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What is a Calorimeter?

by Team Goseeko


A Calorimeter is a device used to measure the heat flow of a chemical reaction or physical change. The process of measuring this heat is called calorimetry. 

Additionally, a calorimeter is a device useful for heat measurements necessary for calorimetry.

It mainly consists of a metallic vessel of materials that are good conductors of electricity like copper and aluminium etc. Moreover, there is also a facility for stirring the contents of the vessel.

A basic calorimeter consists of a metal container of water above a combustion chamber, in addition a thermometer is useful to measure the change in water temperature.

In addition, Modern calorimeters operate in the temperature range of 0.1 to 3500 Kelvin and measures the amount of heat with an accuracy of 0.01-10%.

The basic principle is therefore the heat release by the combustion chamber increases the temperature of the water in a measurable way.

However the temperature change may be used to calculate the enthalpy change per mole of substance A substances A and B are reacted.

The equation used is therefore :

q = Cv(Tf – Ti )


  • q is the amount of heat in joules
  • Cv is the calorimeter’s heat capacity in joules per Kelvin (J/K)
  • Tf and Ti are the final and initial temperatures

In addition, the principle of calorimetry indicates the law of conservation energy, it means the total heat lost by the hot body is equal to the total heat gained by the cold body

Types of Calorimeter

Some of the most common types are adiabatic calorimeters, oxygen bomb calorimeters, and after that the differential scanning calorimeters (DSC).

  • An adiabatic calorimeter utilized to measure a “runaway reaction”, therefore any heat generated by the sample under test causes the sample to increase in temperature, fueling the reaction.
  • Oxygen bomb calorimeters utilized measure things such as combustion reactions. this information is useful in determining the amount of heat (calories) in food and fuels.
  • In addition, Differential scanning calorimeters are useful for measuring molecular changes to determine the stability of a molecule in a formula.

Interested in learning about similar topics? Here are a few hand-picked blogs for you!

1. What is Calorific value ?

2. What is Entropy?

3. What is Kirchoff’s law?

4. What is a Catalyst?

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