Some of my experimental problems
Friday, July 29, 2011
The experiments that I or other Ph.D students run are no ordinary experiments. The experiments are not at all similar to those that the undergraduates carry out in the lab. We are running our own individual experiments for research and discovery purpose. We are seeking for new information, new knowledge, new theory, new discovery. We want to find out about something. We want to see whether this and this works or not. We want to see what will happen when we do this and this and so on. Of course, this will be based on our literature review and hypothesis. Our experimental set-up is in most case unique and not similar to others. If it is similar though, there will be perhaps 2, 3 or 4 almost similar experimental set-up. I'm referring to the experimental set-up that we create ourselves.
OK, the main thing I want to share here is the list of problems, challenges, hurdles that interrupt the process of me running my experiment. Some of the problems are as stated below.
- process tubing leaks
- fitting leaks
- o-ring burst
- gas suddenly finish
- furnace suddenly cannot operate
- heating tape spoil
- heating tape controller spoil
- reactor easily broken (quartz)
- support for catalyst broken
- Not enough or no liquid to collect for analysis
- Gas that is collected in a container could not be analyzed
- Dirty GC column
- Column not suitable for our products
- GC need to be calibrated
- No gaseous available, need to order gaseous from company
- Rota flow meter not reliable, cannot control flow of carrier gas
- No mass flow controller
- Vacuum fitting cannot be tightened
- Data logger for temperature monitoring software has problem
- thermocouple seal leak and fluid penetrate through wire and flooded the data logger
- Quartz tube after experiment are very dirty and difficult to clean
- No water bath, so I have to used my own condenser.
- Sabotage (this happen to my colleague. Her gas tank tubings were cut).
In addition, during this critical time, we need to always be positive and pray to God for assistance. On top of that, when ever we have experimental problems or delays, we need to have plan A, B, C and so on which means we can do other things such as drafting technical papers, search for latest literature review, learn related softwares etc.
If any of you have some good experience to share, feel free to contact me. I would love to hear from you as well. Cheers...
OK, that's enough for now. I'll share later updates with you soon. For my fellow Muslim chemical engineers (student or practicing), I wish you Happy Ramadhan and hope all of us can be fasting with peace.
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posted by zaki yamani @ 5:14 PM,
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I’m Zaki. I used to be a project, process and chemical engineer. Few years ago I successfully became a Chartered Engineer (IChemE) and Professional Engineer (BEM). I'm now employed as a chemical engineering educator/researcher/consultant. Hope you like reading my blog. I welcome any feedback from you. My email: zaki.yz[alias]gmail.com. TQ!