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Performance validation of step-isothermal calorimeters

Application of a test and reference reaction

Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry
Authors: B Finnin, M O'Neill, S Gaisford, A Beezer, J Hadgraft, and P Sears

Abstract  

Isothermal calorimetry is becoming indispensable as a tool for the study of a wide variety of systems. As with all scientific instruments it is essential that robust calibration routines be developed in order to validate the data obtained. Chemical test reactions offer many advantages over (the traditionally used) joule effect heating methods, not least because they have the potential to validate instrument performance (i.e. they can be used to assess all aspects of calorimeter operation). In this work the results of a validation exercise, conducted by Thermal Hazard Technology as part of an installation routine, using the base catalysed hydrolysis of methyl paraben are discussed. In the case described, a systematic misreporting of the reported temperature of a calorimeter was identified, caused by an upgrade to the calorimeter's firmware, a discrepancy which may not have been noted using traditional electrical calibration methods and one which highlights the importance of both manufacturers and end-users adopting chemical test reactions into their test and validation routines.

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A comparison of the performance of calorimeters

Application of a test and reference reaction

Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry
Authors: M. O’Neill, S. Gaisford, A. Beezer, C. Skaria, and P. Sears

Abstract  

Isothermal calorimetry is finding extensive application in a number of research areas. This popularity is reflected in the number of commercially available instruments which are capable of yielding a variety of thermodynamic and kinetic parameters. Whilst there has been much discussion of ways in which to validate any values returned from these instruments very little has been done quantitatively to compare the relative performances of different instruments. This paper highlights the use of a test and reference reaction quantitatively to compare the performance of three instruments (Thermometric TAM, THT RC and a Setaram HSDSC III); the specifications of these instruments provide a range from high-sensitivity, long equilibration time to lower-sensitivity, short equilibration time. The comparison is made through a statistical analysis of values returned for the rate constant, enthalpy of reaction and activation energy for the base catalysed hydrolysis of methyl paraben. The statistical analysis from the data set discussed here indicates that there is no significant difference between the returned thermodynamic and kinetic parameters from the TAM and RC. The analysis revealed however that the HSDSC returns values for the rate constant which are significantly different from both the TAM and RC, although it is noted that this instrument was not specifically designed to operate in a step-isothermal mode and that it was possible to apply a correction to the data. In all cases the enthalpy data returned from all instruments were statistically similar although the RC and HSDSC returned values which were, for the rate constant and activation energy, less precise than those obtained from the TAM. As well as highlighting the importance of using test and reference reactions, this study also shows that proper instrument selection is an important factor when designing a calorimetric experimental series.

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