In this laboratory, students calculated the nutritional value of common foods to assess the energy content needed to answer an everyday life application; for example, how many kilometers can an average person run with the energy provided by 100 g (3.5 oz) of beef? The optimized geometries and the formation enthalpies of the nutritional components of the food and their combustion products were calculated using molecular mechanics and a semiempirical method, AM1 or PM3, on the lab computers. These data were used to assess the energy content of common foods and compare with food label information. This general chemistry laboratory was designed for students of food engineering, yet it is applicable to students in any general chemistry course. Groups of students have successfully completed the laboratory as described here. The software was introduced, and the calculations were carried out in two, 2.5 h-long sessions.
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