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Topic: Looking for a clear, safe, liquid with a low boiling point. Any suggestions?  (Read 34764 times)

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Offline mchammerhang

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Re: Looking for a clear, safe, liquid with a low boiling point. Any suggestions?
« Reply #15 on: September 10, 2012, 07:38:36 PM »
Tetramethylsilane is not bad with a very low boiling point (~25 °C).


I am new here.  I come from an aerospace engineering background I joined because I am currently involved in designing a project with a friend.  We have run into a little road block with a slight chemistry issue.

We are trying to design our own lighted bubbler tube.  The idea is to make something like you see on the front of a juke box or in those bubble lights you see around Christmas time. They are closed, sealed, glass vessels with a light on the bottom that heats the liquid inside enough to make it boil.  We want to use this idea as well.  We thought of using a small air pump, but that means constantly refilling the tubes, and more noise then we want to put up with.  Also a pump uses too much power for our end application.

After doing some research we found out that most juke boxes and bubble lights use methylene chloride (Dichloromethane) which boils at 40 °C.  This is our first choice as well but here comes the road block.  Doing some more research we found out that methylene chloride will probably melt the acrylic tubing we were going to use to hold it. 

We have thought about using glass, but that greatly complicates the manufacturing of our design.  Neither of us own the tools or have any experience working glass.  At the moment we are currently looking into other clear plastics.

So my question is could someone recommend another liquid?  We are looking for something clear, relatively safe, and with a boiling point between room temperature and 50 °C. 

Or, could some one recommend a clear plastic that will stand up to methylene chloride?

Your help is greatly appreciated.

-Peter B

Offline fledarmus

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Re: Looking for a clear, safe, liquid with a low boiling point. Any suggestions?
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2012, 08:30:33 AM »
Funny, I know it isn't good for you, but I never found DCM to be particular painful to get on my hands.  The only time it ever really burned was if I got it on my hand while wearing gloves and then it would seep through the gloves (note, latex gloves are terrible in terms of keeping DCM out), and get trapped on my skin and unable to evaporate.

Getting it under your watch or wedding ring can also be particularly painful.

For the OP, if your major concern is the toxicity of the liquid, I believe you will need to pick your liquid, then find tubing that is resistant to that liquid. There are enough different varieties of clear plastic that you will be able to find something that is resistant to virtually anything you might use. If worse comes to worst, you can use glass.

Alkanes might be the easiest option, something like cyclopentane or petroleum ether. Cyclopentane has a flash point of -37, so you certainly don't want sparks around while you're working with it, but that is slightly better than ether at -45, and the autoignition temperature is higher, 360 compared to 165. And cyclopentane doesn't form peroxides.

The lowest MW ester, methyl acetate, is only a little outside your range (bp 57) and is frequently used as a volatile solvent due to its relatively low toxicity. Somewhat more toxic than ethyl acetate but still very low toxicity for an organic compound.

The low molecular weight amines, like t-butylamine or methyl ethylamine fit the right boiling point range, but tend to be more toxic and are still flammable.

The low molecular weight halocarbons would be the least flammable options, and are also relatively non-toxic, but may be of higher environmental concern.

Hope this helps.

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