I'm going to use it to power a Lego Pneumatic Engine (LPE) (random example, not mine), that will be self-contained, and start and stop a lot using a throttle valve. So the requirements are:

  1. Use common materials to run the reaction
    • Might not even need to be a reaction. Vapor pressure would do just as well. See #5.
  2. Be completely safe, both for indoor use with no special collection, and for the materials involved:
    • ABS Plastic for valves, cylinder walls, and plumbing hard lines
    • Rubber seals and hoses
    • Steel piston shaft
  3. Fit in a small (0.5L) plastic water bottle
    • There's another bottle available, about 1/2 that size, that can be air-displaced into the main one through the standard rubber hoses and ABS hard lines (perhaps to start the process without losing a lot of gas), but I'd rather not use it if I don't have to. It is available though, if needed.
  4. Produce a large volume of gas (long runtime of the LPE)
  5. Self-regulate to around 30psi (2 bar), so no worries about over-pressure when the LPE is not running
    • (this might be the tough one)
  6. Not need special cleaning afterwards

My first thought was Baking Soda and Vinegar to generate CO2, with a pressure-regulated air pump to displace the vinegar into the baking soda. But there are two problems with it:

I have a design for a "smart" pump controller that accounts for most of the pressure coming from a finite-rate reaction and not the pump itself, but it seems a bit rube-goldberg-y to me, and still can't account very well for the expected run/stop pattern of the engine that uses it.

So, is there a different reaction that I can use instead, that can satisfy the requirements up top?

Some pictures may help:

The water bottle sits horizontally, under the black "hold-down bridge", with the bottom against the programmable brick. (big yellow tower on the back)

enter image description here

enter image description here

"Steam" locomotive with Walschaerts valve gear. And yes, it runs. :-) Both directions.

There's also an optional tender car with the other, smaller water bottle and the motorized air pump to displace something out of it, which is also controlled by the programmable brick.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Why not just a gas cylinder with a regulator? $\endgroup$ – Andrew Jun 2 at 11:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Andrew All the regulators that I've seen are huge by comparison. The 0.5L water bottle would have to shrink to accommodate one. Otherwise yes, that could be an option. $\endgroup$ – AaronD Jun 2 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ The Linde MicroCAN with regulator is similar in size to an 0.5 L water bottle. Taller, but also thinner. hiq.linde-gas.com/en/images/… $\endgroup$ – Andrew Jun 2 at 19:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Andrew Where would I buy one? Their website looks like an industrial supply place where you're supposed to have your buying agent call their sales agent, form a corporate relationship, and then negotiate prices and quantities. I'm just an individual with a hobby. $\endgroup$ – AaronD Jun 3 at 3:56
  • $\begingroup$ Try calling and asking where you can buy. Explain that you want a microcan of noncorrosive gas (N2 or air) and regulator and hopefully they will put you in touch with a local distributor or sales rep. "HiQ" is the brand under which they sell the small cylinders. $\endgroup$ – Andrew Jun 3 at 12:14

Without seeing the setup, it's hard to judge but what about grinding up citric acid and sodium bicarbonate and with a touch of water (literally some drops) make a pellet. Then can you have a small water feed that allows a drop in now and then? If you can make a hard pellet, it will slow the reaction rate giving off the CO2, but you may have to play with the hardness of the pellet.

| improve this answer | |
  • $\begingroup$ So, baking powder instead of baking soda? And pump some water onto it to make it work? $\endgroup$ – AaronD Jun 3 at 3:58
  • $\begingroup$ I added some pictures. $\endgroup$ – AaronD Jun 3 at 8:25

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