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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 21 (2016) pp 53-62

Coffee Cup Calorimeter Heat Loss Correction

John C. O’C. Young*

Department of Chemistry, Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, B3H 3C3,
Received November 5, 2015. Accepted March 9, 2016.

Published: 21 March 2016

Abstract. The ubiquitous and imperfectly insulated coffee cup calorimeter is shown to be subject to significant rates of heat transfer through its polystyrene foam walls to their external surroundings, invalidating the commonly employed calorimeter constant heat loss correction procedure. The alternative post-reaction temperature trend extrapolation procedure for heat loss correction is examined and an enhanced version is validated in a determination of the heat of solution of sodium hydroxide in water.s

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; general chemistry; thermodynamics

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

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