If you follow us on Facebook, you may have noticed we had some problems with the vacuum chamber yesterday. Oh, this vacuum chamber…
Summarizing, to create vacuum, we need a pump to suck the air which is inside, what’s obvious. However, since we want a steady environment in the chamber, and only gravity interacting with the particles, the pump cannot stay turned on all the time, otherwise its counterflow will interact with the tests, making them less reliable.
This is why the system works in stages: the pump is kept working for some minutes and then a valve blocks its connection to the chamber. We have our steady state! =)
However, we missed a detail yesterday, a very small detail: After the tests were done, to open the valve it’s necessary to open the equalizer nozzle, from where all the air will pass to refill the chamber.
We missed this detail.
The vacuum sucked something else in instead of air.
It was oil. A lot of oil!
Ok, but as it said around: “shit happens” and we needed to be quick to solve this issue, since other teams also use the vacuum chamber for their experiments. Having oil in it could affect their measurements and the vacuum quality.
At this time, two brave members volunteered for this task. And after hours of dangerous and hard work, smelling acetone and dealing with really expensive components, one of them pronounced!
– I really enjoyed this job. It reminded me about my old days playing with Lego.
What can be seen next is an resume of their work.
And a thing must be said. It can seem trivial, but vacuum science is a whole world of techniques of assembling, cleaning, sealing and so on. There are books and books about it!
And of course, we need to know what we are doing!