Elements of Chemistry

From Stop Losing Weight!

Elements of Chemistry, by Antoine Lavoisier

Chapter 3
Description of the Calorimeter, or Apparatus for measuring Caloric.

The calorimeter, or apparatus for measuring the relative quantities of heat contained in bodies, was described by Mr de la Place and me in the Memoirs of the Academy for 1780, p. 355. and from that Essay the materials of this chapter are extracted.

If, after having cooled any body to the freezing point, it be exposed in an atmosphere of 25° (88.25°), the body will gradually become heated, from the surface inwards, till at last it acquire the same temperature with the surrounding air. But, if a piece of ice be placed in the same situation, the circumstances are quite different; it does not approach in the smallest degree towards the temperature of the circumambient air, but remains constantly at Zero (32°), or the temperature of melting ice, till the last portion of ice be completely melted.

This phenomenon is readily explained; as, to melt ice, or reduce it to water, it requires to be combined with a certain portion of caloric; the whole caloric attracted from the surrounding bodies, is arrested or fixed at the surface or external layer of ice which it is employed to dissolve, and combines with it to form water; the next quantity of caloric combines with the second layer to dissolve it into water, and so on successively till the whole ice be dissolved or converted into water by combination with caloric, the very last atom still remaining at its former temperature, because the caloric has never penetrated so far as long as any intermediate ice remained to melt.

Upon these principles, if we conceive a hollow sphere of ice at the temperature of Zero (32°) placed in an atmosphere 10° (54.5°), and containing a substance at any degree of temperature above freezing, it follows, 1st, That the heat of the external atmosphere cannot penetrate into the internal hollow of the sphere of ice; 2dly, That the heat of the body placed in the hollow of the sphere cannot penetrate outwards beyond it, but will be stopped at the internal surface, and continually employed to melt successive layers of ice, until the temperature of the body be reduced to Zero (32°), by having all its superabundant caloric above that temperature carried off by the ice. If the whole water, formed within the sphere of ice during the reduction of the temperature of the included body to Zero, be carefully collected, the weight of the water will be exactly proportional to the quantity of caloric lost by the body in passing from its original temperature to that of melting ice; for it is evident that a double quantity of caloric would have melted twice the quantity of ice; hence the quantity of ice melted is a very exact measure of the quantity of caloric employed to produce that effect, and consequently of the quantity lost by the only substance that could possibly have supplied it.

I have made this supposition of what would take place in a hollow sphere of ice, for the purpose of more readily explaining the method used in this species of experiment, which was first conceived by Mr de la Place. It would be difficult to procure such spheres of ices and inconvenient to make use of them when got; but, by means of the following apparatus, we have remedied that defect. I acknowledge the name of Calorimeter, which I have given it, as derived partly from Greek and partly from Latin, is in some degree open to criticism; but, in matters of science, a slight deviation from strict etymology, for the sake of giving distinctness of idea, is excusable; and I could not derive the name entirely from Greek without approaching too near to the names of known instruments employed for other purposes…

To determine the quantity of caloric disengaged during combustion, and during animal respiration, the combustible bodies are burnt, or the animals are made to breathe in the interior cavity, and the water produced is carefully collected. Guinea pigs, which resist the effects of cold extremely well, are well adapted for this experiment. As the continual renewal of air is absolutely necessary in such experiments, we blow fresh air into the interior cavity of the calorimeter by means of a pipe destined for that purpose, and allow it to escape through another pipe of the same kind; and that the heat of this air may not produce errors in the results of the experiments, the tube which conveys it into the machine is made to pass through pounded ice, that it may be reduced to zero (32°) before it arrives at the calorimeter. The air which escapes must likewise be made to pass through a tube surrounded with ice, included in the interior cavity of the machine, and the water which is produced must make a part of what is collected, because the caloric disengaged from this air is part of the product of the experiment.

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