Heat (enthalpy) of Combustion
Heat of Combustion of a substance is the heat liberated when 1 mole of the substance undergoes complete combustion with oxygen at constant pressure.
Combustion is always exothermic, the enthalpy change for the reaction is negative, ΔH is negative.
By definition, the heat of combustion is minus the enthalpy change for the combustion reaction, ie, -Δ reactionH.
By definition, the heat of combustion is a positive value.
Heat of Combustion can be measured experimentally.
Heat of Combustion of Some Common Substances
Combustion ( kJ mol -1) Combustion Reaction
reaction ( kJ mol -1)
4(g) + 2O 2(g) → CO 2(g) + 2H 2O (l) ΔH = -890
2H 6(g) + O 7/ 2 2(g) → 2CO 2(g) + 3H 2O (l) ΔH = -1560
3H 8(g) + 5O 2(g) → 3CO 2(g) + 4H 2O (l) ΔH = -2220
4H 10(g) + O 13/ 2 2(g) → 4CO 2(g) + 5H 2O (l) ΔH = -2874
8H 18(g) + O 25/ 2 2(g) → 8CO 2(g) + 9H 2O (l) ΔH = -5460
3OH (l) + O 3/ 2 2(g) → CO 2(g) + 2H 2O (l) ΔH = -726
2H 5OH (l) + 3O 2(g) → 2CO 2(g) + 3H 2O (l) ΔH = -1368
3H 7OH (l) + O 9/ 2 2(g) → 3CO 2(g) + 4H 2O (l) ΔH = -2021
4H 9OH (l) + 6O 2(g) → 4CO 2(g) + 5H 2O (l) ΔH = -2671
From the table we see that 1 mole of methane gas, CH
4(g), undergoes complete combustion in excess oxygen gas releasing 890 kJ of heat.
2 moles of methane would combust to release 2 x 890 = 1780 kJ of heat.
½ mole of methane would combust to release ½ x 890 = 445 kJ of heat.
Measuring Heat of Combustion
Typical Results for an experiment where ethanol is used to heat 200g of water:
A known quantity of water is placed in a flask or beaker.
A thermometer is positioned with bulb near the middle of the volume of water.
A known quantity of fuel, such as an alcohol (alkanol), is placed in the spirit burner.
The initial temperature of the water is measured and recorded (T i).
The wick on the spirit burner is lit, burning the fuel, and heating the water.
When the temperature has risen an appreciable amount, the spirit burner is extinguished and the final temperature recorded (T f).
The final quantity of fuel is measured and recorded.
initial water temperature (T
i) = 20 oC intial mass burner + ethanol = 37.25 g
final water temperature (T
f)= 75 oC final mass burner + ethanol = 35.50 g
change in temperature = T
f - T i = 55 oC mass ethanol used = 1.75 g
Calculation of Heat of Combustion of ethanol:
Calculate moles (n) of fuel used
molar mass (M) of ethanol = 46.1 g mol -1
mass ethanol used = 1.75 g
n = mass ÷ molar mass = 1.75 ÷ 46.1 = 0.0380 mol
Calculate energy required to change temperature of water
specific heat capacity of water x mass of water x change in water temperature
energy = 4.184 J K
-1g -1 x 200 g x 55 oC = 46024 J = 46.024 kJ
Calculate the heat of combustion of ethanol
Assume all the heat produced from burning ethanol has gone into heating the water, ie, no heat has been wasted.
0.0380 mole ethanol produced 46.024 kJ of heat.
Therefore 1 mole of ethanol would produce 46.024 kJ ÷ 0.0380 mol = 1211 kJ mol
The heat of combustion of ethanol is 1211 kJ mol
The experimentally determined value for the heat of combustion of ethanol is usually less than the accepted value of 1368 kJ mol
-1 because some heat is always lost to the atmosphere and in heating the vessel.
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