by Michael A. Paternoster, Science News, March 21, 2015The bathtub has long been associated with the outdoors, with its rustic wooden structure and rustic-looking concrete floors, but new research has found that the design may also be a product of its age.
The study was led by Dr. Stephen W. Bierma, professor of physics and chemistry at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and was published in Nature Communications on Tuesday.
Using an electron microscope, the team examined the structure of a bathtub made of a blend of iron and carbon-containing materials.
The mixture contains more than half of the weight of cast-iron bathtub materials, and a further 1.4 percent is a mixture of iron oxide and carbon nanotubes.
It is possible to make a bathtubs using the blend of materials, Bierman said.
But for this study, they made one using only the iron and the carbon.
“What we’ve done is take an iron bathtub, put it into a mold and put it in a vacuum chamber and we’ve created this bathtub that has less than a third of the mass of cast aluminum,” he said.
“You can put that same mass of iron in a bath of water and it doesn’t even come close to the mass that it would have in a cast iron, and it would be the same exact composition of metal.”
The team’s findings indicate that the composition of the material used in the bathtub design is a product not of age but of natural processes.
“This bathtub structure is just what it is.
It has a lot of the same properties as a bath tub, but we’ve found that these properties are due to anaerobic processes that happen naturally,” he explained.”
The structure itself is a combination of natural elements and we’re using these natural elements to create this artificial bathtub.”
There’s a lot to learn about this type of natural process and the properties that it has,” he added.
Bierma said that the researchers had already found the same features in several other cast iron-making processes.
But he said the most important aspect of the research was that the bathtubes created by the blend contained more than 99 percent of the iron used to make cast-aluminum bathtires.”
When you look at it like that, the question becomes, what are these components that we’re seeing in a lot more of the bath tubs?
“This is really important because in order to make more cast-Aluminum bathts, you have to use less iron.
It’s kind of a paradox,” he noted.”
We need to be more careful in what we do with these materials because they’re going to be used for so many different things in the future.”
Bierman added that there is also evidence that the natural processes are also contributing to the strength of the materials used to construct cast-and-iron baths.
“I would like to see a study like this with more detailed studies in the real world to see how the properties of these materials are changing as they get older, and whether or not they’re really changing,” he cautioned.
Berman said that they have found the natural elements in a range of materials but that the bulk of the cast-alt-basket material is iron oxide.
“That’s the one that is really interesting,” he told reporters.
“It’s a common mineral in nature.
I would say it’s about 80 percent iron and 20 percent iron oxide, but there are many other iron oxides that we know about that are quite similar to iron.”
He added that the team would be interested in looking at the composition in other cast-Iron Bathtubs to see if there are similar properties.
“If we have a mixture that has the same elemental composition as cast-Amber-iron, it will not have the same characteristics,” he stated.
“For instance, when we use the same material in cast-Bamboo, it’s almost the same as when we do cast-Mint-steel, it is almost exactly the same, and that is because the mineral is very similar.”
Berman and his team have previously conducted research on how the natural properties of iron were related to its mechanical properties, and the findings are also consistent with these findings.
“A lot of research has been done on these natural materials and there’s been a lot that is consistent,” he emphasized.
“It’s pretty clear that what you’re seeing here is a process that is actually the result of the chemistry and the environment in which these materials have been produced, but it is also the result that is being generated by the natural materials themselves.”
So if we could look at the chemistry in these materials, we would be able to really understand the mechanical properties of them and that would allow us to better design these materials for the future,” he concluded.