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ID number:  BIRRC-P0371
Institution:  Research and Cultural Collections
Named collection:  Historic Physics Collection
Artist / Maker:  Aston, F. W.
Title / Object name:  Sprengel pump
Object type:  Pump
Place made:  West Midlands: Birmingham, Harborne
Date made:  c.1910
Materials:  Glass on wooden frame
Measurements:  54 x 37 x 14 cm

This apparatus was made by F.W.Aston (Nobel Laureate in Chemistry 1922) at his home in Birmingham while he was a student and subsequently a member of staff in the Physics Department at Birmingham in 1910. The glass was hand blown by himself and the apparatus given to the Physics Department in 1950 by his sister Helen M Aston.

A Sprengel pump is used to produce a vacuum by the motion of bubbles of mercury that flow through a glass tube and sweep molecules of air along in the spaces between them. In this particular design the glassware rocks back and forth to recirculate the mercury, but we have been unable to locate a detailed account of how it works.

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