Contact Information

  • Keith B. Rider
  • Assoc. Professor
  • Chemistry and Physics
  • Longwood Univ.
  • Farmville, VA 23909
(434) 395 - 2585

Determination of the Heat of Combustion of Biodiesel Using Bomb Calorimetry

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This lab teaches important basic chemistry skills in the context of utilizing renewable feedstocks. In a three week series of experiments, students will synthesize biodiesel from peanut oil and determine the heat of combustion, density, and cloud-point of their product. Students will then use this information to evaluate the viability of biodiesel when compared to petroleum diesel.

Physical chemistry students performing this experiment will not only receive a brief review of ester chemistry, but will also expand their skill set by working with bomb calorimeters and setting up variable temperature IR spectroscopy experiments.

Supplemental information includes background information, experimental procedure, and a materials list.

Summary prepared December 2008 by Douglas M. Young at the University of Oregon.


Akers, S. M.; Conkle, J. L.; Thomas, S. N.; Rider, K. B. J. Chem. Educ., Print 2006, 83, pp 260-262.

J. Chem. Educ. (Abstract only)

Category Descriptors

Chemistry Concepts
  • Biofuels
  • Carbonyl Chemistry
  • Esters (Reactivity)
  • Ethers
  • Fatty Acids
  • Phases/Phase Transitions
  • Thermodynamics
Laboratory Techniques
  • Calorimetry/Thermochemistry
  • Extraction
  • Heating and Cooling Methods
  • Measuring Mass and Volume
  • UV-Vis Spectroscopy
Green Chemistry Principles
  • Use Renewable Feedstocks
Chemistry Subdiscipline
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physical Chemistry
Target Audience
  • Colleges/Universities
  • Journal Articles