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Heat of Combustion of Magnesium

Jack Hume
14 March 2015
Richards, HN Chemistry 8B

Jack Hume
14 March 2015
Logan Sullivan
Heat of Combustion of Magnesium Write-Up

Two reactions, listed in Background, were carried out to determine the heat of
combustion of magnesium. As reactions took place, data was collected on temperature change
and mass of substances used. Once data was collected, enthalpy change was determined using
standard heats of formation, Hesss Law, and the heat equation q=mc. Once all calculations
were completed and an experimental value for the heat of combustion of magnesium was found
to be -1382.8 kJ, it was compared to the accepted enthalpy value of -1203.6 kJ, and a percent
error was calculated as 14.9%.
Enthalpy, the internal energy plus the pressure and volume of a system, is calculated using one of
five methods and is commonly tested using a calorimeter, a mechanism that measures heat lost or
gained by the surroundings (usually water,) that is either lost or gained by the system.
Enthalpy is determined one of five ways: by using bond energy values, using the q=mc
equation, through Hesss Law (all parts of the equation will equal the end enthalpy value,)
standard heats of formation, and a heating and cooling curve. Enthalpy is commonly and hereby
referred to as
In this experiment, a Styrofoam calorimeter was used to measure the change in for two

Mg O( s) +2 HC l (aq ) yields MgCl 2(aq) + H 2 O(l )

M g( s )+2 HC l ( aq) yields MgC l 2( aq) + H 2(g )

A third reaction, which was not performed, was measured using the accepted standard heats of
formation values:

2 H 2 +O 2( g) yields 2 H 2 O
( g)

The data from the three reactions was then used to find heat for each reaction as well as answer
questions using Hesss Law, q=mcand standard enthalpies of formation.

Two reactions were carried out in this experiment. For the first reaction, a Styrofoam cup
calorimeter was prepared with an Explorer GLX temperature probe as well as a cardboard lid.
The calorimeter was then placed in a Pyrex 600 mL beaker for stability. In the first reaction,
1.00 g of magnesium oxide was added to 100.0 mL of 1.0 M HCl and temperature was gauged
using the temperature probe until the temperature did not rise/fall for 15 seconds. When the
reaction was completed, the calorimeter was washed and set up in the same way as the first
reaction. For reaction two, approximately .50 g magnesium ribbon was added to 100.0 mL of
1.00 M HCl, and the same temperature probe was used to measure the change in temperature in
the reaction until the temperature did not rise/fall for 15 seconds. Results were obtained, data
collected, and the lab concluded with the second experiment. A percent error was then
Data Table: Reaction 1

Amount (g or mL)
100 mL (100 g)

Initial Temperature (C)

Final Temperature (C)


Data Table: Reaction 2

Initial Temperature (C)

Amount (g or mL)
.50 g
100 mL (100 g)
Final Temperature (C)


Calculations: Pre-Lab Questions 1-4; Data Processing Questions 1-5:

Conclusion (Includes Questions)

A Styrofoam calorimeter was used in this lab because bomb calorimeters are too
expensive for practical classroom use, and the Styrofoam material acted as an insulator, which
would not skew results to the extent glassware would if it were used. Glassware, which does not
have the same insulating properties as Styrofoam, would have skewed the data and made the
calculated enthalpy too low by absorbing some of the heat. Similarly, if the magnesium ribbon
did not fully dissolve in the hydrochloric solution, enthalpy calculations would be too low
because the limiting reactant, the magnesium ribbon, would change the data.
Experimental percent error of 14.9% (-1382.8 kJ versus -1203.6 kJ) can be explained by
using a makeshift calorimeter and a cardboard lid that did not completely fit over the top of the
calorimeter. When the reactions were ensuing, a small amount of gas could be seen escaping the
calorimeter, especially in equation two (magnesium ribbon and hydrochloric solution.) Though
this gas release did not affect calculations to a large extent, it changed the enthalpy calculation.
Also, the use of a Styrofoam cup likely slightly changed temperature calculations as a small
amount of temperature absorption must be taken into account. Overall, a 14.9% error is expected
when using classroom materials. Had a bomb calorimeter been used, it is much more likely that
a percent error would be less than the one calculated for this lab. Future experiments could
include calculating heat of combustion of magnesium in a bomb calorimeter and comparing it to
the value found in this experiment, as well as calculating heat of combustion for other elements,
and comparing the values for each experiment.

Annotated Bibliography

Brown, Theodore M., Bursten, Bruce E., & Lemay, H. Eugene. (2005). Chemistry: the central
science (10th edt). Prentice Hall Publishing.