5 Mar, 2015    #36

Science Fair Blast 1

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As my Key West High School Science Fair project was due on Monday with judging on Tuesday, I needed to create a project over the weekend; in just 3 short days!  The most difficult part was deciding what to do, but chronic indecision was no longer a viable option.   I had always loved science, but I needed a project that would authenticate that love with a 1st Place Ribbon.  Then, out of the blue, it came to me on Saturday morning Ö I would build a jet powered car.  Wow!


OK, it wasnít going to be a real jet car, but rather a miniature working demo. The exhaust from a jet engine could easily turn the wheels of a car, similar to how the wind turns the blades of a windmill.  It would be a great project, guaranteed to get me an A+ and peer group recognition.


HYPOTHESIS: A jet engine could be used to power a car.


MATERIALS: I spent most of Saturday gathering the following materials:





Steel Insecticide Canister   Jet Engine
Copper Pipe   Combustion Chamber
Wood Cradle   Jet Engine Support
Scuba Tank   Compressed Air
Lighter Fluid   Propellant Fuel
Rubber Tubing   Air Injection
Spool & Razor Blades   Impeller
Rear Wheels & Axel   Car Parts
Poster   Diagram & Explanation


CONSTRUCTION: The filling plug and spray nozzle of an emptied Steel Insecticide Canister were removed and discarded.  The internal Aspiration Straw attached to the nozzle port was needed, and allowed to remain.  A 15 cm length of Copper Pipe was selected to securely mate with the external spray nozzle port.  The other end of the copper pipe was cut at a 45 degree angle to simulate a jet exhaust.  The engine was cradled in a wooden stand designed to hold the jet canister horizontally during the demo.


METHOD: The 12 cm diameter canister is filled with 50 mL of Lighter Fluid and cradled horizontally. This volume of fluid will maintain the internal aspiration straw well above the propellant fluid.  One end of a long segment of rubber tubing is inserted into the filling port until submerged into the lighter fluid.   The other end of the tubing is connected to the Scuba Tankís air valve.  As compressed air enters the canister, the lighter fluid is agitated with flammable fumes forced through the aspiration straw and into the combustion chamber.  Igniting the flammable contents of the combustion chamber starts the jet engine to power the carís rear wheels. By allowing the jet exhaust to impel razor blades secured to a rotatable spindle, the car wheels would be driven by the jet engine.


RESULTS:  Regrettably, it didnít work.  The jet engine exhaust resembled a puny lab burner flame with insufficient force to turn the waiting wheels of the car.  My project was dead, and Ö no Nobel Prize for Science.  But, wait!


REVELATION:  Why not inject oxygen into the combustion chamber by drilling a small hole in the copper pipe and inserting a basketball air inflation needle!  A second section of tubing could then be connected between the needle and my Dadís oxygen bottle to create the jet force needed to turn the wheels.  My project was alive and well! 


CONCLUSION:  Working past my bed time on Sunday, I managed to finish my project poster just before Mom declared, lights out.  Although there was no time to test the new oxygen injection system, I confidently fell asleep wrapped in a warm Key West breeze. Sweet dreams of jet powered wheels and science awards were just behind closed eyes.


Continued View Trax News Article #37


Mike Kohut, President, DDMS




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Copyright: 2015 by Michael L. Kohut
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