What makes a good insulator and why?

Design an experiment to show which materials are good insulators

Experiment

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I am going to conduct an experiment to find out what materials are the best conductors by heating a certain amount of water to a certain and controlled temperature with a kettle and measure the temperature with a thermometer, I will use the same temperature and amount of water with each test, I will then put that heated water into a copper pot, this I will also keep the same, the copper pot will then have a cork with a small hole in, for the thermometer, placed into the copper pot, the temperature will then be taken every minute till a certain limit. The results will then be compared with various covers as well as a copper pot without insulation, this will then help to tell me what materials make good insulators. To keep this experiment a fair test I will always keep the following the same after I have found ideal figures with my preliminary work:-

The same amount of water

The same temperature of water

The same copper pot

The same cork lid

In an ideal experiment, the same thermometer, room temperature and stop watch would also be used, but to keep these the same would be impractical.

One of the best insulators known is air, knowing this will help me make a choice later when it comes to picking a material.

Equipment

Kettle

Copper Pot

Cork

Thermometer

Measuring Cylinder

Stop Clock

Various Materials (Bubble Wrap, Corrugated Card, Paper etc.)

Safety

Make sure that the copper pot is in its final position before putting hot water in as moving it after may cause a burn.

Do not overfill the copper pot, and keep into account that the cork lid will expel water.

Place the copper pot on a sensible surface such as a heat proof mat.

Choices of Insulators:-

Aluminum foil

Green bubble wrap

See-through bubble wrap

Paper

Cardboard

Fiber

Preliminary Work

I conducted preliminary work to find out the values of the variables I wish to use e.g. Water amount/start temperature etc.

Variables

What Happens?

Why?

Thickness

Reduce Heat Loss

More Air Trapped

Water Amount

More Water = More Heat Energy

Greater mass = more area to cool

Water Starting Temperature

High Temp = More Heat Loss

Bigger Range

Preliminary Experiments

50ml of Water at 65*C in a small copper container, no insulation

Time (minutes)

Temperature (*c)

0

65

1

63

2

60

3

58

4

55

5

53

6

53

7

52

8

52

9

50

10

48

11

47

12

46

13

45

14

44

15

43

Time has now been limited to 10 minutes as onwards of that point shows little activity

30ml of water at 65*C in a small copper container, no insulation

Time (minutes)

Temperature (*c)

0

65

1

62

2

59

3

56

4

55

5

53

6

51

7

50

8

48

9

46

10

45

80ml of water at 75*C in a small copper container, no insulation

Time (minutes)

Temperature (*c)

0

75

1

72

2

70

3

68

4

66

5

65

6

63

7

62

8

61

9

60

10

59

Experiment

50ml of water at 75*C in a small copper container, no insulation

Time (minutes)

Temperature (*c)

0

75

1

72

2

70

3

67

4

66

5

65

6

63

7

60

8

58

9

57

10

55

From the preliminary results I have chosen to use 50ml of water at 75*c due to a reasonable range with green bubble wrap as insulation

50ml of water at 75*c, green bubble wrap as insulation

Time (minutes)

Temperature (*c)

0

75

1

73

2

71

3

69

4

67

5

66

6

65

7

64

8

62

9

61

10

60

50ml of water at 75*c, Black shiny sided bubble wrap

Time (minutes)

Temperature (*c)

0

75

1

73

2

72

3

70

4

69

5

66

6

65

7

63

8

62

9

61

10

60

50ml of water at 75*c Green carpet

Time (minutes)

Temperature (*c)

0

75

1

72

2

70

3

68

4

66

5

64

6

63

7

61

8

60

9

59

10

57

Evaluation

I found some quite unexpected results from the experiment; the un-insulated pot actually maintained heat longer than the insulated pots, this could have occurred for several different reasons:-

1. The water start temperature may have been recorded improperly.

2. The thermometer used may have been different than the one used with the insulated pots, this may have caused the problem.

3. The copper pot may have been different

4. The lid may not have been fit properly/ amount of time the thermometer was absent from the hole

5. The water inside of the pot in the original experiment might not have been stirred, as the temperature will have differed in different places

6. The room temperature may have been different than, this is likely to have caused the difference.

7. The copper pot may have been colder/warmer than usual to start

8. Or a mixture of all of these.

The eye level may not have been level with the meniscus of the thermometer and/or the measuring cylinder, this is vitally important as the temperature may have been read up to 2-3 *c wrong, and the measuring cylinder perhaps 3-4ml out, this may not sound like a dramatic difference, but together, they may have caused the results.

This is why it would have been important to conduct all of the experiments on the same day with the exact same equipment while giving time for the pots to cool.

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