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To determine the specific heat capacity of paraffin using the

electrical method
Raw Data Table (for 16 readings of voltage, current and initial and final temperatures)
Trial
Number
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16

t/s (0.01)
100.00
100.00
100.00
100.00
100.00
100.00
100.00
100.00
100.00
100.00
100.00
100.00
100.00
100.00
100.00
100.00

I/A (0.005)
0.32
0.36
0.38
0.42
0.46
0.48
0.50
0.52
0.56
0.58
0.60
0.76
0.82
0.90
1.20
1.40

V/V (0.01)
1.15
1.25
1.31
1.38
1.51
1.60
1.72
1.81
1.96
2.04
2.32
2.70
2.95
3.25
3.86
4.50

Processed data Table


T/C
(0.2)
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
0.7
1.8
1.1
1.8
3.7

IVt/J
36.80
45.00
49.78
57.96
69.46
76.80
86.00
94.12
109.76
118.32
139.20
205.20
241.90
292.50
463.20
630.00

IVt/J
0.90
0.99
1.00
1.10
1.20
1.30
1.40
1.40
1.60
1.60
1.80
2.10
2.30
2.60
3.20
3.70

Ti/ C (0.1)
23.6
23.7
23.9
24.2
24.4
24.7
25.1
25.5
26.0
26.6
27.3
28.1
28.8
30.6
31.7
33.5

Tf/ C (0.1)
23.7
23.9
24.2
24.4
24.7
25.1
25.5
26.0
26.6
27.3
28.1
28.8
30.6
31.7
33.5
37.2

Sample Calculations:
T/C calculated using the formula (Tf-Ti)
ChangeT =(23.723.6)
0.1 c
Uncertainty in T: absolute uncertainty (0.1+0.1= 0.2)
Uncertainty in IVt ( IVt) calculated using:
Let,

y=IVt

y I v t
=
+
+
y
I
v
t
I v t
+
+
I
v
t )y
y=
All values are to two significant figures
Therefore uncertainty in trial 1:
0.01 0.01
+
+
36.8
( 0.005
0.32 1.15 100 )

= 0.89868 to 2 s.f is 0.90

Uncertainty in I is half of the smallest division. Hence,


I=

0.01
2

0.05

V: smallest division, hence 0.01


t: smallest division, hence 0.01
T: smallest division, hence 0.01
Theory to plot graph
Total h eat supplied=Heat absorbed by paraffin+ h eat absorbed by calorimeterstirrer
IVt=mc c c T +m p p p T

In the form

y=mx +c

IVt=T (m c c c +m p p p)
Where,
mp is mass of paraffin in Kg
cp is specific heat capacity of paraffin in JKg-1 C-1
mc is mass of calorimeter in Kg
cc is specific heat capacity of calorimeter in JKg-1 C-1
T is temperature rise (T f T i ) in C
Initial mass of Paraffin = 90.00g (0.01)
Initial mass of copper Calorimeter = 64.85g (0.01)
Power supply=12 V
Graph of energy (J) against change in temperature(C)

Calculating the specific heat capacity of paraffin:

From best fit line of graph,


c p=

c=

gradient (173.2)=m c c c +m p c p

173.2mc c c
mp

173.2(0.06485 380)
0.09

=1650.63 J Kg-1 C-1

Uncertainty:
From steepest line, gradient: 162.9
From least steep line, gradient: 159.5
From steepest lines gradient, Cp s.o.f
Cp=

162.9( 0.06485380 )
0.09

= 1536.19 JKg-1 C-1


From least steep lines gradient, cp s.o.f
Cp=

159.5( 0.06485380 )
0.09

= 1498.41 JKg-1 C-1

C p=

C p maxC p min
2

C p=

1536.191498.41
2

= 19 JKg-1 C-1

Calculated specific heat capacity of paraffin from the graph is (Experimental value):

1650.63 19 J Kg-1 C-1


Actual specific heat capacity of paraffin: 2130 J Kg-1 C-1
%discrepancy=

( accepted valueexperimental value )


100
accepted value

( 2 13 01650.63 )
100
2130

= 22.5%
Evaluation:
Conclusion:
From the graph above it can be seen that this experiment follows the method of using
electricity to find out the specific heat capacity of a liquid. However as can be seen by several
scattered plots on the graph it can be concluded that there were several systematic and
random errors during the execution of the experiment. Using the gradient of the best fit line,
the specific heat capacity was calculated to be 1.924 1.8 J g-1 C-1. However the actual
specific heat capacity of paraffin is 2.130 J g-1 C-1, which does not fall into the limits of
uncertainty proving that the experiment contained several errors. The high percentage
discrepancy of 22.5 % is indicates a significant amount error.
Strengths:
The procedure was carried out fairly well; very little heat allowed to escape into the
surroundings as the lid was on throughout the experiment. Constant stirring was maintained
as part of the controlled variables and the values for current, voltage and temperature were
recorded after exactly 100s with very little error. A digital thermometer and voltmeter were
used to reduce any errors in accuracy and each reading was precise.
Limitations:
Some of values for voltage and temperature were fluctuating which could have caused
random errors. Only 16 readings of the current and its corresponding values were taken each
only once which decreased the reliability of the readings. The purity of paraffin used was not
known, this could be a systematic error which led to a lower experimental value. Since the
time interval was only 100 seconds between each reading, the change in temperature was not
very significant. Random errors could have occurred as the mass of the paraffin and the mass
of the empty calorimeter was only measured once. Also, since the ammeter used was
analogue there was not a high accuracy in the readings which affected the uncertainty of the
values.
Improvements:
More readings could have been taken for the same current to make the values for voltage and
temperature more consistent. The entire experiment could be conducted 3 or more times to
allow for greater accuracy and reliability of data. More values of current could be used,
allowing for more than 16 trials which would allow for a bigger sample of data to be
analysed. A longer time interval could be used to allow for a higher rise in temperature. To

minimise random errors more than one reading of the mass of paraffin and mass of the empty
calorimeter could be taken. A digital ammeter could be used to give more accurate and
reliable readings of current.
Sources:
Liquids and Fluids-specific Heats. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Aug. 2015. <http%3A%2F
%2Fwww.engineeringtoolbox.com%2Fspecific-heat-fluids-d_151.html>.