"Acetone flashlight" experiment
How to make copper glow in the dark
In this experiment, an incandescent copper wire burns in a flask filled with acetone vapor.
Reagents and equipment:
- copper wire;
- a large flask (~1l);
Pour 20-30 ml of acetone into a large flask (~1 l). Shake the flask, so that the air space in it fills with acetone vapor. Roll the copper wire into a spiral and heat it with a burner until it turns red. Carefully lower the copper wire into the flask so that the wire does not touch the surface of the acetone. Watch as the spiral begins to glow more and more brightly. We recommend you conduct the experiment in a dark room.
Acetone is a highly volatile liquid. Its vapor quickly fills the air space in the flask. When the incandescent copper wire is lowered into the acetone vapor, a reaction begins on the surface of the metal, catalyzed by the copper:
CH₃COCH₃ + 3/2O₂ -[Cu]→ CH₃CHO + CO₂ + H₂O
In this reaction a great deal of heat is released, so the copper wire does not cool down, and heats up even more, which explains why it glows.
Avoid burns! Wear protective glasses and gloves. Don’t conduct the experiment near flammable substances and objects. Fire-extinguishing equipment should be at the ready. The experiment should be carried out in a fume hood or a well-ventilated room. Follow general safety recommendations. Chemical experiments must be carried out in full compliance with the legislation of your country.
Warning! Substances of this experiment are toxic and highly dangerous for your health. Do not try this at home. Only under professional supervision.