Turquoise Energy Report #169 - May 2022
Turquoise Energy News/Report #169
covering June 2022 (Posted July 9th 2022)
Lawnhill BC Canada - by Craig Carmichael

www.TurquoiseEnergy.com = www.ElectricCaik.com = www.ElectricHubcap.com

Month In "Brief" (Project Summaries etc.)
 - Misc - New Chemie Battery - DIY EV Stuff - Sea Glider Electric Ground Effect Ferry: a Critique - Water as energy storage? - Solar Deep Well Pump - New 302AH LiPo Cells

In Passing (Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)
 - Everybody's Garbage Problem - USA: "Civil Service" Run Amok - Russia & Ukraine Again (Oh no, not again!) - Smol Thots - ESD

- Detailed Project Reports -

Electric Transport - Electric Hubcap Motor Systems [no reports]

Other "Green" & Electric Equipment Projects
* Gardening
* Plastic Recycling 2.0
* Lawn Grass Building Wall Insulation

Electricity Storage: Batteries
* Gelled Nickel Zinc Flat cell with external face clamps

Electricity Generation
* My Solar Power System:
 - Latest Daily/Monthly Solar Production log et cetera - Monthly/Annual Summaries, Estimates, Notes

June in Brief

   I spent a lot of time on gardening again. Nevertheless the weeds grow fast and a lot of it looks more like weed patch than garden. But along with all I'm going to have a lot of potatoes for calories if the food shortage does go global this coming winter - or for a few years afterward, since they reseed themselves even if you think you harvested them all. They've become weeds almost throughout the garden.

   The solar panels again did much better with the two panels on the pole and more especially with the three new panels on the carport roof (sunniest place), yielding 536 KWH for the month from the 18 panels. Until this year, 330 KWH was about the summer maximum production from 12 or 13 panels. When I can find the time, I'll move the three panels on the lawn also onto the carport roof beside the first three.

Plastic Recycling 2.0

   I did patheticly little work on the "freezer-as-plastic-melting-oven", making the two-piece lid from two freezer lids, with fiberglass insulation lower and sprayed foam molded on the upper. In doing this I had to put the smaller one on top, so if I leave it in the rain it will run inside the lid around the edges. I suppose I should put rock wool or something around the rim since it's no seal.
   Finally I started on the heating controls and element but I misplaced a part and had to stop. I found it days later (July 4th) in my clutter.

New Chemie Battery

   I tried making a new Ni-Zn gelled battery cell. It didn't work well but I made a little progress in improving the construction and I have a couple of ideas to fix problems for next try(s). The agar gel seems again to block current flow. (I thought I had it working well about 3 years ago!)

   The main new idea in deciding to make it was to use an external clamp set for flat faced cells to prevent them from bulging. (Normally one clamp set would be used with multiple cells stacked in a row.) This should prevent the positive powder/paste electrodes from swelling by bulging out the flat faces, and losing their electrical conductivity in the process. A successful flat plate cell will eliminate my desire to make copper bodied cylindrical cells, which seems to be beyond my level of metal working techniques.

Some features of the 'failed' cell seemed to be progress:

1. The external clamps idea. Of course, multiple cells for a higher working voltage (12V, 36V...) would be sandwiched in one clamp set.
2. Using plumber's ABS cement instead of methylene chloride to 'glue' the case pieces together. Although the cell leaked at first, smearing some more ABS cement on the joins fixed it, where it rarely did with methylene chloride. (If only I could make them not leak in the first place... but there's almost no way to test them until the cell is filled.)
3. Melted beeswax seemed to seal the electrode terminals well. But it wasn't a complete test because of the initial leak.
4. I got two ideas about the gelling to prevent zincate ion migration: (a) to incorporate potassium chloride into the gel when making it might give it the good current flow capacity that is now lacking; and (b) to try PVA (poly vinyl alcohol) as a gel instead of agar. I've ordered some.

   I think I may have already tried incorporating potassium chloride into an agar gel. Maybe that was one that worked well? If so I missed that that had been a factor in the success at the time. (I should read over some of my earlier TE News battery work! 2019?)
   I also did a bit of reading on PVA. Evidently it gels if frozen to -20°c overnight or for 24 hours and then thawed again, about 4 times. That would allow making the cell and adding chloride salt electrolyte [with ?10% PVA] as a liquid solution, then turning it into a "battery lasts forever" gel after construction.

[July 7th] Late note: I pried the top face off the cell. To my surprise I did it without destroying it. The ABS cement seems to make a much weaker bond than methylene chloride. I found the beeswax had flowed deep into the cell and had blocked my attempted refillings of the leaked electrolyte. It looked very dry inside. I added KCl electrolyte and put it on charge and soon it was performing properly again, with a momentary short circuit current of over 1.5 amps.

DIY EV Stuff

   I thought I would try a 6 to 1 planetary reduction in the Chevy Sprint and see how much more 'pep' and hill climbing ability it would have than with the 5 to 1, without reducing the already low top speed too much. In a table were listed 2 to 1 up to 10 to 1, and I ordered 6. It turns out that 6 to 1 isn't actually available. It was 7 to 1 or forget it, and I decided on the latter. I may not have got to it this year or next anyway. Better to get the EV truck on the road again.

   I had put the planetary gear and connecting shaft on the Miles EV truck to replace the crappy transmission, but it started to dawn on me that with them not being firmly affixed to each other, the spline on the shaft would likely twist and move around a bit, and probably wear out pretty fast. (And I had pretty poor results trying to connect anything but the original splined shaft to the motor.) I got a 3 inch alume pipe, intending to make plates for the ends to bolt to the motor at the front and the planetary at the back. Then they would be solidly attached together in a very basic "transmission housing".
   So now I'm going to see if my MIG welder with flux core alume alloy wire will do some basic alume welding without an inert gas tank connected. If it works and does the basics for simple jobs I'll be content.

Sea Glider Electric Ground Effect Craft (by Regent, Boston USA): a Critique

The "Sea Glider" concept as a computer image.
The hydrofoil as shown could be a great wing structural reinforcement, but it would make docking more difficult.

   New ideas for an "electric ground effect ferry" are being promoted by two MIT engineers who seem to have lots of financial backing. Mostly, the layout looks like all those familiar "hard to fly", "tried and abandoned" ground effect craft designs. The wing is long and narrow, which produces the least ground effect lift -- that is, similar ground effect is to be had higher up with a wider, shorter wing. But the wing can't be lowered owing to the open propellers on motors underneath it. And it has the typical high-up rear elevator suitable for high altitude aircraft instead of an "instant pitch & elevation control" front canard, which should provide much superior longitudinal control and stability for a ground effect craft, but which is outside the range of thinking of most aeronautical engineers. (To be fair it was outside my range of thinking for 2 or 3 years into my own project, too.) And it appears to be only computer images to show the concept so far, not an actual working craft. I expect that once built it will have the same problems, especially in rough seas, that previous ground effect craft seem to have had. And to avoid wasting resources it should be built first as a radio controlled model. That might safely and economicly show up any number of shortcomings, but I didn't see it proposed.

   But there are two design innovations. First it's electric with eight open propellers instead of fossil fuel driven. It would take advantage of the lower energy usage of a ground effect craft compared to a high-flying aircraft to have double the range with the same "X" battery capacity. (With my design I hope for at least 3 times the range.) Then, by having so many props, they can be smaller and so made to clear the waves with a lower wing. Still it's less effective (IMHO) than still smaller diameter ducted fan propellers on a canard would be (which leaves the propellerless main wing to be almost down at the water line near the bottom of the craft for considerably more ground effect). I don't have calculations and figures for this, but it seems obvious that more propeller clearance with a lower wing is going to allow more ground effect lift, and mounted on a canard the craft will be more responsive and seaworthy at the lowest altitudes. The extra static thrust from ducted fans will obviously improve takeoffs, and of course it is further improved by being able to aim the canard up a little, so the fans blow the air under the wing(s) with a hovercraft-like additional lift before flying speed is attained.
   Second it has what appears to be a hydrofoil component. I imagine that this should reduce the power needed for water takeoffs. Instead of getting up "on the step", it gets up onto the hydrofoil which has upper and lower surface lift, surely allowing for acceleration to flight speed with less power.

Altered "Sea Glider" concept with wingtip flotation, also providing wingtip vortex reduction.
As shown, this would make it almost problematic to dock at any typical wharf or float.
(A 'catamaran' design allows one float to pull right up next to a wharf - and it
assumes any passengers on the far side can walk across the wide wing.)
Also noted: here the under wing motors seem to have become over the wing, but still the wing
seems so high up as to be getting out of best ground effect range even while sitting on the water.

   One image differs from the rest, showing a float on the end of a wing, and the wingtip bends down to meet it on the water. This would reduce end turbulence losses, similar to a catamaran layout or to the very large radio controlled "Wises" model with a canard that seemed so responsive on youtube. (I think I linked to that video in some TE News issue some years back.) So it looks like the design isn't entirely set in stone yet.

   But I suppose my sorts of designs would be so different to their visualizations and plans that they would reject them out of hand. Explaining any major change(s) of form to their "great design" as "pitched" to multiple investors could easily be a problem. The investors might see it as some admission that the team has found that their "fabulous" design was flawed and that they are unclear about what they are doing, rather than accepting it as a new concept that, while substantially altering the layout, should improve the potential viability and practicality of the whole project. The visual is the easily grasped and the investors probably largely "bought into" the idea more on the imagery presented and the engineering credentials of the proponents than what might unfold under actual development if it no longer matches the images. (I think that's a reason it's so hard to find funding for experimental development. Investors want the earlier experimental phases to (somehow, without funding) be complete and the design solidified before funding something.)

My model, pretty much unchanged for 2-1/2 years.
The original intended rear elevator simply became a fixed
back end of the wing when the superior canard idea came to me -
and then to put the "electric jets" propulsion on that canard.
(Details of my evolving design are in TE News issues mostly from 2018-2019.)

   Now as to my own ground effect craft, particularly a full-size one, I have nagging thoughts about the ducted fans on the canard, because of course they have to be kept out of the water on a rather low wing (at least on the model), and the canard must transfer all the thrust from the fans to the rest of the craft, so it and its linkages need to be very strong. A possible solution might be to make the canard (only) a "biplane", with the fans sandwiched between an upper and lower canard and the pivot point somewhere in the middle. Hopefully the pitch control trim would change little from zero to full thrust. (I suspect it will need to ailerons for better lateral control, too. I hope to avoid that complication in the model.) I may also give up on trying to control the two motors separately for steering since it isn't provided for in any radio control system, and just slap on a rudder - which it otherwise shouldn't need.

   As for the hydrofoil idea... it might be worth checking out! (All if I ever get that far, of course. For the time being I seem to have completely diverted to other things.)

   In conclusion an electric ground effect ferry is a fabulous idea. I tried to make a model and may still get it flying if I ever have time. A fast, seaworthy 'air ferry' is my ultimate goal. It would really open up travel in island archipelagos and along mountainous "fjord" coastlines where roads are difficult and circuitous. But various ground effect craft that look like airplanes have been tried and abandoned. I don't know of any operating commercially. From what I can gather they seem to be hard to drive/fly and are unstable especially in rough water. "Sea Glider" prototypes may fly, but it is probably not going to be a success.

Water as energy storage?

   On youtube someone had a 50W solar panel and a small water pump. He mounted a 200 liter barrel on the peak of his roof (7 meters height) and had the pump fill it during the day powered by sunshine. At night he had a miniature turbine use the water to light an LED light. The power available from this considerable project was demonstrated by comparing the energy stored to that of a single "AA" battery. To get hydro power to meet any real energy needs a lot of water, and preferably a considerable "head" for it to flow up and down, are required. (The 7 meters height was good. Just a barrel of water is almost nothing. A swimming pool that high up should provide a more useful level of energy... but maybe not on the house roof.)

"Solar" Deep Well Pump

   I ordered a 24 volt DC well pump (somewhere on AliExpress.com). It arrived on the 22nd. It was beautifully packed in plywood box with 12 metal clamps bent over to hold it shut and the whole covered in yellow tape. It was also a great looking product, with a separate BLDC motor motor controller that looks waterproof and a 16 page instruction book. The book says one can power it with batteries or directly from solar panels.
   I can imagine it must pump water about as efficiently as is possible. It's 300 watts, so 12.5 amps at 24 volts.

More LiFePO4 Battery Cells

   My friend Jim at AGO Environmental Electronics in Victoria (BC) found a place in China to import 302 amp-hour cells from, and he bought a considerable batch of them. I bought four from him, which I can use either in parallel for an extremely high amperage HHO torch system power supply (3.6V), or in series as a 12 volt battery.
   Recently I had also got four direct from China myself, 280 amp-hours. They took months to come. (The seller explained that they were stuck in a ship off the port of Vancouver, which was very backlogged owing to the flooding the previous spring.)

   Anyway, in comparing the two they certainly seemed to be made in the same factory. The 302 amp-hour ones had the terminals farther apart, were about 5mm taller and a pound or so heavier. "+" and "-" were not very well identified on either set. Use a voltmeter!

In Passing
(Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)

Everybody's Garbage Problem

   When I go for a walk on the beach when the tides run higher (new moon, full moon), and if I chance to venture up near the high tide mark, I usually find a bottle or two... and some disintegrating polystyrene foam... and more, and more, and I sometimes come home with an armload - all I can carry without having brought a bag, even for a few days in a row.
   This is the "pristine" northern BC coast where few people live. Should and would there be any cleaner beaches anywhere in the world? Beaches everywhere where no one lives to clean it up are probably just rolling with plastic junk.

   I've seen videos of garbage trucks backing up to the edge of a bridge and dumping garbage into the river, one after another after another. From there of course it flows into the sea. From there, Asia's garbage problem becomes everyones' garbage problem. Especially if you live by the sea. Most of these, having no remaining labels, might be passed off as North American "local" garbage with nowhere to point the finger and no doubt much of it is, but how much of it drifts across the Pacific from the other side?

USA: "Civil Service" Run Amok

   In the USA, civil servants are protected by civil service unions. The president can't fire or dismiss them. But many unelected officials have a big say in determining or influencing US policies, including foreign policy. This (along with many other things) gives the established oligarchy great power over the people's elected representatives. Thus they hamstring any attempts by those elected to make changes unwelcome to themselves or their sponsors (the military industrial complex, the big corporations, the big banks, big pharma, big ag, big tech...) - to "drain the swamp", so to speak. Policies decreed by unelected officials and set in motion hampered both Obama and Trump (not to mention other previous presidents) in their attempts at reforms to set national policies more in line with what Americans wanted. The bureaucracy, accountable only to itself, has in large measure seized the reigns of government and it is small wonder that it doesn't seem to matter who is elected any more - and most of the candidates are vetted and approved by this same "deep state" in the nomination processes. What a great perpetual gravy train!

   Not long before leaving office Trump started to see what these arrangements were doing and signed an executive order declaring a "Schedule F" category of civil servants who would not have civil service union protection owing to their positions as policymakers and influencers. The president would have the power to dismiss "Schedule F" civil servants. The order demanded a thorough review of the whole civil service to see who would qualify. It looked like it would be a large number. This would in theory have gutted the power of the unelected Washington establishment and returned it to elected administrations. Small wonder then that the entire oligarchy was so desperate to eject Trump from office in 2020 by every means moral and immoral, legal and illegal, however brazen. (The mass media is part of this oligarchy and has repeatedly told us that nothing untoward had happened. The election fraud and irregularities uncovered in various states since the election also receives no coverage.)
   Biden reversed this landmark reform immediately on assuming office. There is probably no hope of meaningful reform in the USA now without a complete collapse of the government. This is probably coming.

Russia & Ukraine Again (oh no, not again!)

* Pierre de Gaulle, grandson of Charles de Gaulle, gave a rather scathing condemnation of France's role in the Ukraine conflict, in submitting to NATO and the aggressive American policies which "seek to divide Europe", speaking at a well attended reception at the Russian embassy in Paris on "Russia Day". He mentioned the overlooking of militancy and nazification of Ukraine by the West and said it was in France's interest to have good relations with Russia.
   Naturally, this was not reported in Western media, apparently not even in France. (I saw it on rt.com - French) Western media is doing a great job of painting the West White, Ukraine White and Russia Black.

* News reports here had it that Donetsk was being shelled by Russian forces, who targeted even a maternity hospital. Reporting that Russians were assaulting their own allies' capital is more than just a mistake. It is a lie, propaganda pure and simple, counting on confusing people unfamiliar with names, events and places to demonize Russia. The Ukrainians have been dug in and strongly fortified just north and west of Donetsk since 2014 and of course that's where the artillery shells were coming from. (Why? at this point is another question. Diversion?)

* To say that there are a lot of Westerners who look at this conflict and entirely disagree with the line their own governments have taken, would be an understatement. Of course, they are reluctant to speak up owing to the majority having swallowed once again the narrative the mass media has been feeding us, and who are unwilling to believe that our once proud, candid and free media has become a programmed part of a propaganda machine. No other views (and no unwanted topics) are to be given any publicity or credence. (Walter Cronkite must be rolling over in his grave!)
   Those who call for unity need to be on the side of truth and good and fairness. Unity can't be had by deceit and manipulative machinations with hidden agendas and goals. Only Russians have become more unified by events, and more and more indignant at the Western world.

* "Most corrupt nation in Europe" Ukraine continues to fight and to lose territory, and they continue to incite the strongest adverse reaction from Russia and Russian speaking people that they are able. They have made the Russian language illegal in schools when half their population speaks Russian, and now banned Russian books and music. I understand they have also, having taken their assets some years ago, thrown opposition party leaders in jail. Some democracy! What Russian speaking person in Ukraine would want to remain loyal to such a government? Are they not igniting more bitter internal sentiment likely to lead to further separatist actions, for example in Odessa and Kharkov?

* Russia has offered to give safe passage to grain ships wishing to ship Ukrainian grain, to help the nations where there is a fast developing food crisis, and even to send its minesweepers ahead of the grain ships. But Ukraine doesn't want to lift the sea mines in front of its ports in case Russia might try a seaborne assault on one or more of them. The West wants to send warships into the Black Sea to protect the grain ships - an escalation toward a truly deadly third world war.
   Putin has suggested that another simple way to get Ukrainian grain out would be to ship it by train to the Baltic via Belarus and Lithuania. (It can't go through Poland easily owing to differing railway gauges.) The UN is just hemming and hawing about that plan, too.
   Russian and Greek ships carrying grain from the Black Sea, which the Russians say is theirs but which Ukraine asserts is stolen Ukrainian grain, have been stopped in Turkey. (I'm describing at least two separate incidents and am blurring some details. The point is that the grain seems to be being stopped rather than delivered.)
   The UN and the West throw all the blame on Russia (for a crisis that was already developing in 2021 but obviously made worse by events), but are they really sincere about wanting to get Ukraine's food to the needy?

   Russia has said it is not now going to give Zaporizhia or Kherson regions back. First, the land route through Donbass to the Perekop neck of Crimea is through Zaporizhia and the southern edge of Kherson.
   Then, in Soviet times if not before, a canal was made from the Dneiper river through Kherson, across Perekop and into Crimea to provide water to the once rather dry peninsula. When in 2014 Crimea (mostly Russian speaking) voted to separate from Ukraine, and then to rejoin Russia (90+% "for"... which the West calls an "annexation" of Crimea), for spite Ukraine blocked the water just short of the border. Russia has reportedly spent a billion dollars shipping water to Crimea since then.
   What incentive does Russia have to relinquish these hard-won territories which are more geographicly valuable to them than to Ukraine as well as having a majority of Russian speaking residents, and give them to a Ukraine that seems to hate half their own people so much as to deny them their own language, and to deliberately cut off plentiful, freely available water to those who need it? Ukraine having never honored the Minsk accords it signed in 2015, not having negotiated peace when it would still have been advantageous and having done these hateful, spiteful things, it would surely amount to a betrayal of the Russian speaking majorities in Zaporizhia and Kherson to give - to abandon - them back to Ukraine's tender mercies, as well as allowing Ukraine to cut off the water to Crimea again. And within these areas Russia is more being welcomed as a liberator than seen as an invader.
   Russia has, after three decades of trying to get along, also now pretty much given up caring what the West thinks about anything, too. The West certainly hasn't cared what Russia thinks for a long time. I think that is a shame when Russia has come so far from monarchy and then the horrible communist era into liberty with representative democratic government and a free economy, which one hopes may continue to develop and mature after the current brilliant and now long-time president is gone from the scene. (The West OTOH seems to be transforming itself a dictatorial oligarchy with a democratic façade.) Having been kicked out of the "G8", Russia is forming a new "G8" economic block with China, India and others (eg, Iran, Argentina) who are applying to join, the "BRICS" (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). The "West", I hear, has 15% of the world's population. This new block will represent much of the other 85%.

   I think Ukraine has "lost the plot". Either that or Zelensky truly was affronted and alarmed in 2019 when he was elected (on "Peace in the Donbass") and went to visit the Azov battalion, and when he said "I am your president", they laughed at him. They may have reminded him of the politicians who disagreed with their agendas who have been murdered so far. Perhaps he saw that there was no way to govern the country with these "state within a state" forces on the loose, and he actually goaded Russia deliberately into attacking in order to eliminate them, almost regardless of cost to the nation. Certainly his statements prior to the invasion about "renouncing Ukraine's non-nuclear status", "joining NATO" and wanting the Donbas and Crimea (and Crimea?!?) back, and moving these same extremist militaristic forces into position to attack them, could hardly have been more provocative and demanding of Russian action. And the obstinate refusal to seriously negotiate peace so far may be because there are still a lot of them left. When the Russian allied forces have finished eliminating the neonazi organizations, which are mostly in he Donbass, perhaps then Zelensky will want peace.
   But if this is true, he is certainly playing a very fine double game, convincing the West to send more and more resources to keep up the morale of the extremists so they don't give up the fight, as they are gradually beaten out of the territories they have terrorized for 8 years, village by village, town by town, city by city, by a well armed and supplied Russia and the Donbassians that are suffering very light losses and are thought to have fewer men in the field than Ukraine does. (And it would seem many of the weapons supplied are ending up on the "black market" for use elsewhere.)

   In a fair and sweeping general referendum, I have a feeling Ukraine would lose still more territory to Russia, and probably in the west to Poland. Maybe even to Romania, Belarus and Moldova. (Before WWII part of what is now Western Ukraine was part of Poland. Stalin moved it. Lvov was Polish. Journalist Pepe Escobar has said it's a "Polish wet dream" to reoccupy that area.) Would there or will there or should there still be a Ukrainian state, and consisting of which oblasts/provinces?

   But the West as a whole also seems to despise Russia and everything Russian. Against all we claim to stand for we provide weapons and pay to violent neonazis (the "state within a state" in Ukraine), supporting them to inflict harm on Russian speaking people since 2014. The head of NATO, Stoltenberg, let slip at the recent NATO summit that that was the plan ever since 2014 if not earlier. When Russia finally acted to protect and free the oppressed in February 2022, we put all the long planned (but apparently ill-conceived) "sanctions" into effect against it. Now Lithuania wants to prevents goods from going from the main part of Russia to the disconnected Kalingrad part of Russia through its territory, in violation of agreements made 30 years ago as a condition for Lithuanian independence and in effect ever since.
   The Soviet Union and communism were worth fearing and hating. Communism in its early decades believed it was "manifest destiny" that communism should rule the world, and that "the ends justify the means" ("means" including fomenting violent uprisings and starting major wars.) Well, means are ends in the making, and such an aggressive ideology is long gone even within "Communism".
   Why today should we still treat Russia after 3 decades of progress in fostering democracy, economic growth and liberty as if it was an evil ideological beast seeking world domination, according it hateful, discriminatory treatment we would say was unfair and unjust if it were accorded to any other nation doing similar things? We don't even treat autocratic China (purge against its own Uighur peoples), Soggy Arabia (bombing Yemen for years now) or other dictatorships with such disdain. Are we against democracy?

* On July 3rd Lugansk announced that with the support of Russia's forces, it had liberated all of its territory. One of the objectives of Russia's "Special Military Operation" has been achieved. One suspects the Donetsk territories still occupied by the neonazi brigades will follow.

Smol Thots

* I had switched from spraying & rubbing alcohol on my scalp from weekly to monthly. I might have missed a month. A brief dream or vision of baldness came to me as I was waking up one morning. That convinced me to go back to every Saturday.

* Why is it that left handed people need right handed scissors to cut their toenails, while right handed people need left handed scissors?

* Why aren't left handed scissors more common when so many people are right handed?

* No need to ask why right handed people buy special toenail clippers when it's so hard to find left handed scissors.

* Some people have been saying that renewable energy is no solution to our energy needs. Indeed, what keeps happening is that as we finally have started making more and more renewable energy, the population still keeps on expanding. (And homelessness just keeps on growing as more and more housing is built.) As the total energy requirements go up for more and more people, we need just as much non-renewable energy as we did before or even more. The truth is that none of our biggest problems can be solved until the ever-growing population problem is solved. But present conditions suggest that it is about to be solved involuntarily in spite of anything we can do.

   In the 1800s and early 1900s our food production, medical and health standards and techniques improved dramaticly, leading to a huge reduction in tragic premature deaths of all kinds (war deaths excepted). Ideally that would have been accompanied by a corresponding reduction in family sizes. But since, globally, we didn't curtail population growth after we hit 3 billion people in 1960 or after the birth control pill became widely available a few years later, nor at any time following, exponential growth was bound to bring us to the end of the planet's resources needed to sustain far too many lives. As someone put it, we would need 2-1/2 Earths to sustain the present population. Or, if the craziest of dreams could magicly come true and we shipped half the population to "terraformed" Mars, both planets would already be overpopulated.
   After 1965-1970 or so, as competition grew and quality of life dropped, "Western" lands started having smaller families and the birth rate dropped sharply. I thought that was great, that whatever happened in the "Third World", the more developed lands at least would be stable. Instead, our short-sighted leaders saw all those excess people from other lands as sources of cheap labour and started importing them by the millions, year after year, decade after decade. Even when the phenomenon of epidemic homeless people began in about 1980-1982 the policy was unchanged: import more people!
   In most lands those peoples who had achieved and maintained higher standards of living and culture continued to be squeezed by the ever increasing competition for land and housing and responded by having even smaller families or no children. Not only would our populations rise and rise along with those parts of the world still having far too many children, but we who built these cultures have become minorities most everywhere in our own lands. And "culture" seems to be going by the wayside as life becomes cheap.

   But perhaps the more violent and antisocial, the sadly inferior and the social predators of all races will tend to be eliminated in large proportions in the coming hard times, while the more discerning, more insightful, more reasoning, more patient, more social, more spiritual and more willing to serve will tend to survive. "The moderate [or 'meek'] will inherit the Earth." said Jesus. The quality of world civilization is ultimately determined by the quality of its people, and losing much of the lower strata may bring the promise of a utopia much closer to realization. One can only pray and have faith that "No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should." as Pierre Trudeau once put it.

(Eccentric Silliness Department)

* Besides a couple of subtle letter changes, what is the difference between
"cooperation" and
"corporation"? How close are they to being opposites?

* Why do crescent wrenches always adjust in the direction opposite to the one you try first?

   "in depth reports" for each project are below. I hope they may be useful to anyone who wants to get into a similar project, to glean ideas for how something might be done, as well as things that might have been tried, or just thought of and not tried... and even of how not to do something - why it didn't work or proved impractical. Sometimes they set out inventive thoughts almost as they occur - and are the actual organization and elaboration in writing of those thoughts. They are thus partly a diary and are not extensively proof-read for literary perfection, consistency, completeness and elimination of duplications before publication. I hope they may add to the body of wisdom for other researchers and developers to help them find more productive paths and avoid potential pitfalls and dead ends.

Electric Transport

(No Reports)

Other "Green" & Electric Equipment Projects


   As usual I just did some not very innovative food gardening. Again quite a lot of it, but I didn't think to write much about it as I worked. (Anyway there's lots of good gardening channels on youtube! - Pay attention to the different climates the presenters are growing in and find those that approximately match yours.)

   But here are some pictures. Lots of potatoes are growing nicely. (so is the grass between the rows.) If there really is a food crunch, potatoes is the simple "calories" crop to keep one going. I have white ones, red ones, plus (meat and skin) purple ones, pink ones and maybe some yellow.

The "old garden" plot with 3-1/2 rows of potatoes 25 feet long and grass growing tall between and beyond.
I considered it too shaded to grow anything until I cut down 3 trees just south of it this spring...
then I said "It's probably bright enough there now for potatoes!"
Luckily the deer don't seem to care for potatoes and I can grow them outside of fenced areas.

"Potato Hill" next to the main garden - an 8 by 9 foot patch that started as volunteers in a pile of dirt.
I "fluffed up" the dirt with a shovel this spring as potatoes grow biggest in loose soil.

The north side of the main garden with (yes)... more potatoes.
Beyond them, raspberries. (hidden in there somewhere, a few other vegetables.)

Ssouth side of the main garden.
Farthest back, black currant and josta bushes and a giant rhubarb
are hidden behind a tall 10 foot long row of peas. (The birds have been
eating the berries. If I want any I'll have to cover them.)
In front of the peas besides profuse weeds (including potatoes) are
various vegetables: beans, lots of carrots, kale (volunteers!),
cabbage, turnips, radishes, beets...
Front right a new row of peas. (nothing for them to climb on yet!)

I made a new "hidden" pond next to the garden.
I used a small pond liner (and "Ikea sofa back frame" guard to keep the otters,
raccoons and herons out), both brought from Victoria when I moved.
3 tiny "pond comet" goldfish for just 17.50$ each.
(They have to be rushed air freight, couriered at both ends: "It's the water they're in that costs a fortune to ship."
She said they were cheaper when someone on the island was raising them... but an otter got those.
An otter got mine twice in Victoria. They catch and eat them all in one sitting.)

I bought a 10 by 15 foot tube frame & plastic cover greenhouse and put my potted
plants in it to make more room in the main greenhouse.
But something (leafhoppers in the grass?) was eating the peppers
and I had to put them outside on my porch, despite peppers liking heat.

The corn in the main greenhouse. A few of the plants are doing much better than the rest.
(Why? Hmm... The seeds were of more than one variety. I'll save some from the big ones - assuming I get cobs!)

The other end of the greenhouse.
Zucchini, squashes, tomatos, beans, a big volunteer cabbage or broccoli or cauliflower. (not sure yet!)
Fruit trees not doing well (got dried out over winter when I forget to water?), grape vine not as bad.
Asparagus jungle is to my right.

Squash plants seem to just sit there, then suddenly they start running along the ground and occupying
more and more space. I finally found why the edges of the leaves turn yellow: potassium deficiency.
I guess I should mix in more woodstove ashes when I'm planting?

House south wall garden: garlic planted last fall, sunflowers
started in pots in spring, many & various onions, chives, mint, 5 blueberry bushes.
Strawberries (a variety that actually makes berries here!) are under camera.
The birds seem to have just discovered them and I'll have to cover them if I want any more berries.

[15th] After overnight soaking, I sprinkled kamut wheat seeds on the lawn near the chicken coop. I then used the pressure nozzle on a garden hose and blasted the ground where the seeds were. Hopefully some will have dug in a bit and start growing. I used about 2 cups of seeds.
[21st] The deer have been going through there eating everything. If I don't get fences up, there will be no barley or wheat. (Finally done early July.)

[19th] My bee palace is still sitting out there empty. But as I approached a scotch broom bush, it was buzzing. The buzzing subsided. It seemed my approach had spooked the bees and they had left. I only got a glimpse of part of one in a flower on the far side before it too departed. They were either quite small bumblebees or honeybees.
   It occurred to me that if honeybees were living farther inland on this island, away from the cold sea breezes, if anything would entice them to come visit down here by the shore, it would probably be the broom flowers!
   Next day I got a better look. They were small bumblebees.

[July 2nd, 3rd] It was sunny and warm, and this time there were a few actual honey bees! They had a higher pitched buzz than the bumble bees. I guess if there's a swarm I have a chance they'll find my hive.
[July 7th] It belatedly occurred to me to smear a little honey onto frames inside the beehive. A smell to attract them. Hopefully there'll be more warm days with honey bees around!

 I think some of my crops are suffering a lot from there being so few honey bees around - like just a few apples (or often none) on trees that should be producing in abundance by now. (At least there are a few this year, after planting a third tree and all my efforts at hand pollination!)

Upper: Flowering broom with bee palace on hill behind.
Lower: Yellow, deep red and two-tone flowering broom.

Plastic Recycling 2.0

Big Oven

   Inevitably when I assembled another new chemistry battery cell, everything else fell by the wayside for a while. But I wanted to get back to this.

[21st] I cut the inner, foam insulated lid as it was slightly longer than the original lid. I took out a couple of inches of the foam insulation and bent the metal end over to form a new edge, in order that it would fit just inside the original lid all the way around.

[22nd] I finished prepping the inner lid, removing plastic bits and stuffing foam in holes and gaps where pieces had been. Then I bent the underhangs on the original lid out to vertical, so that the other lid would fit just inside.

   Then I decided to use them the other way around: the original lid facing down into the oven with its vertical edges all around facing up and with its original fiberglass insulation inside. Then the foam insulated lid would go metal side up on top of that. So it would still have metal inside and outside. I figure the fiberglass is the best insulation for the inside. The one drawback is that instead of rain running off, it would want to fill the inside of the lid. I'll have to keep it dry. I probably would have to/want to anyway. I screwed the two together with "self drilling" sheet metal screws.

   I did my best, but the lid still being anything but flat and straight there's some fair gaps around the rim. Since they are irregular and it will get hot I'm not sure what to do about those other than staple on some fiberglass or rock wool onto the body piece all the way around. (Yuk!)

[30th] I started wiring the temperature control and heating element components. (The little control goes in the big space at the left end.) I got to the point where I wanted a terminal block to tie down the 230V wires. (the one from the original oven.) I couldn't find it and the work session devolved into a frustrating search. (I finally found it in some clutter on July 4th - right where I had thought it was but didn't see it for looking. Clutter, clutter... but if I was a "declutterer" I'd have thrown the strip out with the oven instead of keeping it in case it would be useful... and the other potentially useful things in that pile that I may or may not ever use. Still, it seems to be getting out of hand.)

Lawn Grass Wall Insulation!

   In investigating eel grass insulation, scanty information seemed to suggest that lawn grass had a higher "R" value. That probably makes it better than most any wall insulation except extruded polystyrene or polyurethane. So it'd make for the lowest heating bills of anything affordable and it's "green" (so to speak) and free for the cutting and drying, no itch or health hazard, and is easily recycleable someday when the building comes down. I have an acre+ to mow and a lawn tractor. And a rake. I got some woven plastic bags, which "breathe". That way if the grass isn't totally dry when I bag it it'll continue to dry, not sit and moulder. I let the grass get pretty tall before I mowed it. (One might just call the product "hay". or even use it as hay if you have sheep or cows. But "hay" is usually not chopped up so fine, the grass stalks being kept full length in the mowing.)
   After I mowed part of the lawn and let the cut grass dry in the sun (or clouds!), I put some of it on wire racks under cover to get still drier. Then I bagged it somewhat loosely, stuffing it in but not very hard. That way it wasn't crushed down and had air space to get it drier. (I may skip the "drying racks" step if the grass is pretty dry to start with, and just bag it. Grocery store big onion bags, chicken feed bags, grain bags...)

[21st] It still needed a test, and I needed to estimate how many bags I would need. I stapled some plastic up to about 5 feet from the base of the wall studs in the cabin. I took a bag of the dried grass and "fluffed" it as I poured it loosely into the 16 inch centers wall space. It filled nicely. It took about 3/5 or 2/3 of a bag to fill that space.

   But the plastic bulged out considerably. I screwed a piece of plywood over the next stud and filled it up to over 4 feet high. It took less than the remaining grass in the bag. So it might be one bag per 12 foot tall wall stud, which suggests I'll need around 100 bags of grass. At the rate I've been working on the cabin, I have at least 2 summers to collect all that grass!

   When I unscrewed the plywood the plastic bulged out and the loose grass settled into about 3/4 of the height. I have the impression that if it's just slightly patted in at the top, it all goes down a bit. I think it won't settle further and leave an uninsulated gap at the top.

   I won't use plastic ("vapor barrier") behind the gyproc walls. The outside walls are thin plywood, an air space, and the alume siding. I think with the gyproc inside, the tiny natural amount of circulation in that should keep the wall space dry, and that it should "breathe". (And the fluffy, loose grass is still less likely to settle against the slightly rough gyproc than against smooth polyethylene.)

   For the attic/ceiling I have already bought fiberglass batts. I don't want exposed grass anywhere. It should be plenty safe sealed inside the walls. I will also surround electrical boxes in the walls with a piece of fiberglass batt.

[28th] The efficacy of grass at stopping air flow is demonstrated by the fact that if you have a fluffy layer 3 or 4 inches thick, the grass at the top dries, but an inch or inch and a half down seems to be just as wet days later and it starts going mouldy. So drying the grass in wire racks under cover turned out not to work so well. I had to keep turning it to put the wettest grass on top, and it was taking many days. While not entirely impractical for small quantities, it would seem the easiest way is to mow it and leave it where it lies to dry in the sun -- and hope for sun. Thus the saying "Make hay while the sun shines." is literally very true. For a big field of grass/hay any other way of drying would require heat and ventilated air with the grass being tossed around or otherwise circulated, which be very energy intensive and probably with lots of dust coming out.
   A neighbor was mowing a lawn on his lawn tractor and collecting the grass in a catcher. It turned out he was just dumping it, so I had him dump it on my lawn, and I spread it out to dry.

Spreading out grass from a pile next door to dry in the sun.                 
[29th] I chanced again to talk to my neighbor. He mentioned that if I wanted more he had dumped it in the bushes in a certain place and that I should take my lawn tractor over there with the trailer. I had doubts about collecting anything but the latest mowing, but he had spread it out, dumping in an area rather than one tall pile, and I got a trailer full. I again took it and shook it out over a wide area of my lawn to dry. (Now if only the sun would come out!)

   In doing that, in addition to the unexpectedly apparently poor air circulation within loose grass, the almost "ephemeral" light weight of dry loose grass suddenly made me think of silica aerogel, and I started wondering if it might be even better insulation than I had expected. From a table on Wikipedia the best insulator is a "vacuum plate" (R 14-60), silica aerogel is R-10, and urethane, styrene and other closed cell foams are in the range of about 5.5 to 7. Fiberglass is about R3 to 4. What if grass was R- 6 or 8 or even 10 per inch? R-10 would give R-35 in a typical "2 by 4" stud wall! (Fiberglass batts give R-12.) Wouldn't that be a incredible?!? R5 would give the 2 by 4 wall R-18... so why make fat 6 inch thick walls?
   And if the open loop air heat pumping (When I or somebody gets it working well - TE News issues around spring 2020) is able to provide a COP of 10 or so, giving 1000W of heat for 100W of electricity, the cost to heat a house (measured in energy or money) should be quite low.

   The way to find out relative insulation values for sure would be to run some controlled tests. As if I needed another project on top of all my other projects besides just pouring it into the walls of the cabin! But at present I don't think any such tests have ever been done and so using dried grass as wall insulation is a total wild card. It seems like something worth doing.

[30th] I had thought of making a miniature plywood structure with inner and outer walls, with a 2 inch air gap between on all six sides, and insulating it with the materials to be tested. Then I would put a 25 watt light bulb inside and see what temperature it rose to compared to the room temperature. Overnight it occurred to me it would probably be easier to just use cardboard boxes - if I could find two the right sizes. Rats! I had a large and growing stack of them and I just finally burned them all a week ago. How does it "always" seem to work out that way? But cardboard is easy to slice and tape pieces together, too. Pick one box (I already have a couple of new ones) and cut and tape to make the other.

[early July] I ran some quick tests in cardboard boxes that seemed to show grass was good insulation, but not fantastic. (More next month.)

   Also my neighbor mowed again an brought over a small trailer stuffed full behind his quad. We spread it around. I seem to be having trouble finding more bags, and the sun hasn't shown itself much to dry the grass on the lawn. (I have 32 bags as of writing.)

Electricity Storage

Gelled Nickel-Zinc Batteries (take: 30 or 40)


[13th] Having discovered last month that external flat metal end clamp sets were used to hold set of flat lithium cells with weak faces and prevent them from bulging (in fact, ballooning out), I decided to try again to make flat gelled Ni-Zn cells and use that technique, since I had had some success with them previously, but they weakened as the faces bulged out, expanding the powder/paste electrode materials so they conducted poorly.


   Having had such limited success with nickel manganates +odes (so far), I decided this one would just be pieces of NiOOH from a Ni-MH "D" cell. And while cupro-nickel had mostly seemed to work as a current collector, in one "recent" cell the terminal had corroded off at or above the water line. So this time I would use graphite sheets.

   I now had two ideas for zinc -odes: one was to electroplate copper foil with zinc as before, but then to run the spongy plated sheets through the rolling mill to press the zinc firmly onto the copper. The second was to electroplate graphite felt with zinc.
   The graphite felt idea seemed a bit "iffy". It would make an electrode with a high surface area and hence capable of very high currents, but just flat zinc is quite good without embellishment. And it seemed to me that if it had a super high surface area, it would take an awful lot of osmium doped layer to cover it all, and osmium is costly so I don't want to use a whole lot extra.

   So electroplated "copper foil" (thin copper sheet) it would be, at least at first. If current drive was too low or it didn't seem to utilize the zinc very well I could try the other. Or, I also had some copper expanded grille which might add surface area to a copper sheet. But first the simple sheet.

   Now, how big? The rolling mill is 3 inches wide, so to be reasonable 2.5 inches might be a good maximum width. With a heavy alume plates clamp set, the faces could theoreticly be any length. I think my electroplating tank (glass peanut butter jar) is up to 6 inches deep. I actually made them about 65 by 90 mm.

   It seems to me using ABS plumbing cement results in fewer leaks than thin methylene chloride solvent/glue by itself, so that's the glue.

   For 3D printing cover parts I have the problem that the old 3D printer won't run, and the new one won't print ABS without a hot air gun blowing on the work. yuk! But it would be really nice to print the top, bottom and side edges in one piece and then glue one face on, assemble the cell in the "box" thus made, and then glue the other face on. Well, hot air gun it is then. And maybe I'll shrink that to 3" by 4" outside dimensions for now and hope for good results with the printer.

(And if I ever got really good at it, the top face of one box can be the bottom of the next, eliminating almost 1/2 the cover sheets.)

   There's a plan. Success is probably all in the implementation. The cells need to not leak and not expand, even under some pressure. It can be done... can I do it? It sounded simple in 2008, but I've made a lot of leaky cells since then. In general it's hard to impossible to check for leaks until the whole cell is assembled and all the work has gone into it.

   Another way to increase capacity with fewer cells is to put more electrodes into each cell. I decided to try putting one double sided zinc electrode between two nickel hydroxide electrodes in the first cell. So the zinc electrode had to be prepared on both faces.
   For surer results, the nickel electrodes would be electrode bits from an old Ni-MH "D" cell with graphite foil current collectors behind them.


[14th] I cut two sheets of copper foil 65mm * 90mm with a tab (terminal) on one end 20mm long * 12mm wide. All going well, that area (58.5 sq.cm) should be able to deliver at the very least 1.5 amps (@ 25mA/sq.cm) without serious voltage drop -- and double that with the double sided zinc electrode - at least 3 amps. To get higher currents, stack more electrodes, double sided except for the two on the ends, into a thicker case. (50-100mA/sq.cm are common figures for these sorts of cells, but I won't get my hopes up too high.)
   Then I cut a couple of thin zinc sheets to plate both sides, and slid them with a copper sheet between the two zincs into the plastic holder, and that into the zinc chloride plating jar. It drew about 7-8 amps at 1.5 volts. The unplated sheets of copper weighed 7.3g.
   On inspection, the one in the jar had quickly turned silvery color, then started to get blacker - zinc dendrites? Whatever, I decided it wasn't good. It brushed off easily with a toothbrush and made it a more "normal" plated sheet. Feeling with my fingers it had a more coarse, snadpapery texture near the bottom... So! The notorious zinc dendrites were forming near the bottom, which was plating more heavily than the top. That meant that that 'scunge' was probably actually inhibiting the plating. I decided to pull it out every few minutes and brush it off. In about 10 minutes (dried with a paper towel) it weighed 8.1g - so around .8g of zinc (~.65 theoretical amp-hours) plated on. Another 10 made it 8.8g after brushing off and drying, and 35 made it 9.2.
   But a micrometer showed the plating was nothing like even. The unplated copper tab was .15mm thick, near the top of the sheet was .18, the middle was .2 and the bottom was over .7mm. I put it back in upside down. That left it standing on its tab with ~15mm of the thick bottom out of the solution.
   It occurred to me it might be more uniform if the solution was stirred, or at least agitated. Also that there were two dead circulation spaces between the three sheets because of the plastic sides and bottom. That might contribute to unevenness even if it was being stirred. Maybe I could rig up a better holder (openings in bottom & sides), make so it would stand above the magnetic stirrer?

   After over 2 hours the piece weighed 12.2g, so about 4.9g of zinc had been plated onto the copper. After running it through the rolling mill a bit (not squashing very hard), the thicker areas had a mottled, slightly shiny appearance while the thinner (so less if not un- pressed) center area was darker. I decided it was good enough.

   4.9g * .82 AH/g = 4.0 amp-hours theoretical.

Right: The sacrificed zinc sheet anodes. Probably couldn't have got much more out of them!

   Thinking about what current drive to expect... the "D" cells might have been 30 amps or so. (Not without considerable voltage drop!) Their rolled up electrodes were about 45mm * 460mm. That's about 207 sq.cm. 30A/207=145mA/sq.cm. That's an awful lot of current per interface area, but zinc should be at least as good as metal hydride, and I'm using the same nickel side. That would make my cell's theoretical capacity about 17 amps. Tall order! But I'd call 3 amps maintaining decent voltage a qualified success.

58 sq.cm / 207 sq.cm = .28 of the 10 amp-hour nickel electrode - 2.8 amp-hours. But I'm putting nickel electrode on both sides of the double sided zinc one - 5.6 amp-hours. That's more than the zinc electrode, so no point doubling up the nickel pieces. And a single layer should make for highest currents.

[15th] I decided to avoid 3D printing and cut pieces of the thinnest ABS sheet (1/16", 1.5mm) for the faces and 1/4" by 1/4" lengths for the edges. I left a tab sticking up on one face to protect the soft, easily broken graphite gasket current collector sheets.

I then glued the edges to one face with ABS cement.

Then I set in one graphite current collector sheet

On top of that I placed some bits of the nickel electrode from the dry cell.

Then a carefully cut separator sheet of parchment paper. So far so good...

Oh wait - A better way to avoid possible gaps in the separator sheet is to wrap the center electrode in the parchment paper with an overlap, and fold over the ends (no potential bare spots or ends to short circuit). So I removed this paper.

[17th] Okay, the zinc is in metallic form - charged. So I should put the cell together charged so it isn't gassing hydrogen in the initial charging of the nickel. The nickel from the dry cell is probably mostly discharged to NiOHOH - nickel hydroxide. To discharge, use hydrogen peroxide. To charge to NiOOH - nickel oxyhydroxide - use bleach (NaClO). That should leave NaCl salt dissolved, so rinse it in pure water afterward. Done: 5 minutes+ in bleach both +odes, rinsed.

   And I painted the zinc plated copper sheet on both sides with the osmium doped acetal ester.

Double sided zinc electrode, zinc plated onto copper foil and pressed,
painted with osmium doping.

[18th] I painted both sides of the zinc sheet with a very thin mixture of agar to stop the zinc ions from migrating, with a bit of zircon to help raise the hydrogen overvoltage. I hope that's enough agar. I've made it much thicker before, but I have no particular thickness to aim at, and the closer together the electrodes are, the higher the current capacity. (But I think the agar, gelled without salt in the water, was the main problem with low currents the cell... before it dried out and got worse.)

   Then I wrapped it in parchment paper and set it into the cell.

   I arranged bits of the dry cell NiOOH onto the top of the paper in the cell. Then I set the second current collector on top. 

  Next: The edge walls of the case are 6.5mm tall (inside). How to fill them? The graphite gasket is .5mm and the NiOOH electrode pieces are 1.0mm. There are two so that's 3mm. The zinc electrode is about .6mm (even after the coatings). The paper is .1mm. That leaves about 2.7mm empty space. A piece of plastic for the faces was about 1.5mm and I found a little plastic frame that was 1.0mm and fit just right. So I put them in and glued the cell together with the ABS plumbing glue.

   I noted that it could probably have fit more capacity. Two double sided zinc electrodes and a double sided nickel electrode would have added 3.1mm - and another 4 amp-hours to make 8. I probably could have squeezed that in and still glued it shut. Maybe next time!

The cell with the top not yet sealed


   It was late, but I couldn't resist adding a couple of CCs of KCl salt electrolyte. It started out at 1.45 volts, but had no current drive whatsoever and dropped to 1.2V overnight and 1.09V by the next evening. Do I have it right that in the presence of salt water, oxygen from the air will oxidize the zinc and discharge the electrode? I should have waited.

[19th] A (hopefully) better way to seal the cell: melt beeswax in a small beaker on the hotplate and pour it into the holes around the terminals. I melted some beeswax, added 10cc of the electrolyte to the cell with an eyedropper, and then poured the wax into the holes. (Oops focus)

   The bottom left corner was leaking. I tried melting the bottom corner with the soldering iron to seal it, but without success. It would seem my biggest problem with making batteries is leaks in cases.

   The voltage was only 1.16, and the current drive was only .22 amp, which dropped quickly from that figure. It should have been at least several amps! Maybe I should go back to the mix, half KCl, half weak KOH. I was getting much higher current drive with that. But I'm probably missing something since salt should work, as it does in "standard" dry cells.

   Let's see... metallic zinc, bleached NiOOH. Both electrodes should be charged. I tried charging anyway. It helped a bit. It might improve with cycling? But with the leaks it's only going dry out.

   I thought the case edges and the glue had seemed solid. Leaking cells has been a recurring, frustrating problem. Will I have to give it all up because I can't make cases that don't leak? It seems an odd thing to keep tripping over in a complex chemistry project!
   Well, maybe if I make that external clamp and tighten it down, at least the bottom will stop leaking?

[20th] I smeared some ABS cement glue around the leaking corner. That seemed to fix it. I drilled a small hole in the top to squirt some water in through, since it had lost much of it. Then I made the clamp and clamped it on.
   I couldn't seem to get the water to go in. It very eventually soaked into the hole, but it took days to refill the cell at that pace - and I have no idea how saturated it was inside. (Later: probably none was going in.)
   It eventually seemed to work just a little better. I'm thinking maybe it takes some time for the electrolyte ions to permeate the agar. Especially with it having leaked out. Maybe I should be making the agar with salty water? At the moment that would mean making another cell. I want to get on with the new oven for plastic recycling. Maybe next month?

[21st] With drops of water [supposedly] going in and some off and on charging (at a mere 20-30mA @ 1.9V through 5 ohms), it did seem to be gradually improving. It had gone from .22 to .45 to .63 amps momentary short circuit current reading. Ten times as much would of course be more satisfactory. It drove the "5 ohm" load with over a volt for many seconds instead of a few. (By the current the "5Ω" was closer to 9Ω -- Much of the extra seemed to be the current sensing resistor in the meter on "300mA" range, and alligator clips often make crappy connections!) Open circuit it seemed to hold only around 1.35V for any length of time.

[22nd] With more low current charging (and maybe with a bit more water) the performance was starting to creep up. When removed from charge, it would hold over 1.6 volts for 300 seconds instead of 30. It would run the 9Ω load at over a volt for 27-40 seconds instead of 15. I saw a ".93" amps momentary short circuit current. I continued adding tiny drops of water when the previous one had finally soaked in. (At least I presumed it was soaking in.)

[23rd] Continued very gradual improvement. A difference between this and most of my previous cells is that electrolyte isn't wicking up the terminals, corroding the alligator clip leeds and drying out the cell. In other words, sealing around the terminals with melted beeswax seems to be working.

[25th] Now it's deteriorating. Maybe for a next test I should try to find some poly acrylic acid (PAA) like they gelled the zinc with in that old Sanyo patent? Then if I'm using NiOOH electrodes from a known to work NiMH cell what, chemicly, would I be doing different from Sanyo? Their cells worked. ...hmm, except for using salt electrolyte instead of alkali.

   I ordered a package of four Ni-Zn "AA" cells from AliExpress.com to examine.

   I checked at Westlab. They didn't have poly acrylic acid. Neither did AliExpress. Neither did Amazon. eBay had some "10% polyacrylic acid solution" for dental work, with no indication of what the other 90% was. (Probably water, but...)
   Oh ya. That's probably what's kept me from trying it out.

Poly Vinyl Alcohol (PVA) Gel?

   Then on a whim I looked up PVA, which I had momentarily confused with PAA. Apparently it too can be turned into a gel -- simply by repeated freezing and thawing. Maybe that would work where the agar seems to severely limit the current unless the electrolyte is quite alkaline. So: ditch the agar and try PVA? I could take a solution of water with some, add KCl salt, and add it as the electrolyte. Then perhaps get a wholly gelled electrolyte by freezing and thawing it a few times.
   So the theory would be that it - along with the osmium doping - would stop the zincate ions from migrating (and not stop the salt and hydroxyl ions (K+ & Cl-, OH-)) The salt would already be all through it from the start. Westlab had PVA and it seems worth a try, so I ordered some.

Late Note: Cell was better than I thought

[July 7th] I pried the top face off the cell by cracking a corner with a sharp knife and prying with the knife along the crack. To my surprise I did it without destroying the case. The ABS cement seems to make a weaker bond than methylene chloride - weaker than the plastic itself. I found the beeswax had flowed deep into the cell top end and filled in a lot of the gaps if not all of them. (No wonder it took so much!) The hole I drilled to refill the leaked electrolyte didn't get through it, which is why it wouldn't soak in. I removed the spacers and the top current collector. The NiOOH stuff under it looked very dry. Even with the cell open I squirted in some KCl electrolyte and put it on charge. Soon it was performing properly again, with a momentary short circuit current of over 1.5 amps.
   Next I'll heat the zinc 'trode to un-gel the agar, and paint some on that's gelled with KCl salt in the agar mix (as well as zircon), then fix up and close the same cell and give it another try.

Electricity Generation

My Solar Power System

The Usual Daily/Monthly/Yearly Log of Solar Power Generated [and grid power consumed]

(All times are in PST: clock 48 minutes ahead of local sun time, not PDT which is an hour and 48 minutes ahead. (DC) battery system power output readings are reset to zero daily (often just for LED lights, occasionally used with other loads: Chevy Sprint electric car, inverters in power outages or other 36V loads), while the grid tied readings are cumulative.)

Daily Figures

Notes: House Main meter (6 digits) accumulates. DC meter is reset to 0 daily when DC is connected. House East and Cabin meters (4 digits) are reset to 0 when they get near 99.99 (which goes to "100.0") - owing to loss of second decimal precision.

New Order of Daily Solar Readings (Beginning May 2022):

Date House, House, House, Cabin => Total KWH Solar [Notable power Usages; Grid power meter@time] Sky/weather conditions
        Main      DC      East

Km = Nissan Leaf electric car drove distance, then car was charged.

31st 3177.69, .08, 57.09, 34.36 => 12.04 [96675@20:30] Another dull day.

June (I am no longer going to reset the DC charging reading daily. It will be cumulative.)

01st 3186.97, .04, 63.23, 39.63 => 20.73 [96715@20:30] hazy sun/light clouds
02d  3193.79, .12, 67.65, 43.40 => 14.03 [55Km; 96751@20:30] Dull. Sprinkles.
03rd 3197.17, .18, 69.72, 45.14 =>   7.25 [90Km; 96798@20:00] Fog, overcast, rain.
04th 3206.09, .25, 76.90, 50.98 => 22.19 [60Km; 96826@21:00] A fair bit of sun.
05th 3210.61, .31, 79.44, 53.14 =>   9.28 [96855@20:30] Overcast. Rain PM.
06th 3219.79, .38, 86.31, 58.48 => 21.46 [96884@21:00] Some good sun in PM.
07th 3224.48, .46, 89.33, 61.04 => 10.35 [55Km; 96913@21:00] Overcast. Rain later PM.
08th 3231.74, .55, 94.31, 65.38 => 16.67 [55Km; 96952@20:30] Mostly overcast, windy.
09th 3233.90, .63, 01.13, 66.38 =>   4.37 [96989@20:00] Storm: wind, rain, cold. 11° at 10 AM solar time. Not a very nice Juneuary so far.
10th 3241.27, .72, 05.96, 70.53 => 16.44 [85Km; 97033@20:30] It seemed like such a nice day as it started, by evening it was just wind and rain again. Earlier it was 12-13° and so the car used less KWH than usual - 27% battery left instead of 20% to Port C. & back - and drove at higher speeds.
11th 3248.05, .80, 10.42, 74.54 => 15.33 [55Km; 97066@21:30]
12th 3252.85, .86, 14.33, 77.54 => 12.31 [97090@22:30]
13th 3261.91, .92, 19.71, 82.49 => 19.42 [65Km; 97119@21:30] A day with some nice parts!
14th 3274.08, .98, 28.74, 90.07 => 29.37 [55Km; 97144@20:30] Sunny! Yay! (New record for a day)
15th 3285.22, 1.11, 36.58, 96.69 => 25.73 [97163@21:00] Sunny most of the day - again!
16th 3296.01, 1.25, 43.70, 06.37 => 24.42 [60Km; 97191@21:30] Mor sun! Wow!
17th 3305.06, 1.32, 50.45, 11.88 => 21.58 [90Km; 97207@21:30] Cloudy AM, soon cleared up - Again!
18th 3318.35, 1.36, 59.71, 20.29 => 31.00 [55Km; 97232@22:00] Beautiful clear day! (& another new record!)
19th 3322.51, 1.47, 62.35, 22.68 =>   9.30 [97245@21:30] Overcast. Later PM, rain.
20th 3327.70, 1.55, 65.61, 25.74 => 11.59 [97263@21:30] Mor overcast.
21st 3333.64, 1.63, 69.91, 29.23 => 13.79 [60Km; 97300@22:00] "Summer" solstice. Cloudy again.
22d  3340.04, 1.66, 74.25, 32.88 => 14.54 [60Km; 97332@21:30] Mainly clouds, with sunny breaks & rainy breaks.
23rd 3346.06, 1.68, 78.27, 36.26 => 13.44 [97360@22:30]  Yet mor overcast.
24th 3358.44, 1.71, 86.82, 43.98 => 28.58 [105Km; 97395@21:00] Cloudy for a bit in AM then SUNNY!
25th 3369.00, 1.73, 94.26, 50.40 => 24.44 [95Km(not charged until Monday - oops); 97424@21:30] Some sun, a few thin clouds - mostly jet trails
26th 3381.77, 1.81, 08.71, 58.51 => 28.67 [97444@21:30] Lots of sun, WARM!
27th 3394.58, 1.90, 17.43, 66.55 => 29.66 [55Km+25th; 97484@21:00] Beautiful sunny day! AM jet trails didn't "stick" long. Turned off bitcoin miner early evening - not mining much, certainly don't need any heat!
28th 3401.47, 1.95, 22.10, 70.51 => 15.57 [97499@21:00] Overcast.
29th 3405.28, 2.02, 24.52, 72.48 =>   8.27 [55Km; 97520@19:30] Really overcast.
30th 3412.23, 2.10, 29.22, 76.85 => 16.10 [97539@21:00]

1st 3420.60, 2.16, 30.10, 81.59 => 16.10 [97562@21:30; 90Km]
2d  3431.92, 2.22, 37.50*,88.59=> 25.78 [55Km; 97585@20:30] *Estimate owing to shuffling power meters around. One of them (not the one in use until now) turns out to read 30% lower than the others!
3rd 3444.11, 2.57, 08.83, 96.58 => 29.36 [97602@21:00] BEAUTIFUL sunny day! (They do happen!) Hey! one of the meters reads lower than the others!
4th 3450.02, 2.67, 12.81, 03.58 => 13.57 [97614@21:30] Overcast.
5th 3454.67, 2.72, Oops*,06.16 =>   7.28 [95Km; 97645@21:30] *Switched power bar off previous eve. Zero KWH.

Chart of daily KWH from solar panels.
(Compare JUNE 2022 (middle) with May 2022 & with June 2021 but note number of solar panels differs.)

Days of
__ KWH
MAY 2022
(18 solar panels)
June 2022
(18 sol. panels)
June 2021
(12 solar panels)











<= chart ended here until April 2022!
<= In April the solar 2 panels mounted
      on the pole last fall & improved...

<= connections & more grid tie
     microinverters started to pay off.
(not to mention a big spruce cut down!)









<= In May 2022 the 3 new panels...
<= on the carport roof brought solar...
<= collection to whole new levels.


egads! new record appoaching solstice!
Total KWH
for month
547.74 (18 panels)
  all-time record!

Km Driven
on Electricity
934.1 Km
(~140 KWH?)
1100? Km
(~160? KWH?)

Things Noted - June 2022

* On July 1st I wrote down my Leaf EV mileage for June from the trip meter and reset it for July. Where I put the number I have no idea.

* By and large the weather in the first half of June wasn't as sunny as in May, leading to a lower overall monthly solar collection.

* In later June, when there is maximum annual sunshine (if it's not cloudy), power seemed to drop a bit from "expected" maximums that occurred in May and earlier in June. For instance the meter showed over 1000 watts from the carport(3)+pole(2) solar panels not long after all was connected. In late June I didn't see even 850W. I attribute this mostly to the fact that solar collectors work better if they're cold, and the weather from June 18th was much warmer on sunny days. (And cloudy days were much warmer than cloudy days in May.)

Monthly Summaries: Solar Generated KWH [& Power used from grid KWH]

Month: House system (+ DC system at house) + Cabin system = KWH made [used from grid]

March 1-31: 116.19 + ------ + 105.93 = 222.12 KWH - solar [786 KWH used from grid] (10 solar panels total)
April - 1-30: 136.87 + ------ + 121.97 = 258.84 KWH [608 KWH]
May  - 1-31: 156.23 + ------ + 147.47 = 303.70 KWH [543 KWH] (11th solar panel connected on lawn on 26th)
June - 1-30: 146.63 + 15.65 + 115.26 = 277.54 KWH [374 KWH] (36V, 250W Hot Water Heater installed on 7th)
July  - 1-31: 134.06 + 19.06 + 120.86 = 273.98 KWH [342 KWH]
August 1-31:127.47 + 11.44+91.82+(8/10)*96.29 = 307.76 KWH [334 KWH] (12th solar panel connected on lawn Aug. 1)
Sept.- 1-30: 110.72 + 15.30 + 84.91 = 210.93 KWH   [408 KWH] (solar includes 2/10 of 96.29)
Oct.  - 1-31:  55.67 + 13.03 + 51.82 = 120.52 KWH, solar [635 KWH used from grid]
Nov. - 1-30:  36.51 +   6.31 + 26.29 =   69.11 KWH, solar [653 KWH used from grid]
Dec.  - 1-23: 18.98 +   .84* + 11.70 =   31.52 KWH, solar + wind [711 KWH + 414 (while away) = 1125 from grid]

Jan.  - 6-31: 17.52 + ------* + 10.61  =  28.13 KWH, solar+ wind [1111 KWH from grid]
Feb.  - 1-29: 56.83 + ------* + 35.17  =  92.00 KWH, solar + wind [963 KWH from grid]
* The solar DC system was running the kitchen hot water tank. Now it's only running a couple of lights - not (usually) worth reporting. So there's just the 2 grid tie systems: house and "roof over travel trailer" (AKA "Cabin").
One year of solar!
March - 1-31: 111.31 +   87.05 = 198.37 KWH solar total  [934 KWH from grid]
April   - 1-30: 156.09 + 115.12 = 271.21 [784 KWH from grid]
May    - 1-31: 181.97 + 131.21 = 313.18 KWH Solar [723 KWH from grid]
June   - 1-30: 164.04 + 119.81 = 283.82 KWH Solar [455 KWH from grid]
July    - 1-31: 190.13 + 110.05 = 300.18 KWH Solar [340 KWH from grid]
August- 1-31: 121.81 + 83.62   = 205.43 KWH Solar [385KWH from Grid]
Sept.  - 1-30: 110.68 + 65.09   = 175.77 KWH Solar [564 KWH used from grid]
Oct.  -   1-31:   67.28 + 42.55   = 109.83 KWH Solar [1360 KWH from grid -- Renters!]
Nov.  -  1-30:   35.70  + 20.79  = 56.49 KWH of Solar [1301 KWH from grid]
Dec.  -  1-31:   19.78  + 11.31  = 31.09 KWH Solar [1078 KWH used from grid]

Jan.   -  1-31:   25.47 + 18.58  = 44.05 KWH Solar [1185 KWH used from grid] (1 solar panel moved to DC system only -- 11 panels)
Feb.   -  1-28:   47.18 + 33.22  = 80.40 KWH Solar [1121 KWH used from grid]
Two years of solar!
March - 1-31:   81.73 +  55.22 + 2.2 (DC) = 139.15 KWH Solar [1039 KWH grid]
April  -  1-30: 161.83 + 112.35 + .44(DC)  = 274.62 KWH Solar [680 KWH from grid]
May   -  1-31: 156.25 +  97.22 + 1.29(DC) = 254.76 KWH Solar [678 KWH from grid]
June  -  1-30: 197.84 + 112.07 + 2.21(DC) = 312.12 KWH Solar [& 448 KWH from grid] (Connected 12th solar panel -- 13 panels total but one goes to DC system only.)
July   -  1-31: 204.35 + 121.21 + 4.06(DC) = 329.62 KWH Solar [426 KWH from grid; 150(?) KWH used by Nissan Leaf]
August- 1-31: 176.19 + 102.91 + 5.37(DC) = 284.47 KWH Solar [477 KWH from grid; 165 KWH (est) used by car]
Sept. -  1-30:   94.35 +   51.34 + 3.30(DC) = 152.29 KWH Solar [590 KWH from grid; 155 KWH (est) used by car]
Oct.   -  1-31:   77.52 +   41.85 + 4.10(DC) = 123.47 KWH Solar [1066 KWH from grid; 150 KWH (est) used by car] (2 new panels on pole making 14 -- but they are mostly in shadows all winter.)
Nov.  -   1-31:  34.69 +  18.92 + 3.82 = 57.43 KWH Solar [1474 KWH from grid (ouch!); 140 (est) used by car]
Dec. - 1-31: 24.00 + 5.22 + 3.76 = 32.98 [1589 KWH from grid (ouch again! Must be the -10°'s); 120 KWH used by car] (New switches allow switching some panels between AC and DC as needed, so all 15 are productively employed.)

Jan.  - 1-31: 32.83 + 20.54 + 4.57 = 57.94 KWH Solar [2556 from grid] Double ouch! Trailer 400W heater, Perry's RV 500W heater, bedroom heat, car using extra power (100 KWH with less driving)... and so little sun!
Feb.  - 1-28: 66.63 + 32.09 + 3.42(DC) = 102.14 KWH Solar [1118 KWH from grid; 130 (est) used by car]
Three years of solar!
March - 1-31: 128.53 + 82.29 + 3.66(DC) = 214.48 [1124 KWH from grid; 160 KWH (est) used by car]
April   - 1-30: 251.29 + 149.87 + 3.01(DC) = 404.17 KWH [911 KWH; est. 170 KWH used by car]
May    - 1-31: 255.01(house) + 6.46(DC) + 140.46(carport) + 145.91(cabin) = 547.74 KWH Solar [933 KWH from grid; 140 KWH (est) used by car; Bitcoin miner using extra power from 22nd on.] (3 new solar panels on carport roof -- sunniest location around -- total 18)
June   - 1-30: 234.54 + 2.10 + 160.70 + 139.18 = 536.52 KWH [from grid: 864 KWH - dang bitcoin miner!]

Annual Totals

1. March 2019-Feb. 2020: 2196.15 KWH Solar [used   7927 KWH from grid]
2. March 2020-Feb. 2021: 2069.82 KWH Solar [used 11294 KWH from grid] (More electric heat - BR, Trailer & Perry's RV)
3. March 2021-Feb. 2022: 2063.05 KWH Solar [used 10977 KWH from grid]

Money Saved or Earned - @ 12¢ [All BC residential elec. rate] ; @ 50¢ [2018 cost of diesel fuel to BC Hydro] ; @ 1$ per KWH [total cost to BC Hydro in 2022 according to an employee]:
1. 263.42$ ; 1097.58$ ; 2196.15$
2. 248.38$ ; 1034.91$ ; 2069.82$
3. 247.57$ ; 1031.53$ ; 2063.05$

   It can be seen that the benefit to the society as a whole on Haida Gwaii from solar power installations is much greater than the cost savings to the individual user of electricity, thanks to the heavy subsidization of our power owing to the BC government policy of having the same power rate across the entire province regardless of the cost of production. And it can be insurance: With a little extra equipment and a battery, solar can deliver essential power in electrical outages however long.

Haida Gwaii, BC Canada