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Methyl cannon

  • Thread starter katie14618
  • Start date
I was at a science museum earlier and I saw a demonstration where methyl alcohol was put in a bottle that had two nails sticking out of the sides. Alligator clips were connected to the nails and something was connected to the clips (I think they said it was a grill starter). There was a cork in the bottle. When the thing connected to the alligator clips was pressed the cork was blown off of the bottle.

I don’t know what it was supposed to be a model of but I think it was either an engine or a piston (I missed the beginning of the demonstration).

I would like to build one of theses for a project for my AP physics class but I need more detailed directions on how to make it. I mainly need to know what it was that was connected to the alligator clips.
 

OlderDan

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katie14618 said:
I was at a science museum earlier and I saw a demonstration where methyl alcohol was put in a bottle that had two nails sticking out of the sides. Alligator clips were connected to the nails and something was connected to the clips (I think they said it was a grill starter). There was a cork in the bottle. When the thing connected to the alligator clips was pressed the cork was blown off of the bottle.

I don’t know what it was supposed to be a model of but I think it was either an engine or a piston (I missed the beginning of the demonstration).

I would like to build one of theses for a project for my AP physics class but I need more detailed directions on how to make it. I mainly need to know what it was that was connected to the alligator clips.
The thing connected to the nails probably generated heat to ignite an alcohol air mixture. It was just a nice little explosion with expanding gas as a byproduct of burning the alcohol. This would be similar to what happens in an internal cumbustion engine, where exploding gas drives the pistons.

I don't know the temperatures for sure, but you can get electric ingniters from a model rocket supply that would probably work and can be run off a battery. I expect they would get hot enough to ignite the mixture.
 

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