Monday, 11 August 2008

Building Your Own Still – The Perfect Science Fair Project

If you are one who is searching for that perfect undertaking that will surely win the year’s award for the best science fair project then don’t look any further beyond constructing the simple still. For those who do not have any idea as to what a still is, it is an apparatus that is meant to distill, or separate, liquid mixtures by boiling since different liquids have different boiling points.

Before starting with the construction, it is important to note that building a still may lead one to run-ins with the law which makes it important for one to be knowledgeable of the regulations in one’s area and to devote the project entirely for scientific and educational purposes.

To start the construction process of the still: the following materials are needed: a 4-gallon size copper boiler, a copper sheeting that is 18” in diameter, a copper pipe that is 36” long and 2” in diameter, a 24-inch copper tubing that is 1” in diameter, lead-free solder, glass thermometer, milk can made out of stainless steel, two reducing coupler that have the following dimensions: 1” x 1-1/2” and the other 1-1/2” x 2”, an elbow joint that has a 1” diameter, a 3” nipple, 1” x 2-1/2” nipple, a large copper tub, 1-1/2” copper elbow pipe, copper coils, standard spigot faucet, any container that can be easily sealed, a siphon, an airlock, a rubber stopper, flour and water (a silicon kit can be used as an alternative), a connecting ring, yeast, a large amount of cold water, and the mixture to be fermented.

For the tools, one would need a holder gun, a drill, a saw, and a heat source.

To assemble the boiler, one would have to saw the copper boiler in half and lay on its open end the copper sheeting. Cut a piece from the sheeting that is 1 centimeter larger in diameter than the copper boiler’s open end. Solder then the sheeting to the open end of the copper boiler. After this, place the boiler flat side down and drill a 2” hole on the boiler’s top. Solder a connecting ring directly on top of this hole.

To construct the still’s column, bore a hole on the top of the elbow connector that will be big enough for it to be soldered to the 3”-sized nipple. Soldering is also done to the 2” pipe to fasten it to the ring on top of the boiler. The elbow connector is in turn soldered to top of the pipe with the help of the 1 x 1-1/2” reducing coupler. Solder then the nipple in place after which the thermometer is inserted there and secured into place with the use of the silicon kit or flour and water. The elbow pipe is then soldered to the other coupler. The 1” elbow joint is then fastened with the end of the pipe in a way that makes the elbow point downward. This end is then soldered with the smaller nipple. The nipple is then soldered to the coiled copper tubing and the spigot is soldered into the drilled hole present on the side of the metal container. The heat source is then placed below the boiler.

Put the yeast and the fermented mixture in the container, which will be drilled with a hole just enough for a rubber stopper to make it sealed air-tight.

You are now ready to use the still. Constructing it may be a bit laborious but with the proper materials and a thorough adherence to the right steps of building it, the still is just the thing for that science fair competition.

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