Under Pressure

Can you compete under pressure?

It's all around us, and in several forms, from the physical pressure that makes our ears pop underwater to the emotional and psychological pressure of trying to get that experiment just right... and of course when it all starts to go horribly wrong.

As scientists we are constantly confronted by situations that put us under pressure; how you react can determine sucess or failure.

Ever wondered how good you are? Do you have a calm head or fall to pieces?

The BBC is running an interactive 20 minute test that investigates exactly that. A series of simple challenges test your reactions while you listen to a emotive soundtrack.

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Micheal Johnson presents the BBC's psychological testTo test yourself under pressure you need a psychological test, to test your samples under pressure - you need a Linkam stage.    

There are three options for a high pressure investigation.

1 - The CAP500

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The CAP500 stage is designed to test samples within quartz capillaries that can be pressurized up to 600bar. Heated within a 50mm silver block the samples can be rapidly heated and cooled in the range of –196°C to 500°C at a rate from 0.1 to 50°C/min.

2 - The THMS600PS

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The THMS600-PS combines accurate temperature control with the ability to investigate the effects of pressure up to 14 Bar. Samples can be loaded on coverslips, or within the THMS crucible. The stage has a temperature range: -196°C to 600 °C at 1 bar, -100°C to 500°C at 14 bar and a max heating/cooling rate of up to 130°C / min

3- CCR1000

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The new catalyst stage from Linkam has been designed to study catalytic reactions at high temperature and pressure. Samples are mounted on a virtually non-reactive disposable ceramic filter within the ceramic heating element. The stage has a temperature range from ambient to 1000°C. The heating rates are from 1 to 200°C/min with pressure up to 5bar (with quartz window installed).

In the BBC's test, they monitor your mindset before and after each challenge. It's simple but the results are surprising. To have a go and see how you do click here

For more information on any of our stages, or to tell us how you did on the BBC test, please email or add a comment below this post. Can't wait to hear from you.

By Caroline Feltham

A Cleaner Future

Considered a clean fuel - because when it burns in air it forms water - Hydrogen can be used to fuel motor vehicles, provide energy for homes and even power rockets and spaceships.

Space shuttle taking off from Florida, USA

At the University of South Carolina, a graduate student, Xiaojing Sun, is using the Linkam CCR1000 stage to look at the phase change of a complex hydride LiBH4, which could potentially be used as a Hydrogen (H2) store. There are several possible ways of storing H2: under high pressure, using cryogenics and within chemical compounds that act as a reversible store. Any method used needs to be safe, reliable and have an acceptable energy density.

LiBH4 is a complex hydride and a chemical molecule that can store H2. When it melts it breaks down into several constituents: B, Li2B12H12, LiH and H2. The scientists are studying the phase transitions of LiBH4 and attempting to identify the crystallographic structures with Raman spectroscopy. They aim to further understand these decomposition mechanisms as the products and intermediates are not well understood.  

Xiaojing Sun says: “The cell and temperature controller are very well designed and working well.” She has found that when the reactant decomposes to form H2 around 400°C, and is cooled fully, infused with hydrogen, and heated again, the amount of H2 released for this second cycle is significantly decreased. She hopes to learn what chemical changes occur during the increasing temperature and then may introduce some other metallic element to the reactant to achieve a better recycle.

CCR1000 in the University Lab As scientists gain a better understanding of LiBH4 and other complex hydrides, they move closer to the eventuality of hydrogen as a fuel, and a cleaner future for us all.

By Caroline Feltham   

The CCR1000 is used as a mini-reactor (in-situ Raman cell) at the University of South Carolina to study heterogeneous catalysis.

The University of South Carolina was founded in 1805. It originated in one building and over the years has grown to have over 200,000 living alumni. These include the band Hootie and the Blowfish, Grammy award-winning musicians, and Tonique Williams-Darling, 400-meter Olympic gold medallist for her native Bahamas in the 2004 Games.

The university’s research initiatives in nanotechnology, health sciences, Future Fuels™, the environment, and information technologies have helped make it one of only 63 public universities listed by the Carnegie Foundation in the highest tier of research institutions in the United States.

Graduate student, Artem Vityuk and his colleagues are using Raman spectroscopy to study oxidation of CO over rhodium based catalysts in the Linkam CCR1000 cell. 

CCR1000 Linkam stage in the lab at the University of South CarolinaSamples are loaded into the CCR1000 in a nitrogen filled glove box as the catalysts are air and water sensitive materials. During the experiment a CO/O2/He mixture flows through the reactor cell. Catalysis by "single site" catalysts is of particular interest to the researchers as at this scale catalyst properties change drastically which often results in enhanced catalytic activity.

At the moment they are still on the trial and error phase but I look forward to hearing more about their experiments in the future.

By Caroline Feltham