World Journal of Chemical Education
ISSN (Print): 2375-1665 ISSN (Online): 2375-1657 Website: Editor-in-chief: Prof. V. Jagannadham
Open Access
Journal Browser
World Journal of Chemical Education. 2015, 3(5), 120-123
DOI: 10.12691/wjce-3-5-3
Open AccessArticle

Relation between Metal Properties and Historical Incidents: A Demonstration of Metal Burning and Cooling Experiments

Ryo Horikoshi1, , Takeshi Yajima2, Yoji Kobayashi2 and Hiroshi Kageyama2

1Department of Chemistry, College of General Education, Osaka Sangyo University, Nakagaito, Daito, Osaka, Japan

2Department of Energy and Hydrocarbon Chemistry, Graduate School of Engineering, Kyoto University, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan

Pub. Date: October 16, 2015

Cite this paper:
Ryo Horikoshi, Takeshi Yajima, Yoji Kobayashi and Hiroshi Kageyama. Relation between Metal Properties and Historical Incidents: A Demonstration of Metal Burning and Cooling Experiments. World Journal of Chemical Education. 2015; 3(5):120-123. doi: 10.12691/wjce-3-5-3


We have described a demonstration to introduce the relation between metal properties and historical incidents through metal burning and cooling experiments. In the demonstration, three different metals are burned in an oxygen atmosphere to test the theory that the high combustion heat of aluminum may have increased the fire-induced damage on a warship in the Falklands war. Based on the observations of the metal burning experiments, the relation between the heats of formation of materials and the fire-induced damage on the warship can be discussed. Three metal wires are then cooled using dry ice to demonstrate the relation between the low temperature-induced brittleness of carbon steel and the sinking of cargo ships in World War II. Following the metal cooling experiments, the brittleness and its relevance to crystal lattice structures of metals can be discussed.

demonstration general chemistry heat of formation of materials crystal lattice structures of metals

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


Figure of 5


[1]  Eberhart, M. Why Things Break: Understanding the World by the Way It Comes Apart, Random House, Inc.: New York, 2003.
[2]  Le Couteur, P.; Burreson, J. Napoleon's Buttons: 17 Molecules That Changed History, Penguin Group, Inc.: New York, 2003.
[3]  Chaline, E. Fifty Minerals That Changed the Course of History, Firefly Books Ltd.: New York, 2012.
[4]  Ponting, C. Gunpowder, The Story, Random House, Inc.: New York, 2005.
[5]  Bucholtz, K. M. Spicing Things Up by Adding Color and Relieving Pain: The Use of Napoleon's Buttons in Organic Chemistry, J. Chem. Educ. 2011, 88(2), 158-161.
[6]  Samet, C.; Higgins, P. J. Napoleon's Buttons: Teaching the Role of Chemistry in History, J. Chem. Educ. 2005, 82(10), 1496-1500.
[7]  Emsley, J. Nature′s Building Blocks, An A-Z Guide to the Elements, Oxford University Press: New York, 2011.
[8]  Gray, B. H.; Simon, J. D.; Trogler, W. C. Braving the Elements, University Science Books: Sausalito, 1995.
[9]  Brown, J.; Snyder, W. P.; Eds. The Regionalization of Warfare, Transaction Books; New Brunswick, 1985.
[10]  Schaffer, J. P.; Saxena, A.; Antolovich, S. D.; Sanders Jr. T. H.; Warner, S. B. The Science and Design of Engineering Materials, 2nd ed., McGraw-Hill: New York, 1999.
[11]  NIST Chemistry WebBook; (accessed November 2014).
[12]  Krauss, G. Steels: Processing, Structure and Performance, 4th ed., ASM International, Ohio, 2005.
[13]  Hanamura, T.; Yin, F.; Nagai, K. Ductile-Brittle Transition Temperature of Ultrafine Ferrite/Cementite Microstructure in a Low Carbon Steel Controlled by Effective Grain Size, ISIJ Int. 2004, 44(3), 610-617.
[14]  Lister, T. Classic Chemistry Demonstrations, One hundred tried and tested experiments, Royal Society of Chemistry, London, 1995.
[15]  Kuehner, A. Cryogenics Experiments with Liquid Nitrogen; (accessed September 2015).