Can Cruncher

Schaumburg, Carl Von Stueben MSC

Objective Purpose is to show what happens to the pressure inside a container of steam when it is cooled and how the pressure affects the boiling point of a liquid. Apparatus Needed Empty aluminum popcans and sinks or trays full of water. Ditto cans and rubber stoppers to fit. Filter flasks, short pieces of rubber tubing on sidearm, thermometers inserted in stoppers to fit flasks, ring stands, rings, wire gauzes, bunsen burners, bunsen clamps, pinch clamps, and boiling chips. Recommended Strategy Start by having the class hold popcans in clamps. Class is directed to add various amounts of water (1 to 10 mL) to the can. Boil, and place can in a sink full of water. The class is told, "Be ready to discuss what happens, think of an explanation for what happens, and tell what amount of water works best." At least some of the cans should be crushed. Discuss which techniques worked best and what happened inside the can. Talk about what pressure is, and how cooling the steam affects pressure inside the can. Sitting all by itself clamped in a ring stand on the desk, have a stoppered ditto can which already has been filled with steam (by boiling water inside) before the class came in. As it cools in the air it should also be crushed. A few drops of water on the outside may be necessary to help it a bit. Have the class explain what must have happened. With another ditto can have the class recreate what happened in the can. (A silent lecture could be effective here.) Working in groups, final part uses the filter flask. Add enough water so the bulb on the thermometer is under the surface. Add a few boiling chips, stopper with the thermometer, clamp on the ring and ring stand, and heat until enough steam has been produced to push out all the air. TURN OFF THE BURNER, and using the pinch
clamp close off the tubing on the sidearm. "Watch the temperature!" It may go up.
If it does be ready to release extra pressure with the pinch clamp, if the
temperature goes to 104 degrees Celsius. Using the clamp as a handle, remove the
flask from the stand and cool in cold water. "Watch the temperature!" Of course it
goes down. but point out that the water is still boiling. "What is the lowest
temperature at which you can get the water to boil?"
Relate to the two previous parts. When you cool the flask filled with steam the
pressure goes down inside. "In spite of being cooled the water inside the flask
continues to boil. Why?" Discussion should lead to the concept that boiling
temperature depends on pressure. Ask, "Where in your car is boiling at different
pressures used?" The radiator. "Where in cooking is pressure used?" The pressure
cooker. "Why do people in Denver need special cooking instructions? Who will have a
harder hard boiled egg, someone boiling an egg in Denver or someone on the seashore
if they both heat the same amount of time. How does Folgers make freeze dried
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