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A Calculated Bang

Explosive Predictions and the Ideal Gas Law


Author(s)

Melissa R. Eslinger
Department of Chemistry and Life Science
United States Military Academy
melissa.eslinger@westpoint.edu
Carl E. Lundell
Department of Chemistry and Life Science
United States Military Academy
carl.lundell@westpoint.edu
Ryan E. Rodriguez
Department of Chemistry and Life Science
United States Military Academy
ryan.rodriguez@westpoint.edu

Abstract

This directed case study provides an opportunity to apply stoichiometry to combustion reactions of commonly used explosive materials. Initially, students apply modified Kistiakowsky-Wilson (K-W) rules, developed during World War II, to predict the reaction products from a given starting material. From the derived balanced equation, stoichiometric equivalents of products can be used to apply the ideal gas law (IGL) to predict measures of pressure, volume, and temperature. The IGL is a great exercise in stoichiometry and requires conversion of units in similar terms, common to the ideal gas constant. Although the case was written for the introductory chemistry classroom, it would be suitable for students in analytical chemistry courses who need additional practice in stoichiometry.


Objectives

  • Predict the products and balance the reaction for the combustion of an explosive material.
  • Apply the ideal gas law and stoichiometry to calculate amounts of reactants and products in a chemical reaction.

Keywords

Combustion reaction; stoichiometry; ideal gas law; chemical reactions; reaction products; analytical chemistry; explosives; Kistiakowsky-Wilson; K-W rules; PETN; dimensional analysis

Topical Areas

History of science

Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division

Format

PDF, PowerPoint

Type / Methods

Directed

Language

English

Subject Headings

Chemistry (General)  |   Analytical Chemistry  |  


Date Posted

06/01/2020

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