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Investigating Which Alcohol Is the Best Fuel

Essay by   •  March 9, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  5,947 Words (24 Pages)  •  1,790 Views

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AIM: I am carrying out an investigation to see which alcohol is the

best fuel. I will do this by experimenting with different alcohols and

setting them alight and measuring different factors. I will analyse

all my results and try to discover patterns, which should help me to

conclude which alcohol is the best fuel.



This is how my experiment will be set out:


Keeping this experiment a fair test


There are many variables in this experiment that can effect the

outcome of this experiment. The dependant variables that I will keep

the same will be the height of the tin can above the wick. I will keep

this the same because different heights can effect the heat that is

transferred to the tin can and into the water, therefore altering the

temperature change. I will use the same tin can so that the experiment

is fair and that different cans may be of different thicknesses so

allowing different amounts of heat through. I will keep the amount of

water that I put inside the tin can, the same for each experiment to

be fair. I will decide on this amount from my preliminary experiment.

The time for each experiment will also be kept the same to ensure the

water has had equal amounts of time for it to heat up, again I will

decide on the time from my preliminary experiment. The independent

variables that I am measuring are the weight of the alcohol in the

burner, both before and after the experiment, and also the temperature

difference from before and after the experiments. I will also make

sure that I take the lid off of the burner as late as possible, only

when the burner it to be lit. This is because when the lid comes off a

smell is released, so some gas is released which could alter my

readings for the mass. This will also apply when replacing the lid

after the experiment. I will make sure I keep this experiment fair by

carefully controlling the variables.

My Preliminary Experiments


Before I do my actual experiment I am going to carry out some

preliminary experiments to help me decide on how much water I should

use in the tin, the time I should allow for each experiment and the

height above the flame. I will select the most appropriate and the one

that gives the best results and best temperature change.

Table from preliminary experiment:


Amount of Water

Height of tin above wick

Temp of water before

Temp of water after

Temp change

1 minute

200 ml

11 cm




1.5 minutes

200 ml

8 cm




2 minutes

200 ml

6 cm




2 minutes

150 ml

5 cm




2.5 minutes

150 ml

4 cm




3 minutes

150 ml

4 cm




This tested a random alcohol

From these results I have decided to use 150ml of water and time for

two minutes per experiment with a height of 5cm above the wick of the

burner. I decided this because it gave a good temperature change and

is suitable. Using 200ml of water did not give as good of a




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