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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 5 Issue 1 (2000) pp 14-16

Designing A Reactor to Generate Hydrogen Bubbles

S. Heath Wanamaker, Kevin J. Schmitt, Doug A. Lupher, Nathan C. Stockman, David S. Brooks, Ryan A. Parks, Thatcher D. Reist, Matthew R. Kyle, and Pedro L. Muiño*

Department of Chemical Engineering and Department of Chemistry, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506

Published online: 1 February 2000

Abstract. Hydrogen is produced by the reaction between zinc and hydrochloric acid. This reaction is used to illustrate the importance of considering thermodynamics when designing a chemical reactor. The gas released is collected in soap bubbles that rise in the air, indicating that a lighter than air gas has been produced. The bubbles can be lit to add a dramatic effect to the demonstration. The reaction is highly exothermic, raising the temperature of the reaction materials and the reactor. Batch operation of this reactor would require short cooling periods between reactions. Alternatively, a modification of the design is suggested to allow for continuous cooling of the vessel, which would allow semicontinuous operation of the reactor. (Zinc would have to be periodically replenished as it is consumed in the reaction.) The consequences associated with the cooling of the vessel are discussed.

Key Words:  Laboratories and Demonstrations; chemical engineering; general chemistry

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail: galicia@ksu.edu)

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Issue date: February 1, 2000

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