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Home Up Contents Information Archive A Basic Cell

November 2009

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2 November 2009                                                                                                              

Today I refitted the radiator with it's attached fan in a position where it won't pick up any heat from the engine and also where there is a better airflow from outside. I also incorporated a 1,3 litre reservoir to increase the volume of electrolyte in the system. This canister is only filled to about 1 litre of its capacity, but I'm sure that the additional volume will make a big difference. I unfortunately have not taken any photos yet but I will tomorrow.

3 November 2009                                                                                                  

My DC ammeter has not arrived yet, but I've taken some photos of how the installation looks now:

The reservoir, tucked away behind the cell and next to the scrubber.

Another view.

I have cleaned the untidy wiring up. I also attached proper connecting lugs onto the power cables (previously I used homemade copper lugs - effective but scrappy looking). The brown coloured tubes are old, stained ones that I am re-using. I also need to try and relocate the electrolyte pump elsewhere because when it is running it can be clearly heard inside the car.

Another view.

I did a quick run and adjusted the electrolyte concentration so that the cell draws 16A. The gas output is 700ml/per minute - not much but enough to make a difference for now. Once I have the new ammeter installed then I will run the electrolyser full-time and then I will try for higher amperage draws. The ability of the cooling system to control the heat will ultimately determine at what amperage the system can run.

We are going to Toti this coming weekend so I am looking forward to seeing how the economy improves with the system up and running.

4 November 2009                                                                                        

At last! My new DC ammeter has eventually arrived. I fitted it on the console where I can easily keep an eye on it while driving. I used mirror tape to plak it on. I removed the ashtray and the meter fitted perfectly in its place.

I increased the concentration of electrolyte to try and increase the output of gas. At 26A it is only producing 850ml hydroxy (HHOO) per minute (with the cell cold). This tells me that the "316" plates are definitely not producing anywhere near what my non-magnetic 304 plates can produce. The 304 plates at 20A produced a litre plus - when cold! Having said that I will keep running these plates and see what they produce when the system has warmed up.

I'll run the system like this for the rest of the week (with a tweak where necessary) and see how it goes.

5 November 2009                                                                               

I filled up today in anticipation of our trip this weekend. The consumption for the past 391,3km (mostly 60km zones, with the occasional 80km zone) was 10,7km/l. Not too bad considering that during all this travel the aircon was running constantly. I only started running the cell yesterday so it has had no opportunity to influence the economy so far.

I will check the gas out-put vs the amp draw tomorrow and make any adjustments I deem necessary before we depart on Saturday morning.

6 November 2009                                                                              

The amp gauge pushed up to 30A today and immediately I suspected that this was caused by the cell running too hot. When I checked the tubes were all limp from the heat and the cell housing was hot to the touch. It was fairly warm today (I guess at least 28c). I switched the cell off and after a long while, when we returned home again, I measured the temperature of the electrolyte and it was 47c. As the cell had not been running for a while this heat was attributable to the engine heat affecting the system. At this temperature (and with the amperage at 30A) the cell was producing 900ml/per minute.

I moved the radiator again and hopefully there will now be a better airflow over it from the outside. I topped up the reservoir and the first scrubber and ran the electrolyser with the car on idle. Albeit with the bonnet open which would allow the engine heat to escape, the temperature of the electrolyte cooled nicely to below 40c. I'm hoping that the new placement of the radiator is the cause. I also tidied up the tubes some more.

At 26A the cell was now producing 800ml/per minute. I will leave it like this and see what happens when we hit the open road tomorrow.

Another view which shows where the first scrubber is situated, directly next to the cell.

11 November 2009                                                                        

 We had a hot trip to Durban with the aircon full ball the whole time. When I topped up lapha side I had done 366,4km since the previous top-up at home. The first 100km of this distance was without the electrolyser running and all town travel. On the way to Durbs the ammeter stayed on 26A until we arrived at Umhlanga. After standing in the sun for a while the ammeter immediately showed a draw of 30A on start-up. I gathered that the heat of the day was pushing the temperature of the electrolyte high enough to give this high reading - and this without the electrolyser running! I confirmed this by putting my hand on the side of the cell housing - it was indeed hot. I then ran the electrolyser while travelling from Umhlanga to Toti to see if the cooling system would lower the temperature (and the amperage). The amperage slowly climbed to over 30A and then zeroed when the circuit breaker tripped out. It was obvious that the cooling system could not handle a hot day. Also, this car is so designed to have a heat build-up under the bonnet - obviously a quirk from it's European origins. I switched the system off and on reaching Toti I topped the tank up to see the consumption, which was only 8,3km/l! Asseblief!

I can only put the poor consumption down to one thing: there must be a sensor somewhere which is linked to the fuel injection system! Even if the electrolyser was only pushing water vapour into the engine (which would only have been for a small portion of the trip), then the consumption should still show positive gains!

I left the electrolyser off for the rest of our visit and the journey back. Since being back I have only travelled about 20km and when I topped up today to check the consumption (after 145km, the previous top-up being just before we left Toti), the consumption was 11,8km/l. I was previously achieving slightly less than this with normal town driving (and no electrolyser)! Possibly, if there is a sensor of sorts affecting the fuel distribution to the engine, then it is possible that this could still settle to its usual (economic) mode if the electrolyser is not run for a while.

Alternately, I should perhaps have a mechanic look at the set-up and re-adjust it for running at sea level. It could be that it was previously set-up for the highveld (where I bought the car) which setting now affects the consumption negatively. I will investigate these factors over the next few days. I cannot allow good consumption to elude me!!


I have acquired a new housing which I want to try out! It is a filter housing for one of those home water purification systems. I would like to try an 18 plate cell in it, designed on the same basis as my 9 plate cell. I first have to find the funds before I can order the plates: I would really like to get 316ss, but if I cannot then I will have to settle for 304 non-magnetic.

I am presently conditioning a nine plate cell (constructed from my old 304 non-magnetic ss) which I will first try before the new plates arrive. I have reverted back to Potassium Hydroxide (KOH) for the conditioning process. The plates have been running at around 3 - 5 amps for the past 3 days. On the first day I changed the electrolyte about 6 times in the first 12 hours because of the amount of gunk the plates were giving off. I am now changing it 3 - 4 times a day. If I can find the space under the bonnet then I will install a cooling system and run the electrolyser on KOH. Here is the container with the submerged cell running at 3,1A. The electrolyte in the picture has just been changed, so that's why it still looks nice and clean. The brown on the edge is the stain on the container from countless previous experiments!

I still need to obtain two ss 8mm bolts (70mm long) to go through the lid for the + and - terminals. I will use 2 of the 4 existing 8mm holes (already tapped/threaded) for this purpose.

The canister is designed for reasonably high pressure, so it should seal very nicely. On the inside of the lid is a dik o-ring.

I also need 2 reducers: one for the HHOO outlet and the other to accommodate the 2 pipes to circulate the electrolyte for cooling.

I still need to see if this canister will in fact fit somewhere under the bonnet. I have been toying with the idea of mounting the system in the boot, which I am loathe to do as I am not keen on having a long positive cable and gas pipe running under the car to the engine compartment. But, if I find enough space under the car to install a decent cooling system at the back, then I might just consider such a move. We'll see...

There are other electrolysers on the net which have been fitted into similar containers. Some of the cells in these type of housings produce over a litre of HHO per minute and others only a negligible amount. Irrespective, a cell in this housing (that's going to make a difference to your consumption) will not be able to run for more than one hour before you're simply boiling water. Unless you have a good PWM, the right design and/or the right (expensive!) plate materials, there is no way that you can run a cell in this container for long and still maintain temperatures under 45c. Either that or you must have a good cooling system - i.e. the electrolyte must be cooled through a radiator or similar system.

Ja well no fine!

12 November 2009                                                                             

I ran the cell until late tonight. Here is a photo of the electrolyte just before I changed it earlier today. The cell is now giving off less gunk, certainly less than what it was earlier. Excuse the bad pic.

I started assembly of the cell. I drilled through 2 of the existing mounting holes which take an 8mm bolt. I first drilled it out with a 6mm bit and then from the inside of the cap I carefully drilled with an 8mm bit. I then turned an 8mm bolt in all the way through to thread the newly drilled section. I have used ss threaded rod for the terminals instead of these bolts as it gives me more flexibility. I can now leave the rod in the cap and I don't have to remove it if I want to work on the inside or outside.

Almost all the way in.

The inside view.

To improve conductivity to the cell I decided to make the connecting straps out of flattened copper tubing. I initially thought I'd use fibre washers for insulation but later I scrapped this as being unnecessary.  

I covered the straps with shrink wrap to protect it from the electrolyte.

The cell attached to the straps. I later shortened the straps by about 2cm each as they were that much too long for the cell to fit in the housing.

A closer view.

The gas-outlet I made by drilling this 25mm plug to take the brass fitting.

I drilled the hole slightly smaller than the fitting and with my trusty hair dryer I heated the brass so that I could turn it into the plug. This makes for a snug fit.

I still sealed the join with silicone to make sure. The plug also got a shot of silicone on the thread before I turned it deeper into the cap.

The completed article. The outlet hole on the other side of the cap (opposite end to the gas outlet) I plugged with a similar 25mm plug. At a later stage I will modify this plug to take the tubes for the electrolyte cooling system.

The container holds 3,95litres (3 litres and 950ml) when filled up to the rim. I fill it with 2,5litres so that the level of the electrolyte is about 25mm below where the copper connecting straps bolt onto the cell. I am considering shortening the connecting straps so that I can add even more electrolyte.

I ran the cell to see how quickly it would get hot. Here are the results of 2 short tests with different concentrations of electrolyte:

Time                        Amps                               Temperature                         Gas output     

                        Start-up    Finnish                Start-up    Finnish                  Start-up    Finnish


60min               5A            5,7A                     cold (<30c)    38c               Not measured, but not much.


50min               10,9A      15,5A                    cold (<30c)    54c               400ml        600ml

Certainly some type of cooling process is required in order that this cell can be run at higher amperages (20A - 30A) for any length of time.

I still have to find a spot where I can fit everything.

Mre is nog 'n dag!

19 November 2009

I have been experimenting with various design configurations over the past few days. A few of the designs showed promise but I found that some of them would only produce gas on 2 or 3 plates even though there could be as many as  10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17 or 18 in that particular setup.

Here is an 18 plate HHOO cell that I tried. There was very little production from the inner plates, between the positive and negative. Not too bad as far as production is concerned: the many plates help with keeping the heat down, but it draws more amps than another cell with fewer plates (when tested in the same electrolyte).

Another view.

A lot of guys on the net say it, and I also believe in it:

Design is the key to a good brute force cell!

I am aiming for a design that will give the maximum amount of HHOO or HHO with the least, and slowest, heat build-up and at the fewest amps (everyone's dream!).

So it is a case of continue to experiment, re-visit old designs, come up with new ones, and go back to the basics every-so-often!

I then tried this 10 plate configuration.

This cell did quite well and certainly got my hopes up. It also gave me the zest to continue trying new design configurations.

Here is an 11 plate HHOO cell that I then put together. Visually it produces by far more gas than the previous 10 plate design. After a 3 hour run which started at 4,3A (KOH electrolyte solution cold), it ended up at 5,7A and 43c (in an open container).

Here is a view of the neutral plate connections (at the bottom of the cell).

I will continue testing with this cell and the next step is to mount it in the blue canister and measure the gas output. I will still need to come up with an efficient way to keep the temperature regulated (below 45c).

Power supply woes! My 2 power supplies that I was using in parallel have all but packed up. I pulled a power supply from another old (I mean old) pc. My guess is that this is an old XT100. Remember them? In the days before Pentium 1, in the days of the floppy drive - before the stiffy drive! I actually used a machine like this before, back in 1986/7 when I worked in a government department! I guess the the Pentium range (possibly even PIII) was already available at the time - but not to us!

There are no indications what the amperage is that can be drawn on the 12V rail. It is rated as 200W so if it is similar to my other old one then it could be anything from 10A upward.

I wish I could find a reliable bench power supply where the voltage as well as the amperage can be manually selected. Nou ja...


Home Up December 2009


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