

3727

2400

21.2

11.5

4869

1142

3727

2430

21.2

11.5

4869

1142

3727

2460

21.1

11.5

4869

1142

3727

2490

21.0

11.4

4869

1142

3727

2520

20.9

11.4

4869

1142

3727

2550

20.8

11.4

4869

1142

3727

2580

20.7

11.4

4869

1142

3727

## Experiment two

Measurement

#### Sensitivity

Average Value

Error

Metal temperature

Temperature

± 0.05°C

23.42°C

0.21%

Water temperature

Temperature

± 0.05°C

12.42°C

0.40%

Electrical Energy

Power

-

-

0.02%

Time

+ 1.00 s

1740.00 s

0.06%

Total: 0.08%

Water energy

Specific heat capacity

taken to be zero

4192.50 J kg-1 K-1

0.00%

Mass

± 0.50 g

288.00 g

0.17%

Temperature change

2 x ± 0.05°C

12.42°C

0.81%

Total: 0.98%

'True' energy

(Electrical energy - water energy)

Electrical energy

-

-

0.08%

Water energy

-

-

0.98%

Largest error: 0.98%

Conclusion

Should more time be available, many more repeats could be carried out so that the average would give even more accurate results.  In addition, the temperature probes would be calibrated before performing the experiment to ensure they were suitably accurate and sensitive.  This combined with much more sensitive measuring instruments would help in reducing in-built errors.

Finally, all measuring devices could be linked up to a computer which would record all the variables and draw a graph of the results of the experiment as it took place.  This would have numerous advantages.  Firstly, any human error in making readings at certain times would be eliminated as a computer can perform several high-level tasks simultaneously – all the readings could be taken at precisely the same time and recorded with no delays.  All of this would be automated and could occur at much more regular intervals, meaning that smoother graphs could be constructed.  Human intervention need not even be required and repeats could be carried out without user commands.  The power could be constantly monitored, kept constant and any fluctuations noted and regarded in calculations.  Another advantage is that the data could be plotted while the experiment went on meaning that any anomalies could instantly be spotted and the appropriate repeats be organised.  Furthermore, the apparatus would not have to be touched in between repeats so that there would be very no difference between the conditions and no errors introduced because of humans.

Notes:

Should choose specific heat capacities of water for each temperature -> look in data book.

[1]Time at which the heater was switched off.

[2]Denotes maximum temperature of copper block reached.

[3]Denotes maximum temperature of water reached.

[4]Time at which the heater was switched off.

[5]Denotes maximum temperature of copper block reached.

[6]Denotes maximum temperature of water reached.

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