Friday, February 24, 2006

Ethanol and Flour (with video!)

Our plan for today:

1) Play with LEGO Mindstorms set
2) Blow up flour

Flour, you see, is quite flammable in airborne-dust form. So, we got into the Physics classroom and took out a tin popcorn can, some flour, and the LEGO kit. JP immediately got to work on a robot, and we started looking for key ingredients in our experiment.

We got a candle and some matches. We went outside, put the candle in the tin, and lit it. We tried dropping some flour in and we tried blowing on the layer of flour at the bottom of the tin. All was to no avail; we got no reaction. We went back inside and determined we needed a bigger flame. Vivek left to get a bunsen burner and came back with some ethanol. We tried adding a bit of that to the candle, but to no avail. A small crowd gathered but dispersed after multiple failures.

We still needed a bigger flame -- and less wind. We went back inside again and watched this video for inspiration. New strategy: we put the tin on the ground, soaked a piece of paper with the ethanol, dropped it in the tin, lit a piece of paper, dropped that in, and had a nice little fire going. We then sprinkled flour on -- a little bit at first, and then some more.

We had no real video camera, so we used the camera rocket's nose. Quality isn't great, and you don't see some of our best ones, but it's better than nothing! :)

Next meeting we'll be doing this again, since almost everyone had left by the time we succeeded. Maybe we'll get a slightly bigger boom. :)


Vivek said...

Vid quality prohibited the cool, sparkly effects of the fire. :(

We shall try this experiment next meeting. I'll ask Mr. Fehlau for a bucket of Ethanol. :)

Toph said...

Yeah, not the best quality, and not even the best of our booms... but better than nothing. :)

We'll definitely try again next time, with more flour, more ethanol, and a better camera.


Michael Firer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Michael Firer said...

Wait, did I write whatever was deleted?

Toph said...

Yes. :)

Vivek said...

I deleted your comment Michael because it contained inappropriate (at least for a school-related blog such as this) wording.

Please try to stay "G". :)