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Chemistry: Demo: Thermite Reaction


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About this Lesson

  • Type: Video Tutorial
  • Length: 2:36
  • Media: Video/mp4
  • Use: Watch Online & Download
  • Access Period: Unrestricted
  • Download: MP4 (iPod compatible)
  • Size: 28 MB
  • Posted: 07/14/2009

This lesson is part of the following series:

Chemistry: Full Course (303 lessons, $198.00)
Chemistry: Thermochemistry (12 lessons, $18.81)
Chemistry: Enthalpy (2 lessons, $2.97)

This lesson was selected from a broader, comprehensive course, Chemistry, taught by Professor Harman, Professor Yee, and Professor Sammakia. This course and others are available from Thinkwell, Inc. The full course can be found at The full course covers atoms, molecules and ions, stoichiometry, reactions in aqueous solutions, gases, thermochemistry, Modern Atomic Theory, electron configurations, periodicity, chemical bonding, molecular geometry, bonding theory, oxidation-reduction reactions, condensed phases, solution properties, kinetics, acids and bases, organic reactions, thermodynamics, nuclear chemistry, metals, nonmetals, biochemistry, organic chemistry, and more.

Dean Harman is a professor of chemistry at the University of Virginia, where he has been honored with several teaching awards. He heads Harman Research Group, which specializes in the novel organic transformations made possible by electron-rich metal centers such as Os(II), RE(I), AND W(0). He holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Gordon Yee is an associate professor of chemistry at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University and completed postdoctoral work at DuPont. A widely published author, Professor Yee studies molecule-based magnetism.

Tarek Sammakia is a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Colorado at Boulder where he teaches organic chemistry to undergraduate and graduate students. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University and carried out postdoctoral research at Harvard University. He has received several national awards for his work in synthetic and mechanistic organic chemistry.

About this Author

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I'm going to show you the reaction now that without a doubt turned me on to chemistry forever. I was in high school and we were doing thermochemical calculations. Things like calculate H reaction from H 0 formation, heats of formation - boring stuff. But then I saw this reaction; it's the reaction of aluminum and iron 3 oxide, FE203, to form aluminum oxide and iron metal. And this reaction happens to be over 800 kilojoules exothermic. A very exciting reaction because it gives off a lot of heat.
I went up to my teacher and I said, "Hey, can we do this reaction?" And he said, "Well, if you can find a procedure for doing it, we'll do it." And so I went out, I happened to have a friend who was in college at the time. He found a procedure for this reaction. We took the entire class of 30 kids out behind some temporary buildings and we look a look at what is known as the thermite reaction. That's what I'm going to show you here. Again, it's the reaction of aluminum metal and iron 3 oxide, common rust, to form iron metal and aluminum oxide. So much heat is evolved from this reaction that the product is liquid iron and you're going to see liquid iron dripping out through the hole in the flowerpot. Let's take a look.
What I've got here is a flower pot in which I've packed a mixture of aluminum metal and ferric oxide, and we have a sparkler here as our fuse. I'm going to light it now.
So what was dripping out of the bottom was molten iron. If you come up and take a good look at it, there's now a puddle of molten iron sitting on top of the sand in the lower flowerpot. I lit the tape that was holding the top flower pot on fire, but don't worry about that. I'm going to take these tongs now and reach in and grab that molten lump of iron so you can take a look at it. And, there it is, red hot, liquid iron, nearly liquid iron. It was liquid iron when it poured out through the whole in the bottom of the flowerpot. That's the thermite reaction.
CIA Demonstration: Termite Reaction Page [1 of 1]

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