When we remembered high school chemistry, the most difficult thing to wrap our minds around was chemical equation balancing. There were, of course, easy equations to solve, but there were plenty of hard ones. And the process of balancing always felt like trial-and-error.
After perusing the NIST dataset, I realized that NIST has rich data on the thermodynamic properties of several chemical species (around 2000), and that I could use this data to not only balance a chemical equation, but also to understand the thermodynamic properties of those reactions.
What it does
Chemesis is the solution to these problems. It provides a simple and informative interface for building a Chemical Equation. When your equation is complete, the app uses a sophisticated linear algorithm to balance the equation and set the coefficients for each chemical species. Then using the coefficients and the NIST thermochemical dataset, The app shows you graphs of the Gibbs Free Energy, Enthalpy, and Entropy of formation versus temperature. These graphs help you understand the feasibility of a reaction and how it might behave, whether it violently explodes or freezes the beaker.
How we built it
Our team used weekends and nights after work and classes to build Chemesis in small increments, asking friends for feedback as we went along. Denise was critical in building the User Experience and understanding the mathematics. Jesse was the programmer of the application.
Challenges we ran into
The biggest challenges of the app were finding time and understanding the math. With both of us having tight schedules, we had to lower our goals to what would be the bare minimum for solving this workflow. The math was also quite a big challenge for us since neither of us had any formal education in linear algebra. We ended up learning quite a bit of it on the way through Wikipedia and scholarly articles. Finding the Apache Math Commons was also a tremendous help when it came to organizing matrices.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
In the end, we built a functional app with very few bugs, and learned a great deal about linear algebra, chemical equations, and general design.
What's next for Chemesis
We intend to add a few more features and eventually release Chemesis to the Google play store.