Microscale  Gas Chemistry
Bruce Mattson, Ph.D., Department of Chemistry
Creighton University, Omaha Nebraska, USA



Getting started making gases (basic equipment you will need and where to order syringes, syringe caps, tubing, etc.)

Step-by-step instructions for generating gases in large plastic syringes. Watch youtube video!

Three Easy Gases. CO2, H
2 and O2. How to make these gases in syringes, and 20+ chemical experiments and classroom demonstrations with these gases.

Laboratory Experiments. High school and university level experiments that explore physical and chemical properties of gases.
Mystery gas. Is the gas H2, O2, CO2, or air?
Percent Composition of CaCO3 in Tums antacid
Carbonated Beverages — Priestley’s Soda-water
Molar Mass - remarkably accurate results!
Formation of Elemental Iron from Fe2O3 with H2
Reversible oxidation of metallic copper in a pipet
Limiting Reagent

All gases. Preparation instructions for many interesting gases with about ten experiments and classroom demonstrations for each.  Gases include  NO, NO2, SO2, C2H2, O3, NH3, Cl2, H2S and ten others.

Left: Upper syringe had contained colorless NO(g), but as O2(g) is added from the lower syringe, NO2(g) is instantly formed. Right: Underwater fireworks result when Cl2(g) and C2H2(g) are combined in close proximity underwater.
Why Microscale Gas Chemistry?
• It's fun and easy! Easy to learn how. Gases ready in 5 minutes!
• Great labs! Great demos! Students enjoy making gases.
• It's visual! Best way to 'see' a gas is to watch it being produced.
• It's microscale in terms of quantities, but large enough to see - 60 mL.
• It's inexpensive. A syringe of CO2 costs less than 1 cent to produce.
It's green - little or no chemical wastes.

Our Gas Reaction Catalyst Tube can be used to demonstrate a variety of gas phase chemical reactions.  The catalyst contains a layer of disbursed palladium atoms on a ceramic material and enclosed within a glass housing as per the fugure. Hydrogenation of alkenes occurs at very temperatures (even < 0 deg C).  A wonderful classroom demonstration shows how a catalytic converter works by transforming CH4 (or any hydrocarbon) + NO2 (the reddish mixture in the left syringe below) into N2 + H2O + CO2 (right syringe -  condensation  droplets of water are often noticed in right syringe).


Gas Bags
For classroom use, gases can be prepared and stored in sealable plastic food bags equipped with a dispensing tube.

Mini-Ozone Generator
Ozone is generated for in situ use.  The Mini-Ozone generator produces 800 nanomole/minute. Safe and easy to use.  Off the shelf classroom demo that anyone can build.

Left: Apparatus dispensing O3 to a flask. Right: Close up of the mini-O3 generator showing the pipet bulb reaction chamber in cup of ice.

How to order our book and gas prep supplies

Links and Downloads
History of gas chemistry
Photographs of Joseph Priestley sites in England along with a chronological summary of his life.
Kipp generators
Other microscale gas chemistry methods:
Thermal methods for making HCl, C2H4, CO, CH4 and N2O
Microwave oven method

Gases in your curriculum
Microscale gas methods by other researchers
About us
Contact us
 
18th Century and 21st Century Gas Prep Equipment

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Site updated 15 Nov 2012

Our research group, Fall 2012


Recent and current work:
Potassium Superoxide
The remarkable chemistry of potassium dioxide(1-) (potassium superoxide). A series of microscale classroom demonstrations involving KO2 and gases. See some web pictures now. (Journal of Chemical Education 86 (2009) 1286-1289. Download pdf version from authors.)



H2 and D2 Uptake on Pd Foil
Hydrogen and palladium foil. Two classroom demonstrations.  1. Physical changes that take place when Pd absorbs H2 and D2. The kinetics of H2 or D2 uptake. Elsbeth Klotz, E.; and Mattson, B.Journal of Chemical Education 2009, 86, 465 – 469. (Download pdf)


Incomplete Combustion of H2
Trapping a Reaction Intermediate. A classroom demonstration or descriptive chemistry experiment. Journal of Chemical Education 2007, 84, 1668 - 1670. (Download pdf) or See movie of the demo.


Paramagnetic Oxygen
"Demonstrating the Paramagnetism of Liquid Oxygen with a Neodymium Magnet." A classroom demonstration or descriptive chemistry experiment. Journal of Chemical Education 2007, 84, 1296 - 1298. Download pdf. or See movie of the demo!


Propanol to Propane.
An advanced laboratory experiment using heterogeneous catalysts for two successive gas-phase reactions; appeared in Journal of Chemical Education, March, 2006. Download as a pdf file.


H2-D2
Hydrogen-deuterium exchange using the Gas Reaction Catalyst Tube.  Mixtures of H2 and D2 equilibrate with DH within seconds even at very low temperatures. Both H2 and D2 are rapidly adsorbed into the holes within palladium at atoms of D or H. In the equilibrium that results, we expect to see approximately the statistical average of gas leaving the catalyst: 1 pt H2 : 2 pt HD : 1 pt D2.


H/D Exchange in Methane
 Using the Gas Reaction Catalyst Tube and high temperatures, CH4 exchanges H for D yielding all combinations CH4, CH3D, CH2D2, CHD3 and CD4 ultimately in a statistical distribution.  Isotopologues can be identified by H-NMR and mass spectroscopy.


Deuteration of Ethene and 1-butene
 Using the Gas Reaction Catalyst Tube, C2H4 and 1-butene undergo D/H exchange more rapidly than deuteration, resulting in a complex product distribution of isotopologues/isotopomers of ethane-dx and butane-dx. The reaction follows the Horiuti-Polanyi mechanism first proposed in 1934.