Bomb calorimeters

Bomb calorimeters

Bomb calorimeters


“How can we measure the calories present in food?”


In our modern health obsessed world, we would like to know the calories contained in all foods. However, how can this even be determined in the first place? Well, let’s think back to a bit of prior knowledge. We know that calories are another way of saying energy and that we can measure the energy content of fuels using calorimeters. So what if we were to make a special type of calorimeter to find the energy contained in foods? Well, let’s put our engineering mind to the test.


First, let’s get a big tub of water. Then, let’s take a sample of our food, place it in an insulating case with some oxygen, attach it to an ignition coil, and place everything in the water. When we activate the ignition unit, the ignition coil will cause our sample to explode and raise the temperature of the water. From the measured temperature change, we will be able to measure the calories contained in the sample! This device is known as a bomb calorimeter and is used in food labs all over the world.

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