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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 6 Issue 2 (2001) pp 91-94

Spontaneous “Distillation.” Approaching Thermodynamic Equilibrium, A Marathon Experiment in Physical Chemistry

Vladimir M. Petruševski* and Metodija Z. Najdoski

Institute of Chemistry, Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Sts. Cyril and Methodius University, Arhimedova 5, PO Box 162, 1000 Skopje, Republic of Macedonia
Received October 19, 2000. Accepted January 11, 2001

Published online: 2 March 2001

Abstract. If the left side of a sealed tube (shaped like an inverted U) is filled with chloroform, after many months, the chloroform passes spontaneously to the right side of the vessel in accord with the minimum energy principle. A similar experiment with a half-filled disposable lighter can be performed successfully in a much shorter period (6–8 days). The rate of the process (spontaneous transfer of a substance from one side of the vessel to the other side) decays with time. Curve fitting reveals the existence of two independent exponential-decay processes. An explanation of the possible mechanisms for the transfer of the substance is offered in this paper.

Key Words:  Laboratories and Demonstrations; physical chemistry; kinetics; decay

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Issue date: April 6, 2001

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