The intense colors shown in this photo are formed by the exothermic oxidation of ethanol with potassium permanganate in the presence of concentrated sulfuric acid. Murilo Sérgio da Silva Julião is a professor of analytical chemistry at the State University of the Valley of the Acaraú. He’s also the coordinator of the Science Chapel Project, the purpose of which is to develop engaging demonstrations such as this one for high school students. To carry out this reaction, Julião explains, add 50 mL each of sulfuric acid and ethanol to a beaker. The ethanol will slowly diffuse into the acid. When two liquid phases are visible, add 500 mg of potassium permanganate, and watch the sparks fly.
Submitted by Murilo Sérgio da Silva Julião
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