How much energy is released from different types of biofuels
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hOW MUCH ENERGY IS RELEASED FROM DIFFERENT TYPES OF BIOFUELS?. By: Lauren Yeagley. Question. How much energy is released from the following types of biofuels: safflower oil, canola oil, corn oil, and ethanol?. Backround research.

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By: Lauren Yeagley


  • How much energy is released from the following types of biofuels: safflower oil, canola oil, corn oil, and ethanol?

Backround research

  • Biofuels are non-fossil fuels that store energy from organic materials which are known as biomass

    • Safflower oil, canola oil, corn oil and ethanol were the biofuels tested in this experiment.

  • Each biofuel was tested using calorimetry.

    • The science of measuring heat.

    • Calorimeter

      • A device that measures the amount of heat transferred to or from an object and the heat of a reaction.


  • If the wick is soaked in ethanol, then it will give off the most energy compared to safflower oil, canola oil, and corn oil. This is because ethanol is alcohol which is extremely flammable, whereas the oils (safflower, corn, and canola) have higher flashpoints.


  • - Safflower oil

  • - Canola oil

  • - Corn oil

  • - Ethanol

  • - Calorimeter

  • - Cork (to “impale” wick)

  • - Water

  • - Matches/lighter

  • - Thermometer

  • - Logger Lite Pro Computer Application (to monitor temperature or water)

  • - Balance

  • - Candle Wicks (25)


  • 1. The masses of 25 wicks (3 cm long) were measured and recorded.

  • 2. Five of each wick were dipped and soaked into four different types of biofuels (safflower oil, corn oil, canola oil, and ethanol). The remaining five were left undipped to be used as a control.

  • 3. The masses of the wicks were measured again and recorded.

  • 4. 100 ml of water was placed into the can inside the calorimeter.

  • 5. Each wick was then “impaled” on a cork, lit on fire, and placed under a calorimeter.

  • 6. A temperature probe monitored the temperature of the water from the time the wick was lit on fire, until it burnt out completely.

  • 7. The mass of the remaining wick was measured and recorded.

  • 8. This was repeated for each of the 25 wicks and the data was compared to find which biofuel produced the most energy.


  • To discover the number of joules the biofuel released the formula q = m C∆T was used.

    • q would represent the heat gained or lost by the solution

    • m would represent the mass of the solution

    • C would be the specific heat of the solution

    • ∆T would represent the change in temperature of the solution.



  • Independent variable: different biofuels

  • Dependent variable: change in temperature

  • Constants: amount of water, calorimeter, size of wick

  • Control: dry, undipped wicks



Type of Biofuel




The ANOVA test shows that the there is a large difference among all groups however not a large difference among the oils.

The results of the TTEST show that the only significant difference is between corn and safflower oil. There is no clear distinction between canola and safflower or corn and canola oil.


  • Canola oil, corn oil, and safflower oil all release more energy than ethanol.

    • Canola oil and corn oil were shown to produce more energy than safflower oil however there is not a clear enough difference to distinguish which out of the two (corn and canola), produced the most energy.

    • This would suggest that people should use canola oil, corn oil, or even safflower oil when trying to produce maximum energy. Testing which type of biofuel produces the most energy could help show people and scientists what type of biofuel should be used for maximum use.

  • The hypothesis was rejected due to the fact that ethanol released the least amount of energy.

  • This experiment could lead to the investigation of a broader type of biofuel and which of those produces the most energy as well as to why the different types produce such different amounts of energy. This could lead to the research of what component of the vegetable as well as which vegetable is most crucial in producing energy. This research could help find alternatives to fossil fuels.

Sources of error or changes

  • Ensuring that no liquid was lost in the transfer from finding the mass to the cork

  • Distilled water rather than tap

  • Not using a homemade calorimeter

  • Experimenting with different types of biofuels

  • Allowing the wick to only burn for a certain amount of time to test how much energy was burned in a specific time frame


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