I spent the weekend working to build a Ruben’s tube to test the concept for the assignment. I wanted to find out how difficult it was to create, whether it was feasible to create multiple, and test to see what potential risks it threw up aside from those I’d already identified.
To build this, I followed instructions from the Pretty Good Physics wiki space site. There were some differences between parts I purchased as this was made in the US for a science lab in a school. To work around this, I also watched a number of YouTube tutorials of other people making their own Ruben’s Tube rig, accompanied with discussions with store staff, my Dad, and my mate Ben to figure out the logistics of what would work best for the system I want to implement..
The setup I used was similar to the picture above.
I also recruited my mate Ben Smit-Colbran, studying Physics and Chemistry at UNSW, and my Dad, Robert Turner, Civil Engineer at Leighton. We came up with a safety procedure to minimise the risks when lighting the Ruben’s Tube, and an evacuation plan just in case things escalated.
There are some adjustments I would make to future tubes made. Notably, having two gas inputs on the side of the tube (rather than at the open end), would allow for a better distribution of gas in the pipe, allowing for a more consistent standing wave visualisation. The other consideration that may need to be made is whether I get something to control the output of gas, so that the input doesn’t vary depending on how much the person at the gas bottle turns the handle. This would allow for consistency further on, however I need to do more research into how I would achieve this.
Other possibilities include adding a boost valve which creates the option to increase the amount of gas in the pipe temporarily to create higher flames for a more interesting visual affect. With gas coming in the side and not the end, another possibility would be and have a diaphragm at both ends rather than just one end and a solid piece of material at the other end. I’m not sure how a two ended diaphragm would affect the visualisations of standing waves, so that would be something to test out in the future.
The big OHS issue that stood out to me aside from the fact that I’m playing with fire and gas, is when dispersing the gas from the tube at the end of lighting it. LPG is heavier than air, so it all pours down to the ground, however it doesn’t disperse quickly, instead hangs around for a little bit afterwards. The risk of this is if a match is lit/cigarette is dropped into the gas when it is hanging around on the ground, it would light up.