Public Lab Research note

This is an attempt to replicate an activity.

Two Rounds of Copper Rod Test Making

by ErikHanley11 | April 12, 2018 01:14 12 Apr 01:14 | #16137 | #16137

ErikHanley11 was awarded the Basic Barnstar by stevie for their work in this research note.

Copper Rod Making - Round 1

On January 15, 2018, Taylor Braswell and Erik Hanley made ten copper rod tests for the upcoming air quality testing at the Deer Island Treatment Plant. We followed the procedure found here on Public Lab. All the materials gathered were from the South Bay Center Home Depot in Boston, MA. The copper rod material we used was the Everbilt 3/8 in. I.D. x 10 ft. Copper Type L Soft Coil, which is linked here. The copper pipe was cut using a Large Diameter Mini Tube Cutter that allowed for the pipe to be cut without pinching. This cutter is linked here. All of the other tools and materials are not critical to project success.

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Copper Coil

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100-grit and 220-grit sandpaper

We followed the procedure, but made some deviations due to our own limitations. First, the drill we had was not capable of putting the hole into the copper rod. It was decided to hammer the copper rod back open at the flattened end to allow a string to be threaded through for when the rods are set up at the testing site. Second, the sanding of the copper rods was done by hand in this making session, but the protocol called for using a drill to assist with sanding. There might be a chance that the hand sanding will yield more uneven sanding than machine sanding. The results of the Deer Island test will show whether this was actually the case. Below are the final copper rods in a plastic bag with a little paper bag of desiccant to ensure that humidity does not corrode the copper.

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Copper rods with ends hammered

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Hammer, copper rods, and acetone

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Completed copper rods

Copper Rod Making - Round 2

On January 28th, 2018, @lourdesvera and Erik Hanley made seven more copper rod tests for another round of air quality testing at the Deer Island Sewage Treatment Plant. All the materials were the same from the previous Copper Rod Making - Round 1. Below is the procedure we followed with more pictures this time.

  1. Measure the copper piping to about 6 inches. Since there was no measuring tape, we used previously cut rods for measure.
  2. Cut the copper piping with a large diameter mini tube cutter. image description

3. Rub the copper rods with acetone to remove oils and gritimage description

4. Use 100 grit paper to sand outside of copper rod

5. Use 220 grit paper to sand copper rod after the 100 grit sanding

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6. Place copper rods in a plastic ziploc bag together

7. Create a sachet of desiccant in a paper bag and place into the plastic bag with the pipes.

This step wasn't taken until we purchased paper bags at Wollastons an hour later.


Sanding the copper rods might not be the best way to prepare copper rod tests. We observed uneven corrosion for one of our field tests at Deer Island Sewage Treatment Plant. A probably cause of this uneven corrosion is uneven sanding of the copper pipes in preparation. It was discovered that researchers that have done similar copper corrosion tests prepared their samples using oils, solvents, and other non-abrasive techniques. We created a method based off of one of these papers that may be accessed here.

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Wow these are great--ty so much for taking the time to document this!

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@stevie awards a barnstar to ErikHanley11 for their awesome contribution!

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Thank you, @Zengirl2!

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