Sunday, 22 May 2005

This presentation is part of: High School Student Posters & Displays

The Spirit of Chemistry - The Catalytic Decomposition of Hydrogen Peroxide

Yushen Qian, Monroe Township High School, Monroe Township, NJ

Hydrogen peroxide undergoes an exothermic disproportionation to form oxygen gas and water in situ. Although this decomposition is spontaneous according to the Gibbs Free Energy equation, the rate of the reaction varies according to the identity and amount of catalyst present, as well as the concentration of the hydrogen peroxide itself. We have tested a variety of catalysts, including redox metal oxides such as MnO2 and KMnO4, to ionic salts such as KI and NaI, as well as elemental iodine. Furthermore, we have also varied the concentration of H2O2 from 3% to 30%. The goal of the project was to determine the optimal parameters with which a solution of hydrogen peroxide can catalytically decompose to release enough heat to vaporize the water of the solution, and thus produce a “genie effect” of gaseous water rushing out of the neck of a 2 liter or 20 oz. soda bottle. The most effective reaction was produced when 0.75 to 1.22 g of manganese (IV) oxide, MnO2, was used to catalyze the decomposition of 3.48 M or 12% H2O2. Furthermore, catalyst effectiveness was augmented by using finely ground particles; it was determined that as the catalyst's surface area increased, its effectiveness increased as well.

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