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In this experiment you will measure the heat of fusion

Hf of ice and more.

Background Material

We know from everyday observations that if we take a cup of hot coffee

and place it on the kitchen counter its temperature will decrease until the
coffee temperature is equal to that of the kitchen. The coffee and the room
are then said to be in thermal equilibrium. Using the terminology discussed
in class, the cup of coffee is identified as the “system” and the kitchen is
the “environment”. In this lab we have a glass of ice water, where a cold ice
cube is the system and its surrounding water is the environment. Notice
that in the coffee case the system is hotter than the environment and in the
laboratory case the system is colder than the environment.

Experiments like the hot coffee in the kitchen tell us that if the temperature
of the system is not equal to the temperature of the environment then both
the system and environment temperatures will change until, given time, the
two are in thermal equilibrium, that is, they both have the same
temperature. This change in temperature is due to the transfer of thermal
energy between the system and its environment. This flow of thermal
energy is colloquially called heat, and is denoted as Q.

The direct cause of heat energy being transferred between a system and its
environment is the temperature difference between them. The direction of
heat flow is dictated by the Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics which tells us
that, barring outside influences, heat always flows from a hotter object to a

Heat of Fusion (Hf) of Ice 1

cooler object.
The amount of heat Q that an object absorbs from a hotter environment or
the amount of heat Q that an object loses to a colder environment is
calculated from the following equation:

Q=m c ΔT (1)

where m is the mass of the object, ΔT represents the temperature change

of the object, and c is the constant of proportionality called the specific
heat (or heat capacity per unit mass). Specific heat is a property of the
material of which the object is made, while heat capacity is a function of
the amount of material. Two different size objects that are made of the
same material will have the same specific heat but will have heat capacities
proportional to their masses.

We know from conservation of energy that thermal energy must be

conserved, so if we place a cold metal mass in some warm water, we can
write the following equations representing the fact that the thermal energy
gained by the metal equals the thermal energy lost by the water.

Qwater = Qmetal (2)

mwater cwater Δ Twater = mmetal cmetal Δ Tmetal (3)

By measuring the masses and the temperature changes of the metal and
the water we can determine the specific heat of the metal cmetal given that
we know that the specific heat of water is 4180 J / kg °C.

The heat of fusion of ice experiment in this lab is slightly different because
the ice does not change its temperature while it is melting. Ice remains at
0°C throughout the melting process. The heat gained by the ice from the
warm water goes exclusively to melting the ice. The amount of that heat per
unit mass of the ice is the ice’s heat of fusion Hf .

The heat of fusion Hf of ice is calculated by using a conservation of energy

equation that says that the heat lost by the warm water goes into melting
the ice and then into heating up the resulting cold water,

mw cw ΔTw = mice Hf + mcw cw ΔT cw (4)

Heat of Fusion (Hf) of Ice 2

where mw is the mass of the original warm water, cw is water’s specific
heat and ΔTw refers to the original warm water. On the rhs mice is the
amount of ice that melted and mcw is the mass of the cold water from the
melted ice. If all the ice melts, these are the same. The change in
temperature ΔT cw is calculated from water at 0°C and the final water
temperature. It is not the same as ΔTw.

Pre-lab Question

Suppose you start with 100 ml of water at 60°C and assume the heat of
fusion of ice is 80 cal / g. How much ice could you add such that when all
of it melts the temperature of all the water is just 0°C. When we do the
experiment we want our final water temperature to be above 0 °C so this
answer should give you some idea of the amount of ice to use.

It is important in this experiment that the ice be at a temperature of 0 °C.

Ice begins to melt at that temperature, and any solid ice remains at that
temperature until it is completely melted. Since we want to focus on finding
the heat required to melt some ice, we do not want to complicate our
measurements by having to account for ice that is colder than 0 °C. If it is,
then the warm water must supply extra heat to raise the ice temperature to
0°C before melting begins. Ice straight from the freezer may be as cold as
−20°C. To ensure that the ice is 0°C for the lab, there are a couple of
options. You can just leave it out a few minutes until it starts to melt. At that
point we may assume the ice is at 0°C and we can proceed. This is a sound
option with the lab’s ice because the lab’s refrigerator is barely below
freezing. Or, option 2, you could put the ice into a cup of cold (room
temperature) water (about 2/3 ice) and stir until the temperature of the
mixture reads 0°C, at which point you have a refreshing summertime drink
the ice is verified to be ready. In either case, be sure to dry the ice with a

Heat of Fusion (Hf) of Ice 3

towel before putting it into the cup of hot water.


A. The Easy Experiment – Heat Transfer Between

Identical Substances (Water) at Different

1. Measure the temperature of the room-

temperature (that is, cold) water.

2. Half fill an insulated cup (technically a

calorimeter) with hot H2O ( 60°C to 70°C ).
Record the mass of the cup and water and note
the temperature just before adding the room
temperature water.

3. Pour some cold water into the hot water.

4. Stir gently for half a minute and then record the

temperature and the mass of the mixture.

The water mixture equilibrates in a few seconds, but the thermometer takes

5. Work through the all-water version of Eqn. 3 and

compare the lhs to the rhs. If they’re within
10%, bravo!

Take the mass of one 12-oz. cup to be 2.965 grams.

Heat of Fusion (Hf) of Ice 4

B. A More Advanced Experiment – Heat Transfer
Between Different Substances at Different

1. Weigh the metal ingot. Note its temperature.

(Assume the same as room temperature)

2. Half fill an insulated cup with hot water.

Record the mass of the cup and water and note
the temperature just before adding the ingot.

3. Immerse the ingot. Stir gently for at least a full

minute or until the temperature stops changing,
then note the temperature.

4. Calculate cmetal from Eqn. 3.

Based on that property alone, what kind of metal do you think it is?

Estimate how accurate your mass and temperature measurements are. You
know cwater to four significant digits. Now apply propagation of errors to
estimate the uncertainty in the value of the metal’s specific heat.

Heat of Fusion (Hf) of Ice 5

C. The Most Advanced Experiment – Measuring the
heat of fusion of ice.

1. Half fill an insulated cup with hot H2O ( 60°C to

70°C ). Record the mass of the cup and water
and note the temperature just before adding the

2. Add 0°C ice to the cup. The amount should be

guided by your answer to the pre-lab question.
Stir occasionally and gently until the ice has

This water-to-ice ratio ensures that when all the ice melts the temperature
of the cold water stays above 0°C. This sidesteps having to weigh unmelted

3. The instant all the ice has melted record

the new temperature.

4. Determine the mass of the cup and its contents.


1. Report Hf in both J / kg and in calories / g.

Heat of Fusion (Hf) of Ice 6

2. Look up a standard value for Hf and determine your % error.

Error Analysis

What were the possible sources of error in this experiment?

How would you improve laboratory conditions for this measurement?

Bonus Experiment ( +40% )

What is the specific heat of ice? Do the experiment

with cold ice straight from the freezer and use the
appropriately augmented version of the equation

You will need to use ice from upstairs because the refrigerator in the lab is
not very cold. Here’s some guidance:

Conduct the whole experiment in the kitchen. This gives the ice no time to
warm up before we use it.

Take the calorimeter cups and an extra cup and a thermometer upstairs.

You will need to find the temperature of the ice. Just put the thermometer in
the freezer for ten minutes.

Half fill the calorimeter cup with cold tap water.

Take the thermometer from the freezer, record the temperature and then
find the temperature of the water. This may take a minute while the
thermometer warms up.

Get enough ice to nearly fill the calorimeter cup with ice water.

Gently stir, keeping a sharp eye on the temperature. The second it reaches
0°C pour the water into the extra cup to separate it from the ice.

Go back to the lab and weigh the water and the ice separately. Some of the
ice may melt during transport. That’s OK. Keep it with its ice.

Heat of Fusion (Hf) of Ice 7

Bonus Experiment ( +20% )

We have assumed that the calorimeter was ideal, that is, the Styrofoam cup
didn’t absorb any of the heat from the water and it didn’t allow any heat
loss to the surroundings (air, table top, etc.), either through the walls or
through its open top (which includes evaporation). In other words we
assume ALL of the heat transferred out of the hot water went into the ice
and none was wasted elsewhere.

Do an experiment to ascertain how much heat can be

lost to the environment with your actual non-ideal

Basically, this just means pouring hot water into the cup, measuring the
temperature, waiting ten minutes and measuring the temperature again.
Then work out the change in the energy content of the water.

Extra Bonus ( +5% )

Record the temperature once a minute and plot the
rate of cooling.

Extra Bonus ( +5% )

Go to twenty minutes.

The majority of the heat loss was probably through the open top
(Styrofoam is a pretty good insulator).

Extra Bonus ( +5% )

Make a seal for the top with a hole for the

Heat of Fusion (Hf) of Ice 8

thermometer and do the heat loss experiment again.
(Covering your coffee cup between sips makes a noticeable difference in
temperature preservation. I use a CD crystal case.)

Extra Bonus ( +5% )

Do the heat loss experiment again with the tin can (no

Bonus Experiment ( +40% )

Do the original experiment to find Hf again with a

good lid.

Contrast the results.

Heat of Fusion (Hf) of Ice 9