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Discussion

All chemical reactions involve an exchange of heat energy. Enthalpy of a


reaction or energy change of a reaction ∆H is the amount of energy or heat absorbed in a
reaction. If the reaction is endothermic, ∆H is positive, and if the reaction is exothermic,
the ∆H, is negative. The heat change that occurs in the surroundings can be measured by
monitoring the change of temperature. The enthalpy of the reaction can be indirectly
calculated from a reaction between two substances in aqueous solution. When heat energy is
added to a substance, the temperature will change by a certain amount. The relationship
between heat energy and temperature is different for every material, and the specific heat is a
value that describes how they relate.

q = s × m × ∆T

q = the heat energy that is gained or lost,

s = the specific heat of water,

m = the mass of water, and

T= the temperature change of the reaction mixture.

The specific heat and mass of water are used because water will either gain or lose
heat energy in a reaction that occurs in aqueous solution. According to Hess’s Law which
states that in going from a particular set of reactants to a particular set of products, the change
in enthalpy (H) is the same whether the reaction takes place in one step or in a series of
steps.

Part A

Enthalpy of reaction is the overall heat energy absorbed or released during a chemical
reaction. During chemical reaction, energy is absorbed to break bonds and at the same time
energy is released when new bonds are formed. In this experiment, enthalpy of reaction can
be measured for the neutralization between sodium carbonate (Na2CO3) and hydrochloric
acid (HCl). The reaction of sodium carbonate with hydrochloric acid produces sodium
chloride and carbonic acid.

Na2CO3 (aq) + 2 HCl (aq) → 2 NaCl (aq) + H2CO3 (aq)

Carbonic acid, H2CO3, is an unstable compound and readily decomposes into carbon dioxide
and water.

H2CO3 (aq) → H2O (l) + CO2 (g)

The original equation then becomes

Na2CO3 (aq) + 2 HCl (aq) → 2 NaCl (aq) + H2O (l) + CO2 (g)
Bubbles of a colourless gas are evolved when these solutions are mixed. The bubbles of
colourless gas produced are carbon dioxide. Although this gas is evidence of a chemical
reaction, neither of the indicated products is a gas.

The reaction is spontaneous and exothermic, because it occurs between a strong acid which is
HCl, and Na2CO3 which acts as a base in this situation. Na2CO3 can be either an acid or a
base depending on the solution. In solutions with a strong base, it acts as an acid, and in
solutions with a strong acid, it acts as a base. The energy produced in this reaction is in the
form of heat.

In an exothermic reaction, heat is transferred from the system to the surroundings. The
enthalpy change for an exothermic reaction has a negative value. During exothermic
reactions, weakly bonded molecules are converted to strongly bonded molecules, chemical
potential energy is converted into heat, and the temperature of the surroundings increases.

Part B

When alcohol burns, it produces carbon dioxide and water as products. Energy is also
released in the reaction. This table below shows the molecular formulas of the early members
of the alcohol homologous series.

Alcohol CnH2n+1OH
Methanol CH3OH
Ethanol C2H5OH
Propanol C3H7OH
Butanol C4H9OH
Pentanol C5H11OH

In this experiment, methanol, ethanol and propanol are the alcohols used.

2CH3OH (aq) + 3O2 (g) → 2CO2 (g) +4 H2O (l)

C2H5OH (aq) + 3 O2 (g) → 2 CO2 (g) + 3 H2O (l)

2C3H7OH (aq) + 9 O2 (g) → 6 CO2 (g) + 8 H2O (l)

The standard enthalpy of combustion is thechange in enthalpy that accompanies the


formation of one mole of a compound from its elements with all elements in their standard
state. The standard enthalpy of combustion of methanol is 110.59kJ/mol.The standard
enthalpy of combustion of ethanol is 136.92kJ/mol. The standard enthalpy of combustion of
propanol is 170.91kJ/mol. The standard enthalpy of combustion of propanol is relatively
higher than methanol and ethanol because the number of carbon atoms in propanol is the
highest.

As going down the homologous series of alcohols, carbon atoms are added onto the
hydrocarbon chains. These chains are becoming longer and much more complex. As the
number of carbon atoms in an alcohol chain increases, its standard enthalpy change of
combustion also increases. Enthalpy changes result from the difference in the amount of
energy required for breaking bonds and the amount released when new bonds are formed. If
the bonds formed are stronger than those broken the energy released will be larger than the
energy invested and this energy will flow to the environment. When alcohols react with
oxygen in air they form carbon dioxide and water. The bonds between C and O are double
and therefore stronger than those between carbons which are simple. The more carbons the
alcohol has the more C=O bonds will be formed-actually for each C two of such bonds are
formed- and this leads me to say that the enthalpy change should be directly increasing.

The combustion of alcohols is exothermic reaction. In an exothermic reaction, heat is


transferred from the system to the surroundings. The enthalpy change for an exothermic
reaction has a negative value. During exothermic reactions, weakly bonded molecules are
converted to strongly bonded molecules, chemical potential energy is converted into heat, and
the temperature of the surroundings increases.

The flame of propanol is the most visibility, following by ethanol and methanol. Flame
colour is depended on the elemental composition of the material being heated and the
temperature to which it is heated. This is because heat will excite electrons in the element to
an excited state. The number of carbon in propanol is the most, following by methanol and
ethanol.

The percentage error for the experiment is too high which is above the 90%. This is because
there are some errors happened in the experiment. During the combustion, the flame of
alcohols are sometimes did not directly heat the beaker. The bottom of the beaker has left the
tips of the flame. This makes the water in the beaker did not absorb the heat completely. The
alcohol was excessively used up and the mass of the alcohol burnt increases. It was also
observed that during the combustion of alcohols, a yellow flame was obtained at times. This
is the sign of the incomplete combustion of alcohols. As a result, carbon monoxide is formed
instead of carbon dioxide. Therefore, this incomplete combustion results in low standard
enthalpy of combustion values as the reaction is not complete.

Safety Precautions

Safety goggles, a lab apron and gloves are needed to wear to protect the body. Hydrochloric
acid and sodium carbonate are toxic and corrosive to skin and react with metals. Mercury
from mercury-based thermometers is toxic. Foam cups can be easily punctured, causing a
chemical spill. Alcohol is highly flammable and toxic. Alcohol is volatile and has a low flash
point.