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Author: Subject: Making fire (youtube collaborative video)
Morgan
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[*] posted on 8-2-2011 at 09:16


On youtube they have a platinum wire preheated and put into an erlynmeyer flask with methanol and it cycles every time the air eventually refreshes enough to allow another whoosh. And there are the platinum catalyst lighters that light spontaneously with a methanol impregnated fiber. But one day I took the little donut of platinum sponge and tiny platinum wires out my lighter and suspended it on a piece of gold plated nickel wire. By using a two piece jam jar lid, you can tighten the lid without having to twist it. So I hung it on the lip of the jar and you couldn't see up under the lid unless you really looked for it.
Anyway, by adding some methanol to a jam jar with a hole in the lid and waiting a few seconds, the jar ignites spontaneously and a sudden pulsating combustion springs to life. The jam jar cycles about twenty times a second. Unfortunately, the buffeting flames inside the jar is too hard on the tiny wires and fragile donut. It was a one-time design but still it was fun to hear the startling initial hiss and sustained reving. You have to stop the jar after a bit or risk it cracking from the heat. In the center of the gold wire you can see how tiny the little arrangement is.
It makes a good demo for spontaneous combustion I think.

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[Edited on 8-2-2011 by Morgan]

Very Small Ignition System Platinum Sponge Bead and Wire.jpg - 145kB
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NurdRage
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[*] posted on 8-2-2011 at 09:51


O_O

Whoa! that is AWESOME! i've never seen the methanol + platinum reaction.

Does the platinum need to be preheated? can it work at room temperature?

I tried my platinum electrode with methanol at room temperature but nothing happened. although i'm not sure if my electrode is somehow "deactivated" toward this type of catalysis.



Quote: Originally posted by hkparker  
@NurdRage

A lot of ideas have been discussed and I think we have a really good list of reactions, so I was wondering where were going from here.

Are you going to give us a list of reactions to film or should I already be filming and sending you things right now? I don't think we should all just start filming because some of us are likley to do the same thing, so if you could let me know what you want me to film, or maybe wait a while for more ideas, just let me know, thank you.


As i said before just start filming whatever you want whenever you want and start sending them in. I know there will be overlap but i encourage that so we can select the best ones or even show repeats of the same very cool reactions.

But if you want to reduce redundancy then simply film whatever you want and post a screen shot of your completed experiment here and describe your process. That will signal others you were successful so they can either A) avoid doing it or B) repeat it successfully if they REALLY wanted to do that particular reaction.

You can start anytime, a good time would be now.




I've done large scale collaborative work before and a big problem was people not following through on their given tasks. It's not their fault but i don't want to be held up waiting for someone. So i'm making this more of a controlled free-for-all so that those that want to put in extra work can, and those that fade out won't hurt the rest of us.


[Edited on 8-2-2011 by NurdRage]
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Morgan
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[*] posted on 8-2-2011 at 11:42


The way the lighters work is by having a high surface area platinum sponge which heats up on being exposed to methanol/air vapor. Then it passes this heat onto the tiny platinum wires which will then start to react with the fuel/air mixture glowing red hot and eventually lighting the mixture. It "stairsteps" up a chain reaction. Some old lighters used platinum wire and naptha but required a quick zap from a battery to give the coil of platinum a start.
Platinum sponge doesn't need any preheating other than room temperature. But if it has sat idle for some time, it needs to be flamed to activate it again. Then it will work for a long time if you keep using it daily. I don't know why this is, if it absorbs oyxgen from the air or what, but heating might drive off any absorbed gases. Palladium will store over 900 times it's volume in hydrogen.
You can use hydrogen too, in fact Dobereiner's lighter was a bit hit at the time. There are also hand warmers that use this principle. I have one that uses naptha but if you put methanol in it, it gets too hot to handle and doesn't need any preheating. The wick fibers are platinized. Of course glow plugs also use this effect.
Here's a couple of articles on the topic.
http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/d-bereiners-ligh...
http://chestofbooks.com/crafts/scientific-american/sup2/Dome...

This is a lighter I bought on ebay. It has a tiny bead of platinum sponge and fine platinum wires that suspend it. I think the wires are about .001ths in diameter, maybe thinner. The other chamber is a hollow wick which you saturate with methanol. By placing the narrow caged side partially in the wicked side a flame quickly appears as the vapor reacts with the sponge and wires.

Tiny Platinum Catalyst Ignition.jpg - 24kB

[Edited on 8-2-2011 by Morgan]
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Morgan
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[*] posted on 8-2-2011 at 12:51


I wanted to mention that was an interesting article posted by The WiZard is in. I wonder who they got to volunteer to test the beetle's heat effect on their lip? And the shaving cream thought with the H2O2 warming method I didn't know. I looked up hydroquinones in Wiki and it's kind of a popular compound aside from the beetle using it. I saw some study where they found about 26 compounds in the bombardier beetles spray, I guess mostly it's quinone, water, and oxygen you are left with.
It is said that you can light CS2 with steam, so the beetle might be able to set off a barking dog demonstration. Instead of a giant flame ignition like this demo, maybe if the theory holds true, you could break out a little jar with your tiny insect. ha
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6FyeX6Qvwc

The bombardier beetle is said to use the same mechanism as the V-1 buzz bomb or pulsejet, the way the valves staccato open and close by way of hot gases creating a feedback pressure and vacuum effect that actuates the valves.
I have built a few pulsejets and have started them just by priming them and lighting the tail end with a flame instead of a spark plug. Stretching this theory/concept a bit, perhaps you could start a pulsejet by using the bombardier beetle's catalytic pulsejet heating along with a carbon disulfide ignition system.
I have a pulsejet like this one, in case you haven't seen one running. The ten little petals valves .006ths thick open and close 220-240 cycles per second whereas the bombardier beetle pulses around 500 per second.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68MRkGxhvRE
There are also similar engines with less amplitude without valves but they still use a similar feedback effect to sustain the reaction. It was a jam jar like this I started with my platinum catalyst sponge and wire. I picked this small jam jar illustration just because it was kind of different, more delicate. Very shortly the jar would burn his fingers or most likely crack from the heat stress. He is using methanol for fuel.
Anyway, if you are doing spontaneous combustion, it can add to the effect if you start something with it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLw5AXBeAVs

Hydroquinone tidbit.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydroquinone

One other jam jar perspective.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1LQ94pjUWE









[Edited on 8-2-2011 by Morgan]
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[*] posted on 8-2-2011 at 18:57


hmmm.. a platinized glow plug sounds interesting. Although it would be more dramatic for the video if i could do the video with just a piece of platinum sponge or wire.

Would you be willing/able to make a video on lighting methanol at room temp with the platinum items you have available?
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[*] posted on 8-2-2011 at 19:37


This is one of the better demonstrations of the platinum catalytic reaction. If you had some sponge/platinum black, you could do away with the torch activation of course. I wonder if you could roll or flatten a piece of platinum wire into a very thin foil, if that would in some way create enough surface area? Or maybe powder it somehow and sinter it back together. I don't know how platinum sponge is made. Maybe you could use chloroplatinic acid and deposit some/coat a small piece of carbon to make a sponge-like surface. Oddly, I saw someof that acid for sale on ebay one time. Some sponges are made by using an alloy where an acid dissolves one metal leaving the porous remaining metal.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSdBB1vBDKY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TY2r3bSXX1Y

One more
Around the 6:45 mark, there is one where you just take the cap off and it lights. I sacrificed an element from that kind to light my jam jar.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vGYUSw-azQ



[Edited on 9-2-2011 by Morgan]
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[*] posted on 9-2-2011 at 08:38


This wiki was entertaining. Still there is that mysterious thing about it losing its catalytic property on prolonged exposure to air. To reactivate the cigarette lighters after long periods of disuse, you have to hold the element under a flame for a short bit. I recall reading that sulfur will poison platinum catalysts, so a flame with sulfur should probably be avoided.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platinum_black

I have been playing with a humble idea for platinum, but I don't know quite how to build it, finding little parts and such. But I want to do something different and somewhat creative.
I will see if I can make a video, but I can't promise because I want something that looks good, no matter how simple.
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[*] posted on 9-2-2011 at 09:43


Sort of an historical note on platinum.

Platinum Sponge
"Another form of metallic platinum in a
‘high area’ state is ‘platinum sponge’. It is
obtained by strongly heating ammonium
chloroplatinate, which decomposes to leave
the element as the only involatile component.
This is the way in which this highly
refractory metal was originally obtained by
Wollaston1, it then being sufficiently free
from embrittling impurities (e.g. iron) to be
capable of sintering and hammering into
sheets while hot.
As would be expected, this porous form of
platinum is again a good catalyst for promoting
the combination of hydrogen with
oxygen, the heat of the exothermic reaction
taking place over the extended surface causing
the sponge to get hot. A jet of hydrogen
impinging in air upon a fragment of a particularly
active preparation may cause it to
glow, thereby igniting the hydrogen. This
was the basis of the ‘Döbereiner’s lamp’1,10,
which was widely used across Europe until
replaced by phosphorus matches."
http://www.sis.org.uk/bulletin/89/Mills.pdf
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[*] posted on 11-2-2011 at 13:03


While this demo is just water making static electricity, I wonder if you could use/substitute methanol and have the methanol light itself on fire by using four cans and some wire for the most part? You would have to set it up so that some vapor is in the spark discharge region, that is if it would even work. Just kind of a quirky thought.
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6491441475172785592#
"HAZARDS & STORAGE: Store in tightly closed containers. Metal containers involving the transfer of 5 gallons or more should be grounded and bonded. Methanol may accumulate static electrical charges which may cause ignition of its vapors."
http://www.bnl.gov/esh/shsd/programs/program_area_chemicals_...





[Edited on 12-2-2011 by Morgan]
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[*] posted on 11-2-2011 at 13:27


Does anyone have any experience with platinum wire and hydrogen and oxygen? I was wondering since platinum wire doesn't ignite methanol vapor at room temperature without the help of a high surface area platinum sponge to start the reaction, would increasing the oxygen content to optimum levels, would that provide enough activation energy to ignite methanol or a room temperature stoichiometric H2/O2 mixture?
I have some very fine platinum wire .002ths and was just curious at what diameter platinum wire would activate at room temperature or how much lower the temperature could be if oxygen levels were increased to start the chain reaction, if that would help?
I have some 5% platinum on alumina beads and some 1% platinum on alumina powder as well as some .5% palladium on carbon beads and .5% palladium on alumina pellets bought on ebay made by Johnson Mathey. I guess I could fashion a platinum lighter out of these materials. I saw this easy demonstration of .5% platinum on alumina pellets with hydrogen gas. I wonder if the catalytic material used in mufflers would activate at room temperature, if pure oxygen would be enough?
http://www.chem.umn.edu/services/lecturedemo/info/hydrogen_a...




[Edited on 11-2-2011 by Morgan]
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[*] posted on 11-2-2011 at 16:06


Today I did an interesting experiment. I mixed finely powdered KNO3 and Al powder very well (about 350mg KNO3 and 200mg Al powder). Then I added a small spatula of red phosphorus (my guess is that it was about 25mg). Now I carefully mixed with a long spatula. I used more than half of this mix to throw in chlorine gas wich gives very bright white sparks (this experiment is nicely described on woelen's site).

The rest (about 30-40% of the original so at most 250mg) was put on a ceramic tile in the form of a pile. Next a drop of bromine was added. This results in instant very hot fast fire, giving of intense white light. It's quite spectacular. I guess you can also call this instant fire. you don't need much phosphorus, so you can use a few matchbooks to make a nice amount of this mix. it ignites, because phosphorus very voilently with these halogens, creating a fire.
If using very fine powder (german dark Al) or larger amount I can't exlude the risk that it may act as flash powder, so be very careful, it is a powerful mix. It is a beautiful experiment though, my eyes hurt a bit after the reaction, because the light was so intense.
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[*] posted on 12-2-2011 at 03:04


Jor, that is a very nice variation on my experiment. An even more spectacular thing may be to keeep a testtube with chlorine gas nearby. The gas hardly can be seen in a thin tube and then it looks as if a magic tube ignites the mix.




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Want to wonder? Look at https://woelen.homescience.net
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[*] posted on 12-2-2011 at 08:25


I successfully ran the experiment of sodium dichloroisocyanuric acid with DMSO.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRlM5PBbJ24


The trick is to inject the DMSO at the SIDE of the pile of NaDCCA. If you do it on top the heat just blows it back into the air and doesn't ignite.

Anybody else started filming some reactions yet?
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[*] posted on 12-2-2011 at 08:36


Seeing as I work with platinum and its compounds about every day, I'd like to make a comment on the catalyzed oxidation of methanol (and other easily oxidized compounds) by platinum. It will work with bulk platinum gauze or thin wire but it must be heated to a dull red-heat; in the case of methanol, it quickly makes methanal and then burns this to CO2 and water. Black platinized titanium electrodes will do it at room temperature, but those must be made carefully and produce a little lead waste.


As far as reactivity/pyrophoricity goes, this is true for any of the platinum metals: platinum black (made by sodium formate or borohydride reduction) >> platinum sponge (pyrolysis of ammonium hexachloroplatinate or by hydrazine reduction) > bulk platinum (wire, plate, mesh, etc). I think a lot of the reactivity has to do with the reduction conditions--some times the sponge or black gets saturated by hydrogen in the course of a reduction. The only way to get rid of the hydrogen and render it non-smoldering is to evacuate a quartz tube and strongly heat.




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[*] posted on 12-2-2011 at 15:17


I have 5 grams of 5% Pt on kaowool. I imagine this is very finely divided platinum. Does this work at lower tempertures for the methanol oxidation, or doesn't it work at all. I ask and not try because the bottle is still sealed, so i don't want to open it if it's not worth it.
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[*] posted on 12-2-2011 at 15:27


Very cool NurdRage, that's a pretty unique reaction! I just received my CaC2 in the mail today so I'd like to do the "underwater fireworks" demo where acetylene + chlorine makes little explosions. Not strictly "fire" that you could use to light your grill, but it's something I'm excited about doing. Hopefully it'll fit with the rest of the collab. I'm also looking into aluminum + iodine, "negative X" fire ignited with water, and thermite ignited with permanganate and glycerin. The latter two I've done many times, and I just need to get out and film them.

So in answer to your question, no I haven't started yet :P But soon! I'm trying acetylene tomorrow.
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[*] posted on 12-2-2011 at 19:16


I have one of those hand warmers that use platinized fiber of some sort, either an asbestos or some ceramic. If you mist it with methanol you can see the fibers light up and glow. I took one element apart, it was a woven tube/wick with a ~3/8 inch diameter spring inside to hold its shape. If you tease the ends of the woven tube just a bit, they will light methanol if you mist it with a finger pump sprayer filled with methanol.
Naturally you should make an effort not to breathe any fibers whatever setup you use. Even if they aren't asbestos, finely divided platinum isn't good for you either.
http://www.shopwiki.com/Platinum-Catalyst-Flameless-Metal-Ha...




[Edited on 13-2-2011 by Morgan]
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[*] posted on 12-2-2011 at 22:02


Morgan that would be a great video and contribution to our collaboration - you should make it! Sounds really impressive to see!
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[*] posted on 13-2-2011 at 09:07


It's funny to think during the early 1800's in Döbereiner's time, a platinum catalyst hydrogen fueled lighter was the norm in parts of Europe and a Bic lighter would have seemed exotic, but today Döbereiner's lighter seems the more wondrous.
I was trying to learn more about platinum and came across an article that said you could melt sodium in an oxygen atmosphere without it igniting if the oxygen were perfectly dry. If you cut a piece in the dark, you can see a faint glow as it reacts with air. And I read when preparing some platinum electrodes or catalysts they use a tiny amount of some lead compound, it somehow increases the activity of the catalyst but they said they weren't sure why.
I also tried to find something on palladium because it seems if you loaded the powder or high surface area electrode up with hydrogen, that that could have a chance of reacting with air, but maybe I'm wrong. There were those cold fusion guys that suffered an explosion and I wondered if the hydrogen loaded palladium was the cause or by what means.
I once bought a gram of a talc-like palladium black on ebay, but I've never done any experiments with it yet, and also some platinum oxide and ruthenium if anyone knows any enthralling experiments to do with these powders.
In general, it seems there are many things that lower the threshold of ignition, whether they get used up or not in the reaction. A common example is sulfur lowers the ignition point of gunpowder. In making pyrophoric iron with iron oxalate, I wonder if or how much carbon or trace elements help the reaction along moreso than just a pure iron powder would when sprinkled out of a test tube? The catalytic hand warmers that use finely divided iron have some salt to speed the reaction and carbon too according to this article. The carbon most probably increases the surface area.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand_warmer
I watched a video of some magnalium being made and a bit of the hot solid was raked across the concrete, creating lively, crackle sparks, almost like the mischmetals. The blending of Al and Mg seem quasi catalytic in some respects.
So I was wondering if one single fiber of fused quartz that was platinized would cause an ignition of a methanol/air mixture. Or do you need several fibers to reach the threshold? I wonder if the ceramic glass-like/mineral fibers of a handwarmer are smooth or textured, if you looked at them under a microscope? If they are smooth, you would have to wonder if plain platinum wire of the same diameter would work, or have they incorporated some other elements or roughness to the surface of these catalytic fibers. Would a pure oxygen atmosphere lower the threshold too?
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Morgan
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[*] posted on 13-2-2011 at 10:20


Just a few historical tidbits on the catalytic lighter.

"Dobereiner was so taken by these experiments
that he repeated them “at least thirty
times” that day, and “always with the same
result”.

"On 3rd August Diibereiner produced an even
more striking version of his experiment. Instead
of the previous static arrangement, he
directed a fine jet of hydrogen at the platinum
from a distance of 4 cm, so that it was mixed
with air before reaching its target. This had the
effect of making the platinum immediately
white hot and igniting the hydrogen jet. More
excited letters were dispatched, commenting
that “this experiment is most surprising and
amazes every observer when one tells him that
it is the result of a dynamic interaction between
two types of matter, one of which is the lightest
and the other the heaviest of all known bodies”

"In spite of the invention of the safety
match in 1848 by one of his former students, R.
C. Mttger, the Dabereiner lighter was still in
use at the beginning of the First World War.
Part of its attraction lay in the scope it offered
to the imaginative decorator: Dobereiner
himself suggested that one could “embellish it
with two alchemical symbols, namely the lion
and the snake, and so arrange it that the snake
takes the place of the capillary tube for the
stream of hydrogen and the open jaws of the
lion sitting opposite the snake hold the
platinum” (I 5).
http://www.platinummetalsreview.com/pdf/pmr-v30-i3-141-146.p...
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[*] posted on 13-2-2011 at 13:23


This is kind of dark and not that great, but it does show one way of starting a fire at room temperature. I had this wick in a baby jar for maybe ten years. I had to light it once to activate it, it wouldn't go after sitting for so long. But I did let it cool for ten minutes to make sure there was no residual heat helping out. I have another assembled wick that also glowed quickly after sitting for a day, but again, you have to fray the ends to make fire. Perhaps if you were to blow on it, you could bring about an ignition unfrayed. Or you could wind a piece of platinum wire around the wick and stairstep up an actual flame.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtkEfzpZ4Sg
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[*] posted on 13-2-2011 at 18:59


Beautiful! simply beautiful, first time i've ever seen platinum starting a fire with methanol at room temperature.

Is this a contribution to the collaborative fire video?
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[*] posted on 13-2-2011 at 20:30


I just did the "underwater fireworks" experiment, and it's cool as hell! I was really impressed at how easy it was on my first attempt. Here's a link to the test footage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPBGTunnv8o

The plume of smoke at 0:15 is actually just my breath, I'm trying to blow the real smoke from the reaction out of my face :P So the experiment works! I'll make it a little prettier for the collab video. I do wish I was done building my fume hood though, that chlorine is nasty stuff.
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[*] posted on 13-2-2011 at 20:41


You can use the video for the collaborative video if you like. I'm glad you liked it.
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[*] posted on 13-2-2011 at 21:28


Quote: Originally posted by MrHomeScientist  
I just did the "underwater fireworks" experiment, and it's cool as hell! I was really impressed at how easy it was on my first attempt. Here's a link to the test footage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPBGTunnv8o

The plume of smoke at 0:15 is actually just my breath, I'm trying to blow the real smoke from the reaction out of my face :P So the experiment works! I'll make it a little prettier for the collab video. I do wish I was done building my fume hood though, that chlorine is nasty stuff.


Good stuff, and of course above all else be safe. Take your time to build the fume hood if you need to.


@Morgan awesome! when i'm ready to start editing everything together i'll get the raw file from you.
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