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The NO/CS2 Cannon

  • Page ID
  • Chemical Concepts Demonstrated

    • Complex stoichiometry
    • Exothermicity


    • A tube filled with NO gas is sealed with a rubber stopper.
    • CS2 is quickly added to the tube (the demonstrator is careful not to allow any air to be admitted, since NO reacts with oxygen to form NO2).
    • The tube is inverted to insure complete mixing.
    • The rubber stopper is then removed, and a lighted match is thrown down the tube.


    As the match travels down the tube, a massive flame and a loud roar shoot forth from the top of the tube.

    Explanation (include important chemical equations)

    The reaction witnessed involves a very complex stoichiometry:

    5 CS+ 10.8 NO -> 5.4 N+ 2.6 CO + 2.4 CO+1.7 SO+ 8.3 S

    The reaction is first-order in CSand second-order in NO.  The activation energy is 300 kJ/mol, which is the energy required to remove an S from CS2.  The energy released in this reaction is a whopping 3,280 kJ/mol.