AIM: I will be carrying out an investigation to see which alcohol is the best fuel. I will do this by experimenting with 5 different alcohols. I will set them on fire and measure different factors associated with the experiment. I will then move on to analyse my results and see whether or not there are any patterns, this should help me conclude in my experiment to find out which alcohol is the best fuel
The equipment I need to perform this experiment are as follows:
A clamp - to hold up the tin can
Metal can - to store the water in
Measuring cylinder - to measure the amount of water accurately
Thermometer - to measure the temperature
Stopwatch - to time the experiments
The alcohols in the burners
1. Set up the equipment as shown in the diagram below:
2. Weigh the alcohol in the burner with the lid on and record as the 'starting mass.'
3. Fill the tin can with 150 ml of tap water using a measuring cylinder for accuracy. Then take the temperature of the water using a thermometer and record as 'starting temperature.'
4. Take off the lid of the burner and light burner with a splint.
5. Time the experiment for two minutes exactly using a timer.
6. As the experiment is in progress, stir the water in the tin can with the thermometer throughout the experiment. Be careful to ensure that the thermometer doesn't touch the bottom or the sides of the can as this could change the results because the tin is a conductor and will be hotter in places.
7. After the two minutes, extinguish the flame by placing the lid back on the fuel burner and weigh again to record as the 'ending mass.'
8. Take the final temperature on the thermometer after it has stopped rising and record as the 'ending temperature.'
9. Calculate temperature change by subtracting the starting temperature away from the ending one. Also calculate the mass change of alcohol and burner by subtracting the ending mass from the starting one.
This method is systematic and organised, which will make it easier for me when concluding the data. It allows me to produce accurate results which I can easily record.
I think that the higher the molecular mass stored in each alcohol will indicate that more energy will be released.
There are many variables I must consider in my experiment. The dependant variables that I will keep the same will be the height of the tin can above the wick, this is because if the height changes then it can affect the heat which is transferred into the tin can and into the water, thus altering the temperature change. I will use the same tin can in order for the experiment to remain fair, if I used different cans I would not know if they were the same or not, as many factors affect it (weight, thickness etc). I will keep the amount of water which is kept in the tin can the same in order for it to remain a fair test. The time will also be kept the same so that the water has had an equal time in each experiment to heat up. The independent variables that I am measuring are the weight of the alcohol, both before and after the experiment, the temperature difference from before and after my experiments. I will also make sure that I take the lid off the burner as late as I can, only when the burner is lit. This is because when the lid comes off the burner a smell is released, which means some gas is released which could potentially alter my readings of the mass. This will also apply when replacing the lid after the experiment.
I will keep my experiment safe by being careful when handling the alcohols so I don’t get any on my hands or make any spillage which could be dangerous as I am dealing with fire. I will also be very careful when lighting the burner and dealing with flames. Safety is a very important issue and I will maintain safety throughout my experiment and follow all general lab rules.