Pictures above show the latest version of our aerosol system. As you can see, space is starting to get a little tight in the lab, but we are excited about all the new features. The past few months have been full of updates and upgrades for the aerosol chambers. In terms of the little things, new monitors and computers have made it so we no longer have to look through the setup to read pressures and valves. Additionally, having computer control directly in front of the chamber minimizes how often we have to run between stations (something us college kids appreciate during early morning research hours). Another new tool (not pictured) was a mini scaffolding assembly. This has been a useful addition as it has enabled us to reach the upper portions of the chamber more easily while also offering a very stable work surface and allowing us to fit around all of the materials on the ground. Plus, it’s way easier to deal with than ladders and stepstools.
The most exciting update to the system has been our new cryo capabilities. We are now able to get our chamber as low as -65 degrees Celsius with a water/methanol cooling bath. However, we quickly learned that the addition of cold bath affected more than just our chamber. A subsequent increase in the room’s humidity led us to install a dehumidifier, which pumps the water it pulls out of the air straight back into our water reservoir. The addition of cryo capabilities came with additional challenges, such as keeping the cooling bath the correct temperature and running the chamber for select hours rather than continuously. Later in the semester, Dr. Sebree obtained a Brinkmann cooler, which allowed us to reach and consistently maintain a temperature of -40 degrees Celsius.
--Courtney Massey and Katie Plotzke
On this page we'll post updates of the BETA Project's progress- stay tuned!