EAST Program for STEM Students
2012 SURF: Calorimeter Construction and Testing
Calorimetry with Baking Soda and Vinegar
Undergraduate Research Fellow: Nick Randall, Mechanical Engineering
Given society's dependence on non-renewable resources, it is increasingly important to be able to identify alternative fuels that could provide another means of energy. Hydrogen is one of those fuels that have been explored and has great theoretical potential. In particular sodium borohydride has been isolated as viable reaction mechanism for producing hydrogen. The Borohydride Fuel Cell Research project intended to produce an inexpensive micro-calorimeter to be used for measuring a reaction that would produce hydrogen. To accomplish this, three different series of experiments were conducted with the hope that after developing and calibrating an inexpensive calorimeter, the researchers would be able to further the research in hydrogen production.
This project resulted in adaptating existing work on low cost micro-calorimeter design. These adaptations focused on vessel and materials investigation as well as the use of an Arduino microcontroller for the calorimetric thermometer. This project has provided insight into how to conduct certain reactions so that the calorimeter can be as accurate as possible. Through this research much was learned about calorimetry, reactions and data collection. This knowledge will be useful in continuing this research and thereby advancing alternative energy production.