Anatomy of a Schlenk Line: I spent the better part of last week setting up a new Schlenk line in our lab. This is the kind of thing that interests me, was fun to do, and is now my new baby in the lab. I thought (I don’t know why) that I’d share.
Brief background: all of the inorganic/organometallic chemistry I do is air and moisture sensitive (translation: expose things to air, and they oxidize and are then useless), so we have to use what’s known as a Schlenk line. The line itself is a double-manifold setup, connected to both a nitrogen (or argon) gas source and also a vacuum pump.
By pumping our glassware under vacuum and refilling with nitrogen a few times it is possible to effectively remove all water and oxygen from the system and put it under nitrogen. We use a copper catalyst and molecular sieves to remove oxygen and water impurities in the nitrogen gas before it goes through the manifold.
In order to ‘seal’ the system (but allow the excess pressure to vent), we attach a bubbler to the system, which is filled with a viscous liquid - in our case, we use a double silicon oil bubbler in normal circumstances. We also have a mercury bubbler (mercury metal is a liquid) that we use when exposing large volume glassware to vacuum, and also when we want to exert a greater pressure in the system. There is a stopcock in between the bubblers to switch between the two.
We have lots of monkey bars up to connect clamps, etc to secure glassware. We’ve also got pen holders, a shelf, and lots of other random little stuff around.
My favorite part of the system is the double vacuum trap setup. In order to remove solvent from our system, we pull a vacuum to evaporate the solvent. While that’s well and good, the pumps use oil to drive the vacuum system, and organic solvents aren’t too compatible with the pump. The traps are cooled with liquid nitrogen and condense the solvent vapor and keep the pump oil isolated from the solvents. In order to catch any and all vapor, we have a two-condenser setup.
So that’s my line. I’m pretty happy with it - took me 3 full working days to set up, but it’s mine, it’s set up the way I like it, and it’s going to help me increase my output in the lab before I graduate.
Any questions that aren’t drug-reference related?
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- acmesalesrep said: LN2 traps FTW. Is there a reason not to use, say, a dry (oil-less) scroll pump? Just curious—my experience is with somewhat larger vacuum systems so I’m probably missing a subtle aspect of yours. Sigh. I miss working with hardware.
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- spinning-around said: You’ve built a bong with my tax dollars. Delightful.
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- jerkwheatery said: SO HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE YOU TO GET HIGH WHEN YOU USE THIS THING? IS IT A REAL PURE HIGH?
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