Casting A Fire Ant Colony With Molten Aluminum
That was very cool! I'm surprised how much aluminum it took. The finished product looked like some sort of coral structure.
I think only about 5 ants escaped, too.
Wow impressive. I'm actually impressed by at least 2 things:
1)I would have thought that the aluminium wouldn't go that deep without solidifying. It must have been extremely hot, significantly hotter than the melting point?
2)The ant nest is surprisingly small to me... with a single entrance?!
I would have thought that creating that huge whole at the top would collapse and plug a lot of the tunnels
btw, if you do a google image search you'll find a lot of other casts. Some quite large.
Greg, I was also surprised the structure of the colony was preserved with the weight of the aluminum at the top pouring down and everything.
fluid, it might be that some tunnels collapsed during the process and so we only got to see a portion of the nest.
Actually, it shouldn't be too surprising that a cast can be made this way. Traditional casts are made of wet sand (the fineness of the sand affecting the quality of the cast). So it is certainly possible to pour molten metal into a cavity in sand and have it fill the space. There is some technique involved, and my guess is they're aware of that.
If you want to kill a lot of ants, mix some borax and powdered sugar and dissolve them in water. Set that mixture out where the ants can get it. The borax will plug up the guts of the ants. The foragers will take that mix back to the colony, and kill them all, starting with the queen who gets dibs on all sweet stuff.
Someone call PETA.
From what I've read, it's at around 1200* F.
The melting point is: 1,221°F (660.3°C) and the boiling point is: 4,566°F (2,519°C), so there seems to be a lot of room for pouring it well above the melting point. How hot an amateur can get it is probably most dependent on what kind of crucible they have available.
Well in the videos I've heard them say "pouring 1200* F into an ant hill" but I suppose it is likely that they just looked up the melting point and put that number.
It seems like if it was near the actual melting point, most of it would be starting to solidify by the time they were pouring, and whatever came out would be 'blobby.'
I would imagine it's trial and error. If it cools too fast one time, keep it in the furnace longer before the next pour. That sort of thing.
Edit: it's also conceivable the nest was actually a lot deeper but the aluminum "froze" at a certain point before the full depth was reached.
Earth is a fairly good insulator, so it doesn't take the heat out of the aluminum too fast. The traditional way to make metal castings was using sand moulds. The main difference is that earth probably has a higher water content that industrial molding sand.
You don't need exotic crucible materials to cast aluminum. Iron doesn't melt until about 2700F (1500C). You should be able to get aluminum up to about 1600F with a simple gas furnace. Casting aluminum barely get the iron glowing red hot.
The tranditional way to make an engine cylinder block by sand casting is a lot more "delicate" (though it doesn't look that way if you see it done). There, you first make the "ants nest" out of sand bonded with resin, for the water and air passages, and then cast the metal around it. When I started work in industry, the company was still casting 27-liter V12 aero engine blocks with sand molds (for use in power boat racing, not aircraft), The sand molds of the internal parts were works of art. These pictures http://www.syegd.com/en/product-info.php?cid=17 [Broken] are much simpler.
And the real work of art was the wooden "pattern" for molding the sand. Those had to be made like a 3-D jigsaw puzzle, so you could remove all the pieces of wood without breaking the sand inside. No computer aided design or robots back then - just a guy sitting at a carpenter's bench using hand tools.
I probably should have, and did, google what I remembered, before I posted; "10 tons of molten aluminum!?!?!?"
Ants are cool.
ps. I concur with Student100; "Someone call PETA."
With all this in mind, casting ant nests is much less demanding than it looks, despite the complexity of the nest.
I've read about amateurs melting aluminum with charcoal, an old hair dryer as air blower, and a clay flower pot furnace. You need proper protective gear, of course, and 100% reliable tongs to lift the crucible, but all this is well within most people's reach.
You may get a different reaction from people who live in fire-ant country in North America.... These ants are solenopsis invicta, a non-native invasive species that is destructive to native flora and fauna and a very unpleasant neighbor.
Killing ants to remove pests is acceptable, but to create "Art"..... that cannot be justified in any way.
Are you kidding me? :rofl:
Are you being serious right now?
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