Thursday, January 08, 2009

Chemistry Post

This has nothing to do with jewelry. I came across a "blog readability" test thing and was wondering what classifies a blog as being undergrad, post grad, and so on. So I was mentioned in the previous post, I wrote a paper about polymer-clay nanocomposites and eutectic mixtures of fatty acids. I just finished it yesterday and had to come up with a title for it. I read it to my boyfriend (the title, not the paper) and got the effect where all you can hear is crickets in the background. It was a bit amusing just because I know he had a very minimal background in science and most of the words were just jibberish (although I must admit myself that before researching the topics I knew almost nothing too). So anyway, this is my experiment to see if trying to explain in "plain" english the paper I wrote will increase my "blog readability" status. So here goes...

Polymer-clay nanocomposites (not the kind of polymer clay I'm used to working with :P) are a relatively new class of materials that involve a clay (duh) and a polymer. The clay is dispersed in the polymer on a nanometer scale. That is, the clay is very, very small and the polymer still retains its transparent properties. The point of this you ask? Well, combining the two materials in this way (via in situ and emulsion polymerization processes) (aka mixing w/ two mixing bowls or mixing by throwing everything in one bowl) creates a material that has properties of both of the initial components and is stronger. These special materials are used in cars, batteries, construction, you name it. That wasn't too bad was it?

Now for the eutectic mixture. In english, that means that the components of the mixture, when at the correct ratio, all melt at the same time (some very interesting chemistry there since the melting points of the individual components are higher than what the mixture's melting temperature is). So basically, these materials have a high latent heat of fusion, which means that they have the ability to hold onto heat and release it without changing temperature by much. This occurs when the substance melts and resolidifies. (aka phase change material, PCM). Why would we want that? That's exactly the kind of chemistry involved in solar heating applications where the eutectic mixture can store energy and then release it when a building drops below a certain temperature. I found a cool picture that sort of gives an idea of what happens:

I won't go into any more detail than that, but I learned a lot about how chemical processes can be linked to engineering applications. I did initially want to be a chemical engineer in high school, but I didn't exactly know what it meant. I have a better idea now, but I'm only 26 weeks (not consecutive) away from graduating so I'm not switching now!'s the results of the "test:"

blog readability test

Interesting. Well, comments anyone? Are there any scientists out there? I'm wondering if my synopsis makes any sense, or is at all interesting.
To me, it was interesting in the researching stages but as I started writing more and more of my paper it kind of got annoying (but that might have been due to the crazy amount of references I used and trying to organize them all).

Happy Belated New Year by the way!


kim* said...

very interesting :)

Angie said...

I didn't know there was such thing as a blog readability test! Who knew?

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