Week 9: Paper and Powder

Taara S -

Hello everyone,

Last Thursday, I ran the powdered silica gel experiment for the third time but the same powder loss issue occurred even after retaping the edges of the desiccant chamber/funnel. My professor was out of town, but he emailed saying he had some ideas on how to properly seal the funnel, so I held off on trying the experiment again until he got back on Monday. 

On Friday and over the weekend, I continued working on my final presentation and final paper. At the science fair, the judge who gave me advice was from the Stockholm Junior Water Prize (SJWP) organization and encouraged me to enter the state SJWP competition, which required a research paper due on April 15th. So, I submitted my paper on Monday. 

On Monday at the lab, my professor was back so we discussed how to tackle the powder loss issue. He found a temporary solution: he added aluminum foil around the edges of the desiccant funnel so that when it is placed inside the system, the lips of the foil can be sealed against the wall to prevent powder from falling through the edges. But when I was running the base condition in preparation for the experiment, the humidity in the bottom chamber was awfully low even when the humidifier knob was turned halfway. I noticed that the steam was escaping from the top of the humidifier instead of passing through the tube, so I spent a while readjusting the tape that was sealing the top. But, the humidity was still getting stuck. So, my professor added a pipe connector and changed the tube, resolving the issue. 

Today, I ran the powdered silica gel and powdered blue silica gel experiments. When removing the silica gel and blue silica gel after adsorption, there was a lot less powder loss, but the issue was still present. Small amounts of powder remained stuck in the crevices below the funnel and on the sides of the clear cylinder. The final weight of silica gel was 10.65 grams and the final weight of blue silica gel was 10.75 grams, not accounting for loss, which is still low comparatively. My professor said he will purchase an o-ring but that I should still continue my experiments for now since the issue is improving. 

On Thursday I plan to run powdered activated alumina, the final experiment for my study. As my senior project is winding down, I realize how short these past few months have been. I was hoping to be able to run desorption experiments with whatever powdered desiccant has the fastest kinetics, but I probably will not have time to before the presentation as the heater issue has not been resolved. But as I’m working on my final presentation, I am very excited to share my results and journey with everyone.

Thanks for reading!

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