Slow-motion rockets: Scientists combine liquid butane with a bottle of Coke in a deadly variation of the back-garden Mentos experiment

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  • Two scientists film themselves carrying out a liquid butane reaction in slow-mo
  • Adding a deadly variation to the back-garden Mentos and Coke experiment
  • The pressure builds within seconds with the butane boiling and creating gas

Within a second of flipping the coke bottle with a layer of liquid butane into a downwards position

The bottle shoots out of Dan's hand, much to his surprise

Within a second of flipping the Coke bottle with a layer of liquid butane into a downwards position the bottle shoots out of Dan’s hand, much to his surprise

Here Dan loads the Coke bottle with liquid butane as Gav watches and gives a safety disclaimer

Here Dan loads the Coke bottle with liquid butane as Gav watches and gives a safety disclaimer

Dan is left in a cloud of vapour after flipping the Coke bottle upside down and watching it rocket of a split second later

Dan is left in a cloud of vapour after flipping the Coke bottle upside down and watching it rocket of a split second later

Specialising in taking 4K slow motion videos of fast paced reactions The Slow Mo Guys, Gav and Dan, set up their high resolution cameras just meters from the reaction site

Specialising in taking 4K slow motion videos of fast paced reactions The Slow Mo Guys, Gav and Dan, set up their high resolution cameras just meters from the reaction site

This is the explosive moment a pair of experimental scientists film themselves combining liquid butane with a bottle of Coke, before turning it upside down causing it to rocket off.

In a deadly variation to the back-garden Mentos and Coke experiment – which is already a dangerously forceful combination – the Youtube scientists decided to switch out the Mentos for highly reactive liquid butane.

The scientists from Thame, England, who call themselves The Slow Mo Guys, set up the experiment in a remote quarry and decked themselves out in protective face masks and lab jackets.    

Specialising in taking 4K slow motion videos of fast paced reactions The Slow Mo Guys, Gavin Free (Gav), 31, and Daniel Gruchy (Dan), 31, set up their high resolution cameras just meters from the reaction site, with bin bags placed over the cameras to protect it from the Coca-cola spray.

Dan explained: ‘There’s an interesting science experiment using the interesting properties of butane. 

‘Because its boiling point is about 0 degrees Celsius (32F) – its stored as a liquid inside this can and is not super high pressure inside the can.’

He demonstrates how the butane escapes out as gas when it is released with the can in an upwards position. 

The reaction is caused by a process called nucleation, whereby the carbon dioxide in the soda is attracted to dozens of tiny pores on the surface of the Mentos, causing so much pressure that the soda erupts.

Any carbonated beverage will produce a similar effect, but Diet Coke became the most popular after it was found to produce the best results.

In 2006, TV show MythBusters concluded that the potassium benzoate, aspartame, and CO2 gas contained in the Diet Coke, in combination with the gelatin and gum arabic ingredients of the Mentos, all contribute to the formation of the foam.

He then turns the can in a downwards position (like when you’re filling a lighter with fuel) and shows how liquid is released when the nozzle is pointing downwards.

When filling the Coke bottle with butane he explains: ‘Because the butane is less dense than coca-cola it will sit on top in a little layer, and it will start boiling then vapour will come out the top’

Adding: ‘When I turn it upside down, what happens is because the butane is pretty much immediately boiled, because its got all the contact with the Coke that is warmer than the butane it causes it to instantly vaporise.

‘This increases the pressure inside the Coke bottle, causing the rapid expansion of gas that escapes out the bottom causing a rocket effect.’ 

 The pair explained how the same reaction can be done with water, however the effects are not as pronounced as there is no carbonation – with coca-cola the carbonation comes out of the solution and adds to the gas in the bottle giving even more of a rocket effect.  

Within a second of flipping the Coke bottle with a layer of liquid butane into a downwards position the bottle shoots out of Dan’s hand, much to his surprise.

They then tried the experiment with a litre bottle of Coke, which had slower results. And then again with a medium sized one – ‘the best one’ due to the ease of its size allowing a quick motion into the upside down position which then caused a quicker reaction and larger thrust.

Gav offered a safety disclaimer warning viewers ‘definitely don’t try this at home the bottle could fly up and hit you in the teeth or the eyes and its also incredibly flammable’. 

 

 

 

 



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