Reflecting on recent events: Going to Copenhagen cost the
world's leaders $ ??,000,000. And all they did was talk about reducing
carbon emissions. Government
investment - for example - in the projects of this experienced Canadian
inventor, that can dramatically reduce world carbon emissions?: $ 0 (so
this any indication of why solutions are so slow coming?
It is sobering to reflect on how well I was doing working
in the civil service at worthwhile but mundane things: there were
others to share the load, and the salary just kept flowing in and
I could afford within reason whatever I needed or wanted. I bought my
house, I could
take vacations, and money was put aside towards retirement. Compare
now: I get
and live in want for plugging away alone to the limit of my
capacity month after month, and now year after year, at vital things to
solve the problems the world's leaders gather together to talk about.
Again, without a Department of Progress in the
look after public interest in progress and new solutions, such absurd
disparities of resource allocation, and a zillion opportunities to
that and everything, go by unseen and
unrecognized, while the government pours out R & D money to
universities and businesses - but not to inventors, and not
into prying open the priceless treasure chest of already invented
technologies that are lying around
unused, abandoned by events of time and chance, for want of interest or
or deliberately killed by vested commercial interests. Seemingly money
poured out in generous measure
in every direction except where it will work.
Regrettably improving my torque converter design only went
so far this month -
one type of play and vibration was replaced by another as I tried to
solve the problem.
Additional improvements for
my design that would be worth trying out came to mind, and I started
working on them. Then I decided it would be better to invert the entire
arrangement and have the drum also be the motor magnet rotor, driving
which would turn with the car wheel. Somehow it just seems to me that
that would turn inertia, play and friction more to advantage, working
it instead of against it. It would also be perhaps 10 pounds lighter
overall as the motor rotor and the torque converter drum are one unit
instead of two. I started sourcing out parts for the modified unit,
some of which will arrive early in February.
One reason I didn't get more done on the torque converter
was that I came up with what looks like a fantastic battery 'positrode'
chemistry: chelated lanthanum chloride charging to lanthanum
perchlorate. Moving 24 electrons instead of one, it calculates
out to 5 times more energy per pound than the "Ni" of Ni-Cd, Ni-MH,
etc. Couple that with a manganese 'negatrode' for cells of about 2
volts, and it would appear to make possible a battery that could fit in
an existing car for 50+ miles electric
range without weighing more than an extra passenger or taking up
prohibitive space. And it's 'green' and with relatively inexpensive
And, I (finally) got some excellent results renewing a
with sodium sulfate salt. I added the salt in October and
battery much improved... apparently it's cycling,
discharging it down to about 8 or 9 volts, that gets them to renew. I
also came up with a good theory to explain how it cleans... that the
effect is like
baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), which is in fact used to clean
draining out the acid, except the sodium bisulfate that forms
in the battery from the salt is
acidic (pH 1) and can be left in the acid as a
permanent electrolyte additive.
It's interesting to consider what a great scam is being
perpetrated on all of us. The battery makers sell their deliberately
shoddy batteries that only last five years instead of simply adding
salt and selling otherwise identical batteries that would last for 20
or 30. And because they all do it, the public, knowing no better,
simply assumes it's the best that can be done. Hurrah
for corporate free enterprise!
Now, if only there were three or four of me... I got the
washing machine fixed (vital!), so that
leaves the next version torque converter, the new battery chemistry,
the car electric heater, the
microcrystalline ceramic motor coil cores, the computer program to
lead-acid battery testing, finishing my long overdue 2008 SR & ED
tax stuff (done!)... oh,
and cleaning up the house... oh, and... and... let's see... what next?
The Electric HubcapTM Vehicle Drive System
December In Detail
A quick note on motor types: Informed opinion has it that
under a certain size, permanent magnet motors (such as the Electric
Hubcap) are best and most efficient, but as size goes up the magnet
costs get higher and induction motors get more efficient. The switching
point is thought to be around 5 KW. If the EH draws 120 amps peak at 36
that's 4320 watts (5.8 HP), so it's in the "PM is best" range. A
larger motor, ie 10 to 20 HP such as seems to be needed to operate a
a regular automotive transmission, evidently might as well be an
But this doesn't consider the need for a 'pancake' shape
motor for the outside of a car wheel. A pancake shaped axial flux
induction motor could doubtless be designed, but there isn't one now,
and since it's below the size break (if only by a little), it doesn't
seem worthwhile designing one.
I didn't get at the heater project in January except to
buy a 12 volts DC fan and a switch. The dual 25 amp On-Off-On toggle
switch was the most expensive single item in the entire project (so
far, anyway). I gave up on the idea of using the heater's
existing 120 VAC fan and the original housing, and to just use its heat
coils and some of its electrical parts, in a custom housing. The parts
are all sitting in a box.
I did do a little shopping to source out
an axle and bearings idea.
Axles, Hubs, Bearings
I went into a store and looked at some packages of
trailer wheel bearings. Just to play with ideas, I bought a package of
1" bearings with two
bearings and the outer races for them (along with a cotter pin, seal,
cap and a little grease packet). These appear to be identical to the
1-1/16" bearings except the inner race is thicker, making the center
hole a bit smaller. The outer races are identical, so they fit the same
wheel hubs. (...and yet the store's price was $22, versus $32 for
My thought was that a one inch bolt (or one inch threaded
rod) is an easy thing to
buy as an axle, in any length. So here we have ready made axles and
bearings for Electric Hubcap systems. A nut(s), spacers of 1" steel
pipe, and the bearings can be placed anywhere along the bolt shaft to
give any desired spacings.
Of course, a hole will have to be drilled for a cotter pin to ensure
the nut can never turn. (Or perhaps a hole can be threaded into the nut
for a set screw. In that case, a flat spot or indent should probably be
filed or ground into the axle where the set screw hits. You can tell
where it hits if you do it up tight and it roughs up the axle's
1" trailer bearings on a 1" bolt "axle".
Above it, a 2" pipe coupling that could be turned to make part of a
hub. (shown with a bearing stuck into the end.)
That just leaves hubs. Buying ready made trailer hubs and
using a car brake rotor is still a simple option.
1" bearings on 1" bolt 'axle' with trailer hub.
Pipe "floor flange", here in previous motor, with a pipe 'close nipple'
could affix the axle to the motor stator.
(Then the nipple/flange actually looked like a good part for the torque
Something I'd like to try is to take
3/8" or 1/2" thick steel disk and turn the center so that the outer
bearing races just go in 1/8" each, and see if that would be stiff
enough, or if some sort of hub to space the bearings much farther apart
is actually necessary to keep the disk
from wobbling. Everything would be so much easier if one could simply
use a single piece flat disk. (It seems quite unfortunate that the
holes in the center of brake rotor disks are all too large to use them
Should the length of hub be needed, I found an inside
threaded pipe coupling about the right size to
fit. The ends would be turned to make sockets for the bearing races,
and an outside end would be turned to fit the rotor. (This might make
it rather thin at that end?) Welding the disk to this piece might be
required. (Or maybe make the fit 'perfect' for pounding them together?
(Sigh... looks like all these details change again with
the new torque converter design, which uses a brake drum rather than a
brake disk for the magnet rotor.)
Torque Leverage Without Gears
The torque converter has proven more challenging - and
baffling - than I expected. I've re-thought the design several times
and changed it from magnetic to purely mechanical. It looks like I'll
be rebuilding it once again. This time, however, the design is getting
narrowed down. The same brake drum (except a new one that isn't so
hacked up) will be used in the same way, but the layout will be
inverted. The drum will be the motor rotor, with the magnets on the
outer face facing the coils, and the hollow end complete with bevel
tracks will face the wheel. The inertia rotor will be driven by this
instead of the other way around. I think this arrangement should should
provide a bigger inertial "hammer" to drive the wheel, and a bigger
hammer drives nails more easily. The motor will get less 'shock' with
each torque pulse it supplies.
The inertia plate/rotor will also be mounted on the center
axle. This more solid centering system should eliminate a lot of
vibration and keep it aligned. I've found that
a "one inch" steel pipe coupling is a perfect fit over the 1-1/16"
trailer axle, and will freely slide up and down it with the inertia
plate. (A specially machined sleeve could hardly be a better fit!) A
flange" will mount the close coupling onto the center of the plate, or
if I have to make a new plate anyway (might have to), I can have the
center hole drilled
and threaded to fit it directly.
This time, the connection link pins go between the inertia plate and
the car wheel, or a plate mounted on the wheel.
So, viz: the axle, with the stator (coils) bolted to its
flange as the outer
end, then the spinning drum bolted to the cut-down trailer hub with
(with supermagnets facing the coils), and then the inertia plate,
in and out inside the drum
in accord with the spinning bevels, pushing on and rotating with the
car wheel via
pins. (The nut on the end of the axle will keep the inertia plate from
coming off the end, eliminating the need for a big retaining ring
inside the lip of the drum.)
The essence of the new configuration. Behind is the replacement
drum. On top
(standing on end loose) are the link pins to the car wheel. I think
they should be mounted farther out than the lug bolt position.
(A picture showing the red sliding flange/nipple piece better is above.
A better part might be the compression flange shown a ways below.)
Mechanical Torque Converters are better in every way than
automotive transmissions, but since they save a lot of fuel, they have
for 85 years run up against the brick wall of the big car companies,
which take their orders from "big oil". "Big oil" doesn't like anything
that saves fuel, regardless of the wishes of the rest of the world. A
torque converter made as part of an
add-on car motor system that can be made even in small shops anywhere
the commercial picture at a basic level.
After the failures of the trials in December, and noting
that the unit was very noisy, I started thinking of big changes to the
design, and came up with a few ideas. But were they really any better?
I thought of the vibration of the motor, and thought,
well, there's no axle, but not only that, the four driving pins have
around 1/8" of free play. Owing to the imperfections of a hand-made
unit, plus the play, the four pins wouldn't all hit exactly
simultaneously, and the force developed by one pin without
counterbalance would lead to vibration, exactly as seen, instead of
thrust. If all four pins were virtually in contact with the rim,
there'd be much less free space to vibrate in. I decided I'd give the
current design another try thus set up.
But to combat the noise, I thought, what if the bevel the
pins strike was ground out so that they'd first contact almost
parallel, and then the slope gradually increased to the 45 degree bevel
angle? Then instead of hitting with a bang like a hammer, they'd make a
smooth change in direction. This should also reduce vibration. So I
"hollow ground" the forward bevels to at least partly attain the
desired slopes. I left the reverse ones at a flat 45 degrees, so
forward and reverse should show the contrast between new and old. The
end stops are still flat and will cause noise, but they are less
important and can be dealt with later if the design works.
With the curves, the redirecting of the inertia plate from
simply turning to making a 45 degree sideways motion as it turns
happens over a length of about 3mm in the curved "hollow ground" ramps,
and it's about 85mm between each 'left' and 'right' turn. So we get
thrust for (3 / 85 = ) 3.5% of the distance, or the inverse, the torque
within those 3mm thrust zones (ignoring losses) is 28.3 times what it
would be averaged out over the 85mm.
Theoretically the thrust magnification with the pinpoint
bevel hits should be 'infinite', but obviously the losses were so high
in December that the car didn't even move.
Would my small changes turn failure into success? Testing
said "nope"! The motor vibrated, more symmetrically but in and out,
rather than the inertia plate sliding freely on the pins. The principle
was there, but the mechanics would have to be more perfected, and it
was still quite noisy. Back
New Generation Design? from 1660
As with the motor suspension, it appears I overlooked
something earlier as
I skimmed by it...
going back over clock escapements, I noticed the first modern type, the
"anchor" escapement, invented about 1660 by Robert Hooke, noted
scientific revolutionist, technologist and inventor. Hooke, BTW, I'd
never heard of, but he has an
utterly dazzling array of accomplishments to his credit. A good number
things things that we now know and take for granted were first
discovered by him. Just for example, the "father of microscopy" coined
the term "cell" to describe the
basic unit of life. (This was later merged with "picture" to create the
term "picture-cell" or "pixel", the basic unit of video display... once
plainly visible but now microscopic.)
mechanism had a wheel of gears and
a back-and-forth pivoting "anchor":
Anchor Clock Escapement
(escaped in good time from Ancor Wat?)
If the geared rotor is turning as shown, it pushes the
to the right until it's clear of the gears. In doing that, it pushes
the left Hooke into the gears, between two teeth. Just at or soon
after the time the right... cam?... is clear, the next tooth starts
the left cam. This brings the right... cusp?... back in between the
so on. The two cusps are never both clear of the gears at the same
At low speed, moving the anchor back and forth is all but effortless,
but the anchor has
weight (and here I thought it was named for the shape!), and the faster
the rotor turns, the faster the anchor fights its own inertia to move
back and forth. With a clock pendulum (giving the anchor shape), the
timing is regulated. Forcing the rotor, the resistance to the turning
rotor rapidly increases with the square of the speeds. (I remember
trying to turn a clock faster than it wanted to go when I was a kid
(though not why). It took a lot of push, and there was an energetic
"zzzzzzzzzzzzzz" and parts flying around too fast to see. Remember
those mechanical bedroom alarm clocks for $4.99 in the 1960's, that
had to be wound up all the time and only lasted a couple of years?)
Unnoticed in all this is that all the force generated
pushing the pivot pin of the anchor to the left. If instead of being
mounted on a fixed piece of a clock, the anchor is mounted on... say...
torque converter output rotor, that rotor will want to turn to the
left. The faster the motor turns, the harder it will want to turn with
it, and the only losses are frictional and (ahem) vibration, so if the
motor is turning a good speed, the output force (torque) can be
stronger than the motor's, probably by a very good ratio. (The
vibration should be small compared to my previous design. And it will
be much quieter.)
Now it just needs to be redesigned so everything fits
the motor and rotor drum, make it symmetrical so
it will run either direction, and put some "anchor" structures around
What to use for the geared wheel? For fine
gears, a car flywheel gear might do. But the gears as shown are rather
coarse. For fine gears, the anchors will be buzzing in a frenzy. What
about using a brake rotor with fins - both for the fins as coarse gear
teeth and as the magnet rotor for the motor?
But then again
, what is so fundamentally
different between this and my
design? They both use inertial weights moving back and forth as the
motor turns. According to clockmakers, the angle of highest energy
transfer efficiency is supposed to be 45 degrees, but my inertia plate
is going way faster than a clock.
It wallops those 45 degree bevels awfully hard, creating that vibration
and noise and in fact preventing the motor from revving up to the
desired extent. Furthermore, there's nothing keeping the plate true
except inertia, and friction with the pins must be what causes the
motor to vibrate in and out. If these details could be sorted out, it
could make all the difference.
I stepped back a bit and thought mine
still looked like the simplest design with its one moving part, so I
decided to stick with it and try to modify it to solve the various
problems that testing had revealed.
First (and easiest) I decided to try
grinding my bevels down to 23 degrees instead of 45. I can curve that
to reduce noise, and I can try even
less angle if that seems to help. After all, a 28 to one "gear
ratio" is much more than is
required. 10 to 1 is often used for electric propulsion, and the
Electric Hubcap is a high torque motor to start with, so even around 6
or 7 to one is probably sufficient. That would greatly reduce the
vibration and noise, so hopefully that would mean more energy going
into wheel rotation.
Second, and also easily done, I disassembled the motor and
removed the drive link pins. I had recognized that they would have to
tapered to prevent binding when the motor went up or down over a bump,
and I had ground in the tapers. But whereas they had started smooth and
now they were tapered but rough ground. A lot of friction would explain
vibrating in and out with the torque plate. I sanded them with #80, 220
and then #600 sandpaper, and then polished them on a polishing wheel on
the wood lathe with polishing compound.
Shallower bevels in the rim (forward direction only - so far,
is still steep) and the slightly tapered drive link pins; one
inserted, one fine sanded, and two polished.
(I should have saved a rough ground pin for the picture!)
The third item,
the inertia plate having no axle to keep it true and in line, could
evidently only be solved by making an axle. This looked like a
considerable challenge. I started playing with parts and came back to
my previous motor that moved the car in October 2008. It had some steel
plumbing pipe fittings, including a "floor plate" flange with a
center hole to hold it all on the rotor.
Somewhere in there I started to think in terms of
reversing the whole unit so
the inertia plate would go on the same axle as the stator and rotor.
I went out and got a one inch "Close Nipple" that fit into
the floor flange, and (after filing out some interior "burrs") it
actually proved to be a
perfect fit over the 1-1/8 inch trailer axle, sliding back and forth
freely but with little sideways play... just what would be needed to
inertia plate centered and straight, which could by itself solve most
of the vibration and alignment problems.
Lastly, I had ground off the center hub of the drum rotor
so I could bolt the wheel onto the car with the drum attached.
Reversing the drum meant it needed that center again to mount it
on the axle hub. Either I had to weld it back on with questionable
prospects of getting it on secure, straight and centered, or I had to
buy a new
hub. I hate welding, so that decided it.
Finding a new one proved to be more difficult than
expected - It took all afternoon to find and order the right one, and
then a trip
to pick it up the next morning. I didn't see one, or anything much like
it, at a big auto wreckers. When I pulled that drum out of a garbage
can at a brake shop with no idea why except that it looked potentially
useful for something, and little did I know it was the only brake drum
anything like that
size and shape, and that it fit only a few 1990-1992 cars.
However, finally one the auto parts stores had a big
catalog with every drum indexed by diameter, and some specs and a
picture of each one. I found it in there, their model 2767R. It appears
to be by far the best drum, if not the only suitable one.
One other type of drum is trailer brake drums (used with
electric trailer brakes, eg Dexter) with built-in bearing hubs -
potentially a one-piece solution. But when viewed, the outer faces
proved to be very convoluted where a flat surface is needed to mount
the magnets on.
The Raybestos replacement drum also proved to be inferior
on the outer face to the original Ford drum: the original drum's outer
face was flat except for a diagonal bevel around the outer rim, 7/16"
wide. The magnets are 2" long, so 7/16" at the outer end in the
air unglued is
tolerable. The replacement, however, has just one difference to the
original: its bevel is 1-1/8" wide, leaving less than half the magnet
to glue down. I'll have to turn that outer face down flat on the lathe
- Yuk! Or put in little wedges under the magnets. Now I've finally
tracked down the cars they were used on in
case I do another one, in hopes some auto wrecker may have the original
Ford or Mazda part:
Professional Grade Brake Drum
(Raybestos - 2767R, B000IYJI38,
Fits these Vehicles:
- 1991-1992 Ford Escort
- 1990-1991 Mazda 323 ("Competing" auto companies from different
- 1990-1991 Mazda Protege
- 1991-1992 Mercury Tracer.
The Raybestos catalog also had a complete line of disk
brake rotors, and I found a couple more suitable (...for magnet
rotors...) than anything I've
managed to find previously. It appears these particular models are no
longer in production, but I saw some others about 10" diameter, still
fine for making the motor stators and better than what I have now.
(...evidently I'm having trouble with the mental leap that the magnet
rotors will now be drums rather than disks.)
Why on Earth didn't they show me that
catalog over a year ago when I came looking for a specific size of disk
brake rotor? They told me then that the parts were all indexed only by
and model of car. I guess that would have just made life too simple!
...Then again, I'd never have been searching brake shop garbage bins
and I wouldn't have found the brake drum that I eventually used for
the torque converter, and I wouldn't have thought of using a brake drum
if it hadn't been sitting there on my shelf. Obviously it's a few
notches above the aluminum frying pan I started with. ...I guess that
I went out to get a shaft collar to hold the drum rotor
bearings, now at the stator end of the axle with the sliding inertia
plate flange beyond, preventing simply putting in a spacer to where the
nut sits. I feared it might be impossible to find for a 1-1/16" shaft,
and while indeed no one had anything on the shelf, Smith Bros. can
order things for that size shaft. Then I looked at
their compression flanges for pulleys, etc, and it turns out they can
get those in 1-1/16" size too. If I simply don't compress it, this will
be a much more solid sliding flange for the inertia plate.
Pulley with (5/8") compression flange.
The similar flange with 1-1/16" I.D. should make a great center for the
inertia plate rotor.
(It even has a screw to adjust the amount of compression for a perfect
sliding fit on the axle!)
The shaft collar and flange should be in next week, but
that'll be February.
Turquoise Battery Project
The Short Version: It's the Holy Grail !
The exciting promise of the perchlorate/chloride positive
electrode electrochemistry, described below with a manganese
(Mn/Mn(OH)2) negative, is
for a small, safe, economical battery of great power and energy
density, with long and perhaps indefinite cycle life, the "holy
grail" of battery research.
Oxidizing chloride to perchlorate moves eight electrons
per molecule instead of one or two. (In fact with three chlorines,
LaCl3 to La(ClO4)3 moves
24.) The chlorate to perchlorate reaction squirrels away oodles of
oxygen to 'oxidize' the positive electrode.
Manganese has the best looking negative reaction voltages
of any element, and in a lightweight atom, providing substantially more
energy than all the similar reversible reactions - Fe, Cd, MH and Zn.
The combo should make a small, light battery that could
power a hybrid car
for a good distance. It
very doable, yet it appears neither perchlorate positives nor manganese
negatives have been
for battery use.
Of course I'm not patenting it. I'm publishing it
anyone to use, along
with all the other things I've worked out over two years to simplify
and improve battery making.
* the 150 W-H/Kg figure is considerably higher than shown in most
literature, but weighing an actual 2.6 A-H, 20.68 gram Ni-MH AA cell
shows: 2.6 A-H * 1.2 V / .02068 Kg = 150.9 W-H/Kg. There are many
small Ni-MH cells.
** 250 W-H/Kg is based (pessimistically) on 1/10 of the total battery
weight being active
chemicals, while 800 is (optimistically) for 1/3. The figure for the
substances themselves is around 2400 W-H/Kg.
At first I had what I thought was a great scheme for using
KClO4 (insoluble)/KCl (soluble) both as electrolyte and positive
electrode chemical. But the soluble intermediate products formed
between chloride and
perchlorate would no doubt have caused problems, which means it has to
differently. So lanthanum chloride/perchlorate is used instead, which
stays chelated in the
positive electrode gel in any state of charge, and the electrolyte is
separate. The chelating gel is a key feature, and I have devised about
four separate ways of trapping heavier atom cations (like La+++), which
may be tried together or separately.
Using Potassium Chloride/Perchlorate as a Battery
Electrolyte / Positive Electrode Material... Make that Lanthanum
Chloride/Perchlorate for the electrode only.
I looked over a 'paper', Making Potassium Perchlorate
converting KCl to KClO4, by an anonymous author (or at least unnamed
anywhere I could find). At the same time, I was
considering the Poggendorff cell (KCr2O7-Zn-H2SO4) and a KMnO4-Al-KOH
cell I read about (of great energy density). Thus thinking of
permanganate, and perchlorate oxidizers, I began to recognize some
workings. In the dichromate and permanganate batteries, the positive
exists as a dissolved salt. In the permanganate battery, the reactions
are given as:
ANODE: Al + 4OH-
, E° = -2.34V
O + 3e-
, E° = 0.60V (4)
OVERALL BATTERY: Al + MnO4-
Such a high voltage in an aqueous cell has serious self
problems, and it can't be recharged. Also the liquid electrode chemical
will gradually touch the other electrode, a bit at a time, and likewise
discharge the cell. (The permanganate/aluminum one by the US Navy is
basically for torpedos or whatever, where all the energy is to be used
up in a short
time -- the liquid is added just before launch and the battery
immediately starts discharging whether it's used or not. With the 2
volt dichromate cell, the zinc electrode was pulled out of the liquid
when the battery wasn't in use to save it from discharge and
dissolving.) But simply giving the above cathode reaction finally
missing piece of
puzzle for me. The reaction KCl
<=> KClO4 seemed unique, not
because the chemistry is so different but because while potassium
dissolves, potassium perchlorate is virtually insoluble in water. For
this reason it appears it could make a rather
unique combination electrolyte and positive
electrode active chemical. The theory was:
1. KCl is the
discharged state. KClO4 is the positively charged ("oxidized") state.
2. As the battery charges, KCl is converted to KClO4 at the positive
3. KCl is fairly soluble (~~300g/L),
so the electrolyte is dissolved and diffuses freely. Since KClO4 has
very low solubility (~~15 g/L), it will crystalize out around the
Potentially, one could have a KCl saturated solution plus
a "reservoir" of undissolved KCl salt lying on the bottom of the
battery. As the battery charges and KCl is converted to solid KClO4,
KCl from the bottom will dissolve to replace it, keeping the
electrolyte at full strength. As it discharges, excess salt settles
out. This way, way less water will be needed to hold sufficient salt.
course, for this to work, "saturated" would have to be a good workable
electrolyte strength. In fact, this would seem to be just about right,
but it's very possible be that a weaker concentration will prove
preferable -- the author indicates that a high KCl concentration may
tend to create chlorate rather than perchlorate. Then again, if a
potassium chlorate molecule does come out of solution in contact with
the electrode 'sponge', it is still amenable to being further charged
to perchlorate, so it may all end up as perchlorate in the battery's
environment regardless. A further issue is that water is used up during
discharge, so there needs to be sufficient excess water in the charged
state to allow for that.
4. The positive electrode needs to be a conductive, porous matrix to
hold lots of KClO4 crystals. (We can do that - it's not the topic
here.) Thus the positive electrode 'sponge' will gradually saturate
as it charges, which will turn into KCl and dissolve as it
5. If the reactions are more alkaline, we expect (charged
KClO4(s) + 4 H2O + 8e- <=> KCl(aq)
OH- [~+0.6 V ?]
4 Mn(s) + 8 OH- <=> 4 Mn(OH)2(s) +
8e- [-1.56 V]
6. If, on the other hand, the reactions are more acidic:
KClO4 + 8 H+ + 8e- <=> KCl + 4 H2O
[~+1 V ?]
4 Mn + 4 H2O + 8e- <=> MnO + 8H+
(Hopefully not acidic enough to dissolve MnO?)
7. Either way, cell voltage will be
around 2 volts. This does well for energy density compared to Ni-MH,
etc, at 1.2 volts.
8. If I have these balanced right, 8 electrons per reaction at the
positive electrode looks like much
higher energy density than one electron with nickel, manganese, etc.
9. As the positive electrode material is in solution, hopefully it will
have an extremely high conductivity, as is the case for the KMnO4-Al
battery: amps per square centimeter (sc). Mn and its oxides/hydroxides
are more conductive than most. Thus we might see an amp per square
centimeter power potential, or at least hundreds of milliamps (and
without too much pricey monel!), instead
of 50 mA or so for typical Ni-MH etc.
10. We need to enable the KCl => KClO4 reaction to occur efficiently
in the battery, with other
substances. Making Potassium
Perchlorate seems to hold some good ideas and much promise that
will work, as he in fact makes it directly by
electrical oxidation of KCl as the battery is supposed to do, with a
'tincture' of KCr2O7 and a bit of NaCl in the mix, and we might try a
bit of KMnO4 instead or in addition. (He thinks the NaCl
could be dispensed with, which would be agreeable.)
11. Any of the slightly soluble KClO4 that gets to the negative
electrode will be reduced
to KCl during charging and dissolve, so any gradual
migration will do no damage. And
there should be no gradual changes to the positive electrode from the
charge-discharge chemical reactions.
12. Even so, gradual migration can be limited or eliminated by using
microporous separator sheets to block the larger perchlorate ions, eg
cellophane. (NON PLASTICIZED cellophane!!)
13. Since the positive electrode chemical dissolves as it discharges,
it leaves vacant spaces behind for electrolyte to fill, and so the
positive electrode 'sponge' can be made any thickness at all, perhaps
even 1/2 an inch. Current capacity and voltage will be undiminished
over the discharge-charge cycle. As the battery charges and discharges
active KClO4 is always in good contact with the electrolyte and the
Observations, Speculation & Tentative Conclusions
IF it could be made to work, which seemed likely, this
make a wholly better battery than anything out there, in accordance
with one of my main original objectives in taking on this project. It
could go in a car outfitted with an Electric Hubcap motor without
taking up a trunkfull of space and adding the weight of 3 or 4
passengers to an empty car.
(Another main objective was, since I didn't initially know too much
about battery workings, to come in and find a fresh perspective, and in
my ignorance of convention stumble over a better battery design or
chemistry. Seems that part of the objective has only happened after a
lot of study and experimenting, and only with a significant diminution
H - 1
O - 16
K - 39
Cl - 35.5
Mn - 55
La - 139
Hence, molecular weights:
KCl - 74.5 (the electrolyte)
LaCl3 - 245.5
La(ClO4)3 - 437.5
Mn(OH)2 - 89
The math (Awg, not math!):
* A mole of KClO4 (chemistry 1) weighs 138.5g.
* 1/138.5 moles/gram * 8 moles of electrons/mole * 96500 coulombs/mole
of electrons =
5574 coulombs (amp-seconds, A-S)/gram
* 5574 A-S/gram / 3600 seconds/hour = 1.548 amp-hours/gram ---
* A mole of La(ClO4)3 (chemistry 2) is 437.5 g, and the A-H works out
to 1.470 A-H/g
By contrast, Ni(OH)2 is .289 AH/g - 1/5 as much, so this
4/5 of the weight (and perhaps a similar volume ratio, 4/5?) of the
electrode's active material. And of course something like 4/5 of
the monel etc. I think it's safe to
say that the chloride<=>perchlorate
chemistry appears to be much
better than the best known battery chemistry now in use.
At the other electrode, barring some unknown better
some unexpected problem with having a manganese negative (when MnO2 is
most common positive electrode around), Mn/Mn(OH)2 appears to
best possible rechargeable aqueous negative electrode,
as noted in a previous TE
News. It's 1/55 moles/gram * 2 e-'s/mole * 96500 AS / 3600 S/H = .975
AH/g, or one amp-hour per gram after adding the sales tax. This is
practically as good as the best metal hydrides I've heard of, and with
the higher voltage, it should store around 1.75 times the energy. It's
also a little better A-H than zinc, and the voltage is a little higher,
so (using published alkaline solution voltages): (.975 AH/g (Mn) / .820
AH/g (Zn) ) * (1.56 v (Mn) / 1.28 v (Zn) ) = 1.45 times more energy per
weight than zinc.
The exact relative volume of this electrode is more
depends on the volume of Mn(OH)2 compared to other hydroxides or
After thinking about the above a while, I started to see a
potential problem. Might the Cl- not pick up one oxygen atom at a time
and go through the sequence:
KCl - salt
KClO - to hypochlorite 'bleach' [0.9v]
KClO2 - to chlorite [0.59v]
KClO3 - to chlorate [0.35v]
KClO4 - to perchlorate, the final product [0.17v]?
The trouble is that the bleach, for example, would still
soluble, and small enough to pass through the microporous
separator. Doubtless some would drift over. Then it would go discharge
negative electrode. And during discharge, it would drift off from the
positive electrode without finishing being discharged.
This doesn't make the idea of Cl/ClO4 a bad one, but it
does mean it needs to be done a different way. For example, with
lanthanum chloride/perchlorate: LaCl3/La(ClO4)3. The
chloride-perchlorate reactions would be pretty much the same, but the
intermediate products won't migrate. The heavy lanthanum ion, chelated
in a gel, eg, my fired bean sauce/monel/lanthanum mix and-or the
veegum/CMCgum mix and-or the agar, and finally with the zirconium ion
shield, should remain stationary in the
electrode matrix, an "anchor" with its 3 chlorines absorbing and
releasing O--'s. Fixing the lanthanum in place was part of the original
idea of this mix. (Its trigonal structure evidently is the same solid
"The close agreement between the EXAFS spectra of
nonaaqualanthanum(III) trifluoromethanesulfonate and of an aqueous
lanthanum(III) perchlorate solution shows that the hydrated
lanthanum(III) ion in aqueous solution most probably has the same
structure as in the solid, i.e., nine water molecules coordinated in a
tricapped trigonal prismatic configuration.")
The process for making LaCl3? You guessed it! -
add hydrochloric acid to lanthanum hydroxide. It works out to 1470
just slightly less than the potassium version.
The reader may have noted above the different voltages of
the reactions, with hypochlorite to chloride being the most reactive
and perchlorate to chlorate the least. This is backwards to the usual
case. If a molecule is going to charge
or discharge (electrochemically), it looks to me like it will pass
through all the intervening states and end up as chloride or
perchlorate, because of this "positive feedback" loop. There are some
(to me at least) unknowns here... what will the actual positive
component of the
voltage be? In the permanganate battery, it was .6 volts. Doubtless in
making permanganate into manganate and then into manganese dioxide, two
different reaction voltages occur too, but the patent simply said "+0.6
volts". I'm going to guess that it will all average out to one figure,
but one is left with the thought that the 100% charged battery voltage
may read the .15 volts perchlorate voltage (on top of whatever the
side is), but as soon as discharge starts it will jump up to the
hypochlorite level, .9 volts (+ the negative side). I somehow doubt
that will happen.
Copper (or some other lighter element) with chlorine might
make a good electrolyte. Like most chlorides, CuCl2 is soluble in
water, and there's also CuCl: the copper can easily lose or gain one
chlorine at a time. (Though if the reaction is Cl- <==> ClO-,
that's probably of no consequence.) And it's green, the correct color
for green energy. Copper isn't much heavier than potassium and it holds
two chlorines instead of one so it works out a bit lighter.
(Unless it's just heavy enough to chelate into the gel, in which case
it could be used instead of lanthanum. This seems unlikely.)
Ingredients used in the manganese 'negatrode' were: #300-
Mn powder 7.5g; MnO2 9.5g; #300- monel powder 7.7g; Sb4O6 (AKA Sb2O3)
.08g; veegum .6g; CMCgum .3g; Sunlight lemon fresh dishsoap .5g; 40%
ethanol in H2O (AKA Alberta 'triple distilled' vodka) 2.25g.
The mix may have been a little on the dry side. There was
no sign of any squeezed out moisture in the compactor. I had meant to
add 1.5g of Sunlight - misread my light pencil marks. As long as it
holds together until it's installed, it should be fine.
The manganese 'negatrode' briquette,
fresh from the compactor.
The powder filled the compactor to the top and made a 6mm
thick compacted electrode theoretically good for over 13 amp-hours. It
weighs 34 grams all up, so theoretically it's good for about 400
A-H/Kg. If there was nothing else to add, that would be great! As I
didn't use agar this time, there's no need to steam it or otherwise
process it before putting it into the battery. And of course I'm
certainly NOT going to add HCl to affect the organics. (Makes MnCl -
See TE News #21.) The jelling will have to be accomplished by
electrochemical means - charging - once everything's assembled and
It will take some experimentation to see whether the monel
is needed or not, or how much (if any) is useful. I probably should
have added more to ensure great conductivity, but 'charged' manganese
is also conductive metal.
I added four more more bolts to the compactor before I did
the positrode, to
help ensure the best briquette compaction. After all, without good
compaction, maximum current flow is poor to nil and the briquettes will
be the more prone to falling apart.
The ingredients were: 8g of the fried monel/Lanthanum/bean
sauce (thiamin mononitrate) mix detailed in a previous newsletter, 4.5g
of La(OH)3, .14g KMnO4, .16g KCr2O7, .6g veegum, .4g CMC gum, 1.0g
Sunlight dishsoap, and 3.0g 40% solution CH3CH2OH (AKA Ethanol, AKA
The resulting mix was too damp, so next time I'll try 3/4g
Sunlight and 2.25g CH3CH2OH. The 'trode was about 3.5mm thick.
Compacted La(ClO4)3 'Positrode' briquette
I calculated that it would
take about 10 grams of 33% HCl
acid to convert the lanthanum hydroxide in the positrode to lanthanum
chloride. However, when I started to drip acid onto it, it was
saturated with about one gram of acid. I did another gram for each of
the next two days, then decided just to immerse it in a pool of acid. A
lot of fine bubbles came out over a few hours. Since the desired
reaction shouldn't make bubbles something else is reacting with the
acid... I hate to imagine. The gray electrode
turned 'chloride' green in accordance with the green energy philosophy
of the design.
Positrode with the La(OH)3 turning to LaCl3 in HCl acid.
Having used the veegum and CMCgum as electrode gel, I decided the thing
to do next was to put a coating of agar over the entire electrode. Agar
has been used to make salt bridges (as well as aspic, jelly deserts,
bacterial growth media for microscope slides...). It's a valuable way
to separate the
'positrode' from the 'negatrode'.
As a first step, I experimented with proportions. I was
going to try a gram of agar in 5g of water, but I got it up to .7g of
agar and it had soaked up all the water and looked way too thick. So I
tried, in 5g of water: .7g, .5g, .25g, .12g and .07g of agar. I put the
ingredients in cut-apart plastic muffin trays, and heated them in a pot
of boiling water on the stove. Then I cooled them in the fridge. I
poured little samples onto a piece of plastic.
The first three were more of a paste than a gel, and
weren't really coherent, except for a good gel layer on the bottom of
The pastes could be sculpted into any shape. The gels
could be squished with only a little finger pressure, but up to that
point they were resilient and would hold their shape.
Of the last two that were good gels, I had the vague
impression that the last was
slightly stiffer, contrary to expectation. So I did another one with
only 4g of agar. That was definitely weaker and squished (a technical
term, I'm sure...) very easily.
I thought I'd go with .1g agar per 5g
water as a working figure. But when I was cleaning out the trays, I
noticed the bottom layer of the .25g one had the hardest surface. So I
tried a .2g mix, which didn't result in any excess 'paste' (must be
about the max), and dripped that onto the chilled electrode. But it was
so thick the drops didn't spread out, and they hardened quickly.
Instead of a surface coating, I had a bunch of drips with empty space
between. And it didn't seem to want to liquify again very well even
when steamed. So I made another batch with .1g to fill in the missed
Then I thought next time it would be preferable to make it
in a larger pan and immerse the whole electrode in it to be certain of
covering the whole thing. Then I redid this first one that way, even
though it *looked* pretty well coated. It only takes one leak to let
everything out. A small breadpan looks just about perfect for the
planned 3" x 6" electrodes, and could be heated directly on the stove
Although the trays, spoons and mixing fork were clean and
the water was pure, I was in my chem lab using chem equipment, and I
couldn't bring myself to check the texture further by putting the
samples in my mouth.
Where gelatin needs refrigeration, agar is stays gelled up to a fairly
high temperature. Hmm... a web source reveals:
"Agar is a gel at room temperature, remaining firm at
high as 65°C. Agar melts at approximately 85°C, a different
from that at which it solidifies, 32-40°C. This property is known
hysteresis. Agar is generally resistant to shear forces; however,
different agars may have different gel strengths or degrees of
Looks like it should pass
muster, even in Australia or Mexico! And if one sourced it out, there
might be better, or at least more closely defined, varieties than my
package simply labelled "Agar agar" from the 'natural foods' grocery.
Now, the reaction products of the 'negatrode' - manganese
metal and manganese hydroxide (or possibly monoxide) - are both solid
and supposedly need no chelating... so do I coat it with agar, too? Why
not? It would be an additional layer of safety - if one leaks, the
other will prevent shorting. The only negative impact should be to hold
the electrodes farther apart, reducing maximum current flow. For the
test battery, that can be borne: the main thing is to make it work!
Tweaking comes after that.
The lanthanum perchlorate positrode and manganese negatrode
after dipping in agar to make "salt bridge" gel coats.
Connecting the electrodes to the terminal bolts in the battery lid.
Solder (including silver solder) would corrode, so it's bolts or else
If it was alkaline, they'd have to be nickel bolts instead of
stainless, and nickel metal instead of nickel-brass.
(This is the Mn Negatrode wrapped in microporous cellophane)
"Burning in" the battery in the sealed case.
(still in process - all those ingredients I put in have to electrolyze
over about a week's slow charging.)
Pressure has been 3 PSI for several days as the voltage slowly rises.
Wrapping the electrodes in cellophane is
a bit perplexing. You want to make it a sack with no openings except at
the top so no bits can leak out. My latest "origami" technique was to
simply cut the wrap twice the
height (and a bit more) and to wrap a couple of loops around
horizontally. Then take the excess from below and fold it up around the
back, so the only openings are at the top and the bottom is sealed. But
this puts 3 times as many layers covering the back as the front.
Next time, I'll do the same thing, but fold it up in
front. That way it's the front that has 6 layers and the back with just
two. (Or maybe the back only needs one layer, and 3 at the front?)
I haven't yet tried to address the question of whether the cellophane
is even necessary in addition to the agar coatings.
The final step was to paint coatings onto a piece of
watercolor paper: on one side, ferric oxide; on the other, zirconium
silicate ("ion shield" -- ZrO2:SiO2. More commonly ZrO2 is used.), and
to spray petroleum
seal oil (from a can of "Nutrol" contact cleaner) on the cellophane.
paper goes between the already cellophaned electrodes.
The pH of the KCl electrolyte in the battery checked out
as being about 4, which would seem to preclude OH-'es floating around.
Here's another idea of the likely chemistry:
[charged] <==> [discharged]
Positrode: La(ClO4)3 + 12 Cl- + 24e- <==>
LaCl3 + 12 ClO- [+0.6v
Negatrode: 12 Mn + 12 ClO- <==> 12 MnO + 12 Cl- + 24
[Cell: 1.7v ?]
In this case, the water takes no part in the reactions and
the oxygen ions are shuttled around as hypochlorite (bleach). This
permits a dry cell (which term actually means "damp cell") with low
weight of water.
Although there are here presented three chemistry ideas of
how it might actually work, they each provide a chemical pathway to do
the same thing: charge the LaCl3 to perchlorate and the MnO to Mn.
Whether it discharges to MnO or Mn(OH)2 (or even to Mn(OH)3 or Mn2O3)
is of little consequence. It used to be assumed that zinc discharged in
alkali to Zn(OH)2, but it turns out it actually ends up as ZnO, yet
zinc was being used in batteries long before this detail was known.
After I did the second electrode, I realized that
would be easier if two adjacent sides could be removed to let
the briquette come out freely, and that this would be made easier if I
repositioned one of the side wall bolts (which are underneath) past the
end wall so the
side could swing out like a gate. (Hah! I knew there was some reason
not to chop the compactor to exact length!)
Compactor with more compaction bolts and swivel side
(undoing one bolt underneath lets it swivel to release briquette).
(An end piece may have to come off to freely release full size 3" x 6"
briquettes when I start making them.)
Lead-Acid/Sodium Sulfate Battery