New Energy Research Laboratory Device
and Process Testing Update
Published in IE Volume 6, Issue #33. September,
by Ed Wall
Dash Cell Progress
Progress has been made on the Dash Cell work
at NERL. Calibration of the Seebeck Envelope Calorimeter (SEC) was
accomplished by two means: a simple electric heater and by using
an electrolytic cell with ordinary water and two platinum electrodes.
The latter is to provide a reference that most closely mimics the
kind of heat generation that is found with the platinum anode and
titanium cathode heavy water cell that has been reported by Professor
John Dash and his colleagues to be a fairly reliable generator of
small percentages of excess heat.
As can be seen in the SEC Calibration chart, which
contains both the heater and electrolytic calibration, the latter
is somewhat below the former. The calibration lines differ. The
difference can be accounted for by fact that there is some loss
of water in the electrolytic cells, on the order of 1 g/day. The
loss is due to gas leakage. The leaking gas would have produced
heat if it had been recombined into water in the cell. The cell
design is good, because it is simple, but it is not yet completely
gas tight. One can see how the square data points, which are for
electrolytic calibration, fall below the heater calibration at higher
Dr. Edmund Storms was kind enough to provide us with
some valuable suggestions on improving the sealing of the cell.
He also urged us to implement a secondary recombiner, which he uses.
The recombiner is a catalyst that produces water and heat from the
oxygen and hydrogen produced in the electrolysis process. This secondary
recombiner is a small bit of catalyst to recombine the hydrogen
and oxygen that might escape from the cell if the primary recombiner
begins to fail. If the recombiner failed, and we did not know it
by any indications, and the cell seal was very tight, the pressure
build up in the cell could be dangerous; we would have no indication
of recombiner failure. The secondary recombiner temperature is monitored.
If the cell's recombiner fails, an indication is generated.
Storms reports that he has essentially no mass loss
from his cells because of the excellent gas seals he employs. With
his system the electrolytic calibration line would be virtually
co-linear with the heater calibration line.
After electrolytic calibration, the platinum/titanium
heavy water cell was run, and some small apparent excess heat appeared
at low power (up to 5.2 watts input). This is only a preliminary
result, for the following reasons. The cell power wiring became
an issue. The wires that provide power to the electrolytic cell
do more than provide power. They convey heat out from the SEC in
a way that avoids detection by the thermcouples that make up the
SEC. This was known to me previously, so I used small diameter wires
to make such heat flow negligible. Small wires have high resistance,
so they can generate non-negligible heat. This would not have been
a problem if the voltage sensing wires to measure cell voltage for
the data acquisition system were not directly on the leads at the
top of the cell. The part of the power wires between the top of
the cell and the SEC perimeter was dissipating heat into the SEC,
and the electrical power that made that heat was not directly measured.
I thought that this would not be a problem, because the SEC was
to be calibrated with an electrolytic cell, which I thought would
perform in a manner very similar to the test cell. However, when
we detected the small apparent excess heat, it was a small enough
excess that even such trifling sources of possible error as this
had to be taken seriously. The calibration and the test cells had
different resistance across their leads. This was an issue, because
at the same power level, the heat dissipated in the power wires
was different because of the different currents. This was a small
We also became more concerned about how sensitive
the SEC might be to where inside of the SEC the heat source
was located. Ideally, such sensitivity would be nil. However, the
heat conductivity of the SEC walls is not perfectly uniform, nor
is the cooling of the temperature reference plate for the reference
thermocouples. So, a test was designed with four 10-watt resistors,
one at each corner of the SEC, configured so that the resistors
could be activated separately or in combination without opening
the SEC. The resistors were placed on a piece of sheet metal, which
was raised off the floor of the SEC by a short plastic stand. This
offered a fairly extreme test of the SEC by the standard of normal
use, when a much less concentrated source of heat is located in
the center of the unit on the short plastic stand. The resulting
SEC output voltage for a given resistor input power was not expected
to exceed the voltage seen when that power was applied to a large,
centrally located calibration resistor. In fact, none of the corner
resistor lines exceeded the calibration line, and the maximum deviation
was an SEC reading 4.3% below the calibration line. From this test,
we can fairly conclude that the location of the cell will have a
negligible affect on the result and, if the slight change in heat
source position does affect SEC output, it will probably only decrease
the output. In other words, if we see excess heat exceeding the
heater calibration line by more than three standard deviations,
we can be pretty confident that the source of the excess is not
a statistical fluke or due to a calorimeter problem.
The power leads were replaced with a heavier gage
wire from the perimeter of the SEC to the cell, and the voltage
sensing now takes place at the SEC perimeter. This means that the
voltage we measure is not exactly the cell voltage, but we are accounting
for the very small amount of heat dissipated in the power wires.
A second titanium cathode was tested. The gas leakage
now proved to be serious. It was decided to change the cell to incorporate
gas seals, and that is being done as we go to press.
Experimentation is a series of careful steps to gain
better results, results that mean more. Eliminating gas leakage
will improve electrolytic calibration and should give us clearer
results as we test a variety of cells at different power levels.
In case you are new to this saga, the Hydrosonic
Pump is a mechanical heater for a liquid stream that works by cavitation.
It has been reported by some to exhibit anomalous energy efficiency
(see IE, No. 23, p. 28).
As reported in the last issue, HydroDynamics agreed
to provide a replacement Hydrosonic Pump for the one originally
purchased from them, because of a design error on their part. The
pump was too large for the motor (or the motor was too small for
the pump) and the motor was drawing too much current for its rated
power. The new pump has finally arrived. The old one was removed
and replaced. It was not an ideal fit to the existing steel frame,
but very close. With some cutting, drilling, and professional alignment,
the new pump is being installed.
The new pump mounting will be on three points, instead
of the former four. One of the points will incorporate a load cell,
which is an accurate force measuring transducer. With the load cell,
we will be able to measure torque delivered to the pump. That quantity,
along with RPM measurement, will allow accurate input power measurement.