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Name: James M.
Status: educator
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2001-2002

What is an example of a mechanical to chemical energy conversion I could demonstrate to my students?

Some examples come to mind: 1. Stirring is a mechanical action that promotes countless chemical reactions. It is so common we do not even think about it. 2. The friction caused by scratching causing a match to ignite. A similar application is the spark igniter used to light propane torches. 3. More sophisticated, pressure applied to a membrane separates pure water from saline water. 4. Numerous chemical reactions where the number of moles of gaseous reactants and products are not zero respond to a changes in pressure.

Vince Calder


I can think of a fairly simple one involving a hand generator and a rechargeable battery. Be sure the generator puts out DC current. A diode inserted wisely can be a quick solution if you have AC generators. Start with the battery uncharged. Convert mechanical(hand) to electrical(current) to chemical(battery).

If you do not want the electrical part, I would look toward toys. I have seen toys that respond to pressure by changing color. By exerting the pressure to squeeze the toy, you exert mechanical energy. This in turn changes the color of a material: a chemical reaction of some sort. When the material is allowed to expand, the chemical energy changes back to mechanical energy (the toy pushing your finger away).

Dr. Ken Mellendorf
Physics Instructor
Illinois Central College

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