MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: why do these chemical siphon when NH4 is add to them

Date: Thu Oct 5 03:46:08 2000
Posted By: Jonathan Feldman, Undergraduate, Applied Chemistry, University of Technology, Sydney
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 967691164.Ch

I'm not exactly sure what the setup you've described to me looks like, but it sounds like a variation on the ammonia fountain. So I will describe the ammonia fountain, and maybe it will help you.

The ammonia fountain consists of two flasks, usually mounted with one above the other, on a retort stand. The top flask is upside down, and filled with ammonia gas. The bottom flask (the right way up) is filled with water. The top flask is sealed with a stopper, which has a tube through it. The bottom end of the tube is immersed in the water.

A syringe (or bulb pipette), filled with water is pushed through the stopper on the top flask. Water from the syringe is injected into the flask. A bit of ammonia gas dissolves in the water. This creates a slight vacuum in the flask, which draws water up from the bottom flask. More ammonia gas dissolves in the water that has been drawn up, and creates more vacuum, drawing up more water etc etc... until there is no more water in the bottom flask.

There are a number of web pages that explain the ammonia fountain. Here are links to some of them: /demos/nh3foun.html

I hope this little explanation has been of assistance,

Jonathan Feldman
University of Technology, Sydney

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