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-Envirotech Services Lab

Page history last edited by Madame Curious 13 years, 5 months ago

04/24/10 - Envirotech Services - Steve Bytnar


What a great last two days!  I spent Friday and Saturday working in the research lab at Envirotech Services, Inc. in Greeley, CO.  We were working on developing new products to help stop soil erosion from wind and water.  The first thing we had to do was to classify the soils we were testing.  We were looking for sand, silt and clay in the soil to help us decide what types of products would be the most successful.  In this case, we were testing soils from Deckers, CO.  The soil erosion up there is really bad from the Hayman forest fire eight years ago.  In order to classify the soils, we looked at them under a microscope to see how much clay was in the soil.  In this case, not very much as it was mostly sand.  It was very interesting to see the different soils under a microscope.  Sand looks like giant beach balls when you magnify it 100 times!  Here is a picture of me looking at the soils.



Next, we had to determine the moisture content of the soil.  To do this, they have an instrument called a moisture analyzer.  You place some soil on a tray, and it weighs the soil.  When you close the lid, a heater turns on and heats up the soil.  When the soil gets hot, the water in the soil evaporates.  Then the analyzer weighs the soil again and calculates how much water evaporated.  You have to be careful when using this instrument.  It gets very hot.  I nearly burned some fur off my paw!  Here is a pic of me testing the moisture of the soil.


They tell me on Monday I get to help in the Quality Control Lab where we will test some of their other products.  I can't wait.  Check in on Wednesday, I will blog on Tuesday night.

     -Madame Curious


04/27/10 - Envirotech Services - Steve Bytnar


Well, it is Tuesday night and I am TIRED!  Working in a quality control lab is hard work, but it is really fun, too.  The best part is all the really cool equipment you get to use!  The first thing I had to do on Monday morning was test the viscosity of a product to make sure it was made the right way.  The viscosity is a measurement of how much a material will flow, or resist flow.  Think of it like comparing water to maple syrup that just came out of the refrigerator.  Water has a low viscosity because it flows very easily.  Syrup has a high viscosity because it doesn't flow as fast.  Here is a picture of me using an instrument called a Brookfield Viscometer. 




When I was done with the viscosities, I was able to run some tests for phosphorus.  This test was fun because it was very visual.  When phosphorus mixes with certain chemicals, it makes a blue color.  We then put the sample into an instrument called a spectrophotometer that measures the amount of blue in the sample. The more blue in the sample, the more phosphorus in the sample.  Phosphorus is important because it is a food source for algae.  If there is too much phosphorus in the water, the algae grow too fast and cause an algae bloom which is not good for the water.  Here is a picture of me using the spectrophotometer.


To finish out my duties in the quality control lab, I had to run samples in the ion chromotograph.  This instrument is VERY cool.  We had to measure out samples and dilute them with water and then this instrument takes a portion automatically and injects it in the system.  As the sample of product makes its way through the system, it separates everything atom by atom.  When it is done, we know how much of everything that was in that sample!  It was very cool to look at a beaker of clear liquid that looks like water, but then when the instrument is done, you see all of this stuff that is in that liquid that you can't see with your eyes.  I sure am glad I didn't drink that liquid!


Well, that ends my stay at the Envirotech Services lab.  I sure did learn a lot, and I am glad I was able to share all of it with you.  I can't wait to see what lab I get to go to next.

     -Madame Curious




Comments (1)

Madame Curious said

at 2:43 pm on Nov 12, 2010

Dear Mr. Bytnar, Thank you so much for letting our friend, Madame Curious, visit your lab. She got to do a lot of very neat stuff; we are jealous. When can we come visit?

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