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I have been given several different types of crisps and asked to carry out an experiment to find out which crisp releases the most energy when respired.

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Coursework Experiment


        I have been given several different types of crisps and asked to carry out an experiment to find out which crisp releases the most energy when respired.

       A balanced diet contains the six food groups Carbohydrates, Proteins, Lipids, Vitamins, Minerals, and Fibre. Out of these seven food groups three are classed as macronutrients and the other 3 micronutrients. In other words some you need a lot of to keep you healthy and some you need only a little. The micronutrients are Vitamins and Minerals, which are used to keep the body healthy, and Fibre that is used to help with excretion in humans and the others are macro, Carbohydrates are made of starch which will then be broken down by enzymes to make glucose for energy, Protein is used mainly for growth and repair but if necessary will be used for energy. Lastly Lipids are used for energy but unlike Carbohydrates that are fast releasing, Lipids are slow releasing. When predicting which type of crisp will release the most energy I will take into account the levels of all three of theses macronutrients in the different types of crisp.


        Using the data in the tables and the information from my note about how much energy 1g of each of the macronutrients releases when respired I predict that the Smiths salt ‘n’ Shake and Walkers Ready Salted crisps will both release the most energy.

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                I will keep the starting water temperature at 20 degrees Celsius by changing the water and test tube for each experiment and the starting volume of the water at 20cm3 because if it was less the water would just boil and evaporate so I will get no temperature change and if there is too much water it will take to long and the crisp would only heat the water a fraction. To do this I will always check the temperature is 20 degrees Celsius (room temperature) and I will use a measuring cylinder to measure 20ml of water for the boiling tube. Using a measuring cylinder is not a very accurate way of measuring the water instead using a glass pipette. I will also keep the distance between the crisp and the boiling tube 5cm because if I were to put it at a distance of 20cm for example most of the heat would be lost to the air and if it was 1-2cm the crisp would be smothered and the flame would go out due to lack of oxygen. Finally I will always light the crisp in the same way because doing it another way may cause the crisp to be away from the tube for a longer period of time cause more heat to be lost than in the previous experiment.


  1. Set up equipment as shown in diagram.
  2. Take crisp weigh on scales, record mass on table and place crisp in tin foil cup.
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        Looking at my table comparing my experimental and predicted results I can see that my experiment was not performed fairly at all and these results have shown me my experiment had many errors.

        As I have already said a lot of heat and energy was absorbed by the air, the clamp and the boiling tube. The soot on the boiling tube was part of the crisp so it takes some of the mass away without burning it, the soot can be burned in pure oxygen. Some of the crisps may have taken more energy to light. The smoke that came off of the crisps was hot and would of given energy but drifted off in to the air. There was also light energy given off but very little.

        All of these errors are eliminated when the energy of the crisps is measured in the factory by using a Bomb calorimeter.


The Bomb Calorimeter (pictured above) does not allow heat to be absorbed by the air, as it is all trapped inside and has a heatproof platform. The soot is burned because the crisp is burnt in pure oxygen, they time how long it takes to light the crisp and use a constant amount of energy so they know how much energy has been used. The smoke and heat is fed through a coiled pipe to heat the water around it and by the time it reaches the top it is cold so no heat is lost. They also use exactly 1g of crisp.

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