Sculpture for UCL Degrees of Change Week

As part of my residency at UCL, I’ve been involved in preparing for Degrees of Change Week with Joanna Marshall-Cook and Andrea Sella, to come up with a sculpture that students in the Chemistry Department can participate in making and designing from old glassware, that reflects issues around heat and water.

The students are meeting for the first time tomorrow and I’ll be joining next week. In the meantime, here are my initial design thoughts (from afar)

Glassware designs

Both options are based around a 3L flask being heated by a heating mantle. The condensers run off a pond pump linked to a reservoir, which will need periodic cooling. The cooling will be the addition of ice (see visitor engagement, below).

Option 1 is quite simple:

Option 1

Conceptually, however, I prefer option 2:

Option 2

…with what I call a soxhlet array.

The soxhlet array could maybe be made from an old vacuum line? It’s also the case that Option 2 might require some kind of modification just above the large flask, as you see in the diagram. The key point of that modification is that we need to ensure that the vapour from the roundbottomed flask goes up to the top of the soxhlet array and doesn’t route out into it from below. Or is there existing glassware that would do this?

Visualising energy consumption

We should use a energy monitor showing kWh usage – if we don’t have one to hand we could use an Open Energy Monitor (I know one of the developers).

We could perhaps also introduce colour in the soxhlets, so that it gets more intense as the sculpture runs – sort of showing through colour the intensity of the energy use.

Engaging the visitors

Rigging a bike up to charge the U-cell: this means that people physically feel how much energy is needed to heat up water. Once the U-cell has enough charge it will heat up the water in the 3L flask and the sculpture will kick off.
Addition of ice to the reservoir: we have a small freezer nearby. The temperature in the reservoir is monitored and when it reaches 35 deg C, a warning is shown (through an EngDuino). Visitors are requested to add ice to the reservoir when necessary. As a failsafe, a notification is also sent to someone responsible for monitoring the ice bath and if the temperature continues to increase they will intervene.

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