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Which Alcohol is the best fuel?

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Emma Keller 11T Which Alcohol is the best fuel? Coursework AIM: I am carrying out an investigation to see which alcohol is the best fuel. I will do this by experimenting with different alcohols and setting them alight and measuring different factors. I will analyse all my results and try to discover patterns, which should help me to conclude which alcohol is the best fuel. PLAN This is how my experiment will be set out: Keeping this experiment a fair test There are many variables in this experiment that can effect the outcome of this experiment. The dependant variables that I will keep the same will be the height of the tin can above the wick. I will keep this the same because different heights can effect the heat that is transferred to the tin can and into the water, therefore altering the temperature change. I will use the same tin can so that the experiment is fair and that different cans may be of different thicknesses so allowing different amounts of heat through. I will keep the amount of water that I put inside the tin can, the same for each experiment to be fair. I will decide on this amount from my preliminary experiment. The time for each experiment will also be kept the same to ensure the water has had equal amounts of time for it to heat up, again I will decide on the time from my preliminary experiment. The independent variables that I am measuring are the weight of the alcohol in the burner, both before and after the experiment, and also the temperature difference from before and after the experiments. I will also make sure that I take the lid off of the burner as late as possible, only when the burner it to be lit. This is because when the lid comes off a smell is released, so some gas is released which could alter my readings for the mass. ...read more.


It is also set up in a clear and logical order. All temperatures were taken to the nearest degree from the thermometer and all the mass measurements were all taken to two decimal places to keep continuity and fairness at a good degree of accuracy. Units of measurement are included in the table. Results from the three experiments: Alcohols Starting temperature (?C) Ending temperature (?C) Temp. difference (?C) Starting mass (g) Ending mass (g) Mass difference (g) Experiment 1 Methanol 24? 42? 18? 205.47 g 204.12 g 1.35 g Ethanol 20? 34? 14? 180.51 g 179.33 g 1.18 g Propanol 15? 36? 21? 179.07 g 178.16 g 0.91 g Butanol 16? 42? 26? 162.34 g 161.35 g 0.99 g Pentanol 15? 45? 30? 192.78 g 191.65 g 1.13 g Experiment 2 Methanol 21? 39? 18? 181.67 g 180.06 g 1.61 g Ethanol 22? 46? 24? 193.01 g 191.67 g 1.34 g Propanol 22? 44? 22? 177.99 g 177.11 g 0.88 g Butanol 15? 39? 24? 157.27 g 156.25 g 1.02 g Pentanol 15? 40? 25? 176.65 g 175.52 g 1.13 g Experiment 3 Methanol 16? 39? 18? 199.12 g 197.71 g 1.41 g Ethanol 16? 46? 18? 196.77 g 195.61 g 1.16 g Propanol 22? 44? 24? 169.82 g 168.99 g 0.83 g Butanol 26? 39? 17? 170.29 g 169.65 g 0.64 g Pentanol 19? 40? 23? 168.06 g 166.91 g 1.15 g From these results it is difficult to spot an immediate pattern or reoccurrence in the results. To analyze these results properly there are many further calculations that I need to do. Analysis I will now make some further calculations in order to analyse my results. I will calculate the amount of energy in Joules needed to heat the water by 1?C, the number of Joules taken to produce the temperature rise and the amount of energy produced from burning 1g of alcohol. ...read more.


I would also make reducing heat loss from the experiment main priority and improve insulation techniques, as this would be valuable in helping me to have more accurate results. I would also make sure that a sufficient supply of oxygen was involved in the reaction to cut out any incomplete combustion, which makes less heat be given out because fewer bonds are forming from lack of oxygen. Other than that I think my experiment worked fairly well. Conclusion I think my results are reliable and provide me with enough evidence to be certain of my conclusion that the alcohols with more bonds and carbon atoms present provide the greatest amount of energy per gram of fuel. I have discovered that Pentanol was the best fuel as it produced the largest amount of energy and had the most amount of atoms. I am able to support this conclusion because I obtained enough evidence and was able to prove my original prediction and hypothesis through my results and scientific theory. Therefore I am able to make firm conclusions about what I discovered. My results are reliable also because they form a smooth curve on my third graph and show a clear trend and positive correlation that allow me to make conclusions from. I have learnt many things from this investigation. I have learnt about energy change diagrams and how breaking bonds requires energy and forming bonds releases energy. I have learnt about exothermic reactions and about complete combustion. I have also learnt about the combustion of fuels and which is the best and why. Next time I would perhaps extend the investigation by looking at other alcohols such as hexanol and heptanol as these would give me a wider graph reading and a better range of results. I would also experiment with different heights above the wick, different times and perhaps without blocks or by using different insulating apparatus. So these are some ways in which this investigation could be extended, and I'm sure some interesting results could be obtained from these. Emma Keller 11T ...read more.

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