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Investigation of Insulation

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Investigation of Insulation

Aims:

The aim of the investigation is to discover which variable prevents
the least amount of heat loss through convection, conduction,
radiation and possibly evaporation. Another aim of the experiment is
to find the best insulator out of the materials given.

Background Information:

In this investigation I will be using copper beakers to hold a volume
of 100cm3. I will measure the temperature loss of each different
beakers, I will test them with 3 different insulators. I could use
many different insulators such as: cotton wool, tin foil, polystyrene,
plastic, bubble wrap, paper and rubber.

However I have chosen three to use, these are: cotton wool, tin foil,
bubble wrap. I will also have to do one experiment with nothing; this
is because I will need to compare my results.

The factors which will effect the rate of heat transfer are:

The temperature of the room,

The amount of water in beaker,

The size of beaker,

The type of insulator,

The time left between readings.

The factor I will change will be the type of insulator the beaker of
water will be covered with, this will be known as the independent
variable. I will keep one beaker without any insulation (control), of
the other three, one will be covered with foil, one with a cotton wool
and one beaker will have bubble wrap. Below is a description of the
variables I will test:

Cotton Wool:The more wool around the container the better the
insulator it would be; the amount of wool can make a difference in how
much the temperature would fall in every one or two minutes, because
if you have a bit of wool the heat could slightly go through but when
you have enough wool to cover the container the air between the
pockets would make it a good insulator.

Tin Foil:A bright shiny surface that is a poor absorber of radiation
and reflects it away. This is a good material because it will not lose
much energy. Different surfaces give out and take in different amounts
of energy.

Bubble wrap: This can be a good insulator because air is a good
insulator, so the air in the bubbles would stop the heat from leaving
the container. It is very much like a double-glazed window.

The four main types of heat transfer are the following:

- Convection involves the movement of molecules and so it can only
occur in fluids (liquids and gases), where the molecules can move
within the body of the fluid. Convection currents are examples of
floating and sinking. When part of a liquid or gas is made warmer than
its surroundings it expands and rises because it is less dense. The
air next to the icebox in a fridge is cooled and so it contracts. The
cold air sinks because it is denser than the warm air below it. This
movement of air is called a convection current. A dye in the form of a
crystal or an ice cube can be used to see convection currents in
water.

- Conduction is the main way in which energy transfers take place in
solids, but it also applies to liquids and gases. Good conductors are
needed to transfer the energy of the hot water in a radiator to the
air outside and the energy from the heating element of a kettle into
the water.

When one part of a material is hotter then another, the molecules in
the hotter part have more energy than the surrounding ones. Heating a
substance causes increased motion of the atoms and molecules. In a gas
this means that the average speed of the atoms and molecules
increases, but in a solid or a liquid it leads to increased vibration.
Atoms and molecules do not exist in isolation, and they are
continually interacting and swapping energy with their neighbours. The
transfer of energy from energetic molecules to those with less energy
is responsible for conduction.

Gases are poor at transferring energy in this way because the
molecules are relatively far apart, compared to a solid or liquid. The
more energetic molecules in part of a gas that has been heated travel
large distances, in molecular terms, between collisions and so it
takes them longer to transfer energy to other molecules.

- Radiation is when the warm water particles vibrate the water
particles next to them. This will give them more energy and will make
the water there warmer. The water particles at the top of the can will
radiate the heat energy into the surrounding air. For heat to radiate
it does not need to be in contact with matter. Heat can radiate for
some thing to another body through a complete vacuum, this is how the
sun heats up the earth. This process can also be called the Wave
Motion.

-Evaporation is the process by which particles from a liquid form a
vapour. Perfumes are designed to evaporate over a time period of
several hours. The appetising smell of cooking food is due to
evaporation. Evaporation is important to us when we are in a hot
climate. This is because liquids need energy to evaporate, and they
take this energy from their surroundings. You can feel the coding
effect if you put a drop of a liquid on your skin that evaporates
easily.

Fair Test:

I must make sure that the tests are fair by being very accurate when
measuring the temperatures of the beakers with boiling water in them,
so that I end up with results that will indicate which material is the
best insulator.

In this investigation it is important that I use containers made of
the same size, and same shape, with the same volume of water, at the
same temperature. This is called 'controlling the variables', which
will help me carry out the investigation as accurate as possible.

Prediction:

I predict that the cotton wool will prevent the most amount of heat
loss from the beaker because, due to the composition of the cotton
wool i.e.: several layers, air is trapped between the layers and so
provides the best insulation. This is good because although the air
warms up, if it is unable to move easily and so cannot carry the heat
away by convection currents. Efficient insulators tend to be
substances that have lots of holes or gaps in them. Sometimes in
fibrous insulators, they work by trapping air inside - because air is
a bad conductor of thermal energy. Heat spreads through air slowly,
and so this is why insulators tend to be fluffy substances like wool
and fibreglass matting. These substances trap air between their
filaments.

A material will be a good insulator if neither heat nor electricity
can pass through it easily. Although the bubble wrap, in my
experiment, is a good insulator, metals such as aluminium are good
conductors. I think that the cotton wool will be the best material
when preventing heat loss because it will slow down radiation (the
main way that heat will travel from the hot liquid in the beaker
through the walls and base of the beaker and then to the outside
world). However, I do think that the foil will prevent heat loss
successfully. Foil reflects better than all the other materials in my
experiment. This is because it is fairly light in colour and shiny.
This enables the foil to reflect the radiation from the hot object
back the way it came. Although, the cotton wool will not stop
convection through the top of the beaker, I think it will be the most
successful way of insulating the beaker of hot water. The cotton wool
will not cover the top of the beaker, and so this will increase the
amount of heat lost. I think the beaker will lose heat because above
the liquid, the air will take heat from the liquid and rise
(convection current). In addition, after prolonged periods, some of
the liquid will evaporate, losing energy and causing its temperature
to fall.

Cotton Wool:The more wool around the container the better the
insulator it would be; the amount of wool can make a difference in how
much the temperature would fall in every one or two minutes, because
if you have a bit of wool the heat could slightly go through but when
you have enough wool to cover the container the air between the
pockets would make it a good insulator.

Tin Foil:A bright shiny surface that is a poor absorber of radiation
and reflects it away. This is a good material because it will not lose
much energy. Different surfaces give out and take in different amounts
of energy.

Bubble wrap: This can be a good insulator because air is a good
insulator, so the air in the bubbles would stop the heat from leaving
the container. It is very much like a double-glazed window.



Method
======

1. Collect all the equipment that is needed as shown in the apparatus
list above.

2. Wrap all the containers with the chosen materials.

3. Boil kettle.

4. Pour 100ml of boiled water into measuring cylinder.

5. Pour 100ml of the boiled water into each container.

6. Put a temperature probe in each container.

7. Wait until the water cools down to 80°C

8. Start stop watch

9. Record the temperature every thirty seconds for five minutes.

10. Repeat the whole experiment two more times.

Diagram of experiment:

[IMAGE]


Nothing
-------


(Control)
---------


Bubble Wrap
-----------


Wool
----


Foil
----



Safety and Skill:
=================

To insure that my experiment will be safe I will be careful when
handling the kettle/beakers due to the very hot water inside them.

When I take my readings I will look at the thermometers at eye level,
this will mean that the readings are more accurate, than if were to
read them at an angle.

What apparatus will I need?

Wool

Bubble wrap

Foil

4 copper beakers (same size)

Kettle

Water

2 temperature probes

Stopwatch

Data Logger

200ml measuring cylinder

Factors to Measure:

Temperature:For every couple of minutes I am going to measure the
temperature to see the difference in temperature loss of the water.

Time: I am going to measure the time of how long it takes for the
temperature to decrease, to see which material takes the longest to
lose its heat energy in around ten minutes.

Trial Data (Preliminary Investigation):

To achieve a good range of results, I am going to measure the
temperature of hot water in a copper container without it being
covered by any materials, to see how much the temperature of the water
would fall every 30 seconds starting from 80°C. I will do the
experiment three times, for all three attempts I will use a volume of
water accurate to 100cm3. Here are my results:

Time (sec)

Temp (°C) 100m

Average

Starting Temp

80.0

30

78.6

60

77.0

90

75.3

120

73.9

150

72.7

180

71.7

210

70.7

240

69.5

270

68.4

300

67.3

I will be timing for five minutes, every thirty seconds because this
provides a good range of results in the first couple of minutes in
which the greatest and quickest heat loss occurs. I used these results
to plan for my practical. This meant I knew the correct temperature
and volume for my proper experiment.



Collecting Data
===============

Here are my result averages:

The temperatures are recorded in Degrees Celsius.

Time (Sec)

Nothing - (Control)

Tin Foil

Cotton Wool

Bubble Wrap

0

80

80

80

80

30

78.6

79.45

79

78.4

60

77

77.95

78.1

76.7

90

75.3

76.7

76.9

75.2

120

73.9

74.95

75.9

74

150

72.7

73.5

74.5

72.9

180

71.7

72.15

73.3

71.4

210

70.5

70.7

72.4

70.4

240

69.2

69.5

71.4

69.3

270

67.9

68.2

70.6

68.1

300

66.6

67.4

69.8

67.2

On the next two pages I have created five different graphs. The first
large graph shows all the results on one page, this is useful to
compare each separate insulator. On the next page after this, there is
a separate graph of each insulator. I have done this because I will
put a separate best line of fit on each graph. I have also used these
smaller graphs to circle any anomalies.

Analysis:

During my experiment, I decided to measure the temperature of each
beaker and then to find how much heat was lost. I followed the simple
sum below:

Text Box: Original temperature of water – water temperature of last reading = heat lost to surroundings

All the experiments started at a temperature of 80 degrees Celsius, so
all I had to do was takeaway the final ending temperature away from
80, here are my findings:

Nothing (Control) = 80 - 66.6 = 13.4

Tin Foil = 80 - 67.4 = 12.6

Cotton Wool = 80 - 69.8 = 10.2

Bubble Wrap = 80 - 67.2 = 12.8

This shows that if you put them in the order of best insulator, it
would be as shown,

1. Cotton Wool

2. Tin Foil

3. Bubble Wrap

4. Nothing

Conclusion:

The four curves for each beaker on my graph show negative correlation,
as the temperature decreased due to heat loss. The line for the
control, is suitable, as it shows a steeper gradient compared to the
other three beakers. The line of best fit for each beaker gives a
visual representation of the underlying trend. All of the insulators
have a reasonable line, this is because I did the experiment three
times for each of them. I have found out that the cotton wool was the
best insulator and prevented the most heat loss and the worst
insulator in my experiment was the beaker with no insulation.
(Control). The results of the experiment do give reasonably clear
plots, but there are some anomalies. One of these anomalies occurred
for the foil beaker after thirty seconds. The problem was that in the
first 30 seconds the temperature hardly decreased, it did not follow
the pattern like all the other decreases. However, I have noticed that
the water in the beaker, insulated with the cotton wool, was the
second hottest after 30 seconds. After about 2 minutes, it was the
hottest and so had kept the most heat in. In conclusion, I have proved
that the beaker insulated with the cotton wool was the best at
preventing heat loss. The cotton wool was the most successful
insulator because it was the only material containing many layers of
material that could trap air and therefore heat. The trapped air could
not move easily and so could not carry the heat away in convection
currents. The main reason why the cotton wool was the best insulator
is because the heat could not radiate through it. The cotton wool was
also the most successful because of the layers, which trapped the hot
air given off by the hot water in the beaker. However I have
discovered that as Foil reflects better than all the other materials
in my experiment (it is fairly light in colour and shiny), it enables
the foil to reflect the radiation from the hot object back the way it
came. That's why foil came second over all. In addition, after
prolonged periods, some of the liquid evaporated, losing energy and
caused its temperature to fall. This is the reason you have cotton
wool like cushions around your boiler and in your loft.

My results supported my original prediction, as the cotton wool has
been proved to be the most successful at preventing heat loss from the
hot water in the beaker. However, the results for the beaker with the
foil, and also the beaker with bubble wrap, have a difference of only
about 0.1°C. I would not expect this because I predicted that the
beaker with bubble wrap would of shown a slightly larger heat loss.

Evaluation:

I think that although I successfully proved that my results supported
my prediction, I think that I could have made the experiment more of a
fair test. The starting temperature was not always exactly 80*C. This
is because we did the experiment on two different days we used two
different kettles. They would have boiled the water at different
speeds, and the kettle was in constant use, it also took time to
measure the water every time. This made my experiment less accurate.

The results of the experiment do give reasonably clear plots, but
there are some anomalies. One of these anomalies occurred for the foil
beaker after thirty seconds. The problem was that in the first 30
seconds the temperature hardly decreased, it did not follow the
pattern like all the other decreases during the experiment. However, I
have noticed that the water in the beaker, insulated with the cotton
wool, was the second hottest after 30 seconds. After about 2 minutes,
it was the hottest and so had kept the most heat in.

I took my readings very accurately because I used a temperature probe.
However I should have ensured that the readings were taken exactly
every thirty seconds. Sometimes, results were recorded that did not
fit into the pattern. This may have been because I wrote the results
in the wrong time sections. Although I was very accurate, one person
in the group may have been less accurate at taking readings than
another - this could of affected some of the results or made them less
accurate. Also, there may have been faults in the equipment and this
could of affected the readings.

When I carried out my experiment, conditions were not perfect to carry
out a fair test. For example, the room temperature could have changed
due to the weather. Also, I found many problems (mainly involving the
timing). I was under pressure to take the readings on each temperature
every thirty seconds. If I were to carry out the experiment again, I
would have worked as 1 group of four instead of two groups of two.
This would mean that when every thirty seconds had passed, each
reading would be taken simultaneously. Thereby, three readings would
be taken for each beaker every minute. From these readings, I could
find the average (this would have made the results more accurate by
finding the mean).

Using my results table, I can see that one or two results did not fit
in. This was due to mistakes made when recording the temperature
readings. However, this did not alter the results greatly (if at all).
The beaker covered in foil showed an anomaly in the results for the
first thirty seconds. This was probably due to inaccuracy when taking
the readings. However, I believe I have enough evidence to support my
conclusion, that the best insulator was the cotton wool in my
experiment.

To improve the experiment, and add to my conclusion, I could conduct
the experiment for a longer period of time. For example, I would
record the temperature of the water after 1-minute intervals, for five
minutes. This further work may show larger changes in the heat lost
from the different beakers. I could also use a more accurate
stopwatch. I could also repeat my experiment as to gain more results.
The more results I have to find the average of, the more accurate the
end result will be. By repeating the experiment for around four or
five times, it would improve the reliability of the evidence. I could
then make a more reliable conclusion. I could also improve the range
of materials that I use in my experiment. For example, I could use a
different range of shiny materials, a range of thick materials etc. I
did not do this in the original experiment as I had only limited
materials and lack of time, but from experimenting with different
materials, I could gain results to support a different conclusion.

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