Adiabatic Constant Volume (Bomb) Calorimetry

One of the most useful collections of thermodynamic information is the larger number of standard heats of formation of chemical compounds. From these data and Hess’s law, the standard heats of reaction of numerous chemical processes can be calculated. The experimental and computational determination of the heat of formation of a compound of a compound is therefore an important contribution to thermodynamics and the molecular sciences. One common way to determine the standard heat of formation of a pure substance is from its heat of combustion (and Hess’s Law) using an adiabatic constant volume oxygen ‘bomb’ calorimeter. I have created a separate blog post with details of using a Parr ‘Bomb’ calorimeter.

This blog post is to provide some useful links and general information about ‘bomb’ calorimetry. Lets start with an old but VERY useful simulation website. –

I would love to see this simulation be updated for modern HTML5 similar to PHET. In my opinion, it is very very useful to simulate bomb calorimetry before actually doing it in person.

From simulations and even just looking about basic information about bomb calorimetry instrumentation, a student can PREDICT how much of a temperature change is expected BEFORE actually doing the experiment.

I also highly recommend doing computational chemistry to calculate heats of reaction (i.e., combustion, formation) BEFORE doing any experiments. You can do 10’s or 100’s of computer ‘experiments’ in much less time than you can physical experiments. Computational chemistry like ab initio electronic structure computation has become an invaluable resource for physical chemists wanting to make the connection between theory and experiment. So, below are some recommended resources for some computational chemistry that are useful when considering computational thermochemistry.

Okay, you have simulated heat of combustion bomb calorimetry and you have done some computational chemistry to look at combustion and/or formation reactions. I have a blog on the specifics of using a Parr Bomb Calorimeter and provide a few more useful links below.

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