Space Science Demonstrations Hawaiian Style
Sponsored by Hawai`i Space Grant Consortium, Hawai`i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawaii, 2001

Created by Dale Olive and Randy Scoville
Future Flight Hawai`i instructors

Demonstration at a glance:
An empty soda can be easily ripped clean in two. This can be used to impress possibly hostile students on the first day of class??

Remove the tab off an empty clean soda can. With a screwdriver or other sharp object "scratch" a circle around the inside middle of the soda can. Pour in a solution of copper (II) chloride to a depth up to the scratch and let sit for a few minutes. Pour out the copper (II) chloride solution and rinse the can. It is now ready for ripping.

The need for the scratch around the inside of the can is due to the fact that soda cans contain a plastic lining which protects the can from the acidic soda. The copper chloride solution is involved in a single replacement reaction with the aluminum in the can as follows:

3CuCl2 (aq) + 2Al (s) > 3AlCl3 (aq) + 3Cu (s)

After the reaction, the can is basically being held together by the outside paint and a thin film of copper.

The presence of a plastic lining has impressed my students for years. To see it more effectively, place a soda can full of water in a strong solution of HCl and the aluminum will be dissolved leaving the plastic lining and what's left of the can. This should be done under a fume hood or in a well ventilated area away from students as a lot of vapor is given off and a lot of heat produced (thus the need for water to prevent the lining from melting.)
Communications: Hawaii Space Grant Office
This activity is featured in Future Flight Hawaii, a K-12 Education Project of Hawaii Space Grant Consortium.
FEB 27 2001.

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