A.P. Cláudio, J. Alves

Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon (PORTUGAL)
In the Museum of Science of the University of Lisbon [1] exists a magnificent Chemistry Laboratory (Laboratorio Chimico) and an Amphitheatre from the nineteenth century, recently restored and opened to the general public [2,3]. It is possibly the only survivor of the great laboratories for teaching and research at European universities.
Inside the amphitheatre there is a nineteenth century colored panel illustrating a manufacturing facility used to produce the sulfuric acid, analogous to the ones described in the book “Les Merveilles de L’Industrie” [4].
With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, some chemicals products started being manufactured in large quantities to be used by them or in the manufacture of other products. In particular, sulfuric acid is used in the manufacture of fertilizers and other chemicals in mineral processing, oil refining, among others [5]. Sulfuric acid is claimed to be the chemical product more produced and used in the world, even in our times [5].Of course the economic interest over time encouraged the improvement of the manufacturing method.
There are two manufacturing processes of this acid: the lead chambers process, the oldest process, and the process of contact. The panel in the Chemistry Amphitheatre illustrates the first manufacturing process.
This colored panel was a pedagogical masterpiece of its time and today it is undoubtfully an important testimony in the History of Science.
Taking into account the importance of disseminating science themes especially amongst the youngsters that visit the museum, we have been creating an animated 3D virtual model of the elements in the panel having in mind its exhibition side by side with the panel itself.
The 3D model, developed from scratch using 3D StudioMax (software used to produce 3D realistic models and animation films) gives life to the panel and supports the observation from different angles. Some static images of the model can be visualized in
The student that developed the model was an undergraduate Informatics Engineering in his third year (nowadays he is a master student) with a grant from the University of Lisbon/Amadeu Dias Foundation. He is an enthusiastic student with special skills to video games/mathematical games production. This kind of projects is a valuable opportunity to involve and guide these kinds of students in the development of pedagogical material to disseminate scientific themes, a subject that concerns modern societies.

[1] Museum of Science of the University of Lisbon

[2] MCUL- O Laboratorio Chimico

[3] Audra J. Wolfe, Museum Review: Elements of the Past, Chemical Heritage Magazine

[4] Louis Figuier, “Les Merveilles de L’Industrie ou Description des principales industries modernes ”, Volume I, [1873-1877]

[5] Sulfuric Acid
(All web pages were accessed on December 7th, 2011)