Chemical Mystery #9: Liquid Nitrogen vs. Dry Ice

Bucket launch

A favorite experiment of mine is the bucket launch. My students and I recently tried two variations on this experiment. Watch the video below and see if you can explain the differences we observed.

Consistently, the one method always worked better than the other. Why do you think this is so?

If you know your chemistry you can figure this out!

The solution can be found here.

HAZARDS:  I describe here some useful tips if you plan on trying this experiment yourself. Please know that all details required for a safe and successful launch have NOT been described herein.  If you try this experiment, you do so at your own risk. The bucket needs to be liberally reinforced with duct tape.  Otherwise, the impact from the explosion will not launch the bucket in the air. Rather, the bucket will shatter into many pieces. After tightly sealing the bottle, STAND BACK.  Pieces of plastic from the exploded 2 L bottle can be thrown as far as 30 m. If the bottle is not sealed properly, hissing noises can be heard as gas escapes from the bottle.  In the event the bottle is not sealed properly, DO NOT approach the assembly until you are certain that all of the gas has escaped.