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Hydrogen Sulfide Copper Pipe Testing

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This method, developed by Lionel Milberger, is a low-cost, accessible way to detect if hydrogen sulfide is present in the air. The elemental copper will react with hydrogen sulfide to produce a purple-black-ish copper sulfide product, visible on the surface of the copper rod. This method has not been quantified or validated yet. Consider collaborating on this project to help assess it!

Public Lab's Kits Initiative is releasing this as a Prototyping Kit -- now available for sale in our Public Lab Store!

copper_pipe_test.jpg

Design goals

As Lionel Milberger has written in an article in TEST Magazine, the goals of this method are to:

  1. Be able to detect copper at health-relevant, non-fatal concentrations, from several parts per billion (ppb) up to 100 parts per million (ppm).

  2. Be able to discern between copper oxides and copper sulfides forming on the surface of the copper rod.

  3. Be able to measure hydrogen sulfide even under rainy or humid conditions where a significant fraction of hydrogen sulfide will dissolve in the water.

  4. Be deployable, such that it does not require a person to be present for the duration of the test (like would be necessary with a hand-held probe).

  5. Be low-cost and accessible to anyone.

Questions

This method has not yet been quantified or validated. Mr. Milberger has observed black deposits (likely copper sulfide) forming under conditions where it is likely that hydrogen sulfide is present (near an oil field by his Texas home), and a reddish deposit (likely copper oxide) under other conditions. The lower concentration limit of this method, below which no visible copper sulfide would form, are not yet known. The rates of reaction between the copper rod and atmospheric hydrogen sulfide also are not known, nor are the influence of humidity or rain, or the relative rate of copper oxide formation. Thus, there are many questions yet to answer! More questions include:

Title Author Updated Likes Comments
What are some options for copper materials to make a copper plate test kit? @warren over 4 years ago 3
Can you use rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover for prepping copper for Hydrogen Sulfide test? @zengirl2 over 4 years ago 16
How to select a site for hydrogen sulfide testing? @warren over 4 years ago 3
How can we safely try out and evaluate a hydrogen sulfide test? @warren over 4 years ago 4
What's the best setup for a copper rod or copper plate test for DIY hydrogen sulfide detection? @warren over 4 years ago 6
Can copper sulfide and copper oxide products be precisely visually identified? @gretchengehrke over 4 years ago 5
How quickly do copper sulfide and copper oxide form under different environmental conditions? @gretchengehrke over 4 years ago 0
Can we determine hydrogen sulfide concentration, or a threshold presence/absence using the copper pipe method? @gretchengehrke over 4 years ago 0
What is the hydrogen sulfide concentration range that can be monitored using a copper tarnish method? @gretchengehrke over 4 years ago 1
What are the reaction rates of hydrogen sulfide with oxygen versus copper or silver? @gretchengehrke almost 5 years ago 0
What are the relative rates of hydrogen sulfide oxidation in ambient air? @gretchengehrke almost 5 years ago 1
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Activities

Designing a field-based environmental study that uses this method would follow the general principles described in: https://publiclab.org/wiki/general-environmental-monitoring-study-strategies. However, since the copper sheets will be exposed for several days in the field, the temporal resolution would, of course, only be as fine as several days, during which industrial activities and environmental conditions could change. The general principles still do apply.

Activities people have designed using this method include:

Add an activity  or request an activity guide you don't see listed

Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.

Background

See background research related to this method here:

All notes related to hydrogen sulfide sensing:

Title Author Updated Likes Comments
What are health and environmental concerns for sewage smell in a home? @stevie 7 months ago 3
[Talk Recording] Mobilizing People to Act on Air Pollution with the Bucket Air Monitor - a Community Science Tool @amocorro about 1 year ago 1
Response to Alternative Copper Sheet Preparation Method on Public Lab @ErikHanley11 about 4 years ago 0
Qualitative Time Lapse of Copper Corrosion @ErikHanley11 about 4 years ago 4
Two Rounds of Copper Rod Test Making @ErikHanley11 about 4 years ago 3
Copper Strip Test Preparation Using Solvents @ErikHanley11 about 4 years ago 1
Copper Rod to Copper Sheet Discussion @ErikHanley11 about 4 years ago 0
Can Bio-char products absorb CAFO gases like Hydrogen Sulfide or Ammonia? @zengirl2 over 4 years ago 3
Is there more information on the "Corrosion Coupon" hydrogen sulfide test kit? @warren over 4 years ago 0
What lab tests are available for hydrogen sulfide, and how much do they cost? @warren over 4 years ago 4
How to Help Citizens Affected by Factory Farming? #waterquality #airquality #CAFO #factoryfarms @zengirl2 over 4 years ago 0
What are some options for copper materials to make a copper plate test kit? @warren over 4 years ago 3
Help collect environmental sensors + probes on a shared list @warren over 4 years ago 0
What are different commercially available hydrogen sulfide detection methods? @warren over 4 years ago 3
Can you use rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover for prepping copper for Hydrogen Sulfide test? @zengirl2 over 4 years ago 16
How to select a site for hydrogen sulfide testing? @warren over 4 years ago 3
How can we safely try out and evaluate a hydrogen sulfide test? @warren over 4 years ago 4
Training in odor identification? @sara over 4 years ago 1
What's the best setup for a copper rod or copper plate test for DIY hydrogen sulfide detection? @warren over 4 years ago 6
Can copper sulfide and copper oxide products be precisely visually identified? @gretchengehrke over 4 years ago 5
How quickly do copper sulfide and copper oxide form under different environmental conditions? @gretchengehrke over 4 years ago 0
What is the hydrogen sulfide concentration range that can be monitored using a copper tarnish method? @gretchengehrke over 4 years ago 1
Copper Sheet Hydrogen Sulfide Detection Activity @gretchengehrke over 4 years ago 14
Effective low-cost water filters to remove hydrogen sulfide? @gretchengehrke over 4 years ago 2
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