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To find out how much energy is produced when burning two hydrocarbons, Ethanol and Paraffin. I will be burning these hydrocarbons to heat up a beaker of water.

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Sc1 Aim: To find out how much energy is produced when burning two hydrocarbons, Ethanol and Paraffin. I will be burning these hydrocarbons to heat up a beaker of water. Theory: Combustion is burning a fuel with oxygen to release energy. Combustion can only take place when a fuel, heat and oxygen are present. When we burn fuels we produce carbon dioxide + water. Most fuels are hydrocarbons, they contain hydrogen and carbon. Alkanes are a group of hydrocarbon molecules in which all the carbon and hydrogen atoms are only joined by single covalent bonds (eg C-H or C-C). Alkanes are a member of a group of hydrocarbons having the general formula CnH2n+2 (where "n" is a constant) , commonly known as paraffins. As they contain only single covalent bonds, alkanes are said to be saturated. Lighter alkanes, such as methane, ethane, propane, and butane, are colourless gases heavier ones are liquids or solids. In nature they are found in natural gas and petroleum. Paraffin is an alkane. Alkanes burn in a plentiful supply of air to release energy (this is why they are used as fuels Alcohols are similar to alkanes. Ethanol is a member of the group of organic molecules called alcohols. Just as alkanes are identified as saturated hydrocarbons, so alcohols are identified by having an O-H group in the molecule. Ethanol has two carbons. ...read more.


Method: To demonstrate the effect of complete and incomplete combustion a preliminary investigation will be done by placing a glass beaker containing 100cm3 of water on a tripod and gauze. The starting temperature will be recorded. The Bunsen burner will be turned on to safety flame (low oxygen availability) and the change in temperature recorded at 1 minute intervals. The procedure will be repeated for the roaring flame (high oxygen) and a second set of results recorded. These will be tabulated and a graph plotted of temperature against time. Things that I will keep constant throughout the investigation include: Volume of water 100cm3 Type of beaker ((glass) Surrounding temperature Height of beaker from bunsen Same set of scales Same thermometer The method I will use is as follows: Measure 100cm3 of water into a copper beaker. Place the copper beaker into the grasp of a clamp stand. Take the starting temperature of the water and gather a chosen fuel burner and weigh it on the scales with the lid off. Place the chosen fuel burner under the beaker and adjust the clamp if needs be until the flame is just touching the bottom of the beaker. Leave to heat up until the temperature of the water reaches 20�C more than the starting temperature of the water. Weigh the fuel burner and calculate the difference in weight as well as the change in temperature. ...read more.


Also during the experiment, some of the water will have evaporated, thus the water mass/temp reading will be altered. I should have weighed the spirit burner with the lid on and not off to reduce the chance of evaporation of fuel. I feel that this experiment could have been improved by using a wider range of fuels such as methanol and butanol. This would give a wider range of results to support a firm conclusion. Next time reducing heat lost would be my main priority. Improving insulation techniques would be useful in obtaining the most reliable data I could. Another error is that of incomplete combustion. Complete combustion occurs if there are lots of oxygen atoms available when the fuel burns, then you get carbon dioxide (carbons atoms bond with two oxygen atoms). If there is a limited supply of oxygen then you get carbon monoxide (each carbon atom can only bond with one oxygen atom). This is when incomplete combustion has occurred. This is so because the carbon monoxide could react some more to make carbon dioxide. If the oxygen supply is very limited then you get some atoms of carbon released before they can bond with any oxygen atoms. This is what we call soot. Since heat is given out when bonds form, less energy is given out by incomplete combustion. So this is why it affects the outcome of the experiment. To overcome this problem, I would have to make sure a sufficient supply of oxygen was involved in the reaction. ...read more.

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