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Home Up Contents Information Archive A Basic Cell

December 2009

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2 December 2009                                          

I have been experimenting a lot lately with different design configurations and, as always, it is very interesting to see the effects that spacing and configuration have on the amount of gas produced, the amperage draw, how quickly the cell heats up and how much gunk is given off by the plates.

I have been concentrating on 2 aspects in this process:

1.    maximizing the amount of gas produced; and

2.    minimizing the amount of gunk generated by the plates.

With some design configurations I found that the plates would give off no gunk, but then the amount of gas generated would be too little to be of practical use. Other designs gave off a lot of gas but the gunk generated would quickly smother the plates (and clog the electrolyte) and soon the efficiency of the cell would deteriorate.

Here is a schematic of a cell that I have found to be reasonably successful. Out of the many dozens of cells I tested over the past week, this one has given me the most hope.

I have also found that the effectivity of the above combinations of spacing and configuration is also related to the electrolyte concentration used. Hmmm... much to keep in mind!

Power supply

Something quite interesting that I also experienced, as far as input voltage is concerned, is regarding the variations of amperage in relation to voltage. My pc power supply that I use for bench testing gives about 11,3v, the car battery with the engine running 13,8 - 14,1 volts and 12,3v with the engine off.

At 13,8v+ the amp draw on the cell is higher than at 12,3v. The lowest amp draw is on the pc power supply with 11,3v. All these results were from the same cell in the same electrolyte. The cell becomes more productive at the higher amps, so I figure if I can get a power supply to give me lower voltage but draw higher amps, then I will be moving towards a more efficient cell.

I did previously try to run a cell off the 5v rail of the pc power supply, but because the amp range is limited I only achieved limited success. I would like to try a dc to dc inverter, where I can drop the output voltage to as low as 5v, and draw up to 40 amps. The internet (as far as what is available in SA) does not seem to offer what I am looking for. The dc to dc systems on offer do not have much flexibility as far as options of dialling the voltage down to 5v, while being able to draw high amperage (30a +).

Cooling

Recent experiments with using an intercooler to control the heat build-up in the cell have proved reasonably successful. With our summers I still don't think that my present system (see the intercooler I built on 15 September 2009) will be able to run for longer than 3 hours before it can no longer keep the heat below 45c. I either need to connect a radiator and cooling fan to the intercooler (space!?) or I must find an easy way of being able to change the water in the intercooler when I make a pit-stop. The latter option is probably the one that I will explore as I cannot find any space for an external mount for the radiator. The electrolyser and intercooler set-up will have to be mounted in the boot because of space and heat considerations. There is insufficient space under the bonnet and also the heat in the engine compartment mitigates against any cooling systems. With the system in the boot, if I were to use a radiator then it should be mounted externally in order to get the benefit of the outside airflow. Until I can find a suitable position, which I have not been able to find so far, I will stay with the option of a refillable intercooler. I could perhaps incorporate a reservoir with either the intercooler or the electrolyser. The difference will be running either 1 or 2 pumps to circulate the electrolyte or the water in the intercooler. I must find a quieter fuel pump to use for this purpose. So far I have been buying the cheapest fuel pumps on offer at the motor spares shop and these pumps are noisy! But they are already in the region of R100+ each! I must investigate the scrap yards, but past experience has shown that the scrap yards in this part of the world charge almost the same price for the scrap article as what you pay for a brand new one! 

But I won't give up!

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