I have some colleagues who are evaluating these “no flowing water” condensers for reactions. Anyone out there have any experience with them? It’s for sure that there have been a lot of lab floods over the years from condenser hoses that pop off, and the expense of all that water can be a problem, too. (And I can’t mention water hoses in the lab without bringing up this classic technique, which I’m very glad to have witnessed).
There are a lot of products that are designed for chemists to be able to walk away from long-running reactions in (relative) safety – water flow monitors, temperature cutoff alarms, over-engineered pressure vessels. When you think about it, chemistry tends to be conducted at somewhat inconvenient time scales by human standards, in the “several hours to several days” range. There are plenty of faster reactions, of course, and no doubt innumerable slower ones that no one bothers to even note or discover, but we sure do have a lot of multihour processes.
Perhaps not all of them need to be. I’m pretty sure that if you did a full-text breakdown of all the published experimental sections in the organic chemistry literature, there would be spikes in the number of reactions with overnight and over-the-weekend durations – and a corresponding dip in the inconvenient intervals like 11 hours. (A comparison of sources between industrial and academic research groups might be illuminating in this case). My wife’s molecular biology background has always had her rolling her eyes at the cavalier way that I and other chemists just leave things running in a “few more hours won’t hurt it” way, since in biology a few more hours will often hurt things a great deal. Luxury!