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Understanding Chemistry through Cars

Geoffrey M. Bowers, Ruth A. Bowers
Publication Date:
November 03, 2014
Content Details:
261 pages | 10 illustrations

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  • About the Book

    Book Summary

    As the car anticipates its dance around the racetrack, the engine growls and pops, and all senses become immersed in the smell of exhaust vapors and the sounds of raw speed and excitement. As it turns out, these also are the sights, sounds, and smells of chemistry! The car is a great example of an everyday device with an abundance of chemistry hiding in plain sight. In fact, almost everything in a car can be described from a chemical perspective.

    Understanding Chemistry through Cars guides novice chemists and car enthusiasts in learning basic chemical principles in an engaging context. It also supports upper-level chemists in synthesizing knowledge gained over a chemistry curriculum and seeing how it can manifest in the real world.

    This book provides an overview of chemistry in relation to cars. Various topics are discussed including the ideal gas law, materials chemistry, thermochemistry, solution chemistry, mass transport, polymerization, light/matter interactions, and oxidation and reduction.

    The book incorporates expected learning outcomes at the beginning of each section, detailed and easy-to-follow example problems, appendices reviewing basic chemical topics, suggestions on how to use the resource in upper-level courses. Ancillary materials, such as a Twitter account and an associated blog, allow readers to explore the latest in the world of car chemistry, ask questions, and interact directly with the authors and other experts.


      • Presents engaging practical applications of chemical concepts
      • Includes detailed and easy-to-follow example calculations
      • Begins each section with a list of associated chemistry topics and desired learning outcomes
      • Contains appendices reviewing basic chemical topics, basic car components, and suggestions for capstone coursework
      • Incorporates a Twitter account and blog where readers can interact directly with the authors


  • Contents

    The Properties and Behavior of Gases
    Kinetic Molecular Theory (KMT)
    Tires, Pressure, and Pressure Units
    Struts, Shock Absorbers, and Boyle’s and Charles’s Laws
    Ideal Gases
    Air Bags

    Combustion, Energy, and The IC Engine
    Fossil Fuel–Based Engines
    The Combustion Reaction
    Bonds and Bond Energy
    Heat, Work, and Engine Efficiency
    Power and the Fuel Source
    Turbochargers and Superchargers
    Biodiesel: Turning Waste Into Energy

    Oxidation and Reduction
    A Second Look at Combustion
    The Catalytic Converter
    Rust and Corrosion
    Chrome Plating

    Intermolecular Forces
    Types of Intermolecular Forces

    Managing Heat
    Colligative Properties and Your Antifreeze
    The Radiator
    Refrigerants and Atmospheric Chemistry
    Braking and Rotor Types

    Materials Chemistry
    Plastics and Polymers
    Composite Materials
    Fuel Cells: Power Plant of the Future?

    Light and Your Car
    Light and the Atom
    Pigments and Color
    Photochemical Degradation
    Headlamps and LEDs

    Appendix A: Matter and Measurement
    Appendix B: Atoms and Elements
    Appendix C: Organic Chemistry
    Appendix D: An Introduction to the Car
    Appendix E: Advanced Extension Exercises for Capstone Courses