Turquoise Energy News #135
covering August 2019 (Posted September 7th 2019)
Lawnhill BC Canada
by Craig Carmichael


www.TurquoiseEnergy.com = www.ElectricCaik.com = www.ElectricHubcap.com

Month In "Brief" (Project Summaries etc.)
 - "Charge the Future" Challenge

In Passing (Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)
  - Third Stage Democracy - Truth and Truthfulness - The Epstein Saga - Rational and Irrational Numbers 10-99 - Small Thots - ESD

- Detailed Project Reports -
Electric Transport - Electric Hubcap Motor Systems
* Ground Effect Vehicle ("GEV")

Other "Green" Electric Equipment Projects
* Some more Handheld Bandsaw Sawmill Notes

Electricity Generation
* Wind Power: 5 Blade Windplants Better Than 3?
* My Solar Power System: - Monthly Solar Production log et cetera - Six month summary, notes.

Electricity Storage
Turquoise Battery Project (Mn-Zn or Ni-Zn in Potassium Hydroxide electrolyte ?)

*Re-agaring the zinc electrode - More Research Needed - The real reason all my NiMn cells had high self discharge - Painting Parts of Electrodes to Prevent Gas Generation - Making Nickel-Manganates '+' Electrode - Tentative Procedure for Making Positive Electrode (Aug 22nd 2019) - "Kneader Reactor" - FWIW: Cupro-Nickel as Alkaline "+" Current Collector - Electrode Powders Compactor: Pneumatic-Hydraulic Bottle Jack - Commercialization and the "Charge the Future Challenge"




August in Brief


   Even more than July, August came to be about battery development experiments and tests. Inevitably there's not much other news as everything else got left behind.
    In addition to the exciting recent battery research developments already, there was the prospect of funding to commercialize long or everlasting life, low cost, nickel manganate-zinc batteries. The assurance and detail with which I could write, and perhaps the odds of getting funded, would increase by the percentage of everything that was already working when I applied, which had to be by mid October.

Charge the Future Challenge

   As soon as I had TE News #134 out, I turned my attention to applying for Natural Resources Canada's battery challenge. Unlike the dysfunctional IRAP and STDC funding programs for which the biggest qualification to qualify for funding is to have lots of money already, this one had no specific requirements for
having other funding. It also had a line for a cash equivalent value of "in kind" support by the applicant and by others. If working for over a decade unpaid and having spent tens of thousands of dollars for equipment and materials, and being quite prepared to contribute all - and space - to the cause, isn't "in kind" value, I don't know what is. Obviously without it I wouldn't be about ready to make new technology batteries and there would be no application. Of course batteries hasn't been my only and full time project, but the way forward now is to get others involved, for which money is required.
   I found my friend Mike K. was very enthusiastic about it, and he's had a lot of experience running production businesses. His readiness with specific ideas for how to get rapid production going to perform critical tasks give me great confidence we'll succeed. We talked about the amount of money to ask for. He said I was asking for too little. that trying to do things too cheap ends up wasting a lot of time and costs more in the end, and that everything takes longer than you think it will - which I can only agree heartily with. And that being a government program they would expect people to spend lavishly. OTOH asking for a lot more than is required will probably end up looking self-serving which might be counterproductive later.

   In the battery developments of this summer, many things which had seemed to be side tracks in previous years, which hadn't led to working batteries then, nevertheless started coming back as being useful to developing, improving or producing the present working batteries, more and better things than would have been possible without all this accumulated knowledge.

   During August I tried to make a couple of nickel-manganate electrodes, but they didn't seem to work very well. They should have higher amp-hours per weight, but if I can't get them going I can always fall back on regular nickel oxyhydroxide electrodes, or manganese dioxide. So failure in this direction isn't a project killer.

   I ended the month going to a camp-out with a group of friends and seeing my mother, who lives near the campground. But it's sure costly getting in and out of the BC north coast.

   It's great to see things happening in electric transport. Here are a couple of pictures.


EV Bus spotted in Vancouver BC by Tom Sawyer
They're coming, gradually!


Tom also found electric trucks (left) for sale on line, dirt cheap.
A mutual friend bought two of them and got one running. It seems
a shame that they need minor electronic work, but almost no one
knows how to do it so they're mostly going to waste.





In Passing
(Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)

Third Stage Democracy


   Unless stopped, immoral actions by a society's leaders will get bolder and bolder over the years and decades until the society collapses. Civilizations spring up from relatively unorganized liberty, then leaders want more and more power and control over the citizens over several generations until people effectively become slaves who can't thrive and there is collapse, usually with great depopulation. How many civilizations have come and gone on this planet, at least for tens of thousands of years if not hundreds? Violent revolution may be necessary to win democracy, to wrest control of governance from those who will not yield power. Even then formation of a democracy is not assured as we have seen - it depends on those who become powerful in the revolution wanting it and instituting it.
   Once democracy has been established, change of power if nothing else occurs peacefully. Democracy is the only form of governance capable of adapting and growing as conditions change. But if power is effectively seized by an immoral oligarchy of the increasingly rich and powerful, if public choices are between Tweedledum and Tweedledee who are both beholden to that oligarchy for their place, democracy becomes a facade. If people find there is no way to maintain or regain liberty and freedom in their lives, where might they turn but violent revolution? And if there is violent revolution in a democracy, it can only be to return to some form of dictatorship, which will usually last at least several generations. ("They tried democracy. It didn't work. It broke down.") Violence must be avoided at all costs. Dialog is the way forward.

   An oncoming great global depopulation is becoming increasingly visible. Bizarre and unprecedented weather patterns are devastating crop production and ranching worldwide and wreaking havoc to infrastructure. The oceans seem to be virtually fished out, and per latest findings it looks like a 3 meter (10 foot) sea level rise will be astonishingly rapid, displacing gigantic populations. Species are daily becoming extinct. The now global "ponzi scheme" financial system is collapsing. When people can't afford scarce food they become malnourished and easily susceptible to some epidemic, which with modern travel will quickly become a pandemic.
   But in this global catastrophe is opportunity for humanity. People who would never have considered allowing (much less promulgating) change will become far more open, perhaps even proactive, when their own mortality is suddenly in question and it is clear that things are already rapidly changing, one way or another, for better or for worse; that their "status quo" is gone. With population reduction today's competition mentality will change to co-operation as everyone is needed to keep modern technology and communications from collapsing. Workers' conditions will greatly improve when corporate competition is how to attract and keep them.
   Everyone still around by the end (around two billion?) will be saying "Well, that didn't work." and asking "What went wrong and how do we do it differently this time?"

   Along with environmental sustainability and population management, we must start restructuring our societies, all our social, economic and political institutions and organizations from the family up to attain Social Stability, then Social Sustainability which will never break down. We need to move to a "Third Stage Democracy" where concerned citizens form 'Social Sustainability Design Teams' to work out solutions to each problem, in accordance with the core values of Life, Equality, Growth, Quality of life, Empathy, Compassion and Love for humanity. The consensus of such solutions is then passed to elected government for enactment. Those in power today might resist efforts to establish such a principle and practice of grassroots power by the elite of the common citizenry, but future leaders will see that it is in everyone's best interest. (Apparently the beginnings of such teams are already happening in Sweden, with government sanction or sponsorship, so the idea isn't entirely "pie in the sky".)

   In the meantime, if I myself do start a company to make batteries and perhaps other electric transport products, it must first of course be self sustaining, but otherwise I will attempt to organize it along new lines in accordance with such principles.
   I have never understood why democratic forms and habits are never established within companies - or even in government/civil service work environments when the government is supposed to be democratic. You can elect your national political representative, but you're not qualified to periodically elect your own shop supervisor? - he must be chosen by someone "in authority", and once chosen, good or bad, and even in the face of some new person better qualified or with talent and great ideas coming along, he's there until he retires and until then no one else is allowed a chance.



Truth and Truthfulness

   One must be aware of the difference between teaching "the truth" and teaching "truthfulness".  When a truth/fact like "Pi equals 3.14159" is taught, there is no dispute. There is no need to argue the merits of using this particular number over any other number. There is no need to pass a law to force math teachers to not teach that some other number is pi, or that pi is a meaningless number.
   Many other matters are not so concrete and there is room for varying opinions. When one teaches for example that "capitalism is better than communism", there may even be differences of opinion on what those words mean, and what the speaker feels these words represent could change the statement from true to false for him, or for different listeners, with any number of shades of gray in between. But there have been laws passed for, or in the old Soviet union against, teaching this.
   One might truthfully believe the statement is true or false. But it is an opinion, not a fact. A more truthful thing to say might be that "Most people in this country think that...", and also to try to define the two words. By far the best thing to teach the student is how to think for him/her self. (...instead of in effect telling him/her that other people have already done the thinking for them and they should simply believe it's the truth on faith.) There are no laws specifically forbidding teaching students how to think, but there are usually any number of ways, including laws, that it is discouraged. The state does not want the current "status quo" questioned. Why, something might be changed!
   It would not be amiss to feel that the state should stay out of defining educational content beyond the very basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. Young people - like most people - like to learn. Beyond such basics young people should be free to learn what interests them, rather than a set curriculum which is perhaps "ideal" for the "average student" but not suitable for any student in particular.
   This is just one of a number of subjects related to clear and critical thinking on social issues discussed at much greater length in Skeptical Essays by Bertrand Russell. (Russell himself especially resented having to learn Latin, "a language that nobody speaks any more", in school. BTW I think the title gives little away about the contents... an "essay" to me is a school English class assignment, and "skeptical" has the connotation of negative thinking to my mind, when the book as actually full of papers related to "critical thinking" on social issues.)
   Writing almost 100 years ago in the early to mid 1920s, Russell hits upon many of the evils which started perhaps with the industrial revolution or before, and which have only - as he predicted would happen if no action was taken - become more exacerbated in the intervening century. (Indeed he seems to have loosely predicted most of the future century - even the alignment of forces involved in what became "the cold war" - short of the rise and fall of Nazi Germany, nuclear weapons, and much further on, computers and the internet.)
   Perhaps it's time to look at corrective actions for the social problems and failings he so clearly identifies. After all, it's not the things civilizations do that cause them to fail, it's doing nothing and letting wrong thinking and dysfunctional methods fester and grow over generations until they overwhelm reality.



The Epstein Saga

   First Jeffrey Epstein is arrested for child sex and human trafficking, after flaunting it in everyone's face for most of his life. (Arrested again... after getting off with some sort of "plea deal" years ago that no lesser placed person would have got, instead of being forcibly removed from the planet. The judge that signed that deal has just resigned.) Since he's the "king" of it all, and since it's known that he knows everyone involved at all the highest levels [of depravity], everyone starts speculating how many rich, famous and even royal persons will be named.
   Then it starts circulating on youtube that because he knows so much about so many highly placed people, he'll surely be murdered before he can testify - and that they'll surely say he committed suicide. A week(?) later, amid some very strange anomalies in the workings of the prison system (especially for such a high profile prisoner), Epstein "commits suicide." This time the "conspiracy theories" preceded and predicted the actual event.
   And even with all that suspicion even well in advance of the event, the bought-off 'main stream' media makes no suggestion that it was anything but: It wasn't "apparently by suicide", "said to be suicide" or "alleged suicide" or "was found dead". All the stations just said "Epstein committed suicide." And why did no one say how it was done? Did he "hang himself" with a bedsheet (for "plausible deniability" of murder), or was it one of those "three bullets to the back of the head" sorts of suicide? The guards were said to have been asleep(?...or did it for pay or were blackmailed?... who else could get in? They were uncooperative with investigators.) and people had heard screams coming from Epstein's cell.

   A couple of days after I wrote the above, the coroner reported that the broken hyoid bone in the throat was usually (not invariably) indicative of homicidal strangulation rather than suicide. Combine that with the screams... Oops! (Hilarious! As usual the MSM is caught looking like either idiots [Hah!] or bald faced liars spouting fake news.) But it must be noted that evidently one of the usual worst offenders, the Washington Post, broke the coroner story. It could as easily have promulgated the same lie as the rest of the media and kept quiet about the coroner's report, which would then only have been circulated among "conspiracy theorists" on youtube and on zerohedge. Yay WaPo! Maybe things are changing?



Rational and Irrational Numbers 10-99

   In French, numbers from 20 to 60 follow a logical pattern (I must use it as an example because it's the only other language I can count above 4 in. I definitely don't guarantee my spellings, either.):

20 Vingt
30 Tronte
40 Quarante
50 Cinquante
60 Soixante

 Above that the system breaks down, reminding one somewhat of Roman numerals:

70 Soixante-dix (sixty-ten)
80 Quatre-vingt (four-twenty)
90 Quatre-vingt-dix (four-twenty-ten)

(I don't understand why they wouldn't use

70 Septante
80 Huitante
90 Neuvante)

In English we fare better:

20 Twenty
30 Thirty
40 Forty (Fourty)
50 Fifty
60 Sixty
70 Seventy
80 Eighty
90 Ninety

The numbers from 10 to 19 are another case. In both languages they start off irregularly with a single word as if they were another single digit number:

10 ten / dix
11 eleven / onze
12 twelve / douze

In French this continues:

13 trez
14 quatorze
15 quinze   and then I think it's:
16 seize (but I'm not sure of that, It could be dix-six, ten-six)

finally the few remaining:

17 dix-sept (ten-seven)
18 dix-huit (ten-eight)
19 dix-neuf (ten-nine)

In English the rest of the numbers after 12 are called the "teens", which follow a strange reverse pattern, thir-teen (three-ten), four-teen, ... , nine-teen. If we wanted to rationalize them, however, we run into a bit of trouble. "tenty-three" just sounds too much like "twenty-three" and would be bound to be misheard occasionally. Mishearing numbers can have bad consequences. We'd have to drop the standard "_ty" ending.

We could turn the teens around and add "y": teeny-three, teeny-four,... , teeny-nine. These should be fairly easily to understand even if the hearer hasn't heard them before. Of course, "teeny" by itself has another quantitative meaning. But if shortened to "tenny-three", "tenny-four"..., again it sounds too close to "twenty". That might leave the shortest and perhaps the most obvious: "ten-three", "ten-four"..., "ten-nine" ...which could actually work. It does in French.
(Hmm... or how about "tenna-three, tenna-four, tenna-five...")

Or we could just leave it the way it is. We managed to learn it and we never think about its oddness, why should future generations have it any easier?



Small Thots

* Duralex  Impact Resistant, Tempered Glass Drinking Glasses - Info Update. As soon as he got my last newsletter my friend Rick Peterson sent me a page from Amazon.ca, a search for Duralex glasses. They have been made, in France, since 1939! There were many selections - far more styles, sizes and colors than were (rather briefly) available in Canada in the 1970s. Sometimes I remember one can find most anything on line these days, sometimes I don't think of it. I ordered a set of four 8.75 oz glasses. It's just taken an extra 42 years. I still think their absence from store shelves is deliberate - to keep people buying easily broken glasses, again and again. Whether this is a distributor's or individual stores' idea or both is less certain.

*  A piece of fuzzy logic that causes so much trouble in the world:  "I can think, therefore I am right."

* I am SO good at losing or misplacing things. I decided (having been out for a couple of months) that it was time to make another batch of white wine. (Last batch was August 2017.) I went to the coat closet and got out the primary fermenter bucket, lid and the hydrometer. Where was the long-handle stir spoon? Nowhere to be seen. I checked another closet. Nope. I went back to the first closet and in a space of no conscious thought, I leaned into it and reached my fingers around the door frame to the right - a tiny space only 2 inches wide, surely too small to hide anything - and felt the handle of the spoon, standing there utterly vertical. I would never have found it by looking. I might almost say I'd never have found it by myself.
   This isn't the first time something like this has happened. I remember the first time I became consciously aware of finding something this way. Back in Victoria a few years ago I was missing a car key. Not urgent. A day or two later I was wandering around the house for some reason, and without any conscious thought, I suddenly "snapped awake" as I found myself standing facing sideways in front of a narrow set of open shelves along the side of the kitchen doorway, staring at the "missing" key in an ashtray on a shelf.
   One can only give thanks to one's guardian angels for their guidance as one tries to live in harmony with the unfolding of the universe.


* Perhaps if one buys "tall telephone pole" variety peas, one should put up 6 foot tall pea netting instead of just 3 foot. (I used chicken wire.) Predictably some of these stems folded over as they grew taller and as the peas grew heavier. But I must say I've had a much better crop from these (in spite of the short netting and the cloudy summer with generally poor vegetable harvests) than from any other variety I've grown in recent years. I have almost a pound of them in the freezer besides all the ones I've eaten - mostly raw. Mmm, garden peas!

   
"Tall Telephone Pole" variety Peas, two short rows (left planted earlier), August 13th



ESD
(Eccentric Silliness Department)

* Yeasterday: When the dough rose from the dead, so there's fresh bread and buns today.


* An engineer runs a boring bar, but his clients are never bored. Only pieces of metal are bored. On a lathe. Bored stiff.

   [from my high school Chemistry teacher, 1971... I think there were three, but I don't remember the other one.]
* BaNa2 : Some students (who had apparently learned something) howled that that is an impossible compound - all cations and no anions. The teacher replied that it was very important in the diet of anthropoid apes.

* BaAuH2O : Probably only the elders might remember this guy now**.


* Cipate: unforeseen, unpredicted, a surprise, to not see something coming. (opposite of Anticipate.)



** Barry Goldwater




   "in depth reports" for each project are below. I hope they may be useful to anyone who wants to get into a similar project, to glean ideas for how something might be done, as well as things that might have been tried or thought of... and even of how not to do something - why it didn't work or proved impractical. Sometimes they set out inventive thoughts almost as they occur - and are the actual organization and elaboration in writing of those thoughts. They are thus partly a diary and are not extensively proof-read for literary perfection, consistency and completeness before publication. I hope they add to the body of wisdom for other researchers and developers to help them find more productive paths and avoid potential pitfalls and dead ends.





Electric Transport


Ground Effect Vehicle (first the R/C Model)

   On the 14th I needed a bit of epoxy. I make a bit extra and cut a piece of the thin PP cloth to cover the bottom of one of the hulls. But the 20 grams of epoxy only glued it down for about 1/3 of the way from the back. It would need another 40+. And (as I expected) it didn't visually cover things over. Every irregularity showed, and the writing on the foam showed through. A thin coat of spray paint later could help, but I started sanding the foam cuts and the joins much smoother.

   That was as far as I got. I can't believe the whole summer has slipped by without finishing the model and trying it out. But the battery research has taken precedence.





Other "Green" Electric Equipment Projects


Handheld Bandsaw Sawmill Notes

   The saw didn't seem to be cutting at all well. I should have been dicing up the big log into cants with the chainsaw mills, but I was too busy with battery development to cut much anyway. It became evident that the big log was going to sit until September. I ordered 5 new bands and awaited their arrival.
   They came on the 17th. I put one on and started cutting the 8" wide x 5' long spruce cant into 1" x 8" boards. Is spruce hard to mill? I ticked off the seconds that I had the saw trigger pressed with my tongue. I'm very good at that, and I'll say I should have been well within 10%. The time for each cut in seconds was roughly:

52, 63, 75, 75, 86, 100, 88, 89, 120. I sharpened the band. As best I remember the next ones took something like: 75, 90, 100, 88. Then I stopped counting.

   The times show how the band dulls quickly cutting spruce. and the 8" width seems much harder than 6". On the last board the band hit a knot hole full of sap 1/3 of the way along. The band and wheels gummed up, and I had to wedge the cut end open to un-jam the saw. After I picked up the board and tossed it with the others, the palms of my hands were likewise thoroughly wet with sap/gum. I went inside to clean my hands with varsol. After I finished these two little cants I had another whole large log to mill and get off my lawn. (I got it started in early September.) After that, I hope I can do some alder instead, or some other tree specie.
   I did finish them - 24 more 1"x8" x 5' boards, with the new band getting sharpened once. Only the very first cut with the brand new band was under 60 seconds. Naturally I wish they were all that fast, but I don't know how to achieve it. The automatic band sharpener isn't bad, but I had to modify it myself to do finer toothed bands, and I note that it flattens the angle of the tooth a bit behind the cutting edge. Perhaps that's a reason they aren't quite as good as new after sharpening.
   Again I would note that spruce is tough stuff to mill, and that 6" wide boards cut twice as fast as 8". I think the wide cuts have just too much drag on the band as it goes through the wood, even without cutting. I cut alder up to 12(?) inches, a whole small log with (as best I recall) one band sharpening if any. I don't think I'll make any more 8" wide spruce cants to be cut into lumber. (I can probably use some 2"x4"s for interior walls. Those should go pretty easily.)




Electricity Generation


Wind Power: 5 Blades Better than 3?

   Jim Harrington pointed me to a 5-blade wind turbine (horizontal axis) link from BangGood.com . There was a question/discussion space and someone asked why 5 blades, and someone answered it. Apparently the slower turning 5 blade types are quieter than 3-blades, and in light winds deliver up to around 60% more output. Here I had always understood that 3 blades was "the ultimate"... but apparently that's only in sufficient wind.
   Since a chief objection to (3-blade) windplants is the noise, and since winds are far more often light than strong, I decided to swallow my gradually improving ideas for making a VAWT (like I have time anyway?) and try one of them. It is on order.

   Another point was that the extra air friction of 5 blades in heavier winds reduces over-revving. But I do wonder what will happen in a really heavy gale.
   I don't understand why no one seems to use Hugh Piggott's fabulous tail design. The propeller is slightly off center compared to the pivot axis. As the wind strength exceeds safe limits, the increasing off-center pressure on the propeller causes the weighted tail to climb up a ramp and pivot, allowing the off center windplant to turn away from the wind, until it can be almost sideways to it in powerful blasts. This prevents the unit from over-revving and over-powering. As the wind lightens, the tail swings it back into the wind. The tail weight and the ramp steepness governs the process, so there's nothing to wear out and start changing the response.

 

   The output of the windplant was rated as 24 volts. That wouldn't do for charging 36 volt batteries, so at the same time I ordered a DC to DC up-converter of substantial power, also at BangGood, to bring it up to about 40 volts.




My Solar Power System


Month of August Log of Solar Power Generated [and grid power consumed]

   I decided to log daily power for at least one more month and have a half a year's data. But I'd be away camping with friends the last week.


(All times are in PST: clock 48 minutes ahead of sun, not PDT which is an hour and 48 minutes ahead. DC power readings - mostly the kitchen hot water heater - are reset to zero daily, while the others are cumulative.)

Date  House solar KWH(Grid+DC), +Trailer Roof solar KWH - day total KWH made [power co. meter readings] weather, usage...


July 31st 49.85+.53, 629.39 - 14.46 [[email protected] 20:30; Br.Heat] Early: rain, Most of day: Sun w. scattered clouds, very light haze, no jet trails.
---
August 1st 57.62+.53, 634.98 - 13.89 [[email protected]:00; bath; [email protected]:00] Mostly Sunny, no jet trails. Forgot I had turned 2 inverters off previous evening, until late morning.
2nd 66.90+.44, 641.21 - 15.95 [[email protected]:30] Sunny
3rd 75.19+.43, 646.98  - 14.49 [55Km,chj.car slow(oops, into evening); [email protected]:30] Mostly sunny
4th 84.59+.52, 653.39  - 16.33 [55Km,mor car [email protected]; bath; [email protected]:00] Sunny, warm day for the Tlell "Fall" Fair!
5th 91.79+.45, 659.80  - 13.76 [finish car chj; [email protected]:30] Sunny. Oops, left the 2 grid ties turned off again. (Wouldabin ~16 KWH)
6th 100.86+.55,666.03 - 15.84 [bath(solar!); [email protected]:30] Lo & behold, another sunny day!
7th 104.74+.51,668.77 -   7.13 [55 Km,3.8 KW chj.; [email protected]:00] Overcast! (Summer iz over? but, but... ther wuz sun in QC!)
8th 108.00+.50,671.08 -   6.07 [[email protected]:00] castover
9th 111.57+.59,673.56 -   6.64 [85Km,[email protected]; Laundry; Chj.someone's Chevy Bolt @3.8KW(~45 KWH?) and, 44Km,chj.my car [email protected] [email protected]:00; 2 cars still charging; [email protected]:00] abovecast
10th 116.63+.50, 677.22 - 9.22 [BR heat, 2 car fini. chj. overnight; [email protected]:30; 55Km,chj [email protected]; [email protected]:30] overcast, w. sunny breaks AM.
11th 120.93+.42, 680.31 - 7.81 [[email protected]; [email protected]:30] light overcast
12th 123.50+.42, 682.17 - 4.85 [[email protected]:00; bath] Heavy overcast & (gasp) Rain! (A tourist said it was sunny most of the day at Masset/North Beach!)
13th 132.37+.49, 688.39- 15.58 [55Km,part [email protected]; [email protected]:00] Sunny and warm. (what a contrast!)
14th 141.23+.43, 694.58- 15.48 [Finish c[email protected]; [email protected]:30; bath] Sunny and warm.
15th 144.77+.49, 697.15 -  7.60 [40Km,[email protected]; [email protected]:00] overcast.
16th 147.47+.59, 699.30 -  5.44 [85Km drv,[email protected] (not much solar); [email protected]:00] overcast. 2 inverters (4 250W panels) were turned off 2/3 of the day.
17th 153.16+.53, 703.31- 10.23 [55Km,[email protected]; [email protected]:00] Sunny with drifting clouds.
18th 161.90+.45, 709.41- 15.29 [[email protected]:30] Sunny & warm.
19th 163.90+.61, 711.12 -  4.32 [Laundry; [email protected]:30] Cold & wet. Clouds - light - heavier & finally torrential rain over the day.
20th 164.66+.45, 711.76 -  1.85 [55Km,chj'[email protected]; bath; [email protected]:30] Overcast, wind & rain. I had to turn 2 inverters off so those panels could feed only the kitchen hot water tank, which they barely did with minimal hot water use. (Someone got a sunburn in Vancouver area today.)
21st  4.46 + .64, 715.21 -   8.55 [50Km&[email protected]; [email protected]:00] Alt. sun & clouds. Power bump in night - meter reset itself
22nd 6.18 + .48, 716.60 -   3.59 [bath; [email protected]:00; BR heat] Clouds & rain. This is summer?
23rd 12.66+ .42, 721.21 - 11.51 [[email protected]:30] Clouds and some sun.

On Holydays, returned Sept. 2nd.

Sept.
2nd 69.46+.71, 759.99 - 96.29 (10 days) [[email protected]:00] Sunny until late afternoon.
3rd 71.99+.51, 762.06 -   5.11 [55Km:chj.car1500W; [email protected]:00] Overcast, later rain. Not much solar for car!
4th 1.98+.32, 763.73   -   3.97 [[email protected]:00] Part Cloudy AM, Sunny PM. I turned off the inverters and unplugged them while the electric line crew were working replacing the power pole & transformer outside (~10:30 - ~14:30), so the day's collection was way down. And of course the power break reset the one meter so earlier AM collection recording was lost. During the outage I moved the two panels on the lawn in order to mow the lawn. They had also been more and more in the lengthening tree shadows until mid day, and the new position should be a little better for the autumn.
5th 6.24+.52, 766.76  -   7.81 [55Km,[email protected]; [email protected]:00] Mostly overcast.
6th 8.55+.53, 768.77  -   4.85 [85Km,[email protected]; [email protected]:00] Mostly overcast, rain. 2 inverters were off quite a while.
7th 13.42+.46, 772.27 -  8.83 [laundry; bandmill; [email protected]:00] AM overcast PM sunny periods.


Daily-
KWH-  # of Days (August)
Made
1.xx  - 1
2.xx  -
3.xx  - 1
4.xx  - 2
5.xx  - 1
6.xx  - 2
7.xx  - 3
8.xx  - 1
9.xx  - 1 (9**)
10.xx- 1
11.xx- 1
12.xx-
13.xx- 2
14.xx- 1
15.xx- 5
16.xx- 1

** The "9" days includes the 8 days of August pro-rated average of the 10 days I was away.

Monthly Tallies: Generated KWH [Power used from grid KWH] ("April 0" starts March 31 after solar hours.)

March 1-31: 116.19 + ------ + 105.93 = 222.12 KWH [786 KWH - used from grid]
April - 0-30: 136.87 + ------ + 121.97 = 258.84 KWH [608 KWH]
May  - 0-31: 156.23 + ------ + 147.47 = 303.70 KWH [543 KWH] (11th solar panel connected on lawn on 26th)
June - 0-30: 146.63 + 15.65 + 115.26 = 277.54 KWH [374 KWH] (36V, 250W Hot Water Heater installed on 7th)
July  - 0-31: 134.06 + 19.06 + 120.86 = 273.98 KWH [342 KWH]
August 0-31:127.47 + 11.44 + 91.82 +(8/10)*96.29 = 307.76 KWH [334 KWH] (12th panel 'installed' on lawn Aug. 1)

6  month total March 1 to August 31: 1643.94 KWH made; [2987 KWH consumed from grid]

Things Noted

* With the 12th panel added, [estimated] August solar power production beat all previous months, slightly above May. Tree shadows definitely got longer and reduced the light as the month went on, especially to the two panels down on the lawn. (Not to mention the garden.) Soon they'll be hitting the house roof too.

* The August total assumes 8 days of the 10 I was away at the average of those 10 days, 9.63 KWH/Day. (The other 2 days were September 1 & 2.)

* Power on fully sunny days in August with the 12 panels (~3440W total) seemed to be just under 16 KWH near the start of the month, dropping a bit as the month went on. And mostly either it was sunny or it wasn't - there were few "mostly sunny" days giving close to full output.

* Cloudy days averaged perhaps a little under 8 KWH from the 3440W of panels - around half of what sunny days give. That didn't stop a few rainy days from having very low output. Again at present prices it seems worth it. If we weren't get electricity at a subsidized rate here, the economy over diesel would be large and obvious.

* Power going to the grid isn't counted by the utility company meter - it won't run backward. But since the power generated and used in the house does subtract from that used from the grid and slow down or stop the meter, the total consumption is somewhere between the grid power and the grid power plus the power generated. (Depending how much the grid was being subsidized - probably not very much except on sunny days.)

* For the 6 months of spring and summer, on average about half as much solar power was made as was used from the grid. So comparing power generated to that used from the grid suggests that twice as many solar panels (20-24 instead of 10-12) would be required to make the house "power neutral" in spring and summer (and early autumn) but the situation is complicated by not knowing the total consumption.
   Four or five winter months will have much less collection (not to mention far heavier power usage). I really ought to raise the tops of the panels to get them to a steeper angle, since at only 15° south slope they'll get less than half power in December. Even in June 30° would be an improvement and at winter solstice would give 70% output instead of 50%. At 45° they would be weighted well for spring and fall while still giving 86% in winter (short days anyway, and except in very favorable locations full of long shadows too) and 97% in summer.

* On sunny days during the summer more solar power was usually made than the amount consumed from the power grid. Much less power was used from the grid was when I was away on holidays. (No EV car charging, etc. I unplugged the kitchen solar hot water. Hmm, I could have turned off the main water heater, too.)

* Months that had sunny days (March, April, May, August) had better collection than those that didn't (June, July), yet the totals generated in the cloudy months were not so much lower than the better months. Of course, in June and July the sun was highest, so they had the potential to exceed any other months if they had had more sun. So perhaps we are measuring ~275 as against ~350 if the weather had been nicer, or even more had most of the days been sunny.

Improving the System

   I decided to improve the grid tie arrangement and get it inspected, with some 240 volt wired-in grid tie inverters. In some ways it seems a little silly, since the plug-in grid tie inverters work fine. They also cost 75-150 $C for a nominal 1000 W - but which rarely give over 850 or so.
   The "AP" wired-in grid ties I'm planning on getting have four separate panel inputs (that's a slight improvement) and are rated at 1200 W (also somewhat better). Since they will be wired into the circuit breaker panel one can't read the power figures directly. Instead one buys a communications unit that can be connected to a computer or to WI-FI. The costs add up: Inverter 500 $ each, comm unit 350 $, double circuit breaker and wiring maybe another hundred, bringing it to almost 1000 $ plus the panels. Hmm... I may have just talked myself out of it for now. 100 $ and "plug it into an outlet" is a lot cheaper and easier. Anyway here's a sample circuit/wiring diagram (with 2-panel inverters, from the web).








Electricity Storage (Batteries)

Turquoise Battery Project: Ni-Zn or Mn-Zn in KOH ? or in KCl ?


Tokudo et al Nickel-Zinc Battery Patent (2001)

   I had looked at this years ago. Beneficiary was listed as "Sanyo". The first problem was that all the tables were completely disordered. Their structure had been erased and they were just jumbled text and virtually indecipherable. Different words of each heading had been on different lines and words of other headings now appeared between them. The second was that I had printed it double sided and the printer had messed up. The pages were mixed up all over, the flip side having no page relation to the front. I had to jump all over to find the next page. Between these two factors it was almost impossible to read it.
   But now that I was doing zinc myself, I got interested enough that I downloaded a new copy and set about fixing the tables, copying the scattered bits of text into initially blank tables I created in the HTML editor. That made it far more useful and I learned some new things, mostly not because of the (arguably) patentable things but because they had described their procedures in creating the battery. These were no doubt similar to how they already created production batteries, and it was the first time I'd seen much on how batteries are made. There are occasional references to this patent below.

Electrode ReAgaring

  
Microscope images of the agared electrode surface and a 'fuzzy' zinc plated edge. 40x

    I had put the cell back together without fixing the bare zinc edges, and I did a couple of quick load tests around the time I put out the last TE News. (August 5th, 6th) With each test, performance seemed to improve. The short circuit tests generally started out 3.5 to under 4 amps, but at first held 1.5 amps for 10 seconds, then 1.75 amps, then over 2 amps. Driving a 1 ohm load (more like 1.2 with the wiring losses) it held over 1.00 volts for 2.5 minutes, then the next time just over 4.5, and the 5 watt resistor got quite warm.
   Next I took the cell apart again to paint agar around the bare edges of lumpy zinc. I discovered that while the jell was still good, much of one side (having an open edge) had come loose from the zinc, like wallpaper come loose from a wall. Being unattached would be acceptable as long as the zinc was totally encapsulated. It would be pretty much pressed against the electrode anyway. The jell was also flaking off the stem from the top down. (Ah... It was drying out there.) It looks like getting a good solid coat of jell is going to be a rather critical part of the manufacturing.

(7th) I left the electrode overnight to dry. I had cleaned it as best I could, but I wanted as little potassium hydroxide left on the electrode as possible, seeing it interferes with the jelling. Here I discovered, or probably rediscovered, that if there's one thing a jell can't stand it's being dried out. It was all loose, dry flakes. I rubbed them off along with much of the fragile fuzzy plating, and wondered how many milliamp hours and how much current drive it would have left. Nevertheless, I prepared a new batch of jell, a bit 'stiffer' than last time with 50 cc less water. (What's optimum? I have no idea.)

200 cc distilled water
10 grams agar powder
5 grams zirconium silicate powder (AKA 'zircon', 'ultrox')

   I heated the water to boiling in a bread pan and sprinkled the agar powder in. This made a lumpy mixture. Probably better to stir the powder in and then heat the water. Then I added the zircon. (I doubtless could better have done that before the heating, too.) I used a bread pan because it's a good size and shape to dip an entire full size electrode into to coat it. It's not easy to heat uniformly on a burner, however.

   I dipped in the small one. Then I painted around the edges with a small brush. After a couple of minutes the electrode had cooled and I ran my finger around the edges. They all felt like smooth jell except one top corner. I brushed a bit more onto that to build it up.


   I took my somewhat lumpy coated but well encapsulated 'trode and put the cell back together again. Somehow it seemed to need charging.
   On the next load test (#12, @ 10 Ω) the voltages were a bit lower, but it ran almost the same length of time as the previous 10 Ω test; just a couple of minutes less over an hour. My take is that the nickel side is what's been limiting the mA-hours, but with some of the plating (and obviously some of the osmium film, too) rubbed off, the zinc side has a bit less current capacity and is letting the voltage down a little. It gave 129 mA-hours instead of 137 because the slightly lower voltages meant slightly lower currents throughout. Overall the performance was down just a little. Would it stay there or start improving again?

   On the 10th performance seemed to have dropped a bit more. I wondered if maybe the nickel was coming apart a bit, or if the two electrodes weren't pressed together well enough. I managed to insert a thin strip of metal behind a piece of spacer plastic. It was certainly tight after that and I hoped I wasn't squashing the agar. But somewhat to my surprise the currents (short circuit and charging) went up substantially. It started charging at 300 mA instead of 200, and delivered over 200 mA after 10 seconds of being shorted. On the 11th, a 10 ohm load test started with slightly higher voltages and current, but went down faster, to 1.2 volts in 40 minutes instead of closer to an hour, giving a capacity of only 87 mAH. On the bright side, the zinc tab hadn't fallen off after almost 20 cycle tests (over double any other zinc tab electrode I've made), and the charging current still drops under 20 mA once the cell is charged and the voltage sits at over 1.8 volts or so overnight, which indicates no zinc dendrites are trying to short out the electrodes.
   Then next question was, was it the zinc electrode or the nickel oxide one degrading? It could certainly be the nickel - I was running it down pretty low. In fact if the zinc was still at 1.24 volts when the cell was down to 1.2, the nickel must be dropping down to nothing and maybe even into reverse charge. I needed to replace the nickel electrode chunks with others as similar as possible and see if it improved or not.

   On the 12th I took the cell apart. One corner of the lower back side of the agar had been peeled away from the zinc trode, surely either on insertion or (perhaps more likely) on pulling it out again. All electrodes are to be inserted together, but perhaps a backing sheet should slide in with the zinc electrode that's against the end wall of the cell so that the agar itself isn't sliding along something. Or perhaps wrap a sheet of cellophane - or just polyethylene - around the outside of the end electrodes and the bottom when inserting.
   The agar I had jelled didn't really liquify when I heated it up. That may be why it was so lumpy the first time, too. I added around as much distilled water as jell in the tiny pot, and painted some on the electrode. I consider that 10 grams of agar in 200 cc of water made it too thick. I might try about 5 next time (if not less). So:

Water - 200 cc
Agar   - 5 g
Zircon - 5 g

Or I might just heat it up and add another 200 cc of water to the present batch. (More zircon?)

   I remembered the Tokuda et al (Sanyo) Ni-Zn AA cells patent. I looked up their discharge tests. They ran them from a charge of 1.95 volts all the way down to .9 volts! Hmm... they didn't seem to have degrading cycle capacity, at least not for reason of over-discharge, over 10 cycles. ???

PAA Jell

   They also jelled their zinc electrode. Herein may lie a buried secret. Some of their cells didn't degrade at all over ten cycles. If they could make a zinc electrode that wouldn't degrade, they would be manufacturing them, right? They must have all degraded over a somewhat longer number of cycles with disappointing performance, right? Or else we'd already have Sanyo very long lasting nickel-zinc "AA" cells and probably many other size Ni-Zn batteries. Right?
   But it wouldn't be the first time a company cast away a superior product in favor of continuing to market and sell their existing product line, which would be made obsolete by the new product. Existing companies - at least at the management level - rarely have a culture of creation or vision for new technologies. They are generally reactive rather than proactive. They are usually pushed into advances from behind rather than leading them. I could easily see the executives just look at its potential to cut into their ongoing sales of non-rechargeable batteries, instead of seeing potential for a whole broad new battery market opening up before them with themselves at the head of it. Or, it wouldn't be the first time someone 'in charge' was bribed or threatened by petroleum industry people to shelf a product, and those for higher efficiency, 'free energy' and better batteries have always been the prime targets. I suspect Sanyo's research team had come up with a fabulous advance but Sanyo, notwithstanding apparently having a battery factory already set up, simply didn't make them, so no one was the wiser. (The almost illegible patent couldn't have helped spread the word?)

   The patent specified polyacrylic acid gel. I found (or was pointed to) two researchers in the news, a year or two apart but in the latter part of the current decade, who both claimed to have created a jelled electrode that lasted 20,000 cycles without deterioration. At least one of them mentioned "acrylic" and "jelled" which probably also means polyacrylic acid gel. Agar seems to work fine, but it's certainly possible some other jell such as PAA might work better or will be easier to work with in production. It certainly bears investigation.
   OTOH agar does seem to work well. I ordered a kilogram for a lower cost from China. The package said "Health Products". (Why they didn't just write "Agar" I don't know. It seems no one wants to tell customs agents just what's really in a box.) Customs opened the package and slit open one of the bags inside. First they were probably looking for someone trying to buy "prescription" medication, ordered from abroad because their doctor here wasn't permitted to prescribe it, and then on opening it and seeing white powder they were suspecting maybe cocaine.
   As long as there are laws against most everything, senseless or not, the government will suspect its citizens of lawbreaking. But they didn't challenge the "$5" stated price when as I recall it was more like 35$. They were probably just disappointed to have found nothing interesting.

More Research Needed

   About at this point, there were too many questions about what I would actually use for a positive electrode in commercial cells, and the many options that each might or might not work were muddying the proposals. Nickel manganates? Nickel oxyhydroxide? Manganese Dioxide? With graphite or without? In salt or mixed electrolyte, or must we use concentrated potassium hydroxide? (Samarium oxide to raise oxygen overvoltage is a given.) Should they be 'jelled' with sulfonates? something else?, or at least would it be advantageous?
   I decided that since I had until late October to submit the application, I should try to do this research beforehand, which would make the application much simpler - more clear and direct. The trouble with salt is that I've never been able to get a positive electrode to hold its charge in salt electrolyte. It just might devolve to using KOH or else using manganese dioxide with its lower voltage, definitely known to hold charge well in salt. Somehow I don't think that ought to be or will be necessary, but it seems to me I haven't shown otherwise in the past. Self discharge has been my greatest bugaboo.

   Wait a minute!...

The real reason all my NiMn cells had high self discharge

   Then I figured it out at long last! On the 13th I realized I was probably wrong and that my test for which electrode was discharging was somehow faulty - that there was a good reason for gradual self discharge in the negative side in my nickel manganate-manganese cells. In fact, the zinc sheet current collectors were fine where they were in contact with the manganese electrode substance with its overvoltage raising additives, but they degraded where they weren't: mainly at the terminal tab connection, which would finally corrode off.
   I didn't understand at the time that hydrogen bubbling off it would affect the zinc. It changes it to brittle zinc hydride (not mentioned in battery literature or electrochemistry charts), and being held at -1.5 volts by the manganese electrode, even tho they weren't the active substance themselves, the metallic zinc would have been bubbling hydrogen wherever it wasn't in contact with the hydrogen overvoltage raising electrode additives, and whether or not the cell was being charged. (Well duh, of course it would!) There was the gradual self discharge, slow but relentless, not from the electrode itself but from the zinc terminal tab. And even when I switched from zinc to 'flexible graphite' current collectors, the graphite didn't decay but most probably it also bubbled hydrogen at such a high voltage.
   SO! That was probably the reason my extra high voltage cells always had 'overnight' self discharge instead of holding charge properly. To make such a high voltage electrode hold its charge, the hydrogen overvoltage ingredients - or an insulating paint - would have to coat the entire exposed current collector inside the cell. Now that I think I understand that, I could probably make the 2.4 volt cells. Well, some other time!

Painting Parts of Electrodes to Prevent Gas Generation

   Overnight it dawned on me that that idea of painting the terminal tab would also be very good for a plain zinc electrode. The hydrogen overvoltage substance (zirconium silicate) is in the agar and it can't extend up the tab right to the outer case. Paint can. The terminal strip should be painted or epoxied, and the whole back side of single sided electrodes could also be painted, although the agar with the zircon should do the job.
   This also reminds that likewise the oxygen overvoltage substance (samarium oxide/hydroxide) is in the powder mix, but not in the carbon fibers running up to the top to form the "tab". It might be necessary or at least advantageous to paint these, too, or perhaps better for those to epoxy them into a solid piece.

Making Nickel-Manganates '+' Electrode in a plastic shell

   Zinc electrodes will be easier to work with - and if the nickel manganates side is indeed working at the high "+" voltage it seemed to have in those earlier cells, they may still be around 2 volts in salt - as high as lead-acid and just six cells for a 12 volt battery.
   I may experiment with nickel manganates-manganese 2-1/2 volt cells again (just 5 cells for 12 volts), but the coated zinc electrodes are working well, and at this point I'm going with that.


   So the next experiment would be a nickel manganates "+" electrode... and it would probably work.

[graf]   I may have found a potential reason voltages seemed higher than I had expected in my nickel manganates-manganese cells too: the voltage of MnO4- would be around +.75 volts at pH 12. It was KMnO4 I put into the cells to react and form the manganates. Perhaps that voltage also applies to the manganates, rather than the nickel oxyhydroxide voltage (~+.65) that I had expected. Add +.75 to -1.5 for metallic manganese and you have about 2.25 volts. Even so they charged even higher, to 2.6 or so (dropping quickly to 2.4 volts under load), but most cells charge somewhat higher than theoretical.
But there's also the CRC Book graph at pH 1 and pH 14:

MnPourbaix   If perhaps in nickel manganates the form MnO4--- might for some reason prevail, that would give +.15v + +.96v = +1.11V. That plus the roughly -1.4v provided by the Mn negative would better explain cells that charged up to 2.6 and even 2.7 volts. Was that the case?


NiPourbaix    The experiment, now with a zinc negative, is the thing!

[Ahead of the narrative: The experiment showed that, for all this speculation, the voltage was initially about the same as nickel oxyhydroxide, +.65 volts at pH 12. Then with some short circuiting and recharging it seemed to get lower... perhaps to the voltage of MnO2+Zn, under 1.5. But that's okay if it moves 2 or 3 electrons instead of 1. The amp-hours would go way up in the same size cell.]


(13th) On the old RepRap Mendel 3D printer I had always got the bed up to at least 95°C, preferably 100, before I tried printing ABS. The new printer only heated the bed to 80° for ABS. I didn't and don't consider that anything like hot enough. While the PLA shells had printed very nicely in the new printer if the extruder temperature was increased to 200°C (a miracle!), when I tried in ABS the bottom printed fine but the ends started lifting on only the second row and the pieces broke away from the glass. So I had to give up and go with a PLA shell.

   The only electrode compactor I could find was the one made as an edge-fed compactor. Either I've let the others slip away somehow after I moved here (probably), or I wasn't looking in the right places. The edge one will do.

I used the powders already mixed in July:

Monel Powder    - 16 g
Ni(OH)2 - 17 g
KMnO4  - 40 g
Conductive Carbon Black Powder - 5 g
Sm2O3  -  5 g

I wetted these with a few drops of "Lemon Fresh Sunlight" dishsoap. The ingredients in that, especially the sulfonates, are there to form a jell. (Hmm... Sanyo had a "kneader" to help mix things. I must go on line and see just what that is and look for one. Hmm... does it replace the "compactor"?)

   I used a flat rod to tamp the powder/soap mix with. It seemed to get very solid as I tamped. I added just a bit at a time and tamped some more. When I took the front off the compactor, it looked just about how I wanted it. I trimmed off a couple of bulging corners. I started to slide it off the back and it immediately cracked into 3. Hmm... not really very solid after all. Maybe I should have used the hydraulic press after all?

But if the mountain wouldn't move, maybe put the cap over the mountain? That worked quite well. The piece was actually a bit long, but the edge of the shell just cut it off. So I had a pretty much intact (if extremely fragile) briquette that filled the shell, with an unbroken section of PP cloth in front of it to make sure none could come out to short against the zinc.

   (I knew I was forgetting something. I forgot to paint the inner surface of the electrode with calcium oxide/hydroxide. It's a useful layer.)
   I put the carbon fiber 'cloth' over that and wrapped it all up in the PP cloth.
   Methylene chloride won't 'glue' PLA, but on youtube I found out that cyanoacrylate (Krazy glue) would. So I broke open a tube of that and put it around the edges. I didn't trust it to stay together while setting, so I put the 'trode in the hydraulic press and squeezed it pretty lightly (but heavier than just setting some metal weight on it) and left it a while to set. (How long does that take, anyway? It was trying to stick my skin on pretty fast.) Later I removed it. The whole thing seemed pretty solid.


   I had a great picture of the open face with the cloth but without the current collector. It was the last one I had been looking at; where on Earth did it go? I suspect my cell phone of turning itself on in my pocket and spuriously deleting it. When I'm outside working I repeatedly pull it out and find it turned on with all kinds of stuff running. There's been a message on it for weeks that I need to take "account action" at "Google Play Store", where (as far as I remember) I have never been. I suppose it's been trying to buy things. (surely not some scam?) Other peoples' phones just redial the last called number from their pocket.



   I wasn't at all fussy about the terminal connection. Something had to be done about that. It came to me that I could make a hollow rectangular plastic tube, a terminal extension to the shell that would contain the strands of graphite fiber and guide them up through a hole in the lid. (In the next shell I ended up making a shallow trough for the strands.)

   Then perhaps at the exposed top, it could have one face open, and a graphite block would be inserted in front of the mess of fibers. The external connections would be made to this. This would imply that each '+' electrode would have its own external pillar on the top. They would have to be joined with a bar or piece of wire. (The graphite strands might also have to be coated with Sm2O3 - or insulating paint - to prevent oxygen generation. Epoxied maybe? That will have to be seen.)
   (For the zinc side I conceive that all the tabs will bend over and come out one "slit" hole. Either that or they will each come out their own slit and be bent over above the case to join externally on top.)


(14th) For the present I gathered all the loose strands of graphite into a short piece of plastic drinking straw. I found a piece of graphite rod and sanded it down so it fit into the straw. Then I mixed some epoxy and painted it in to fill the straw before I jammed the graphite bit in. I put a weight on it to flatten the straw where it would come out the slit in the lid of the cell. I hope the connection is good.

   I tried to warm up my kitchen oven to set the epoxy faster than free air temperature, and found my new oven wouldn't warm. It either wanted to be off or baking hot. The digital control would only go down to 170°F (75°C)! 65°C is the tops for curing epoxy. I'd have preferred 50°. But it was even worse than that. While the oven measures the temperature in 5°F steps and is perfectly capable of displaying it to the operator, it will only show the actual temperature in two conditions:

1) While the oven is warming up and
2) The oven timer is off

   So to set the timer for just a few minutes so it won't get up to the (minimum) setting of 170°, means it simply will not show the temperature. No way to see it! There's cause for alarm bells already. So after a few minutes I canceled the heating entirely. When I then selected "cook" and turned the oven on again (not that I wanted it on), it showed the temperature. It was already 230°F! S**T!
   I grabbed the electrode with the metal weight pieces and pulled it out. It had heated so fast that the metal weights weren't hot enough yet to burn my hands, but the plastic had become quite soft and was bulging out. I set the weights on top and squeezed it flat again. (Now it bulged a bit at the sides.)


   Now, one might think "But that's not what kitchen ovens are intended for." But I might want a just-warm oven for other things. For rising bread dough for example. That is a common oven use, and if it wasn't for having a bread machine I would  discovered the problem long ago. Or what about for just keeping food warm for a while? My disgust with the shoddy programming, so poorly thought out and so typical of so many electronically controlled products, remains. (And: why have an ultra-fast magnetic induction hotplate burner that warms water for yeast in 40 seconds and boils it in 90 seconds... and is only programmable, and only displays, to the nearest minute - did you want 0, 1 or 2? I did far better than that with my own stove burner control in 1986. And: why make a delicate weigh scale so that it keeps zeroing itself as the user slowly adds epoxy trying to get an accurate and exact weight, so that he has no idea how much he's actually poured in? You can't pour the gooey stuff back and try again! The list goes on... I know we all have to forgive others in order to have the capacity to forgive ourselves and move on. I have a peculiar resentment with "whoever" does this sort of thing, being such a good programmer myself. And I don't even know the person! Or maybe it's with management for rushing a new product out the door without allowing the programmer enough time to work out the finer points? Whenever I've worked on any such product I would try to anticipate all the uses to which it might be put, and make the software that runs it as versatile and as user friendly as possible. Allowing an electronically controlled oven to be warmed up and stay warm seems like a no-brainer to me.)

Sorry for the diatribe. (Perhaps I should have grabbed my all-time favorite kitchen stove with its digital display but oven temperature dial when I moved, and left some other one in its place.)

   Back to the plot... at least the oven episode showed me that if I have assembled a warped electrode shell, or wish to press it together better, I could heat it to soften the plastic. But the next electrode showed the printed plastic breaks easily.

   While I waited for the epoxy to set (very slowly at room temperature), I started in on designing an improved electrode shell. One of the last ones hadn't fit well - it took a bit of a snap to get it together (sometimes it would stay), and that gave me the idea. If I could make them so they would snap together properly, they shouldn't need to be glued. That would mean I could print them from PLA and avoid the problems I was having with ABS. And besides, once all the bits had been delicately placed within, snapping it together at once would give much less chance for things to shift around, and one wouldn't have to hold it until the glue set. And it would be done - much better for production.
   So I started trying to minutely adjust dimensions (more trying to adjust for the vagaries of the 3D printer(s) and 'Skienforge' 'slicer' program than for theoretical dimensions) to make a slot in the base and a lip in the top that would snap into it when they were pressed together. (If the first shell had snapped together not only would it not have needed krazy glue, but I could have pried it open again and painted in the forgotten Ca(OH)2 layer by the current collector.)

   Later I returned to it and decided to do the "full size" electrode shell. All the minute adjustments would have to be done over for it. I printed one. It looked pretty good. But I made the grille bars on 2.2 mm centers instead of 2.0, and without any change in the 1 mm bar width, it printed them as two beads instead of one. Then instead of printing the second layer as diagonals, it printed them square across in the other direction. Those things were both notable improvements... but who would have guessed they would happen? Or... Aha! It was because I made them open at the top (for bubbles to escape). Just where the terminal tab was on one side so the tops weren't open, it did them the old way. I'll have to fix that. And I want to make them still wider apart since the double trace actually narrowed the bubble slots instead of widening them. And it didn't "snap" together - it was a sloppy fit. And somehow I'd made it too short.
   It was 1 AM PDT (23:12 by the sun) and that was about it for that day. But I was on the case. It looked like it would work great and they ('perfected' ones) could be used for production!



Hmm, somehow an inch short for the 'full size' battery case

Cell Assembly and Tests

   On the 15th I mixed some potassium chloride solution, 35 g of KCl in 100 cc/ml/g of H2O. I put a new piece of plastic in as a slightly thinner case filler than before since the plastic shell electrode was fatter than the other ones. It took a little under 20cc to fill the test cell. The solution turned purple from the potassium permanganate. But only a few grams per 100 cc will dissolve into water. The rest should remain solid - and jelling it should help make it permanent, too. (Perhaps in times past this purple herring distracted me from realizing it was my negative electrode causing the self discharge.)
   I put it on charge and was disappointed by the small currents. Short circuit wasn't much either. Well, I had only compacted the electrode by tamping down the powder... perhaps it wasn't well enough compacted to have good internal contact? But that wasn't it. There was a poor connection at the zinc electrode - again. I should have put a bolt through that zinc tab sometime!
   After that it started taking a charge and shaping up. I had to go over 2 volts to get much charging current.
1.9 V: 10 mA
2.0 V: <20 mA
2.1 V: <30 mA

   Soon it was putting out some short circuit current, with a spike to only .55 A when first connected and dropping to 200mA  after 10 seconds. (.50 & .290 A after leaving it a while longer.) And when the charge was removed, the voltage kept dropping gradually. Now it really was in a performance range that might well be a result of poor conductivity in the "+"trode . But maybe it would improve. The nickel hydroxide and the potassium permanganate were supposed to get together and form nickel manganates.
   I decided they could take their time doing that and left it at 1.9 volts charge. In fact, it occurred to me that I should keep the voltage below where more permanganate would form and 1.9 was tops. The electrode was made with KMnO4 in order to provide an oxidizer hoping it would form nickel manganates, but it wasn't intended that the manganese would stay in slightly soluble permanganate form perpetually.


   I went and washed some 50 cc beakers that had been sitting around a while now. I didn't remember what was in them, but there wasn't much of anything - 5 cc of liquid or a residue on the bottom. One I couldn't seem to clean. Oh ya... the barium carbonate. from the nafion experiment. The barium is said to bond with glass. I think it worked! Perhaps I could have fused two pieces of glass together with it!

   A couple of hours later it was charging at just 5 mA. The short circuit currents and very gradual recovery after shorting hadn't improved. I started thinking maybe I should have used the whole 20 grams of conductive carbon black after all instead of just 5 grams. Maybe I had thought out this formula better in February 2014 (TE News #73) than I thought I had. Plus, I had made the 'briquette' thicker than I wanted, so there was more material in it to charge. The edge compactor is made to a specific thickness, in this case about 3mm. (I could make thinner side and bottom walls and thinner inserts to tamp or press the powder down. It's all extra work.
   After over 3 hours, when disconnected from charge it dropped to 1.826 V after 10 minutes and was dropping by less than 2 mV/minute. But with the poor conductivity one anticipates that it will continue to fall for a long time: not "self discharge" but rather as poorly connected areas of the electrode gradually take up and dilute the existing charge. How bad is the conductivity? It puts out .5 amps instant when shorted where a good nickel oxide bits one was doing over 3 amps. That's only 1/6th as much current. One might hope they would be similar.

   So what was next... make another new electrode after adding more conductive carbon black, and squashing the powder more strongly in the hydraulic press? I would leave this one on charge overnight, but now I wasn't expecting much improvement. There was one bright spot: If it wasn't self-discharging, it worked in principle. It would take a lot more of this painfully slow charging and then a few hours off charge to see if the voltage finally did hold somewhere to be really sure.
   I note that in spite of speculations the voltage seemed very similar to the nickel-zinc alkaline version.

   I decided to do a discharge and recharge to see if anything useful would happen. I ran a 60 ohm load. It ran for 35 minutes and I stopped it at 1.3 volts, having transported a whopping 11 mA-H of electrons. Obviously the discharge was limited by the plus side, since it was the same zinc electrode that had delivered far more in previous tests.
   Of perhaps more interest was the recovery. In an hour and 20 minutes but mostly in the first few minutes, it got back up to 1.743 volts. In the last 20 minutes it only went from 1.739 to 1.743. The fact of it slowing and slowing without reversing and starting down again indicated a very low level of self discharge. For all the improvements the positive electrode needed, chemically both electrodes and the salt electrolyte worked. It was a battery.

   This was cycle test #20 for the same Os filmed, agared zinc electrode (albeit with some re-agaring 3 or 4 times to replace that which had got scraped off in removals and re-installations), so confidence in it was increasing. What remained to be verified was that the plus side would likewise hold up over longer cycling. There was little reason to suppose that it wouldn't.

   My hopes that performance would improve - or even just stay the same - were dashed on the 16th when a second cycle test gave less current and lower amp hours. I wished I had painted the calcium hydroxide layer between the electrode substance and the current collector. What to try now? How about potassium oxalate instead of potassium chloride? Things are less soluble in oxalate.

I took the electrodes out and briefly rinsed them. I rinsed the cell and plastic spacers. For some reason I finally remembered to punch a hole in the zinc tab and put a bolt in. The connections should become more reliable. I filled the cell using 6 cc of KC2O4 (the electrodes already being wet).
   The currents seemed just a little higher. After 10 seconds shorted or even 15, it still put out about 300mA. It occurred to me that neither salt was amazingly soluble. 112 grams of KOH will dissolve into 100 grams of water. For KCl it's about 34 and KC2O4 is 36... just a little higher. Could the current capacity be regulated by the concentration of salt in the electrolyte, rather than the type?
   But water will hold different things. Perhaps if one dissolved in KCl AND KC2O4 it would be closer to 65 or 70 grams, and might that increase the current capacity?
   It now contained oxalate. What would happen if I added a couple of grams of KCl to the 6 cc/grams of liquid? It didn't seem to make much difference at first. OTOH it might take a while to dissolve well, and the cell could probably stand some charging.

   Waiting a while didn't help. What did help somewhat was scraping the alligator clip against the graphite rod "+" terminal. It had been a poor connection. That raised the short circuit current from .4 to .6 amps, holding over .3 amps longer, but it still didn't give much in the way of amp-hours in a load test.

   In all this, with two different types of salts, there seemed to be no appreciable self discharge. That was certainly heartening. I did find there was some overnight, which I attributed to the lid not fitting so air could get in.

   I made a clamp to screw onto the graphite rod to ensure a good connection. To my surprise it made a big difference. Short circuit current went up to .77 amps momentary and held at over 1/2 an amp for 10 seconds. I started to wonder whether there might be any other poor connections besides in the electrode substance itself. Electrode material to graphite fiber current collector? Graphite fiber strands to graphite rod? (Notwithstanding that they were pressed into the straw and epoxied together. Epoxy isn't a conductor.) Did the jell reduce ion flow? Aligator clips? (Always suspect!)

   I ran another 60 ohm discharge test. It was doing so poorly I didn't bother to record it. It was down to my arbitrary cutoff of 1.3 volts in just 6 minutes. But the voltage drop was slowing at the end and I decided to continue. It took 30 minutes to run down to 1.083 volts. So there was some current and storage, however little.

(17th) Well, what about more of a mix? I added a bit of calcium hydroxide. It didn't seem to do much. I added 1 gram of potassium hydroxide. With 6 of water, that should be about s.g. 1.17, so:
H2O 100
KCl 34
KC2O4 35
KOH 17
Ca(OH)2  2

Evidently 100 cc of this water should weigh 195 grams. Strong stuff! It seemed to perk it up a little, but not very much. pH tested out at about 13. (Hmm... other people use pH meters instead of test strips. Why have I never looked for such a thing on line?)

   I tried a 100 ohm load instead of 60. It seemed a bit silly, but the voltages stayed much higher for longer. In fact, it was putting out almost as much current as with 60 ohms because of the higher voltages. The high internal resistance was preventing it from performing except with the lightest of loads.

New Electrode: New Shell, More Carbon Black, Diesel Kleen,

   I decided I needed to make a new electrode: add more graphite, compact it more strongly and put the calcium layer where it was intended. First I needed to make a new shell. Rats, why had I been designing an improved "production-size" shell instead of the test size?

   On the night of the 17th I did the shell, and ended up after several tries with a 'porous' shell that snapped together, perhaps a bit loosely. (Better than the previous ones that that wouldn't quite go) It had a 3-sided plastic terminal tab to bring the long strands of carbon fiber up to a terminal. I figured the strands could protrude up from the current collector through the shallow "ditch", some heat glue or epoxy could seal it at the top of the case to keep electrolyte away from the metal above, and I would bolt a piece of metal to the plastic tab with the strands pinched between. or better, two pieces of metal (thin and thick) with the strands pinched between them.
   I was starting to wonder whether the "porous" bit could even be done with an injection mold. That process tends to make solid pieces. A mold would have to have all the minute points for all the minute perforations. For 350$ each, perhaps it would be better just to get as many 3D printers as needed to keep up with production demand. (Almost surely that's the best route for small scale production.) Or there are higher priced "production" 3D printers that will churn out the parts and eject them into a pile. Those could run all night.






   I added 10 more grams of conductive carbon black to the "+"trode mix, making 15 g of it, not counting the few taken for the first electrode. It's so light and fluffy it seemed like a ridiculous amount. But there's a point of concentration below which it's not very conductive and above which it is. That point also depends on how well the powder is compacted. I want to compact it better, but I also want the next electrode to work.
   I spilled a little of the featherweight stuff, which clumps up on the spoon. When I tried to wipe it off I remembered about graphite... the more you wipe, that darker it gets and the broader the blackened area. It's not that you aren't getting some up in your cloth or tissue, but what's been swept up gets spread around with every subsequent wipe - I suppose until it's down a single atom thickness of graphene.
   But this reminded me that I had the one thing that will dissolve such graphite powders: "Diesel Kleen". That was about the only thing that would take the black away. And that reminded me that if you used it in an electrode it would dissolve the graphite in it, and as the Diesel Kleen [eventually] evaporated, the graphite would reform into minute conductive paths, "lamilae", which significantly increases the conductivity of the electrode. (Do I recall that it improved the conductivity by around 40% some years back?) I wondered if that might improve my first electrode. But it might not be very compatible with the dishsoap jell. Still, if I was otherwise discarding the electrode anyway, maybe it was worth a try, just to see what would happen? And what would it do to the carbon fiber current collector, and to the connections to it? Now there was a really interesting question. That was definitely worth some experimentation as it just might result in much higher current capacities.

   I decided to do the new electrode without the Diesel Kleen. Then I could do one with it later and compare them. I used the press this time to compact the mix. I wanted to do 5 tons, but the pressing pieces bent at 2 or 3 or 4, and if not, pressed in down to the top of the edge compactor and could go in no further. I remembered the layer of calcium oxide between the active briquette chunks (it broke up in the press) and the carbon fiber current collector. It was too fat and the "click together" edges of the shell wouldn't stay closed. So I put in some Krazy glue and put it in the press under a bit of pressure again. The carbon fiber cloth really falls apart especially in small pieces. The strands don't stick to each other at all. I think next time I'll sew all around the edges before I cut them (if my grandmother's sewing machine still works - it didn't seem to stitch properly last time I tried to use it a couple of years ago, but I couldn't see why not.) I'd try ironing on polyamide onto the back, but I already know that has nitrates that would cause self discharge. (Hmm, what about polyethylene or polypropylene, if it's a single sided electrode? Have a sheet of cellophane between the iron and the plastic to keep it from melting to the iron.)

   Then I decided to make a new zinc electrode as well. The other one was still working fine, but it didn't have much fuzzy plating. A thicker one should have both more amps and more capacity. (Of course, it was clearly the dry cell nickel oxides bits electrode that was limiting the capacity, and the poorly compacted nickel manganates one didn't seem to work well at all.) After plating it weighed 7.8 grams. Assuming it was about 4.4 before, that's 3.4 grams of fuzzy plating adding a theoretical 2.8 amp-hours, 1.4 to each side.
   The fuzzy surface soaked up a discernible amount of the osmium doped acetal ester, unlike a smooth surface that only takes a few drops. I painted both sides. Then I did an ugly job of agaring it - the brush strokes showed - but I think I got it covered. (I ordered a lab heater/magnetic stirrer last month. I wish it would get here. Trying to do liquify the agar in the microwave or on a stove burner is the pits.)


   I put the new cell together and used simple KOH. But in spite of triple the conductive carbon black and stronger compaction, the cell didn't seem to work much differently than the last one. One advantage I have now over previous years is that this time there was only one part that was untried, and that was still the "+" electrode. There was no reason to think that the zinc "-" would perform notably differently from the last very successful ones, or that the cell wouldn't work with KOH. It had worked well with the commercial dry cell NiOOH "+" electrode bits. It was clear where to look: the problem had to be in the nickel manganates electrode as made. In previous years I hadn't been 100% sure I was looking at the part that was causing the problem. Then I remembered a technique I hadn't applied: drying and then briefly torching the briquette to tend to fuse things together a la sintering.
   Once again I had the 'trode in a glued together shell that I couldn't disassemble. At first I decided to make a third "new formula" "+" electrode and try that. (Could I get the "click" working better too?) Then I decided to soak the first 'trode in Diesel Kleen, wait for it to evaporate (two days - and the smell wasn't entirely gone) and see how it worked.


Tentative Procedure for Making Positive Electrode (Aug 22nd 2019)

   Well, this is more involved than the zinc electrode, for sure. (Unless perhaps the steps for making osmium doped acetal ester are counted for that one.) Bear in mind that these are quite preliminary and various better methods may be found.

1. Print 'porous' plastic shell on 3D printer. (I don't have my shells anything like 'perfected' yet. Open SCAD designs will be released after that.)
2. Mix electrode briquette powders:
    16 g Monel
    17 g Ni(OH)2
    40 g KMnO4
    10(?) g Conductive Carbon Black
    5 g Sm2O3 (Alternatives: other rare earth oxides or hydroxides, eg, Nd2O3.)
3. Wet with a few drops of Diesel Kleen
3-1/2. New: Use a "kneader" to thoroughly mix and combine the ingredients.
4. Compact powders into a 'briquette' electrode (See new section on "kneader reactor", below.)
[Yet to be tried: 4-1/2. Singe the briquette or briquette material with a torch.]
5. Cut polypropylene cloth (PP) to line the shell. (Wraps around the briquette(s) and carbon fiber current collector, no gaps.)
6. Cut carbon (graphite) fiber current collector to fit shell. (I think it might be a good idea to stitch it together with a sewing machine, criss cross everywhere, because it falls apart by itself.)
7. Set the PP in the shell
8. Set electrode briquette on the PP
9. Paint inner (now top) surface of briquette with a bit of CaO / Ca(OH)2
10. Set the carbon fiber on the electrode. Route the long strands up the terminal channel. (It may be very desirable here to wet it with Diesel Kleen for better conduction to the briquette.)
(11.) If it is a two faced electrode, paint another layer of CaO on th carbon fiber sheet (or on the second briquette.)
(12.) Put the second briquette onto the carbon fiber
13. Wrap the sides of the PP cloth around to cover everything inside the shell
14. Snap the shell closed
15. Wait for the Diesel Kleen to evaporate. This will take a couple of days(?) (it should have dissolved and hence redistributed the graphite and made the electrode far more conductive.)
16. Bolt in the tops of the fiber strands to make the battery "+" terminal
17. Epoxy the strands into the channel, with care to get it even at the level of the battery top so it can be easily sealed. (If electrolyte gets up to the metal, it will corrode.)

(22nd) I put the cell together and poured back some old electrolyte. It didn't seem to perform very well, with low charging currents. The voltage only rose slowly with the charge instead of just jumping up to 1.8xx without complaint. That was unusual. I found the terminal clamp on top of the graphite rod had started to corrode. I twisted it around and the voltage jumped up.
   I changed the electrolyte to new 20% KOH. It was an improvement. Then I added 10% KCl to that, making it 30% total 'thickness'. pH was 13. I think that helped a bit too. The electrolyte mixture definitely could use some careful experimentation. A load test was only marginally better than before.

   There must be some trick to making a good "+" electrode that I wasn't catching on to. Maybe I should try some more conventional mix - especially, MnO2 instead of KMnO4. (and maybe the 'kneading' would help?)
   That was the main difference between my mix and anybody else's. Perhaps it was a stupid idea that using it would help form nickel manganates? The potassium might want to hang onto it. Okay, others have used MnO2. If one could discharge the permanganate it should become MnO2, and the potassium would have to exit and strengthen the KOH solution. Of course, that might not make the electrode work well because when a "K" and two "O"s are subtracted from the "Mn" and "O2", that should leave a lot of voids in the formerly compacted electrode.

   But wait... wasn't that part of the plan in the first place? That nickel manganates would form as part of the discharge and charge cycling process? So: run the cell way down and get the Mn valence down into lower oxide forms. If one went low enough, the nickel might even become metallic form - a good reason not to have strong KOH, since the nickel wouldn't recharge in pH 14 alkali - once metallic it would just stay that way. Then recharge and see what would happen. The manganese component wouldn't discharge beyond Mn(OH)2. Maybe the Ni had to get down to metallic form to want to then grab onto a manganate or two instead of (OH)- ions during the recharge?
   HOH could come and go, K+ ions could come and go. Could it be that the main difference between using MnO2 and KMnO4 was those interstitial spaces left by the discharge of the manganese? And would those spaces be beneficial or deleterious? Probably the best way to find out would be to try both.
   I put a 20 ohm load on it and in 20 minutes it was down to 2/3 of a volt and putting out 30 mA. Was that enough, or should I keep going? Soon I put it on charge again. After 15 minutes charge current was pretty low. The next discharge looked worse than than the first, the voltages dropping sooner. (But then it probably wasn't as well charged.)
   Then I decided that was just pussyfooting around. I shorted out the cell and left it there. It was really almost 2 ohms through the current meter on its 200mA range, and so the current started at just 150 mA, with a voltage of ~275 mV showing on the cell, and dropped from there. In 20 minutes it was down to 42mA and .077V, but the drop had become very slow. By 50 minutes it was 32mA, .058V. There were lots of tiny bubble around both electrodes - probably oxygen coming off the positive. Presuming there was less positive reactant than zinc, one could completely discharge the positive electrode (apparently quite gradually) to "reset" everything in it and get that desired nickel manganates form with its more conductive spinel crystal structure.
   I moved the meter to the "10 amp" range because it had less internal resistance. Now the voltage was just .007, but the current, which had dropped into the 20mA area, went back up to ".03". After 2 hours it was still .03 A. The surface of the water was a froth of tiny bubbles. I suppose if I took it off and charged it after 3 hours of that, it would still only have .09 AH of charge that would convert to manganates. That meant to really make it work one would have to leave it on overnight, if not for days. I had one more day before leaving on holidays, and I had to get ready to go. I would leave it a few more hours and give it a try in the evening. But soon I had the thought that if even some of the material became more conductive, the process might get faster. I removed the short and the voltage wage up to .7 in a minute or two. I put the charge back on. It started at 210mA and dropped as the voltage went up over 1.8 (with the charger being about 1.92V). After a while it was 50 mA, then below 30. Apparently it would take as long to recharge as it was taking to discharge when shorted. Perhaps I should give it an hour or two.

Kneader Reactor

   In looking at the Sanyo patent again I noted that the gamma nickel oxyhydroxide was first "mixed in a kneader":

"Subsequently, 90 g of the nickel oxyhydroxide powder obtained, 5 g of graphite powder and 5 g of a 40 mass% potassium hydroxide aqueous solution were mixed in a kneader for 30 minutes to obtain a positive active material."

   No doubt that's all pretty standard, but the "kneader" idea was unfamiliar to me apart from bread dough. I found out they're usually called "kneader reactors" or "kneading reactors", and sometimes "kneader-extruders", and that they are usually very large machines with shafts and blunt 'blades'. They "react" high viscosity or even dry substances by kneading them together. 30 minutes is certainly more than just a quick 'mix' of the substances. Move over, mortar and pestle!

   I can't imagine what one would pay for one of those huge machines - surely too much just to do limited production. But I'm sure it should be possible to create some small kneading machine to do the basic job, given all the ingredients essentially pre-stirred by hand and poured into a vat on top of the machine.

   The kneading, however useful, didn't seem to replace compaction. But I speculate that it probably substantially reduces the compaction pressure required to get a good electrode texture:

"This active material was then compressed in molds into a hollow cylindrical form to prepare a positive electrode having an outer diameter of 13.3 mm, an inner diameter of 9.0 mm and a height of 13.7 mm." [3 like that end to end makes an "AA" battery outer electrode.]

FWIW: Cupro-Nickel as Alkaline "+" Current Collector

   I note that it is has been said that any metal but nickel will oxidize and corrode away in the 'positrode' of an alkaline battery. Only nickel "passivates" at pH 14 (by forming an attached one molecule thick oxide layer "skin", similarly to aluminum or titanium at pH 7). Nothing I've read anywhere indicates anything else (besides graphite/carbon) will work. But after all these weeks in the battery in KOH solution, my cupro-nickel (70:30) current collector piece looked almost like new including under a microscope, except that some patches (those not contacting the electrode chunks) looked slightly coppery - or perhaps it was a very slight tarnish - and others (mainly in good contact with the electrode bits, but also the whole back side) more the original silvery. (There was a faint horizontal line across the back, perhaps where a piece of plastic had once had its edge, or a half full electrolyte level.) (Monel, which has a higher nickel content, probably wouldn't tarnish or discolor at all.)
   I went out to the shop to check it against the original color. A large piece there had some of the same coppery color in a strip along one edge, as well as a couple of patches of green copper or nickel oxide where it had been resting against a 2"x4" post. Most of the sheet was silvery, but duller than the piece from the cell. So it actually looked worse.


Clean face of used cupro-nickel current collector at 40 x.

   Quite probably the 30% nickel content would actually mean an increase in the amount of nickel over a piece of nickel electroplated other metal, but it seems pretty impervious to corrosion in pH 14 electrolyte, whereas once nickel electroplating has been breached, the whole item will corrode away. I have however no plans for using it or for long term tests. Salt electrolyte will eat away any metal, which is why graphite rods are used instead in standard dry cells.

   Since I'm using graphite fiber current collectors and conductive carbon black for conductivity enhancement, my nickel-manganate / zinc cells will in fact use less nickel than any other rechargeable alkaline cells. How the carbon fiber terminal tab is to be made I'm less sure of. Perhaps wrap protruding fibers into some sort of bundle and epoxy them together with conductive epoxy into a "terminal block", and then sand it a bit so the fibers are exposed?
   Later I came up with a wide, shallow "trough" in the plastic shell to run the fibers up through and out the top. At the top a bolt pins them between a washer and the plastic. Then I'll epoxy them into the trough too. It can't have electrolyte wicking up the fibers to the metal above, which would corrode it. (Nor does one want electrolyte leaks out of the cell, of any sort.)


Electrode Briquette Compactor: Pneumatic-Hydraulic Bottle Jack

   I've been wondering for a long time how one might compact electrodes more quickly than pumping up the hydraulic press with two dozen cranks on the handle and then releasing it, taking minutes for each little piece of positive electrode. Taking an hour is okay for one test electrode, but not even for enough batteries for my personal use. I want to pour in powder [make that kneaded "putty"], shake it around a bit to even it up, set the die in the press and then press a button/lever and very soon remove the die with the compacted briquette. That would be minimal for even the most limited production.

   I went to Friday lunch at the cafe in Port Clements and told the garbage truck driver what I needed. He said I should try a "20 ton air-over-hydraulic bottle jack", sold on e-bay. He said you supply compressed air and they jack up rapidly, "tick-tick-tick-tick
-tick", and springs lower them again. I had never heard of such a thing. It pays to ask the right person - I probably could have asked all over a university campus and not have found an answer. (Okay, actually the garbage truck driver does a lot of work with heavy equipment.)

   I did a search and found a "30 Ton Pneumatic/Hydraulic Bottle Jack" at Princess Auto for 130$C +25$ expedited parcel shipping. (That was a great price, from a store I like, and for 48 pounds a great price on the shipping! It was in fact cheaper than the 20 ton ones (170$) and had better reviews. "3 available on line". Now only 2.) It has two external return springs to retract it surely and quickly when you've finished pressing.

   One reviewer had set his up in a shop press just the way I wanted mine. (wow, he even posted photos of it, pressing on a jig to fold thick sheet metal or metal plate to 90 degree corners!) He had to hook up a hydraulic oil container to it to use it upside down. I don't see why I wouldn't just use it right way up and have it press up against the top. And if it pressed up against the original, upside down, jack I could read the pressure on its gauge. (Or maybe I can hook the press'es guage into the new jack somehow?)

   That's another little piece to the puzzle of how to produce batteries. There are more missing pieces, and more yet to get decent production volumes.
   But a few days later Princess Auto e-mailed that they had canceled my order. Apparently they didn't have three of them available after all, or even one. For a while I decided to await further events.

   Then on the 19th I looked again. eBay had some. HomeDepot had a nice one for a good price. I couldn't get into my account "e-mail unknown". Finally I noticed that I was at HomeDepot.com , not HomeDepot.ca . HomeDepot.ca didn't have them, at any price. I went to CanadianTire... they had them... 3 ton and 12 ton. Pretty lightweight.
   Back to Princess Auto. This time the 20 ton model had just come on sale (as of 'tomorrow' but it was after business hours) and was now the same price as the 30 ton one had been. It looked almost the same. Good enough! I ordered it. It came.


Commercialization and the "Charge the Future Challenge"

   After sending out TE News #134 I set about filling in an application for the Natural Resources Canada "Challenge", "Charge the Future", which of course cut deeply into my project time - not to say into my days and nights as a whole.
   Near the start of August I had asked someone, Mike K., if he wanted to be involved. I went to their boat for dinner on the 10th. He has had experience in setting up production equipment, and was building a large and very nice workshop in town. I mentioned the need to compact electrode substances from powder into "briquettes" and the bottle jack, and he immediately had a couple of ideas for producing them that were more elaborate and more rapid than things I had thought of. He also had more focused, and doubtless more realistic, ideas about budget requirements than I had and we discussed what I should be budgeting for in the application.
   Between him and his wife - and they only moved up here two years ago about the same time as I did - they also seem to have acquired a pretty good idea of "who's who" in Queen Charlotte and he mentioned the name of a very good welder we might contract for specific tasks in making production equipment.
   I think we just might be a good match for the commercialization endeavor, to set up limited production for 'beta testing' and then perhaps a real factory. And with two of us, and money to work with, we will surely stay much more focused on the goals and on the work. (Especially me... Without losing all focus on other valuable projects, it'll be "whatever I can do/need to do/should do" to get the batteries out there.) Mike seems to have identified most of the missing pieces of the puzzle (including marketing, which should be simple with superior low cost batteries but shouldn't be taken for granted), and either can fill them in or knows who can.

   And now I'm trying to get as far as I can with research and development before submitting the application. The zinc negative electrode is pretty much 'nailed down', but the positive can use some more experimentation as to manufacturing techniques and chemical formulas, and so can the electrolyte.



http://www.TurquoiseEnergy.com
Haida Gwaii, BC Canada