Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Great Thermos Flunkie

I've always prided myself on being somewhat of an intelligent, innovative individual, with the capacity to complete creative science experiments effortlessly. However, recently my attempts at a homemade thermos (for my Science methods class) have shown me otherwise - apparently, I am just a remedial Grade 20 student (yes, that really is how many years I've been in school).

Our task: create a homemade thermos using non-thermal, non-electric, non-glass materials to hold 300 mL of hot water and keep it equally hot for 40 minutes. The size limit is 8000 cubic centimetres.

My first and second thermos were abysmal failures owing to the fact that I created them using empty 330 mL bottles and expanding foam. When the foam expanded, it crushed the sides of my bottles and shrank their capacities to a mere 200 mL a piece.

Currently on my third attempt, I have used a double-lid plastic bagel bin, expanding foam, a filled 450 mL water bottle, and foil. Unfortunately, initial trials have demonstrated that my net loss is somewhere between 11 -16 degrees Celsius, entirely too many degrees for me to obtain a perfect mark for my thermos (the goal is 4 degrees or less). I've insulated the top lid (foam & plastic), insulated the initial bottle (foil and foam), and even extra-secured my overall container against radiant heat loss (foil and duct tape). Now on my 4th modification of the thing, I've added extra foam to the top of my bottle lid and am awaiting its curing before I do another trial.

When will the madness end, you say? I am near giving up. This stupid thermos has got me beat, and unless one of you has a brilliant idea to help me further insulate my monstrous concoction, I am (for once) going to take a less than perfect mark on this nightmarish project.



Catherine_Jane said...

I left the chemistry portion of my brain back in highschool... I can discuss thermoregulation and such in terms of the himan body but aside from that, all those heat/cold reaction experiments are locked away in the closet of my brain marked "Out of Circulation/Too Many Parties In University."
Good Luck!

Catherine_Jane said...

i'm sad no one else commented on this one!!!!!!!

Mrs. Loquacious said...

You're not no one, CJ! ;)

Update on my thermofailure: I ended up ditching my expanding foam prototype altogether and went with a tin-wrapped water bottle stored inside a cardboard box insulated with polyester fibrefill (from my pillow) and bubble wrap.

I lost 10 degrees, and 4 marks. Apparently the average loss was between 8 - 12 degrees, and one person even lost 25 degrees (no marks for them!).

Next time I want a thermos, I am buying one. *sniff*