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Demonstrations › Thermodynamics I

Lecture Demonstrations

Thermodynamics I: Energy, Heat, Enthalpy

A number of items used to demonstrate principles of introductory thermodynamics


An endothermic reaction involving the combination of two solids is demonstrated.


Using a coffee cup calorimeter, the heat of neutralization of HCl and NaOH is measured. From this, the enthalpy change for the neutralization of one mole of HCl can be calculated.


Using a coffee cup calorimeter, the specific heat of a metal is experimentally determined.


When a volume of confined gas is rapidly compressed, enough heat is produced to initiate the combustion of flammable materials.


Dry ice is placed in a plastic bag and sealed. The dry ice sublimes producing CO2 gas, which expands within the plastic bag, doing work on the surroundings.


MREs and commercial handwarmers are displayed and activated to illustrate exothermic chemical processes and commercial uses.


A seemingly normal piece of cotton is ignited. It will immediately ignite and burn with a flash leaving little residue.


A combustion reaction is demonstrated by the burning of magnesium in air, emitting a brilliant light and intense heat.


When a heated copper coil is suspended over concentrated ammonia, it catalyzes the oxidation of ammonia to NO2 releasing more heat. The added heat continues to heat the copper wire to its melting point.


Oxidation of sugar or a Gummi bear by potassium chlorate. This demonstration illustrates the amount of energy available in carbohydrates, such as sugar and candy.


Video demonstrations of thermite reaction.