New Energy Research Laboratory Device
and Process Testing Update
Published in IE Volume 6, Issue #32 July,
2000. By Ed Wall and Ken Rauen.
NERL's testing using a circulation pump, flow
rate meter, inlet and outlet thermocouple temperature readings,
and radiator, as reported in the last issue, was not working well.
When it was discovered that the Hydrosonic Pump would itself pump
about 7 GPM without the external circulation pump, a means of testing
without a circulation pump and flow metering emerged. The new method
is very simple: raise the temperature of a fixed quantity of water
by a measurable amount and compute the change in enthalpy, then
compare this to the input energy measured.
now have two large plastic barrels (~ 65 gallons each) glued end-to-end,
with four thermocouples mounted in the side at different levels.
Enough water fills the assembly such that a run was expected to
be long enough for good calorimetry, but then, something else unexpected
occurred. The intake for the Hydrosonic Pump had water fed into
it that was pressurized by a head pressure of about five feet. We
were expecting the Hydrosonic Pump to run in liquid mode, that is,
we did not expect any steam production. But the motor started drawing
about 87 kW, which is far above what is expected for the 75 HP motor
(56 kW). We verified our readings and started worrying that we might
destroy the motor if we kept running it.
We were disappointed, but relieved that the cause
of an excessive current draw in our Hydrosonic Pump runs was due
to a design error, originating with HydroDynamics. President Kelly
Hudson is dealing with this problem in a very responsible way. The
company will be sending NERL a new pump (rotor) assembly to replace
the one we have now, which is oversized for the motor. Recent information
from the company is that we may receive the replacement in as little
as two weeks.
We decided to run the Hydrosonic Pump in steam mode
by restricting the water intake. We were able to get it to boil
off the contents of the pump itself, but when we opened the intake
valve a bit, very little water flowed. When we opened it more, the
water would surge in, causing severe shuddering, suddenly increasing
power consumption from 7 kW to 87 kW, then stop flowing as steam
pressure built, until the steam came out and more water would surge
into it, repeating cyclically. No matter how the intake valve was
set, the surging problem continued. The mechanical stress on this
"behemoth," when the shuddering happened is seriously non-trivial,
so we have decided to discontinue testing until the properly sized
replacement unit arrives.
Dash Cell Progress
Jon Warner (at Portland State University, Professor Dash's doctoral
student) presented his cold fusion results at ICCF-8 in a clear
and concise fashion. We will be reporting more on Warner's work
in the future. He mentioned to Ed Wall that (at Ed's suggestion)
he had tried moving his cell assembly to the corner of the Seebeck
Envelope Calorimeter (SEC) and found a noticeable change in the
SEC output voltage for the same power to the Device Under Test (DUT).
This is due to conduction of heat through the wall of the calorimeter
to the area in which the reference thermocouples are located, perturbing
the reference temperature. Of course, if he keeps his test and calibration
cells in the same place for all runs, this should not present a
big problem, but it is better not to have the warm cell in direct
contact with the inside calorimeter surface. Ed Storms recommends
inserting a small fan into the SEC to avoid hot spots. This would
help with the problem of hot spots, and allow for the cell to dissipate
heat and run with more input power without reaching boiling, but
it would decrease the signal-to-noise ratio of the SEC. For now,
we are setting the DUT in NERL's Thermonetics SEC on a small platform
to allow air convection on all sides.
The Thermonetics SEC has been in use for some time
now. Initially, we did not have a room with good temperature regulation
to compensate for the cool nights and warm afternoon sun. We now
have a room with air conditioning and heating that is probably as
well-regulated as that found in most office or lab environments.
Even with this enhancement, however, fluctuations in SEC output
voltage on the order of 1 mV (which corresponds to ~ 150 mW DUT
power variation) were seen when the air conditioning or furnace
cycled. We then built a foam box around the SEC, but this only slightly
attenuated the perturbation caused by room temperature fluctuations.
The next step was to use "active" insulation to reduce the effect
on the SEC. The foam box has two large muffin fans in it to vigorously
circulate air and the SEC is raised from the bottom of the foam
box by spacers to allow circulation on all sides. It has a dispersed
heater consisting of many resistors strung out in the foam box space.
These resistors are connected to the output of a Watlow PID controller.
The controller monitors the air temperature in the foam box and
is tuned to the control characteristics of the box (easier than
it seems). This has helped dampen effects of room temperature fluctuations
considerably (~ 80%). More important, the improvement has drastically
reduced the effect of long-term drift in ambient temperature, which
seriously affects calorimeter accuracy, not just precision. We should
probably mention that we had to put quite a few holes in the foam
box to allow for heat exchange between the environment and SEC,
in case a reader decides to try this. The idea of the SEC, after
all, is to measure heat flux coming out of its envelope.
Although two test cells almost identical to Warner's
were assembled months ago, they have not yet been used. The difficulty
of the welding required to attach platinum leads to electrode foil
pieces is the main cause of the delay. We had planned on using our
small TIG welder, but it simply cannot deal with such thin metal
pieces without destroying them. We now intend to use a small spot
welder, which is what Dash and Warner use. The problem was that
we did not have one. So, a requisition was forwarded to the "Department
of Improvisation," and a couple of non-working spot welder prototypes
emerged. Then the latest version was developed, which works better
(large capacitance, lower voltage seems to do the trick).
Peter Mobberley's Innovations
An enthusiastic IE subscriber from the
UK we met at ICCF8 announced to the audience after Dr. Mizuno's
presentation on plasma-electrolysis
that he was doing work with underwater arc discharges that did not
have the electrodes near the arcing! He accomplished this with a
couple of clever methods. The first one was by means of an electrolyte
diaphragm, which is a barrier between the cathode and anode. This
barrier is an inverted ceramic "peppershaker" (called a "pepperpot"
in the UK). The holes in the bottom are the only path for the current
to flow through the diaphragm; under high voltage conditions, they
act as high current conduits. The current density can get high enough
for arcing to occur and we have experienced this in our initial
attempts at replication. Mobberley prefers the use of a saturated
LiOH solution and has reported preliminary significant overunity
performance. He has a preferred means of accomplishing his "electrodeless
arc plasma" by using a small pump to squirt electrolyte at one potential
into a container with electrolyte at the other potential. I can
only imagine what this looks like! He reports this gives him good
control over the reaction by varying the pump speed. The terrific
advantage of this method is that electrodes are not destroyed, as
with the Mizuno-Ohmori tungsten cathodes, and so reactions can run
for as long as desired, which makes heat measurement much more reliable
and easy. Mobberley measures input power into an autotransformer,
where it is still a clean 50 Hz sinusoid. The reader may remember
that input power measurement into the Mizuno-Ohmori cell consists
of measuring power directly into an arc, which has a virtually infinite
frequency bandwidth, so is subject to considerable difficulties.
Mobberley also has reported success using, as a cathode,
an ordinary spark plug with the ground lead removed. It seems that
the alloy used in the center pin can stand up to the conditions
of arc discharge for extended periods. Also, the ceramic mounting
of the pin is ideally suited for holding the center pin without
getting destroyed or allowing the arc to break the surface of the
electrolyte, which could ignite the electrolysis gasses. We hope
to have more to report on this exciting work in a future issue.