Nuts about energy

Nuts about Energy
By: Bradley Bogdan


To find what common nut is the best heat source when burned.


In today’s world, almost everything we do needs power from fossil fuels or waterfalls. This obviously presents a problem for our limited natural resources and our atmosphere. Many alternatives have been proposed and some used. Most, like solar power and wind power, require certain weather conditions not common in many locations. Others, like nuclear power, create waste problems. Scientists consider this impending “Energy Crisis” to be avoidable and they point out that good progress is being made. One such instance was at the recent Detroit auto show, (where all the American car companies show the year’s new models) when Ford showed a working prototype of a car run completely on fuel cells. The working portion was no taller than the wheels and you could attach different accessories, like seats and shells, to the basic chassis.

You may want to know what burning nuts would have to do with the world energy crisis. Well, you may be surprised. As I said before, fossil fuels are limited and you can’t dam every river so what could replace those coal piles in the train yard, what could replace those emergency propane tanks for camping? Nuts. You might think that that is crazy, absurd or stupid; but the average nut is actually very flammable. An ounce of peanuts in controlled lab conditions can produce 694 Btu’s of energy. That is a lot of power in such a small package. There is a natural reason for this. All plants want their offspring to live so they use every trick to get their seeds to survive. Nuts contain a lot of stored nutrients and fat and fat burns really well. They also contain a good amount of oil which also burns well.
Well, due to cost issues, you really can’t replace coal with peanuts. On the other hand, my sources have shown that they would make very good replacements for a small propane tank or a fire starter. They burn well, they are portable, and plus they are edible! It could be the perfect emergency kit. A large tin of nuts, a tin for water and a few matches, it could make millions.
But what nut does burn best? Does it burn better ground or whole? These are some of the questions I hope to answer.
To conduct a proper experiment, you need proper background so I have included a good deal of technical information with my research:
Calorie is the metric unit of heat measurement. The small, or gram, calorie (cal) is usually specified in science and engineering as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 g of water from 14.5 to 15.5 C. The temperature interval is sometimes specified in other ways. The definition now generally accepted in the United States, and standard in thermochemistry, is that 1 cal equals 4.1840 joules (J).
A slightly different calorie is used in engineering, the international calorie, which equals 1/860 international watt-hour (W h). A large calorie, or kilocalorie (Cal), usually referred to as a calorie and sometimes as a kilogram calorie, equals 1000 cal and is the unit used to express the energy-producing value of food in the calculation of diets.
Calorimetry is the science of measuring a quantity of heat (expressed in calories), as distinct from thermometry, the science of measuring the intensity of heat (expressed as temperature). A calorimeter is the instrument used to measure the amount of heat; one widely used type consists of an insulated container of water, a stirring device, and a thermometer. This is what I am recreating. A heat source is placed in the calorimeter, the water is stirred until equilibrium is reached, and the rise of temperature is noted by reading the thermometer. Therefore, because the heat capacity of the calorimeter is known (or can be measured by using a standard heat source), the amount of heat liberated can be readily calculated. In my experiment this is slightly harder due to less regulation to my conditions. The heat absorbed by the water will be proportional in all three nuts. When the heat source is a hot object of known temperature, the specific and latent heat may be measured as the object cools. Latent heat