Session S31a (Monday, 9:30am, Osmond 101)

P130: Carbon dioxide absorbers: Bringing an Apollo 13 problem into the general chemistry laboratory

Thomas Ticich (Centenary College of Louisiana, USA)

This talk describes a method for measuring the absorption of carbon dioxide by two different substances suitable for the general chemistry laboratory.  Lithium hydroxide has been used for decades to remove the gas from spacecraft, an application that figures prominently in the movie Apollo 13.  The absorption capacity obtained from this static method compares favorably with published results that use a constant flow method.  The method also works well for ethanolamine, another commonly used carbon dioxide absorber.  Students compare stoichiometric calculations that assume a complete reaction with their experimental results to motivate use of the latter in predicting the amount of lithium hydroxide required for space missions.  They use the ideal gas law to determine the mass of carbon dioxide absorbed.   Their data allow a comparison of the performance characteristics of the two absorbers on the basis of their absorption capacity and the reversibility of their reactions with carbon dioxide.


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