Week 7: Powdered Experiments and Final Plan

Taara S -

Hey everyone, welcome back to my blog!

I finalized a plan for the rest of my experiments after making some changes from last week’s update. My final plan is to run adsorption experiments with all four powdered desiccants (zeolite, silica gel, blue silica gel, and activated alumina) only in the vertical setup and compare their rates and capacities against each other. For zeolite specifically, since I experimented with crushed already, I will make a separate graph/comparison between powdered, crushed, and beaded, once I do the beaded experiment, to compare their kinetics in the vertical setup. Also, my professor is right now replacing the plastic cylinder that surrounds the heater with a different material so that hopefully in a few weeks, I will be able to run the desorption of powdered zeolite and whatever desiccant out of the other three has the fastest adsorption kinetics in the vertical setup.

On Thursday March 28th, I did not end up testing powdered zeolite in the horizontal setup as I had planned in my last blog. The grad student had tested powdered silica gel in that setup the day before and found that the desiccant cylinder was not suitable for powder. The powder kept slipping through the disks and caking which prohibited air from passing through. So, since my project focuses on powdered desiccants, I will only be using the vertical setup.

So instead of running an experiment on Thursday, I learned from the grad student how to graph the kinetic curves of my data (0th order, 1st order, and 2nd order) and how to find their kinetic equations. I am still pretty novice at this portion of translating my data and understanding its implications, but seeing how my experiments apply to topics I learned back in AP Chemistry is very interesting. Below is a snapshot of the Excel sheet with my first-order calculations of crushed zeolite, showing transformed graphs from different time intervals.

On Monday, I decided to run the powdered zeolite adsorption experiment in the vertical setup again since there was a lot of error and powder loss the first time I tried it. This time, I was more careful when removing the powder from the desiccant chamber by first running air through the system to get the powder off the sides of the clear cylinder chamber and then dumping all the excess powder into the petri dish on the balance. My capacity was 17%, a major increase from the 6% I calculated last time. I also ran the experiment for longer (90 minutes instead of 50 minutes), ensuring that adsorption was fully completed. 

Today, I ran the powdered silica gel experiment. Everything was going smoothly until it came time to remove the powder. We put the air tube in the system but suddenly the mesh bottom of the desiccant chamber fell because the air flow was too strong, which caused the powder to disperse all throughout the setup. So, we had to disassemble, wash, and dry all the parts. I was able to create the adsorption graph from the data, but since I couldn’t weigh the powder at the end, I wasn’t able to calculate capacity. I am going to redo the experiment on Thursday. Below is the powdered silica gel sample.

I also met with my project advisor Ms. Sandor last Friday. My final product for the senior project, besides the PowerPoint presentation, will be a poster and paper. I already have a poster completed for the science fair on April 5th, but I will add to it by incorporating data from my new experiments. As for the paper, I already have a literature review that outlines previous experiments of AWC, so my final paper will be my lit review as the background plus the experiments I complete and my analysis and conclusions.

The final weeks of my senior project timeline are well planned out and I am excited to continue experimenting and creating kinetic curves! Stay tuned for next week!

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    Kiran M
    This is so cool! It’s amazing to see your progress :)
    your work is so inspiring !! But what inspired you to dedicate your time to this kind project ?
    Thank you, Karis! I have been interested in water conservation for a while now, especially due to living in Arizona where water scarcity is very prevalent. I wanted to be part of the solution, so when my professor/onsite mentor introduced me to Atmospheric Water Capture and when I learned I would be performing hands-on experiments, I was very eager to get started!

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