Chromatogram of an equimolar ethanol and n-butanol mixture

Taking full advantage of the Vernier Mini GC Plus, Mr. William Patrick Cunningham, from Claudia Taylor Johnson High School in San Antonio, Texas, designed an innovative experiment in which students study intermolecular forces. The experiment uses different alcohols to demonstrate how variations in molecular structure and molecular mass affect the speed at which a molecule’s vapor passes through the chromatography column. Students investigate the effect of intermolecular forces on boiling point by testing a mixture of the two alcohols, n-butanol and ethanol. At the end of the experiment, students apply their understanding of intermolecular forces to provide an explanation for the differences in the boiling points and use data to support their answers. Mr. Cunningham recently published this laboratory experiment in his article “Studying Intermolecular Forces with a Dual Gas Chromatography and Boiling Point Investigation” (William Patrick Cunningham et. al., J. Chem. Educ., 2018, 95 (2), pp 300–304). Detailed lab procedure and sample data are available in the Supporting Information through the Journal of Chemical Education.