Turquoise Energy Report #174 - November 2022
Turquoise Energy News Report #174
Covering November 2022 (Posted December 5th 2022)
Lawnhill BC Canada - by Craig Carmichael
(CraigXC at Post dot com)

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

Month In "Brief" (Project Summaries etc.)
 - I Want a Better Camera? - Improving a Peltier Cooler: "New" Experiments - New Battery Experiments - Magnetic Variable Torque Converter: Better than The Best! (making for Miles Truck) - Axial Flux Unipolar BLDC Motor (5KW? - Magnet rotor cut)

In Passing (Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)
 - Amazon: A Den of Thieves! - Car Key FOB Hidden Health Hazard - Smol Thots - ESD

- Detailed Project Reports -

Electric Transport - Electric Hubcap Motor Systems
* Magnetic Variable Torque Converter with Planetary Gear: The Future of the Automotive Industry! (Building one for Miles Truck)
* Axial Flux Unipolar BLDC Motor - 5KW? - Magnet Rotor

Other "Green" & Electric Equipment Projects
* Peltier Cooler Performance: Greatest Cooling is running at 9-10 volts
* Indoor & LED Gardening

Electricity Storage: Batteries
* Gelled Ni-Zn Salt Cell - A.K.O. New Experiment Details

Electricity Generation
* My Solar Power System:

 - The Usual Latest Daily/Monthly Solar Production log et cetera - Monthly/Annual Summaries, Estimates, Notes

November in Brief

   On the afternoon of December 5th, I was walking toward home on the left shoulder of the highway, having found that the upper beach was very rocky today and it was near high tide. There was very little traffic. A vehicle came up from behind, slowed, and the Purlolator van stopped beside me. "I have a box for you." Through the driver's window he handed me a box that said "Westlab" - my KCl salt! "Thanks!" "Only on Haida Gwaii, eh?" he said and continued on his way.

I Want a Better Camera?

   I had been trying to get a better camera. In my earliest wave power tests (2008) the wind had blown over my 2005 Centrios DVD/camera on a tripod and about 1/3 of the display's LCD liquid leaked out, leaving the already tiny display barely showing what I'm taking a picture of, much less whether it's blurred or out of focus. A button clicks to 'near', 'portrait' and 'far'. If it was wrong, too bad. For close-ups I have to try at about 9, 10 and 11 inches and use the best one. My old cell phone had been good but the 'new' one doesn't focus close up. I bought a camera on AliExpress that likewise disappointed me. Somebody gave me one from a thrift shop that took good pictures but the display was still too small for my liking and worse, I couldn't find a cable with its odd plug to connect it to USB. Somebody told me to try "Best Buy". Just before I went on line I looked at my 7 year old RCA Android 'tablet with keyboard' that I never use. Hmm, it has two cameras. I removed the keyboard, powered it up and discovered that it seemed to take focused close-ups! And the screen is of course huge to view the scene and the result. Problem solved? (If only its internal lithium battery lasted longer, or it took regular "AAA" cells that could be swapped! If you leave it a week without plugging it in, it's dead. Unless you turn it right off, after which it takes a coon's age to boot.)

   Sigh! When I went to use the first set of pictures I had taken with the tablet, I found that they weren't nearly as sharp and clear as from my 2005 camera, to the point where I couldn't compare 'before' and 'after' images of an electrode that might reveal changes, one from each camera. Back to square one! Or maybe my old camera isn't so bad after all? Hmm. Or maybe I should try Best Buy after all?

Quality images?

Improving a Peltier Cooler: "New" Experiments

   Perry gave me a Peltier module camping cooler he found at the thrift store. It didn't seem to work. I checked the module by itself and it cooled. After some frustrating sessions trying to figure out what was wrong, I reversed the polarity of the fan motor, which spun both the outside and the inside fan at opposite ends of the same shaft. It cooled! Someone had wired the fan and the module oppositely. (The odd-shape blades seemed to be right, but they just didn't work that way around.)

   From looking at graphs on Peltier module datasheets long ago, I had noticed that the COP (Coefficient of Performance) was better and better (a) the less the temperature spread was between the hot and cold sides of the module and (b) the lower the current drive. The current drive is reduced by reducing the voltage. That provides less wattage of actual cooling, but the cooling losses from heating of the hot side are greatly reduced.

   From those specs I have long thought that "12 volt" Peltier modules (unless trying to attain the most extreme temperature drop) would cool much more efficiently at a lower voltage. With a "properly" working cooler now, I could give the theory a good test. I ran it off a DC to DC converter from the 36VDC solar power system and turned the adjustment pot to various output voltages over the day. The table shows the results. At the nominal rated 12 volts it used 45 watts and got the cooler down to about 11°C cooler than the room. Much as I had surmised, at 7 volts it used 1/3 the power (15W) to provide approximately the same temperature drop! Peak cooling effect seemed to be attained at about 9-10 volts and 25-30 watts power draw.
   If you're trying to run it off your car battery overnight, 15 or 20 watts is much better than 45! Running off a solar panel only in the daytime, 25 or 30 watts provides the maximum cooling to keep the cooler coolest. I'd call a cheap DC to DC converter to reduce the voltage an excellent asset for running a Peltier camping cooler! I'm surprised makers of both Peltier modules and camping coolers haven't caught on. A Peltier rated for about 18V instead of 12V would cool better with less power at 12 volts. (Extra details under Other "Green" & Electric Equipment Projects.)

   There was snow on the ground the day I did these tests. I won't be camping any time soon.

Power to
Drop (~°C)

   The other improvement to Peltier performance is to minimize the temperature difference between the hot and the cold faces. Among other things, both faces should contact with the best possible heat conductor to reduce the temperature loss/gain in the junctions. This would mean using silver, copper or at least pure alume in the heatsinks. This seems to never be done. Alume alloy is fine for keeping transistors from roasting, but it's not as good a heat conductor as pure alume and has higher thermal resistance at those critical junctions. Pure copper is even better. Reducing the heat loss/gain in both junctions by just one degree would mean the same cooler could cool by 14.5° instead of 12.5°. (Maybe I should try my "superinsulated Peltier chest fridge" again with copper on the hot side as well as the cold side? It certainly seemed to perform better than most Peltier coolers even with just the one fat copper bar, on the cold side. It froze water in the ice tray.)

(Hint for Peltier cooler camping: cool the food in a regular fridge or freezer, maybe throw in a block of ice, before you leave. The cooler will take a long time to get food cool, expecially at low watts.)

New Battery Experiments

   I finally got back into these experiments with some crappy weather when I didn't want to do any outside work. I improved my techniques and learned a lot about things I've been "stuck" on for ages. I think am much closer to making good cells.

Key findings:
1. The nickel-manganates powder electrodes work and repeatedly recharge. (It should have at least twice the energy per kilogram of the beta nickel oxyhydroxide presently used in typical rechargable alkaline cells.)
2. The nano-powders from that electrode penetrate separator papers and make a low resistance path across the cell, slowly deteriorating the performance. This seems to be cured simply by wetting the paper with Varsol first. (it must close or reduce larger pores?)
3. Other than that, my perennial self-discharge problems are evidently caused by soluble impurities which have to be diluted out in baths of water or electrolyte.
4. Including that the "99.9% KCl" electrolyte salt itself seems to be contaminated. Solved by drying out a salt solution and collecting the purest crystals off the sides of the tray.
5. Cupro-nickel current collectors seem to work in the positive electrode. (better than graphite sheets.)
6. Improved cell constructions.

   I must say that doing battery chemistry experiments has been worse than watching paint dry. It occupies much time. I suspect some of the things I've been trying haven't been tried before simply because people have run out of patience for ideas with markedly uncertain outcomes. Especially salt electrolyte rechargeable battery chemistry and techniques don't seem to have been very well explored. Everybody jumped on the KOH alkaline electrolyte bandwagon when Jungner found that nickel (and only nickel) didn't corrode in the plus electrode, while graphite/carbon was the only thing so far found to work in salt, and it limited currents and cell forms. (And now, with zinc still not properly tamed and the low effective watts per gram energy of beta nickel oxyhydroxide, 'everyone' has jumped on the lithium bandwagon.)
   Perry imported a 6 foot arborite/melamine countertop with a backsplash for me from Home Depot on the mainland, something I've wanted for ages to set on top of my washer and dryer and short sink counter - at last, a decent work surface at standing height, that won't stain and can be wiped clean, for my very meager "chem lab"!

Externally Clamped Cell, under charge. L: mA; R: V                
   With the externally clamped cell(s) system I found I could use a sheet of rubber for the front face of the cell and not glue it. This was revolutionary in my experiments as I could now seal and reopen the cell any time. I can replace each any any component as desired. (Why didn't I have anything like this, if not in 2008, at least by 2012 or 2013? Duh!)

   I also finally got tired of having a dozen alligator clip test and voltmeter probe leeds all falling off or making poor connections, and wired a bunch of connections to a terminal block to reduce their number. If it looks cluttered, it has nothing on just a pile of loose wires.

As of this writing I it appears my cells have been performing poorly because of a combination of small things:

* Traces of soluble materials in the electrode powders, which then dissolve in the electrolyte. Especially nitrate ions will travel back and forth becoming nitrate at one electrode and nitrite at the other, stealing the electrons from the one and releasing them into the other to make a continual self discharge. The solution seemed to be to bathe the materials or electrode in water about 3 times before using them and then drain the water, to dissolve and dilute out soluble impurities beforehand.

* Likewise, impure KCl electrolyte salt has probably been causing self discharge. My "99.9% KCl" salt from a health food store needs to be purified by dissolving it and evaporating the water. It seems the salt that crystallizes on the side of the beaker as the water evaporates is pretty pure, the impurities settling out last at the bottom. Some I made (tried to make?) by combining KOH (USP grade) and suspect purity HCl had a thick dark gray sludge on the bottom. Yikes! (Some KCl I ordered from Westlab hasn't come yet.)

* Air needs to be kept out of the cell. Oxygen gas will oxidize (discharge) the salty, wet zinc electrode. (And carbon dioxide may gradually turn things irreversibly into carbonates.) Leaks need to be sealed.

* The nano-powders of the positive electrode seemed to be seeping through separator sheets, notably the thick watercolor mat paper, and causing cells to fail. A recent experimental treatment of dousing the paper with varsol and then letting it evaporate seems to have blocked it. But it hasn't been tried for very long yet.

* The biggest thing, partly realized years ago but only fully understood last, is that my positrodes consisting of unglued mixed powders need to not only be held so they "don't swell up", but to be held compacted as tightly in use in the cells as I have been compacting them in the hydraulic press. Otherwise they lose conductivity, and this somehow seems to prevent proper charge retention, not just limit maximum currents. (I've only finally realized this and I'm still not sure why.) The external heavy alume plates clamping system can do it with enough bolts around the edges, but the materials going into the cells will have to be very carefully measured so that everything will be held tightly compacted and yet the cell will close and not leak around the edges. The rubber cell fronts give just a slight amount of tolerance to the whole thing as they will compress to some extent.
   Something else that could help would be to wrap up the electrodes with package tape. Mainly this would hold the edges together better. (Hmm... Could tape hold multiple series cells all within one hard case? How about shrink-wrap plastic bags?)

   By December 3rd the cell was charging at the lowest current yet (under 25mA @ 2.27V, 1Ω) and holding over 1.95V for several minutes, and running a 20Ω load at over 1.2V for 20 minutes instead of just 6 minutes. The nickel + manganese oxides electrode, having started out uncharged, has charged twice to this level of discharge proving at least that it's rechargeable (unlike MnO2 by itself). So I won't be using any more nickel electrodes from old dry cells.
   Still there's that nagging self discharge. On the 4th I wrapped the electrodes with packaging tape. That did nothing special. In evening I reached through the terminal holes and plucked out some tape to expose electrode, and put the whole cell in a tray of salty water (the purified KCl). It was soon evident that the self discharge was slowing. A second bath was a little better yet, indicating that "stuff" dissolved inside the cell seemed to be diluting out into the water in the tray.

That's probably it then: the impurities in the cells have to be diluted out by running them underwater, with some edge open to that water, until they don't self discharge any more. (If I'm making a bunch of cells, I'll probably have several baths from "most contaminated" to "purest" and run them in one after another. Distilled water and salt will start to add up!)

   The final touches, which I'm evidently not quite at yet, relate to keeping the zinc 'trode from growing dendrites during charge and discharge, which get through the separator(s) to the positive side and short out the cell. (This is also the way most Ni-Cd's end.) Prime candidate for this ion transfer barrier is sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate in the separator sheet pores. (as used in "sulfonic ion exchange membranes"... also used in "Sunlight Lemon Fresh" dishsoap.) Poly vinyl alcohol is another tempting thing to try.

   What is the objective? Metallic zinc (-ode) theoreticly has 820 amp-hours per kilogram and the Zn is over half the mass of the electrode, using a thin copper foil current collector. So call it 500?
   I expect the nickel manganates (+ode), with graphite conductivity enhancement et al to have around 200 amp-hours per kilogram, which is over double what beta nickel oxyhydroxide effectively yields (~90). Dilute that 200 by the cupro-nickel current collector weight, which will depend on its thickness.
   If either or both of the current collectors can be made into an expanded mesh instead of a solid sheet, they should be at least as effective and lighter. Bunches of taped or bagged "pouch" cells all in one case could eliminate some of the weight of the housings.

   Together the electrodes will make cells of about 2.0 volts open circuit, which might be considered to be 1.7 or 1.8 volts nominal. The final planned size of my cells, 85 by 150 mm by 13 mm thick, should have several tens of watt-hours each, and can all be easily clamped together in a series string for a desired voltage. A safe, inexpensive, everlasting production battery of this construction may hopefully be at least 120-150 watt-hours per kilogram (or better), which matches present lithium iron phosphate models.

   Countless sordid and petty details under Electricity Storage: Batteries

Magnetic Variable Torque Converter for Miles Mini Cargo Truck

   I was working on the details and housing for this off and on, then on the 17th, as a 10 to 1 ratio planetary gear looked like a better mechanical match (for most any vehicle) than the 5 to 1, I broke down and ordered one. I had a choice of ordering one identical to the one I had with the new ratio from Anaheim Automation for somewhere way over 1000$, or one with similar specs but a bit longer end-to-end from "TopStock" on AliEpress for about 270$. I chose the affordable route.
   Unfortunately that means I'll have to shorten the motor shaft a bit, and I'll wait until I have the unit before doing so to ensure a good fit. That means waiting for it to arrive, hopefully before Christmas.

Test fitting the wooden housing to the truck motor. (Metal would interfere with the magnetism.)
The top two 2 by 6es had to be unscrewed and trimmed to fit around obstacles, leaving the center parts "sticking up".
The whole wooden assembly will be glued by epoxy and well epoxied, and all gaps will be covered.

*     *     *     *     *

   Later in looking over some parts on the shelves for the motor (below), I realized that having finally created a great magnetic variable torque converter, I can scrap all kinds of parts of a lot of the older experiments that I am definitely not ever going to use. Since I started in 2008 I've mostly been accumulating things rather than getting rid of them.
   Everything that "just might be useful" until this point was well kept, because when I went to make the converter that proved successful I found all the parts I needed to put together the prototype unit for the truck. It is marvelous now to disassemble all these old things, return nuts and bolts to the drawers, UHMW plastic parts into the bucket to melt down and reuse, metal pieces to bins or the garbage, and to clear off some shelf space!

Unipolar BLDC "Electric Hubcap" Axial Flux Motor

   Someone had told me that Sheldon had acquired a CNC plasma cutter. As I was going to his town, Masset, on the 25th for the first time in months, I took a piece of 1/8" steel with me and got his last name & phone# from someone. I was directed to his impressive shop on Tow Hill Road. He had just finished something else and to my delight immediately set about cutting me a 330mm diameter magnet rotor from my piece. The "kerf" was taken from the inside of the cut and it didn't go very smoothly. It ended up 326mm with a small gouge. He said he would chalk it up to "a learning experience" and didn't charge me. Unlike abrasive waterjet, there was lots of knocking off "slag" and grinding to smooth off the edges.

   I now have:
(1) A place on the island to go to get pieces of metal computer cut to my specs (I'll bring G-Code or .DXF files), and
(2) a magnet rotor plate for the long-planned motor! (It's good enough.)

New rotor size for unipolar motor (24 magnets when done halbach) versus old 10 inch (18 m-h.)

[26th] I knocked off the "slag", ground and filed the rim "smooth". It doesn't look as imposing as I feared - nor at 326mm, as imposing as my original estimates of the diameter needed to fit everything, of 400 or 370 mm diameter.

    Intending a Halbach magnet configuration I made this rotor just 1/8" thick, and the new 326mm O.D. rotor weighed just 2135 grams, where an old 250mm, 5/16" thick one for an original Electric Hubcap motor weighed 3031 grams (both without magnets). One sees that the motor can thus be lighter for its size - another benefit of Halbach.

Checking the 326mm rotor to make sure the planned 12 coil motor will work out well at that diameter 
   I grabbed some of the coils and set them around the rotor to see if 12 coils would actually fit within a 326mm framework without jamming them too close together. It looked reasonable.

[27th] In OpenSCad I drew up a jig for putting magnets on the rotor, with a little pocket to slide each magnet into in exactly the right place. Now to use it I have to get some DXF to GCODE program working, then actually get my CNC router to cut it out.

[28th] Owing to plasma cutter hiccups I drilled four mounting holes by hand - same positions as 4 inch circle car tire studs since I''m using a 1 inch trailer hub and stub axle with flange, with the flange and hub both having the same bolt pattern. I got them pretty well centered and aligned and it fit right on.

   I couldn't get "DXF2GCode" to work and I gave up. Instead I spent a day with a spreadsheet and other software putting in numbers and formulas to manually create the required GCode! I set the paths to run the router an extra 1/8" to get the 1/4" router bit right into the corners. Otherwise it would have been a lot of filing plastic to square them, so it's better.

   Next: trying to get the CNC router that I've never actually used to actually cut the template.

   The next work after that will be pieces for alume molds for the PP (non-magnetic) stator components. (I still need to finish that plastic recycling oven!) This flat circle PP piece for the windplant idea is just about the right diameter. The motor will want some more complex shapes, but there's the idea.

   Obviously the motor won't be finished for quite some time, and the microcontroller based 6-phase unipolar motor controller needed to run it will stretch the project out still longer. But at last I've started the 95% "ultra-efficient EV" motor!

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

Amazon: A Den of Thieves!
Fraud, Espionage & Duplicity

   Probably a year or so ago now I ordered a book from Amazon.com . It was the only place I saw where I could get that book. I noticed on a credit card statement last month that there was a bill from "Amazon Prime" for around 20$. It seemed like a long time since I had made the purchase. Wasn't that already paid long since? Hadn't I already seen the bill on a previous statement? But I ignored it. This month there was another one for a similar but not identical amount! I went back over my bills: ever since I ordered the book Amazon has been billing me 14.99 $US each and every month! "Amazon Prime" it says. I don't know why this wasn't raising red flags with me much sooner. Once or twice it was the only charge on my card. I just wasn't paying attention, and of course I'm annoyed with myself for being asleep at the wheel for so long.
   But I very deliberately had never, ever intentionally opened an "Amazon Prime" account - I wanted nothing to do with it! I don't even know what it's good for. Amazon has fraudulently been billing me monthly ever since my order. I phoned the credit card company and asked that the charges be reversed. This request about Amazon Prime was by no means a new one to the lady I talked to. She said that somewhere in there I had accidently opened an "Amazon Prime" account when I made the purchase, so it "wasn't fraud". She couldn't reverse the charges. (Later someone else told me that had happened to him too, and to someone else he knew, but that they had caught it soon and had the charges reversed.) It was probably some inconspicuous checkmark in a box that I would have had to UN-check to NOT open this so-called account when I made the purchase. Or something devious like that.
   I said maybe technicly it wasn't fraud [in some legalistic sense] but really it was fraud, wasn't it? She agreed. It has cost me way over 200$ for nothing - maybe more. That's probably the value of any and all of the two or three orders I've ever placed with Amazon - and all at 100% pure profit for them for doing nothing. It is sad that one of the biggest companies in the world can get away with illegitimately, deceptively bilking unsuspecting customers month after month. Big corporations - especially American & Western ones - have no shame!
   I went to the amazon.com web site to close the account - sure enough the account existed, at my old email address! But searching page after page, if there was any option anywhere to close your account, it was really well hidden. Finally I went to the "payments methods" page (where three of my credit cards popped up, however many years ago I had used them) and found a way to cancel the one not out-of-date credit card they were charging to as being a valid payment method, leaving (I hope) no valid payment methods for further charges to "my" so-called "account". (And even then, the box to cancel it without putting in a new payment method first was "lighted out" type and border - made as inconspicuous as possible as if it wasn't an available option.)

   I thought that was it but soon Amazon was leaving messages on my cell phone complaining that my account was in danger. I've never given that cell phone number out to anyone except a very few friends. I suppose that as soon as a friend entered my name and number on their phone the whole world knows it. Or they just saw a phone sitting at the location of my old phone and messaged to it. Either way they're obviously spying with very sophisticated spyware on everyone across the whole cell phone network. By phoning a number they should never have had, they've admitted it!
   I sent "report spam" and blocked their number.

   I will never deal with Amazon again, even if I have to forgo getting something I want. But they've already made more free money off me than if I had ordered 1000$ worth of actual merchandise. Someone suggested I call them and try to have all those charges reversed, but I doubt if they will (maybe the last one or two - I can hear it now: "It's been too long") and I don't have the stomach for it.
   (AliExpress.com has no monthly fees. You pay only when you buy something and it's usually cheaper. I've never had an unexpected or fraudulent charge to a credit card there. And there's e-bay.)

   Apparently I still hadn't or haven't heard the last of them. On the 28th there was a computer call to my home phone - the number I actually gave them. The call display said it was from a local number, one digit different than a friend's (which on calling it said the number wasn't in service) and started out something like "This is Amazon... unfortunately your recent purchase was billed to your credit card that..." At this point I assumed it was some scam to get a credit card number from me and I hung up. Obviously Amazon doesn't have a local Haida Gwaii office nor had I purchased anything in (?)a year. Now I think I probably was Amazon and they were calling because they couldn't keep billing me monthly for nothing. Calling from a "local phone number"??? About a "recent purchase"??? (If they have charged my card again, this time it's clearly illegal.)

Car Key FOB Hidden Health Hazard

   I noticed several times that I was feeling a small but sharp pain in my right leg, which had no apparent explanation. It felt like it was a little deeper in than right at the skin and there were no marks. I had already noticed that I seemed to have lost the feeling in the skin in the same area some time ago. Deeper down had feeling and I could feel pressure, but if a spider was crawling across my leg hairs there, I wouldn't have felt it.
   One day it dawned on me: that was right under where the "key fob" for the Nissan Leaf car sat in my pocket! Previously, the cell phone had done funny things to my other leg, making it twitch and vibrate, and I had also lost skin feeling there (which I hadn't until now attributed to the phone - after all, it had started on the other leg too). I had stopped carrying it.

   Now here it was, another source of microwave(?) radiation right against my skin, evidently causing trouble! I took the "fob" out of my pocket. I hope neither the phone nor the "fob" has started a cancer! (Yes, people do die of cancer from cell phones.) I'll have to have it in my pocket when I drive anywhere, but I'll keep it away from me otherwise. Leaving it in the car would invite theft - and what if the key is inside and the doors lock themselves, as they do if I press the wrong button? I can see there'll be many episodes of having to go back into the house for the FOB just after I've got into the car to drive off. And many of forgetting to take it out of my pocket at home.
   I knew I never liked the idea of "key fobs"! I just didn't know why, other than that they need batteries, might die if they get wet, and are costly to replace. Here is a much bigger reason. One more thing to worry about.

Smol Thots

* Many still rail against electric cars, saying that "they aren't the future" and make arguments against them that don't hold water when examined. They will say making the car itself uses "X" energy resources and so the vehicle doesn't become "energy neutral" for many tens of thousands of miles, and never if it's used in an area where electric plants run off coal. But they offer no alternatives except to finish using up the world's fast depleting petroleum deposits. And then?
   Furthermore, they don't say how much energy it takes to produce a gasoline powered vehicle to compare figures with, or how long it takes that to pay off the energy used in making that - which of course it never does. And they don't consider that many homeowners with electric cars also have rooftop solar power and produce more electricity than their car uses, or that an electric car simply uses less energy than a gasoline vehicle owing to its higher efficiency and that anyway any power station burns its fuel more efficiently than a car does.
   And they complain that "there isn't enough lithium for the batteries" and that "it's mined in third world countries where there are no environmental regulations and slave wages." First of all, they have no such scruples about any other metal or where it's mined or how it's processed - only lithium. And Australia - reputedly not a "third world country" last I heard - is the world's leading supplier of lithium. Australia has also just created a process that extracts twice as much of the lithium from the ore as presently. Also the naysayers discount that there may ever be any other type of EV battery besides lithium. Nickel-metal hydride flooded EV cells (that never explode) were just as good before the oil company that ended up owning the factory shut it down, and I now (after many experiments this month and some conclusions that remain to be proven) fully expect success in my attempts to create 'everlasting' gelled nickel manganates-zinc cells that should be the safest batteries, cheap and with a high energy density.

* How many of the people complaining about electric cars are the same ones saying we can go on increasing the global population ad infinitum because "new technology will always solve our problems"?

* Jesus once said "The truth never suffers from honest examination." [Urantia Book 153:2.11] All those who rail against freedom of speech today, is it because they are afraid of truth or don't want it spread for one reason or another? Do they not want to face truth themselves and want others who might, to not be exposed to it? Some are afraid of others knowing truth because of things they themselves have done that might become known. But many simply hate to face change (even tho they would never want to live in the "unchanged" world as it was 100 or 1000 years ago) to the point that they would try to ban new knowledge. "Know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." - Jesus again. [Bible, John 8:32] We should seek various different views from diverse sources in attempting to discern the most accurate picture of major events around us. The mass media all have just one and the same view.

* The economists at the world economic forum in Davos have indicated that they've prepared for the next pandemic -- whatever it is. (As long as it kills less than one person in a thousand who contracts it, like statistics seem to now show covid did?) Vaccine passports mean people won't be locked down and unable to travel, and all is agreed on. A minor fly in the ointment might be that we can't possibly have any clear idea what sort of disease the next pandemic might be, or how deadly or how contagious it will be. (Unless it's already been created in a lab somewhere.) But from the sounds of the economists making regulations for it, it seems there must already be an experimental mRNA vaccine mandated for it, since they're putting the vaccine passports into place already. Just in case it's a virus and not something else that can't be vaccinated against.
   Next they should get some doctors and health professionals in to mandate the economic and industrial measures for improving our economies.

* Authoritarians are those who think they can run your society, your economy and your own life better than anyone else including yourself. They don't need input from others or to gain better understandings themselves, just to give orders and make everything fit their vision. Peasant farmers are so ignorant... great leader Mao had all the little birds they had been putting up with, ignoring or maybe even liking and feeding, killed so they wouldn't eat any of the seeds or crops. One problem solved! Instead swarms of bugs ate the crops because there were no birds to keep their numbers in check, and China had famine. In more recent decades people were given freedom in China and China rose up from poverty and prospered. Now an authoritarian leader has come in who is jealous of prosperity and who wishes to "nationalize" all the prosperous private businesses. And who in some strange paranoia also has no hesitation locking down a city of 20 million people for months because of one case of Covid. A crash in living standards, economy and creative progress - or a great and doubtless violent political clash - seems inevitable. (In fact, living standards are crashing, and after I wrote this and before the end of the month, political confrontations have already arisen across the whole country - masses of people clamoring to "End the CCP!" and for Chi Jinping to "Step Down!")
   Today there seem to be far too many of these authoritarian types of people around and often running the show, to the detriment of society as a whole. They make law after law, each to myopicly solve one seeming problem but always applied zealously in unintended situations with wider repercussions that all put together leave everyone unable to to what is desirable or needed without contravening one ordinance or another. Life becomes more and more complicated.
   Freedom is better. Somewhere, bit by bit over the decades and a couple of centuries after having gained it, most of the world seems to have lost it again.

* Freedom and Responsibility go hand in hand. Freedom is dangerous and sooner or later lost in the hands of people who abuse it - or who don't understand what their responsibilities are. In today's case, we are losing our freedoms not only because of people who have been permitted to abuse the freedom given them, but because with all the freedom-granting progress in governance, medicine, food production and so on, we have missed the most essential thing: as more and more people survive into adulthood and live longer and longer lives, the population can't be allowed to grow unchecked.
   We are long past the time when calamity and a catastrophic die-off of people could have been avoided. Probably the last and maybe the only time that could have worked was in the early to mid 1960s immediately following the invention and availability of the birth control pill. At that date we were already over the 3 billion mark that is probably about the maximum sustainable population for this planet, and beyond which life has become increasingly "cheap". Since then we have been drawing down future resources (and non-renewable resources) to feed and power the present at an ever increasing scale as the population grows, and just now are suddenly running out of many needful things.
   EIGHT BILLION PEOPLE! Who would ever have thought it could get so out of hand? But the measures would have had to have been applied worldwide, not just in the developed world, and I'm not sure the prolific peoples of the fastest growing countries could have been convinced of the need at that time. Today probably yes. Then... probably not. OTOH there are still plenty of people everywhere who don't think the present population is a problem even as the environment and ecology that sustain us are crashing down, one more adverse event, one more species extinction, at a time all around us.

(Eccentric Silliness Department)

* English spellings are weird. They are created ad lib by weird and conflicting spelling conventions. We've all eaten "ghoti" (gh as in "enough", o as in "women", ti as in" fraction": ghoti = fish). And then there's two completely different sounds for "c"....

How about a ckhourin pad? (scouring pad - "in" as in "sink"; "hour" as in "hour") or a lighn? (line) or or or... btongcre (tinker - bt as in "debt") or or or...

* Here's the title for a new book I have no intention of writing: "Ukraine: From Breadbasket to Basketcase". (No doubt the territory will eventually recover and reassemble in new form(s) agreeable to the peoples who live there when all the authoritarians are through meddling with it!)

* And of course some have proposed to replace the US dollar in international trade with "a basket of national currencies". But since none of them are tied to anything physical and can be printed ad infinitum, I would rather call it "a basketcase of national currencies." (In 1950 10$ would buy a week's worth of groceries for a family. Today 10$ will buy one or two small grocery items. But it's similar everywhere.)

* Someone wrote in a comment under a video: "Only trust half of what you see on the internet" - Abraham Lincoln

* How does a jugglernaut keep on going and going in space, when the jugs he's juggling just don't come back down?

* Word Jumbles, anyone?: aaabcehillpt deorr  -- (If you get the second word, the first one is intuitive.)

* If someone has "doctor" in their name, does it mean they've been indoctorinated?

* Riddle: Where are "Satis" made?                       A: In a satisfactory. (groan!)

   "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

Magnetic Variable Torque Converter with Planetary Gear

   I spent much of the month on new chemistry battery experiments and the torque converter project went into "low gear". But I did get a few things done on the "proper" housing to try and get the truck on the road.

[?] At some time early in the month cut a square of plywood for the motor shaft bearing, and punched an "almost perfect" metal flange out just slightly to fit that bearing, with a slightly cone shaped thing I found and the hydraulic press.

Just the right size to slip the bearing into!

   I put together the transmission housing with deck screws and tried to mount it to the motor under the truck. It didn't quite go in, and I made some marks on the two upper 2 by 6's to cut them to clear obstacles. It was awkward because I couldn't get it attached to the motor. I cut the angles wrong and they still didn't fit, so I did it again. They were closer.

[16th] It finally occurred to me that the second plywood bearing holder would be identical to the first. I cut the second square of plywood. The hole saw wandered way off my 1/8 inch pilot hole and I had to do it all over, with a larger pilot hole. I filed it down a bit and mounted the pressed bearing holder. I got the housing bolted to the motor with the upper 2 by 6's removed and marked them for a bit more trimming.

   Then I decided to order a 10 to 1 planetary gear instead of the 5 to 1 as the variable ratios looked better. It has a slightly different size so I had to stop and wait for it to arrive. (Dec. 3: Tracking says it hasn't left China yet! ...by Christmas?)

Axial Flux Unipolar BLDC Motor - 5KW?

[25th] Someone had told me that Sheldon (from whom I got the 36V, 3.5KW forklift motor for the Chevy Sprint in 2019) had acquired a CNC plasma cutter. As I was going to Masset for the first time in months to look in the hardware store for something not available in QC, I took a piece of 1/8" steel  with me and got his phone# from someone. I was directed to his impressive shop on Tow Hill Road where there were a few other people, dead cars and much equipment. (I'm not sure if they were employees or what.) He had just finished something and immediately set about cutting me a 330mm diameter magnet rotor from my piece. He cut it without making a drawing file, just typing in some numbers and moving the arm to the starting position. It didn't go especially well and the "kerf" was on the inside of the cut, so it ended up 326mm with a small gouge. Then the four "lug nut" bolt holes didn't go well either. It made two then didn't arc, and I was left to drill the other two. He said he would chalk it up to "a learning experience" and didn't charge me. In addition, the cuts were nothing like as clean as those made by abrasive waterjet cutters. There would be lots of grinding to smooth off the edges. (Hammering a screwdriver at them broke off most of the "slag" seen in the image.)
   I mounted it on the axle ("trailer 1 inch stub axle with flange") and found that even the two bolt holes that were cut were about 2mm off center, so it wobbled. I abandoned them and drilled four new holes at 45° to them.

   But I now have two things: (1) A place on the island to go to get pieces of metal computer cut to my specs, and (2) a rotor plate (good enough...). Next time I'll bring a .DXF CAD file of the part(s) to give me exactly what I want.

   The next parts will be pieces for alume molds for the PP stator components. (Metal parts would interfere with the motor's axial flux magnetic operation.) Finally it looks like I can start to move forward with this long-planned motor project - and without having to make a CNC plasma cutter (or HHO torch cutter) myself. Something I do still need, IF I'm going to cast pure PP parts, is to finish the plastic recycling oven. (Although, an regular kitchen oven should be big enough for the motor mold parts!) (Shown with molded PP circle under it. I have plans for more complex shapes for the motor housings.)

   The other way is to make UHMW plastic molds and go back to PP-Epoxy composite parts. (I could, I presume, make UHMW molds on my own CNC router table... Which has never yet had a real test and which I am rather apprehensive about using. Then again, I can get some bigger UHMW pieces for molds by melting down some of the smaller pieces I already have... again in the plastic recycling oven. Experience on the phone so far suggests that might actually be more practical than trying to buy larger pieces and have them shipped here.) But direct molding of PP-only components would be much less labor intensive for production, and PP is good, tough plastic.

[26th] I knocked off the "slag", ground and filed the rim "smooth". It doesn't look as imposing as I feared - nor at 326mm, as imposing as my original estimates to fit everything, of 400 or 370 mm diameter.
    Intending a Halbach magnet configuration I made this rotor just 1/8" thick, and the new 326mm O.D. rotor weighed just 2135 grams, where an old 250mm, 5/16" thick one for an original Electric Hubcap motor weighed 3031 grams (both without magnets). One sees that the motor will be lighter - one benefit of Halbach.

[27th] In OpenSCad I drew up a jig for putting magnets on the rotor; a little slot to put each magnet into in exactly the right place. Now to use it I have to get some DXF to GCODE program working, then actually get my CNC router to cut it out. In spite of testing the stepper motors and getting them to move the carriage across the CNC table and move the router up and down, I haven't actually tried the router out yet. I have little confidence that it will be made to work flawlessly without much work.

[28th] I drilled the four mounting holes (12mm) - same positions as 4 inch circle car tire studs since I''m using a 1 inch trailer hub and stub axle with flange, with the flange also having the same bolt pattern.
  A new idea occurred to me: to integrate the motor and the magnetic torque converter. The rotor would have the motor magnets on one side and the converter magnets on the other. The alume disk would be on the adjacent planetary gearset body. A PP housing could accommodate both with a bearing at the end on the output shaft of the converter, to go straight to a drive shaft or CV shaft as desired. This would make the most compact unit.

   This would be for a production unit. It would be pretty hard to use that end of the "trailer axle with flange" as the motor output shaft - almost no shaft sticks out past the flange to attach to the planetary input. If it were to be produced, there would be a need for at least 2 or 3 different models. One would be for "straight to CV shaft" which would need a large planetary to handle the full torque of the wheel. A smaller planetary is needed if there is a subsequent gear reduction, as in the 2.2 to 1 differential in the truck, or some other gear to add further reduction to increase the motor speed. This is desirable because even at 150 KmPH the motor speed would be only around 1500 RPM, whereas it should be capable of over double that and would deliver more power at higher speed.
   A variant of the "straight to CV shaft" one would also incorporate my recent idea of having a mechanical brake away from the wheel. Instead it could be on the output of the planetary, ie, at the CV shaft. This would remove the brake mechanism from inside the wheel where it is unsprung weight and subject to moisture, dirt and grit from the road. The wheel would be lighter and so the vehicle would have the best possible handling. The brakes would last far longer. (This would assume there was one unit driving each front (or rear) wheel (if not all four wheels) to make braking symmetrical side to side.)

[30th] I downloaded the latest version of .DXF to .GCode ("DXF2GCODE"). Whenever I tried to open a .DXF file, it hung with a little spinning wheel. Same as before, IIRC. I'm not paying a hefty annual license fee for another product to use it once every 2 years. I give up! I'll have to generate the g-code manually, using a spreadsheet to do the angles, as I did before for previous motors et al. Yetch, manual labor!

[Dec. 1st] I spent the day with spreadsheets [instead of editing this report], putting in numbers and formulas, and repeating everything ad infinitum (for 24 magnets!) for each mistake or change. Even with "fill down" in the spreadsheet things were less than automatic when every third magnet is different from the other two. Then I had to pass the numbers through Libre Office Writer to delete all the tabs the spreadsheet inserted, then used a simple text editor, and a program called "CAMotics" that would nicely display what the router would cut on the CNC machine (but could not edit the GCode). CAMotics wouldn't take multiple commands on a line, so I had to insert 144 "RETURN"s each time I changed something to separate the figures, into one X,Y point per line. It could have been so simple with something to convert a .DXF file to GCode. Well, it's done now.

   Next: trying to get the router that I've never used to actually cut the template.

Other "Green" & Electric Equipment Projects

Peltier Cooler Performance: Greatest Cooling & Lower Power
is attained by running them at 9-10 volts

[6th] Someone brought me a Coleman peltier camping cooler from the thrift shop. It didn't seem to work. I spent a couple of frustrating sessions fiddling with it and wondering why I was wasting my time on it. It was a mystery: the peltier module was working and drawing tens of watts, and everything seemed in order, but it didn't cool. I rearranged the heatsinks and module more than once, thinking it somehow wasn't making good thermal connection.
   Finally I disconnected the fan motor and reversed the wires. It worked! The motor runs both the inside and the outside fan with one on each end of the axle, which sticks through the cooler's wall. Someone had apparently switched the fan motor polarity WRT the peltier polarity, and it just didn't cool the outer heatsink well enough to let the inner one get cool.

   Now that it was working... going back a way I had noticed from Peltier module performance charts that the higher the voltage the more heat the hot side made, and even with excellent heatsinks the heat transferring across the unit made it harder for the cold side to cool. The coefficient of performance (COP) went up as the voltage and power went down. So I had surmised that they might work just as well at lower voltages and powers. I even thought 6 volts instead of 12. I'm not sure why I didn't try different voltages with a lab power supply back in 2012 to check this out, but I only used the 12V solar power. And I rather hacked up my old Mobicool peltier cooler from Canadian Tire.
   So now I had a properly working peltier cooler, and a DC to DC converter plugged into my 36V DC solar power system. I had a patch cord from the 12V "Mini T-Plug" to alligator clips, which I clipped easily to  the cooler plug's flat pins.

Tests & Measurements

   I hooked it up and tried running it at 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6.5 and 13 volts. This applied to whole unit including the fans as well, which were rather noisy but not as bad at lower voltages. The tests occupied much of the day and evening. Vexingly I only found two of my digital thermometers and in one the batteries were dead, so tabulating inside versus outside temperatures with the room temperature fluctuating with woodstove heat was a bit tricky. The cooler takes a long time for the temperature to 'stabilize' and the thermometer reading takes a long time to stabilize at a new temperature each time it's moved between inside and out. But I can say the following:

* 12 volts (45 watts) or even 11 volts (39 watts) didn't seem to work as well as slightly lower voltages. I was finding temperature drops of around 11°C. (eg, 18 in the room / 7 in the cooler.)
* A couple of hours later at 10 volts (30 watts) I read 20° / 7.5°, which is a 12.5° spread - seemingly about as good as Peltier coolers get.
* At 9 volts (just 25 watts) it stayed at about 7.6° but I didn't measure the room again. (Finally I remembered I had another digital thermometer hanging outside the front door and brought it in.) Best estimate drop was just under 12.5°.
* At 8 volts and 20 watts the cooler temperature crept up to 8.1°. The room may have cooled slightly (by ~.3°?) Difference: 11.7°.
* At 7 volts and 15 watts it gradually rose to 8.4°. The room had cooled a bit (to 19.5°?) so the spread was down to 11° or so. (That's 1/3 the power of 12V to get the same temperature drop!)
* At 6.5 volts, 13 watts, after a while it had risen to 8.9°, while the room had cooled to just over 19° - spread about 10°.

* I raised it to 13 volts, 53 watts, last. The temperature quickly rose to 9.1°, probably related to the fans speeding up. Over the course of an hour it was down to 8.3°. That small, gradual drop from what 6.5 volts had kept it at didn't say much for running it at higher voltages.

Drop (~°C
below room)

(Watt figures are rounded to the nearest watt. Believe it or not.)


   Expanding slightly on prior theoretical expectations, I conclude (similar to my previous cooler tests), that a "12 volt" Peltier element and cooler cools best at 9 to 10 volts. Certainly if one has limited energy available (eg, solar in winter, car battery) 8 or 9 volts is a good choice. To ultimately minimize power consumption while still having it cooling, it can go down to 7 or 8 volts - maybe even 6 (and probably just over 10 watts) if the fan(s) keep running. (My "8.5 to 100 VDC" power meter craps out below 7V. At 6.5 I could barely read the display even with the backlight turned off.) Running it at 12 volts - or 13 to 14 as in a running car - seems to be nothing but a waste of energy unless you're trying to make heat in the room or vehicle.

   Peltier coolers always suffer from comparisons to compressor refrigeration. At 9 volts and 25 watts this one cubic foot cooler maintains about a 12.5° temperature reduction from ambient. At 60 watts my (pretty new) 5 cubic foot freezer maintains somewhere around 30-40°. And it only runs half the time to do it, making it around 30 watts. And with this particular peltier unit, the buzzy fan is more annoying than freezer's compressor.

   I still await some superior Peltier modules with higher COPs made by some novel new technique or materials. (10 years so far... Is there anything that transmits electricity but insulates heat? Electromagneticly induced current across a thermal barrier? How might that be employed inside a Peltier module? Probably not.)

Repeat Remarks: Heat Sinking Peltier Modules

   I will again say that to my mind pure alume or copper (or even silver) are heatsinks of choice for peltier modules rather than the common alume alloy heatsinks. Pure alume conducts heat much better than any alloy and pure copper is still better. If you are trying to keep a transistor below 100°C, alloy is fine. But in a peltier module every degree is critical and any difference in the junction temperatures between the ceramic surface of the module and the contacting surface of the heatsink are dead loss. Think that if a better heasink can keep the hot side one degree cooler, and the cold side one degree warmer, the Coleman cooler would go from cooling by the maximum temperture drop I found of 12.5°, to 14.5°. If the outdoor temperature was 21°, the food inside would stay at 6.5° instead of 8.5°. Furthermore, the heat transfer across the module would be reduced, perhaps making a higher voltage work better, which just might (and I haven't worked this out or tried it) further increase the potential cold side drop.
   If I didn't have other projects I'd still be tempted to make copper block contacts to the module, expanding to a larger contact area attached to pure alume heatsinks. (The copper bar that connected the module cold sides to the ice tray in my "super insulated" peltier shallow chest fridge [10 years ago TENews #??] certainly seemed to work well. Now that I think about it, I should have had another big, fat copper bar connecting the hot sides to the outer heatsink, too!)

Winter Gardening

Window & LED Gardening

   It seems a shame to give up pepper and tomato plants after spending all summer growing them, so this year I put some cherry tomatos and "orange mini bell" and "banana" peppers in pots instead of in the ground. And I still have the coffee plants. (I wish I had put a large tomato plant in a pot to bring in - I got great tomatos into October when it got too cold. Well, next year!)
   As the weather got cool I brought them in and made a shelf under the bay window. Now as the days got short and dull I took some of my "indoor LED garden lights and mounted them at the top of the window. I put up some reflectors and some white tablecloth "curtains" to make it brighter. It seems very satisfactory, making use of what little daylight does shine in as well as 8 hours of bulbs.
   But I was trying to water every second day, and I must have missed a day. Possibly two. My biggest cherry tomato withered and didn't come back; another (far left) had a single small live branch left. I brought in the third one, that had been in the kitchen. It had a single flower now starting to turn into a fruit, and now a couple more. But it drooped and almost died too. All the peppers looked like they had been through some drought too. Now I don't dare miss a single day watering. The banana peppers turn yellow first, then red. They're sweeter than the orange ones.

   And I planted a rectangular pot of romaine lettuce and one of spinach about 6 inches under two 40 watt red and blue LED "grow light" panels. The lettuce was soon getting tall and spindly, and on December 3rd all of them fell over. There just wasn't enough light. I piled some dirt around them them to prop them up and then raised the pot so they were within 3 inches of the lights, which I then left on all day and night. and I put up some alume foil at the front to reflect the light back in. (The back was already reflective. The next day they survived and all started their first leaf. I'd say they're just barely getting enough light now. I'm certainly not impressed by these "grow lights"! But they are old ones.
   Now a couple of spinach have come up and and are also getting tall and spindly. I'd better find some more props and also get that pot up to the lights before they keel over too!
   (Now there isn't room to water them in place, and they're quite heavy to move - ug!)

Electricity Storage

Gelled Nickel-Zinc Batteries

[7th] I figured that for testing as I was doing, the cell didn't need to be perfectly sealed. That could come when things were basicly behaving as expected. And I figured that with the external clamp plates, the beeswax on the joins should make a fair seal when firmly pressed together, too. That meant I could now screw the cell open and closed and try a lot more things faster. This is what I should have done long ago.

   Previously I had broken open another NiMH "D" cell and taken out the NiOOH electrode (broken pieces). I put it in bleach to charge it up. Later I saw some tiny oxygen bubbles. Now I made it into a new electrode which I painted with a mix of KCl solution, Sunlight soap and a bit of SmO3. I used parchment paper as a separator paper and put in a plastic spacer as well.
    When I put it on it read under a volt again. It charged up at 30mA to about 1.485 volts and didn't seem inclined to go any higher. Could it be that at neutral pH the NiOHOH didn't stay charged to NiOOH? That was what I was doing differently: I had previously been using 20%:20% KOH:KCl to raise the pH. I'm trying to avoid corrosive KOH. But I needed to do something to raise the pH. How about some Ca(OH)2 to raise it to 12-13 but not to the "dangerous to handle" pH 14?
   I opened the top of the cell, wetted the electrode with salt water and dabbed some calcium oxide onto it. It didn't seem to have much if any effect, even over a few hours to let some dissolve.

   Hmm... When I was doing the manganese negative electrodes long ago I had used a mix of NiOOH and MnO2 in the plus. I supposed it was forming nickel manganates, but I found found it didn't seem to recharge properly, which is (I later found out) a characteristic of manganese - Mn2O3 or Mn(OH)3 [valence 3] are insulators and so don't recharge electricly to MnO2 [valence 4]. The cells that "should have been" great got weaker and weaker with each cycle - and not from the metallic Mn negatives. (Also the negative voltage was so high my negative current collectors were bubbling hydrogen wherever they were exposed to the electrolyte, a source of continual overnight self-discharge, which I also didn't realize/understand until much later.)

   On a whim I opened the cell again, pulled off the top current collector and dropped 3% hydrogen peroxide onto the NiOOH pieces. IIRC this should DIScharge them. A fine froth bubbled up with each drop until I had covered pretty much all of it. Then I put it back together and onto charge again - 50mA instead of 30, and the voltage came up to 1.9 volts. It still dropped rapidly when the charge was removed. I worried that the zinc must be getting overcharged and making hydrogen/zinc hydride. It still didn't stay up to voltage.

Back to basic basics!

[9th] Once upon a time, 11 to 10 years ago, I was getting better results than I have been recently. Let's see... with no protection, the zinc forms dendrites rapidly and the cell dies. The osmium doped acetal ester layer helps. Agar... PVA... did I ever try using just the dishsoap as the gel for the negative side? Or was that back when I was making metallic manganese negative electrodes, before I started using zinc? Far too much time between battery experiments: I lose my continuity and forget just what I've done, time after time.

- I heated up the zinc electrode to 90° to dissolve off the PVA (in preference to making a new one and coating it again). Lots of bubbles came off the piece as it got hot.

- I cleaned out the cell case to "empty". Then I daubed a graphite current collector on both sides with Ca(OH)2 and set it in.

- I put the new Ni(OH)2 electrode back in on top of that, as it was, no changes, same separator paper.
   (It has the salt solution with Sm(OH)3 and some dishsoap)

- I could see lots of green nickel hydroxide (powder) through the separator paper. I didn't trust that it wasn't coming through, and added another plain piece of parchment paper above it.

- I made a new larger separator paper and impregnated it with salt solution including zircon and dishsoap, and wrapped it around the zinc 'trode.

- I left it with no top electrode and put in plastic spacers to fill the cell, then closed the cell and clamped it together. (Hmm... not much beeswax left around the edges. I'm not bothering to try to seal it.)


This time the cell, even if it didn't take or deliver current very well, charged and didn't rapidly discharge to some half-way voltage. (16:30 PM) After a little while it was charging at 1.911V and 20mA, and it took over a minute to drop to 1.7. It would deliver about .3 amps into a short circuit momentarily. (16:45) Now .5 amps at .5 volts into a 1 ohm load. (Drops off rapidly.) 1/4 watt, but at least it's real! Now holding over 1.8 volts for one minute plus.
   (17:30) Seems to have been a spurious reading... 0.3 amps is the most I've read since, and it's been consistent. 1/9 watt. For 58 sq.cm that's a mere 5mA/sq.cm. Five times that would be encouraging and 20 times would be fabulous. But the dry cell NiOOH electrodes use nickel foil (& powder?) for higher conductivity, and nickel corrodes to just more NiOOH at any pH below 14. That's where the graphite powder or carbon black, and or the monel or cupro-nickel should come in.
   Given my troubles with nickel manganate 'trodes, I think I may just try making NiOOH ones with these different conductivity enhancements. (Then I'll probably try nickel manganates again.)

   In fact, I could open the present arrangement and (hopefully) set the NiOOH electrode (made of all the little bits) out on its separator paper again. Paint that with conductive carbon black (let's call it "CCB") and a bit more Ca(OH)2. If it works, that should at least somewhat increase the conductivity and hence the current drive. OTOH, if it won't hold a charge after doing that, I'll know that graphite/CCB has too low an oxygen overvoltage (at mild alkaline pH) and is preventing the NiOOH from hold its charge.
   The CCB didn't want to mix with the water. It mostly sat floating on top by surface tension. I tried again with a little soap mixed in, this time just to try to get the CCB to wet. The mix at least looked black when painted onto the pieces of NiOOH from the dry cell and onto the current collector, but I don't know how much really got in there. The result was unexpected: no noticeable change. Still charged okay, still similar charge currents and 300mA discharge. Maybe it just wasn't enough, or just being painted on it wasn't impregnated into the electrode material solidly enough to improve the conductivity.

Separator Paper?

[10th] In all this however the "steady state" charge current rose from 5mA to 20, and the voltage dropped off fairly quickly to under a volt when not charging. I had been worried that NiOOH nano powder may have been coming through the separator paper, and I think that is the case. I'll have to find a better separator paper. Let's see... years ago I had been using thick watercolor paper, and I think I should go back to that. One problem: is there anywhere to get some around here, and if so is it as good as the heavy, dense "Arches" I was using before? (The "Your Dollar Store With More" may be my best bet. Later: Yes, they had pads of great watercolor paper!)

   There was a power failure in the high winds and the stores were closed when I went into town. But I had a couple of pieces. I decided to insert a layer between the two electrodes and see if it helped. I squirted a little salt solution on the paper to get it wet. (I then used a thinner spacer to 'complete' the cell.)
   After a while it was apparent that the voltage went higher with lower current, and the steady decrease in voltage after the charge was disconnected had slowed to its previous levels. So the separator papers did seem to be at least part of the problem. But the current into a 1Ω load also dropped from.3 to .2 amps. Was that because the thicker separator limit maximum current more, or just made everything slower? It still did keep dropping in voltage - and it seemed to gradually get worse instead of better.

   I don't understand how in most batteries the papers seem so insubstantially thin and yet are so effective. It occurred to me that while in most dry cells the papers just shred to fibers when one disassembles a cell, in the NiMH "D" cells they unroll in one piece, and I still had the latest one. Perhaps it would be an idea to try that?
   Done. Two overlapping strips. Well the currents were higher, both charge and discharge, but the voltage went back to dropping much more quickly. Maybe the separators were fine and had nothing to do with the problem? Or the 'D' cell papers weren't working in my cells.

(Later: Treating paper with Varsol finally stopped the seepage. See [Dec. 2nd, 5th] below.)

Self Discharge: Impurities?

   Sulfonates are available in "ion exchange membranes", but I haven't found the chemical by itself to buy some. (I checked again for the exact name - sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate - again on the "Lemon Fresh Sunlight" dishsoap bottles but discovered the ingredients are no longer listed on the newer bottles. Luckily I still had an older one.) But the dishsoap with sulfonates, while probably containing a good ion exchange gel, is after all something of a wild card. There were probably soluble components in it that needed to be eliminated. And there could be impurities in other ingredients too. Maybe I need to dilute out the electrodes in a bath of fresh electrolyte? A problem in the past was that I had glued the cells together and couldn't readily open them to expose the electrodes and try things like that out.
   Suddenly I recalled that this was a step I had read about in "forming" some earlier alkaline batteries (eg, NiFe flooded cells with pocket electrodes) - to charge individual iron electrodes in a big KOH bath and get rid of impurities by dissolving/driving them out. I took out the electrodes and put them in water, then a second bath in new water. They seemed to work much better, even with the electrolyte so diluted and no new salt added. The cell voltage went up and the charge current dropped down to the lowest levels yet, while the discharge current stayed at around 300mA. The cell still lost voltage, but far, far more gradually.

   Is that one little step the biggest thing I've been missing all these years?!?

   But the fact that they still worked said the electrolyte salt hadn't all dissolved out. Ergo, neither had all the impurities necessarily. I gave them a third and a fourth bath. IF the self discharge was indeed eliminated (or reduced to months, weeks or at least many days) the question would then become whether there would be enough of the sulfonates from the dishsoap remaining to act as a gel and keep zinc dendrites from forming. They're supposed to solidify out of the soap in the separator paper and the electrodes. (This turns out to not work.)

(Ay, Yi! it's 1 in the morning!) I left them in their 4th baths overnight. That's certainly long enough to dissolve out anything soluble at room temperature.

[11th] I tried putting the 'trodes together as they were. This time there was little conductivity - the electrolyte salt had dissolved out. But after I added some KCl salt they seemed to only work slightly better than before. A bit higher voltage, low current after the initial rush, but still dropped to 1.8V in a minute when off of charge. (It was probably considerably improved none the less: I only tried it a few minutes instead of for an hour or more.)
   Hmm... owing to the amount of rinse water needed I had used TAP WATER. From my well. It's known to have sulfur in it. There might be traces of other things, too. Iron oxide for sure. Sulfates dissolve electrode materials that chlorides don't. Okay, another rinse, this time in distilled water.
   After 1/2 an hour I changed the water. Then I went out for lunch, about 3 hours. Four rinses now. Surely there wasn't much of anything soluble left in the electrodes!

   Once again I tried it without adding electrolyte, and again it had little conductivity. But it seemed to work pretty well after sprinkling a pinch of salt on the wet separator paper.
   With a couple of hours charging current was down to 5mA, it took well over a minute to drop below 1.9 volts, and current through a 1 Ω load was (momentarily) well over 300mA.

   But I had realized I probably shouldn't expect complete perfection at this point. First there's one more "wild card" in the deck: the KCl salt itself was from a health food store. How pure is it? It does say "99.9% KCl" on the package, but even .1% of the wrong impurity (especially nitrates) might cause gradual self disharge, and the electrolyte has to be added after all rinsings and cleanings. I think I should order some known pure KCl with another "9" or two on it (ie 99.99%, 99.999%). Also the cell was only sealed when I first made it. Now the beeswax is patchy and air is pretty freely going in and out the terminal holes. That can cause problems, including of course soon drying out the electrolyte.

   So given the present results, I'll get some pure salt and will at some point soon be making essentially "sealed" cells, and unless I discover otherwise, I'll call the long vexing problem of gradual self discharge at last (presumably) solved in principle and move on.

Curpo-Nickel 'Positrode' Current Collector

   Another thing to try might be a cupro:nickel (70%:30%) current collector on the plus side instead of "flexible graphite gasket" material. Monel and other cupro-nickel mixes are very resistant to salt water corrosion, but with a positive voltage applied any metal is more prone to oxidation. I retrieved a chunk from storage and cut it to fit. The result seemed crazy! The cell wouldn't hold its charge and was drawing over 200mA charge current to stay at around 1.7 volts. With the charge off it dropped rapidly to a volt. First I took it apart again: Boy, that sure didn't work! The surface seemed corroded where it had been in contact with the electrode chunks. It hadn't done that in the more strongly alkaline solution I had used cupro-nickel in before. (20% KCl: 20% KOH solution.)
   Wait... a nickel hydroxide 'positrode' touching a piece of metal. At whatever pH it was now at, it was obviously oxidizing the metal. So perhaps the alloy in contact with the electrode would become cupro-nickel oxide-hydroxide - a solid in solid solution? What would that mean? Would it continue to oxidize the whole piece away, or would it just be at the surface where it was touching the electrode substance, like alume or titanium? Or might a surface oxide later all over protect the interior? If either of the latter, the metal might still provide higher currents than the graphite?
   So I decided to keep it charging for a few hours and see what happened. A couple of hours later charge current had dropped from 200mA to around 60mA with the voltage up to 1.94V. Disconnected, self discharge was still rapid, but even as it dropped through 1.7V it put out 600mA momentarily into a 1Ω load. It seemed promising.

The cupro-nickel sheet after usage (L), with the NiOOH
chunks electrode material on the separator paper (R)

Some electrode material substance made its way around the back of the sheet.

The cupro-nickel current collector seemed to almost bond with the nickel hydroxide electrode,
but it seemed virtually unaffected in areas where there was no electrode substance.
It hadn't oxidized away after a couple of weeks of use, but seems weaker where the terminal comes out.
I suspect more calcium oxide coating without missing any spots will make it work.

[12th] Overnight it went down to 40mA, and rose to ~1.98V (charging voltage was ~2.05, 1Ω resistor in series) and stayed over 1.7V for a while off of charge. Discharge currents were around 670mA (1Ω load - even 700mA short circuit).
   Hmm... this might work. It might also keep up the strong but gradually decreasing "self-discharge" for a week. Or the entire piece of cupro-nickel (or the terminal stem) might corrode away to nothing over time.
   Well, I had to look. Mostly it seemed to only be corroding where the electrode bits contacted it. It made some bright colors. Another week may tell if it works well or not. Certainly the current drive is improved over the graphite, which is probably related to better contact through the expanded corrosion substance than to the flat graphite surface.
   By the end of the day a sort of equilibrium had been reached. Charging current was around 40mA and the voltage 1.99. Momentarily it would drive a 1Ω load to 700mA and a short circuit to just over an amp. But the self discharge was fierce and had stopped decreasing earlier in the day.
   Could zinc dendrites have penetrated both separator sheets and made a short? I opened the cell and stuck in another separator sheet of thicker watercolor paper between the other two, and squirted some salt electrolyte onto it, then closed it up again. The charging current doubled, and so did the discharge current, to over 2 amps into a short circuit. Not dendrites, then. (Yay!) Perhaps it had been getting too dry? Further tests will have to wait until morning.

[13th] By morning it seemed to have improved a little. Charge current was down from 80s to 60s mA and discharge into 1 Ω was over an amp -- 3 times what it had been with the gasket graphite. Short circuit discharge was up to 2.85 amps. (Again momentary values that dropped rapidly.) So I decided to leave it for a few more hours.

   But it didn't seem to change much. I tried taking the 'trodes out and diluting impurities again, but instead of reducing currents they increased again. But a couple of hours later it drove a 10 ohm load for almost 3 minutes (quitting when it hit 1.0 volts) instead of 1-1/2. (All pretty pathetic, I know.)

New 'Positrode'

   In the meantime I cut two more cupro-nickel current collectors (in spite of still being rather in doubt about them) and painted calcium oxide onto one face of each.

   I still had the rest of the jar of "+trode" powders I had made in July 2019. (TENews #134 & #73) (IIRC I had added quite a bit of extra CCB or graphite powder in #134. That might decrease amp-hours per kilogram, but it shouldn't stop it if it's going to work.)

Monel Powder    - 16 g
Ni(OH)2 - 17 g
KMnO4  - 40 g
Graphite Powder - 5 g
Sm2O3  -  5 g

   I got out the 50x50mm square electrode compactor I had made 3 or 4 years ago. I had picked that smaller size before I thought of making externally clamped cells so they wouldn't bulge. Now it was too small and awkward for the present 65x90mm cell size, but it was hard work to make and it worked, so I used it.

   I mixed a very small amount of dishsoap into the powder and compacted four squares of about 7.5 grams each with 1 ton of pressure. (They all could have used a bit more liquid.) I dried them on the hotplate and very briefly ran a low flame propane torch over them to sinter them together a bit. They were still very brittle. One broke up. I cut one to 3/4 wide in order to fit two onto one of the 65x90mm current collectors, with 8.5 square centimeters left blank. I used the other pieces for a second electrode.

   I also painted two pieces of watercolor paper with dishsoap, zircon & electrolyte as separator sheets (Just one separator sheet between the electrodes: dishsoap as gel; zircon to raise hydrogen overvoltage for the zinc side). I left those to dry first, and set about diluting the new electrodes in rain water, then distilled water twice.

   There was a problem. While the bits of commercial dry cell electrode had held together fine, mine first tried to float off the metal sheet, then they swelled up and crumbled. Before the rinse: promising looking compacted powders electrode. After the rinse: sludge. It seemed like I needed some "glue" or something. Carboxymethylcellulose or Veegum or something. Or they needed to be encased. The "pocket electrode" idea rears its ugly head again.
   Well, maybe I'll just put the cupro-nickel into the cell, pour the sludge on top and even it out, and slap a separator sheet with gel on top of that, then a zinc electrode. If the external clamp provides the pressure perhaps the 'sludge' will compact to where the particles connect electricly again and the cell will work?
   As I think about it, maybe the bath in water is just what it needs to get the reaction going, to turn the Ni(OH)2 and the KMnO4 into nickel manganates?

   Once I have a cell with all my own 'trodes working properly I can go back to worrying about details like starting with an even charge in both electrodes and sealing the cell so water doesn't escape and gradually deteriorate the performance to nothing.

[14th] Back to the first cell... Overnight the self discharge/charge current had dropped to 50mA. Disconnected it took 90 seconds to drop below 1.8V, and it drove the 10Ω load for just over 4 minutes. Then if allowed to recover a while (very slowly - 10 minutes?), for much of another minute.
   I wondered again how much of the self discharge was from oxygen entering the cell, and I covered the terminal holes as best I could with modeling clay. That may have helped marginally. But there still could be enough air getting in somewhere to keep it well oxygenated inside.
   Around noon I tried testing it again. The charge current hadn't dropped: 65mA. But it stayed above 1.8 volts for about 90 seconds again. Then a 10Ω load test stayed above 1.6 volts longer (35 s.) and it ran for 5 minutes instead of 4 (down to 1.0V), so no sort of equilibrium seems to have set in. The voltages jump up and down a bit as if making and breaking connections inside the cell, and apparently more of the electrode bits are being employed. Still it should run far longer to be a real battery. I left it sitting a while and it recovered to ~1.60 volts... and sat there... dropping only a millivolt every few minutes. Apparently the self discharge is much reduced after all. It still isn't 0, but it's down to where it may be explained by trace impurities in the salt and a bit of air getting in. Maybe it's a battery after all!
   In the evening I did another 10Ω load test. Again it ran for 5 minutes, and had recovered to about 1.555V when I looked. I then ran the load test again, without recharging. It lasted another 2 minutes, and recovered to 1.545V. At that point I went for a third run, of one minute, recovering to 1.541V. (All almost exactly even minutes.) A fourth run went another 50 seconds. At this point it was almost 9 minutes total, and could surely make it to 10 with a couple more runs. At 1.2V and 120mA for 1/6 of and hour, that's 20mAH. Well, not much, but not trivial anyway. I'm sure it's capable of much more. The zinc is solid. I can't help but think I'm not getting much mileage out of the bits of nickel electrode from the dry cell.

(pH is about 13. According to the Pourbaix diagrams, zinc should be -1.2 volts and NiOOH +.6, so the cell should be 1.8 volts. We all know it depends on the state of charge and that it'll drop with a load on it. NiZn cells are usually rated 1.6V nominal, but it seems to me in salt electrolyte the voltage is a little higher -- so call it nominal 1.7? Just might make 12V with 7 cells instead of 8?)

   Now I wanted to try the new positrode, but I didn't want to change the existing cell without more tests on it. I had cut the front and back for a second cell when I did the first - now to finish it. I'm estimating the substance might effectively be around 200 amp-hours per Kg. (NiOOH electrodes in practice might be 100, if that. MnO2 is a theoretical 316, but doesn't recharge well. Nickel manganates is another wild card, but that's my estimate until I learn differently. The amp capacity should be substantially higher than for NiOOH, too.) So 35 g might be 7 amp-hours (which will have to be matched by a thicker zinc plating) and instead of a few amps, tens of amps. With 2 faces on the zinc and 2 NixMn(3-x)Oy (or is it NixMn(3-x)(OH)2*y?) positrodes, 14 amp-hours.
   Anyway, there's the hope.

[15th] In the morning the charge current was down below 50mA. I tried another load test. Not quite as good as yesterday. Perhaps the water is drying out? Anyway, if it's not going to keep getting better bit by bit... I changed my mind and decided to put the new NixMn(3-x)Oz plus side in the existing cell. Preparatory to that I did a discharge, just so the zinc would have some little way to charge to, on the assumption the the new electrode would need at least some charging (notwithstanding the original "overcharged" permanganate valence).

   I got to it in the evening. I cleaned out the case and put the new "cracked-up slush" electrode into it. I pressed down pretty hard but (to my surprise) I couldn't seem to compress it to any degree.

   I got a cleaned, impregnated separator sheet and wetted it down thoroughly with electrolyte, then pressed it in on top of the electrode. It was a bit big and the sides folded up a little. That seemed fine.

   I put the zinc electrode on top of that. I left it with its original separator paper in addition to the new one. The worst it could do was reduce currents a bit, and I didn't want to disturb whatever was happening beneath it.
   The materials seemed to pretty much fill the space. This time there was no room for a spacer piece behind the zinc - or for a second nickel electrode to double the capacity. Apparently the "complete" cells would have to have wider walls. But I did worry it would be just a little loose and leave room for the positrode to expand a bit and lose conductivity.

   Later I thought I should have added more electrolyte to wet the positrode well as well as the separator paper. (I may soon squirt some more into the tiny filler hole.)

   I thought I could cut a piece of an inner tube so the rubber fit around the edges to make a relatively waterproof seal. I looked in the shop shelves and found instead a small roll of flat rubber stock, 1.2mm thick. Even better! Then I thought, why cut it out around the edges? Why not just a big square piece to fit across the whole front and over the edges? And then: why have the plastic front at all? Why not just have the rubber as the front, since it would be clamped closed by the alume sandwich anyway? Certainly ideal for testing and reopening, but might that even be good for a production version? No need to glue the front on to try to keep it from leaking. (Why did I take the picture and then rinse it off?)

   The half-new cell started out at only about .6V. I decided to charge slowly and used a ten ohm resistor to the 2.05V power supply. At 65mA the voltage rose immediately to ~1.2V and in 20 minutes to 1.7, dropping under 40mA. It seemed much more promising than my last try at a nickel-manganates electrode, where (as best I recall) the cell kept wanting to drop to 1.3V. Maybe the water bath after compacting facilitated reactions between the nickel and the permanganate? Time to leave it for a couple of hours to charge. By bedtime it seemed apparent that things were working, but that it would be many days before it started to look like a battery.

[16th] Aside from adding another 3cc or so of electrolyte, it looked like there would be little point doing anything with the cell this day - probably not for two or three days. Voltage on charge had risen overnight to 1.81. Adding the water dropped it to 1.67, so it must have needed it. Off charge the voltage fell rapidly, but more slowly than the previous evening. For no known reason, I feel the whole process has to be done very slowly to give the best result. The changes to the current collector sheet say that a lot is happening in there, and surely converting Ni(OH)2 + KMnO4 to NixMn(3-x)Oy is a whole process (which I only trust is happening somewhere in between having wetted it and charging and maybe discharging it.)

Purifying sodium dodecylbenzene sulfonate from Sunlight dishsoap?

   I looked on line for the sulfonate. Westlab didn't have it, ACP Chemicals where I had purchased chemicals before was gone from Canada, Alfa Aesar (USA) had sulfonates (that might work) but not that exact one. Sigma Aldrich (Ontario) had it. But my experience with them has been "don't bother". They seem to be part of Fischer Scientific now, who as I recall had a minimum order of 500$ back in 2010 or so. It could be 1000$ today. But my brother Stuart had worked in biochemical research. Did he know of another source or have an "in" with Sigma Aldrich? I phoned him. Nope.
   I joked about "purifying" the Sunlight - eliminating the other 70 or 80 or 90% of it that was "impurities". He said I could try "fractional crystalization". If the substance was cooled and allowed to dry out, the different ingredients might crystalize out of the solution at different times and at different rates, starting with the least soluble... which should be the sulfonate. He said he had had the soap from laundry detergent crystalize out of the liquid and a cold room, and wondered why it looked thin and wasn't getting his clothes clean. He found the crystals on the bottom in the container. (They just might have been sulfonates!) He said to do it slowly to get big crystals. (And to think, I was only joking -- I had thought "purifying" it was a hopeless idea!) I don't know how related that was to his biochemistry, but it sounded like a great thing to try!
   I poured out four open petri dishes and put one in a cool place, one in the fridge, one in the window greenhouse where it was about freezing (frost outside this evening), and one in the freezers. Next: see how long until I spill one... er, I mean, wait for results. if any.

[17th] After rising gradually through the 1.7's volts range all day yesterday, the cell hit 1.812V this morning. Apparently something is happening.

   The dishsoap in the fridge and 'outside' at about freezing temperature seemed unchanged, but that in the freezer had become hard, like a solid wax. I decided to leave it in longer and see if anything happened.

[18th] Hmm... after another whole day the cell is still fighting the war of 1812. Why? I opened the cell and discovered it was quite dry inside. I don't think there were any appreciable leaks, so the reactions had to be using it up. That seemed quite reasonable given that the nickel manganates in water were probably of the form "NixMn(3-x)(OH)2*y" rather than "NixMn(3-x)Oy" And it didn't seem there were salt crystals solidified out of solution, so they may have been using up salt too. Perhaps some of the green color seen earlier was copper or nickel chloride?
   I added a few squirts of water and closed it up again.

The Best Cell Construction! (Especially for experimental cells!)

   Here I will remark that this cell is absolutely the best construction. It has the ABS plastic back and edges in which to lay everything, one layer at a time, then the rubber sheet covering the front and sealing all around the edges, and the external alume clamp plates to hold it all together and prevent the powder electrode from swelling into a sponge that doesn't conduct electricity. For a test cell, some bits of modeling clay can cover the openings where the terminals come out. (Bee's wax or ??? for a "production" cell.) Opening the cell is simple: undo 4 machine screws and pull the rubber off. The zinc plated copper electrode at the front also comes out freely to expose the lower layers.
   The external clamp set was probably the best idea I've had on this project, and it enabled the simple "no glue" rubber cover.

[19th] I opened it again and again it was pretty dry inside. I'm still convinced - so far - that something is happening in there (probably the formation of the nickel manganates from the Ni(OH)2 and KMnO4), that whatever it is it uses up the electrolyte, and that eventually the process will finish. This time instead of just wetting the separator paper I gave it about 5cc of water to where it was threatening to actually spill out the lowest edge. (I have it slightly tilted up so the terminal openings are about even with the bottom edge to try and keep the terminals dry... I have more rusted out alligator clips from salty, damp "+" terminals than ...whatever! I suppose that if the rubber is truly sealing the edges I should be able to stand it up vertical without issue.) The voltage dropped down to  1.3 or so and about 70mA charge current through the 10Ω from 2.05V.

   Okay, it doesn't seem to be working. Nickel manganates holds such promise. There must be something else that's needed chemicly, rather than expecting the right reactions to occur electricly by charging to "form" the electrode.
   Well, first, I decided to put a spacer in behind the zinc 'trode and crank down on the screws. After all, the powders had swelled up in the water when I rinsed the compacted positive. maybe it was suffering from poor conductivity? I tightened it up and all the pressure was now compacting the insides, because a drip of water came out the lower corner so it wasn't compacting the rubber seal. I swapped to the 1Ω resistor and the voltage shot up from 1.4 to 1.9V, and because of the higher voltage the current was only 100mA where it had been 60 with the 10Ω. Soon it was up to 1.96V and the current down to the same 60mA. Maybe compacting; maybe more charge current? Anything else before I start spraying miscellaneous chemicals on that electrode and seeing what happens? I guess at almost 2 volts now, I should see what happens with a few more hours of charging.
   It ran a 20Ω load down to 1V in 4 minutes, then repeating a while later, 6 minutes.

[20th] The 20Ω load ran it down to 1V in 5-1/2 minutes, but just 1/2 hour later it lasted 8 minutes. As usual it took minutes to recover to just 1.25V. I put in a couple more cc of electrolyte, some of which promptly leaked out the bottom and some came up through the terminal holes. (Some stayed, I think.) It seemed that without the thin plastic spacer sheet there wasn't enough pressure on the electrode, and with it I couldn't quite get the edges to seal. Apparently I need more finely graduated spacers! I upped the charge voltage to about 2.10V, still through the 1Ω resistor. Cell voltage soon rose to just over 2 volts. Momentary short circuit current was only 2-3/4 amps.

Wait! The leaked electrolyte looked murky. Was it suspended particles, or dissolved matter? Also the voltage went down and the current up. I disassembled the cell. The NiMn powders 'trode mostly didn't stick to the separator sheet. I picked it up by the current collector beneath and put it in distilled water, which took on a brown color. It seemed the electrolyte had become contaminated with something. Also powder freely washed off the electrode as before.
   The drop in voltage was probably zinc dendrites. For the moment I can change separator pads to eliminate dendrites while I experiment with positive electrodes. (How do I get the sulfonate out of the dishsoap to impregnate a separator pad with it?) I set the electrode on a paper towel to soak out most of the water. I set everything apart and left it to dry.

   I've been assuming that most of the reactions to get the substances into the desired forms would be electrochemical and would occur with charging and discharging the cell. Or is that just wishful thinking? It seems to be taking geologic time. I found out little about nickel manganates on line before, but it never hurts to go look again. Different search terms, different search engine... This time there was a glimmer of illumination from what was shown of a 2010 research paper from Argentina behind a pay wall, that indicated I should try forming nickel manganates with the steps in a different order.

1) Soak the electrode or just the unprocessed powders in distilled water. (The electrode swells up into sludge anyway!) This may hydrate and put together the KMnO4 and the Ni(OH)2 to yield things along the lines of nickel permanganate, Ni(MnO4)2 + 2(KOH). Nickel permanganate was the starting substance in the paper. (What temperature for the water? Cold? Might work better or faster in hot?)

2) Compress the resulting electrode paste/powders [instead of the initial powders] into a "brick(s)" and put it (or the pieces) onto the current collector sheet.

3) Dry this and then torch it with the propane torch to "calcine" the water-reacted mixture rather than the initial "raw" mixture. Then assemble the cell.

The mixture may (or may not) then be along the lines of: NiMn2O(4+?) , which may hydrate to NiMn2(OH)(8+2?) in the cell, or partially hydrate to some being "OH"es. Valence changes apparently occur as Ni and Mn trade places in the spinel crystalline lattice, Resulting in more or fewer "O--" or "OH-" components in the substance, or maybe "OH"es become "O"s and vise versa (as with Ni OH OH [nickel valence 2] charging to Ni O OH [valence 3]). And of course other related molecules will probably occur in my haphazard substance in many and various places, such as Ni2Mn(O4+?) .

   It's all still guesswork. What water temperature and for how long? Could one (as I suspect) torch it too much and turn it into a non-conductive ceramic (not to mention burning out or modifying the graphite or CCB)? Do the reactions I'm supposing happen at all? Does it even work anything like how I've been thinking it should once it's made?

[21st] I raised the voltage to 2.11V, and the performance is considerably improved after 4 hours. Could it be I haven't had it high enough? I think I'll try 2.2V. Yep. The voltages are staying substantially higher for longer when the charge is off and when driving a 20Ω load. One just ended at 1.25V after 6.1 minutes instead of 1.0V. A couple of hours later, the next one ran 8.0 minutes down to 1.30V. It's improving just like I thought it should! I was charging at a little too low a voltage. The nickel-manganates & zinc cell in salt electrolyte is apparently closer to 2 volts than 1.8, so it needs to be charged at substantially over 2 volts. (One can also try and charge a car battery at 12 volts but it won't get much charged - 13.3 volts or more instead makes all the difference!)
   Going up... I set it to 2.289V. (The power supply doesn't adjust very fine. That was as close as I could get to 2.300V.) And why not? I had the nickel manganates + manganese cells charging at 2.7V or so ten years ago, and zinc is only about .3 volts lower than metallic manganese.

   Again what an advantage it is to be able to easily open and dissect the cell, and replace individual components! Previously I think the positrodes were gradually improving until zinc dendrites wrecked things and I'd have to start over. Now I can replace the separator sheet and remove them. The zinc 'trodes can now be dealt with separately once I know the other is working well. (Then I can buy or isolate the sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate ion transfer substance. or PVA or other gell.) How can I have not done something about this years ago?

   Next run: 13.0 minutes down to 1.111 volts. (Oops, I forgot about it! Still using 20Ω.) And momentary short circuit current "charged" rose a little to 3.5 amps. I put it back on 10Ω charge instead of 1Ω, thinking not to push it too hard overnight.

[22nd] With the reduced charge the voltage dropped and it didn't get back up to 2.0V overnight. I left it running.

   I decided to make one more cell similar to this one. The plastic was cut; I had the second electrode. I played the torch lightly over the electrode. It didn't seem like much and the current collector sheet was still cool, but I carried it into the house and noticed a couple of puffs of smoke come off it, and the sheet had become warm. So I'll presume the porous electrode got about the right amount of calcining. (Later I decided to just use this new electrode in the same cell when I got the new salt. New cells would be the larger size.)

New Cell Size: Largest Old Cell Size

   Why did I only want to make one more cell this size? With the little dangerous amount of knowledge I've collected over the years and this month I'm back to dreaming that everything is going to work soon and thinking about practical battery construction. I had at some previous point picked the same width as I using now but with cells 6 inches tall. But it was hard shoving the assembly in through the top of a tall, thin cell that had a front and a back already glued onto it. And since the positrodes bulged out once wetted and the cells hardly worked, I had shrunk the whole idea to just 50x50mm electrodes. But now the rubber front doesn't go on until the insides are in place and the external plates clamp now prevents bulging so "any" size could work and I can think of larger sizes again.

   The 65mm electrode width is about the widest practical for my jewelers rolling mill, and I'm rolling the coarse plated zinc to squash it into decent flat sheets on the copper foil. Furthermore, 1/4 inch thick alume plates might themselves bulge if the cell, externally 85mm, is much wider. Multiple bolts can go along the sides if it's taller.

   The 6 inch / 150mm height just seems like a practical place to stop. The electrodes will be about 65*130mm or 84.5 sq.cm. 70*135mm or 94.5 sq.cm. At 100mA/sq.cm that would make for over 9 amps current per electrode pair. (not that it's been that high so far, but it should be.) Capacity should be ten amp-hours or maybe 17 or 18 nominal watt-hours. (And I already have the zinc plating jar setup for that size.)

   I will want to go to at least a double sided zinced sheet facing two nickel manganates positives. More plates such as two double zincs facing four NiMn's are also possible, multiplying capacity per cell.(One cupro-nickel current collector could be the base for a two-face NiMn 'trode as well. Hmm... it's easiest to keep the crumbly electrode side up on its metal "spatula". How is a two-face one - or even just 'the' top one - going to work for assembly?)

   I'll keep the format of one-piece sheet current collectors with terminal tabs. With metal sheets the tabs should be flexible but strong enough to take some handling during assembly and use. I'll make them long enough to bend to a desired position. First, if there are two NiMn electrodes in a cell they'll each have an external terminal and need to be tied together. Then, there's a big advantage in ease of use if the terminals in adjacent cells in the clamp can be bent over a bit to touch each other. Then a single bolt through a hole in the tab can easily tie cells together in series.

[23rd] Again with only a small charge current, the voltage hadn't risen overnight, sitting at about 1.950V. It seemed to have arrived at some balance between charge and self discharge. I opened it and saw some green from the lower electrode on the top of the separator paper. Could it be that or zinc dendrites through the sheet?
   I decided to replace the sheet again. This time the cell was open for some time (15 minutes?) as I cut a piece then rinsed it in case there were any soluble impurities that should be removed. When I put it back together, the voltage was way lower, like 1.2 or 1.3 volts - maybe less. (Dang, I had been puzzled by lower voltages after opening the cell before, too. This time was simply worse.) I had thought that air might cause gradual self discharge. Now it seemed as if a whole electrode had been substantially discharged just by being in air for a short time. There, surely, was the real self discharge problem! I knew it was leaking around the edges. I took out the spacer that seemed to have been wedging it slightly open and put in a smaller one. I closed it back up and squirted in a couple of cc's of water. This time none leaked out the bottom. I closed up the spaces around the terminals with modeling clay as best I could.
   And put it back on high charge (1Ω @ 2.3V). In a few hours it dropped to the lowest charge current yet with 1Ω & 2.3V: 49mA, and there it stayed. A 20Ω load test ran for 11.75 minutes down to 1.200V. Best run yet. I'm starting to think that the nickel manganates positive is working just fine. It seems to me these cells could be just fine and suffer from 3 known or suspected problems:

1) Air (the oxygen) getting in seems to spontaneously discharge the zinc, presumably 2 Zn + O2 => 2 ZnO. This is probably the worst of it.
2) Possibly the salt has an impurity (eg, a nitrate), and diluting the salt out and replacing with... more potentially contaminated salt... is surely a losing proposition.
3) In recharging, the zinc can form dendrites which (if nothing else) can cause sort circuits through the separator sheet.

   I'm sure zinc dendrites have ended many of my test cells prematurely. In the present one I can replace the separator sheet and 'fix' it to keep using it. I'm certain the ion transfer gel is the key to stopping dendrites. (I can try the PVA again, but I may just have to bite the bullet and order some sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate from Sigma-Aldrich.)

(Later: I started becoming more and more convinced that impurities in the "99.9% KCl" have been my most persistent problem all these years. NaCl from the store has iodine, and iodine will jump from I2 to I3 (or is it I3- ion?) and (I'm sure) cause self discharge. (It may (or may not) also be in the form KI, which might (or might not) also be a problem. I can't imagine sea salt working well.) Suddenly this gives me a glimmer of why, if I'm remembering correctly, my cells sometimes seemed to work when I used KOH but then kept self discharging when I switched to salt: the KOH was pure but the KCl was contaminated!

   I ordered 1Kg of KCl salt from Westlab. Sigh, 75$ for what cost me a few bucks at the health food store a few years ago, but now I'm more than dubious about that .1% impurity. Maybe what I got at the health food store was about the worst money I ever spent - has kept me in the dark for years! (R/G... How many '9's purity is that? It didn't even say. But I think R/G, "reagent grade", means the very purest.)

   Here's an easy way I can check to see what effect air has in the cell: charge it until the voltage stops rising and the current stops dropping, and then unplug the modeling clay from the terminal holes. If the air is causing discharge, the voltage should drop and the current rise.
   Okay, sealed as best I can: with 10Ω charge it's sitting at 1.995-1.999V and 28.x mA, the lowest it has been. No electrolyte drips out even if I tip it on one side. On removing the modeling clay, electrolyte leaks out if I tip it over. (And the electrolyte has that brown tinge again.) As an immediate or rapid effect (a few minutes), it only dropped to about 1.990 volts and the current rose to 29+mA. It doesn't seem like much. And then it rose to 1.996 again. I'm thinking that opening the cell and pulling out the electrode discharged it quickly with the whole plate exposed to the air, but inside the cell it doesn't seem like a big effect. I've already diluted out any soluble impurities in the electrodes and the separator paper - to some effect but not totally solving the problem. Therefore I'm suspecting impure salt is the chief culprit in the gradual self discharge. I suspect I'll find out when I get the new salt from the chemical company.

   If that proves to be the case, then all this time the problem has been soluble impurities - first in the electrodes, then also the electrolyte itself. In retrospect, it all makes sense. To prove (or disprove) it, I'm now waiting for the salt.

[24th] I had coffee with someone and mentioned the salt. He suggested I needed to make my own.
In about 2 seconds that clicked: HCl + KOH => KCl + H2O ! Duh! Some chemist I am - never thought of it. My KOH is USP grade, but the acid is just hardware store variety. Still, maybe it would give better results than my present KCl? 30cc of acid. After enough little spoons of KOH flakes, the green HCl acid turned brown and the pH jumped suddenly from 1 to 13. Much salt, being less soluble than either of the others, settled out on the bottom. Still 30cc. A few flakes (of?) floated on top, and I scooped them out. It settled to some pretty clear looking water, and on the bottom some things that looked like salt crystals sitting on top of some brown scunge. My already small confidence in the purity of the acid took a nose dive.

   Nevertheless, then I took the cell apart and diluted it in distilled water, 3 times, drip-dry onto a paper towel after each. I dripped some of the new salt water into the cell and tried charging it. The current was just a little lower, and when the charge was disconnected, there was that same neverending drop - drop - drop - drop, a millivolt at a time, maybe a little slower but never finding a stable point at any voltage until a very low level.
   After a while on 10Ω charge the voltage rose over 2.0V and the current was the lowest yet, about 25mA. Again it suggests that there was a slight improvement, which suggests that changing the salt made a difference.
   But it wasn't a cure. I should probably just await the salt from Westlab before I go farther on this. I do anticipate success. I suspect at this point that my batteries have all along been much better than I thought, but that the impurity in the salt has been preventing them from charging and holding a charge properly.

   So instead I cut pieces and made an 85mm * 150mm * 13mm O.D. cell body. Inside will be 70mm * 135mm * 10mm with just a bit of "wiggle room" around the edges of the electrodes. That's 94.5 sq.cm electrodes. (Dang, how did I get and other ".5" in there? And how did I get so close to 100sq.cm without being there?) Anyway at 100mA/sq.cm and double electrodes, that's almost 20 amps. And I bet when the salt is good and the electrodes can get fully charged, it'll be higher than 100.
   I cut two cupro-nickel current collectors to fit.

[25th] Overnight 10Ω charge had gone to 2.04V & 22mA or so. That's the lowest current yet, and it dropped more slowly when taken off charge. As the salt is from a different source, it seems to be further confirmation that the salt is to blame for the self discharge. But that this one is by no means pure either.

[28th] I started on a "full size" cell complete with doing a battery making video about it a couple of days ago. I cut pieces and glued together a case and cut a front rubber piece, and I cut a cupro-nickel current collector to fit. Today I cut a copper current collector, which weighed 11.45g, and did some zinc plating. I made it just a bit smaller (68 x 133mm) so I could easily wrap the thick separator paper around it and still insert it into the cell easily.
   I modified the ABS plating holder that holds the copper foil sheet between the two zinc sheets so that water could flow better and I put feet under it to hold it up and leave a space under the bottom. That way I could, and did, put the whole plating jar on the magnetic stirrer to hopefully get more even plating across the copper surfaces. I think it helped quite a bit.
   I plated at about 3.0A, which occurred at around .79V. I inspected after 1/2 hour, 1 hour and 2 hours. At 2 it looked rough enough that I brushed it off with a toothbrush and then ran it through the jewelers rolling mill until it felt smoother, but not with any notable pressure. It weighed 19.6 grams, so it had just over 8 grams of zinc plating, theoreticly about 6.6 amp-hours. This almost agrees with 2 hours of plating at 3 amps, but at first I wasn't timing it or regulating the current carefully - it was over 3 amps for a while. I decided to go for about 10 amp-hours. After another hour and a bit I ended it, scrubbed it off with a toothbrush and ran it through the rolling mill to squash down the rough surface. One side looked very nice and was pretty smooth after the mill, the other was a bit blotchy but should do. It weighed 24.45 grams, so exactly 13 grams of zinc were plated on; 10.66 theoretical amp-hours. I put it away in a ziplock back in a dark place (drawer) hoping none turns to carbonate from exposure to CO2 in the air. (Some still might oxidize to ZnO & zinc oxide has photosensitive properties.)

[29th] AWG! My brother tells me that R/G, reagent grade, is the WORST, not the BEST! It was the ONLY choice at Westlab. It could be worse than the KCl from the health food store! He also said if I dissolved some salt in hot water, then let it gradually evaporate and form crystals, that the crystals should be pretty pure. The slower the evaporation, the larger the crystals, to be picked out with tweezers. Hopefully crystals of impurities will have different color and or shape than KCl crystals. And that the salt crystals are an awful lot bigger than most salt crystals!
   I went into town and checked the mail. Salt hadn't come. (Nor any of the things I ordered earlier from AliExpress. No doubt they will all show up on the same day, someday.)

   I dumped some salt in distilled water in a 250cc beaker and put it on the lab hotplate, and set it to keep it warm. (I don't want to wait over Christmass for the water to evaporate!) Then I moved it to a grill on the woodstove. Then I poured some into a clean ashtray. The ashtray evaporated quickly and left a clump of stuck-together crystals. (I suspect the ones that came out first around the side walls are the purest.)
   I put the recently made ([20th], above) electrode into the cell, then a new separator paper, and dripped some distilled woter onto it. I took a few of the salt crystals from the ashtray with tweezers and dropped them into the drips. Then I put on the zinc electrode. There was hardly any current. I put in a "too fat" spacer and with the alume clamp piece on the outsides, pressed the whole cell to 1/2 ton. I brought it back in and tried again. This time it worked much better. The current was still a bit low and I dripped in some more water, which brought it up over 40mA through 10Ω. With a charge voltage of 2.188V (no fine adjust!), in a few minutes it was down to 36.6mA at 1.812V. There I left it for 3/4 hour. By then the current was up to 42mA and voltage down to 1.74V. The water has probably distributed itself more evenly throughout the cell. I'll leave it on overnight.
[30th] In the morning the voltage had risen to 1.84, at 33mA. I added some water. So far not much different from other tries. Then it started dropping. At the end of the afternoon I replaced the separator sheet, wetting it with a bit of distilled water and a few more salt crystals. The voltage jumped up to almost the charge voltage with a current of only about 10mA. I left it charging at 30mA, 2.15V, through 1Ω.
[Dec. 1st] A couple of days later the voltage was dropping again. I thought of the blotches on the removed separators and started thinking bits of the "+" powders - even tho they shouldn't be dissolving - must be seeping through the pores in the paper. Were they just too coarse? I wrapped a piece of cellophane around the paper. The voltage went up again and the current down. I'm more and more sure I essentially have a good battery. Somewhere here I hope and expect there must be a bottom to these problems.
   If there is, there's still one more hurdle and that's to get the zinc ions to not migrate during charge and discharge. That's where all the other attempted battery developers have come up blank. I'm hoping for the sodium dodecylbenzene sulfonate. (The PVA might work too.)

[Dec. 2nd] The cellophane seemed to stop the leakage as the voltage dropped very slowly (but still kept dropping). But the cell didn't seem to hold any charge to speak of. With a 20Ω load it would drop to 1.25V in a minute.
   On a hunch I got out a new separator sheet and painted it with varsol. I let that evaporate and then wetted it and smeared on a little salt. This time I just threw in a sheet of zinc for a negative. I wanted to see if the plus side was staying charged and if the varsol would block the pores so no powder from it would seep through. Well, I guess the "+" wasn't charged to start with. The cell had to start up from "not much" again as usual, while metallic zinc is already charged. Current started at just 3mA through 1Ω with the cell voltage hardly below the charge voltage. Gradually the current crept up by maybe about .6mA/minute, and the voltage went down correspondingly.
[Dec. 5th] After 3 days of good results from the cell, it would seem that the Varsol treatment worked! (I had wanted to use toluene - methyl benzene. My can of it that I had brought with me when I moved here had rusted through and it had evaporated, and I can't buy any on this island.)

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 now accumulates until it loses precision (9.999 WH => 0010 KWH), then is reset. 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

31st 4113.40, 7.67, 12.68, 35.15 =>   5.47 [35Km; 733@17:30] Some sun, some clouds, rain. 3° - down from 7°+ until today.

Perry's RV is still parked in my cabin. Near the end of October he plugged in some electric heater and total daily power consumption has doubled. (He was supposed to have removed the RV by the end of September. Then mid October. I wanted to finish at least one more wall this fall and it's in the way! Now it's too cold, wet and windy out. He came and turned down the heater on the 14th.) He pulled it out from the building part way (it leaks at the back) and made at least a bit of room inside. I put in my decaying gyproc and plywood, which had been theoreticly under metal roof pieces, but somehow there was usually some path water was running in.

01st 4116.57, 7.79, 16.30, 37.28 => 9.04 [55Km; 791@17:30] Mostly sunny. (Maybe all day except earlier AM.) 0 to 3°.
02d  4117.87, 7.97, 17.10, 37.93 => 2.93 [851@17:00] Clouds. 1°. Brr!
03rd 4119.10, 8.10, 18.37, 38.70 => 3.40 [914@17:30] Cloudy. A bit warmer.
04th 4121.54, 8.21, 20.44, 39.90 => 5.82 [90Km; 983@17:30] similar
05th 4122.42, 8.35, 21.63, 40.28 => 2.59 [1047@17:30] Snow AM. 1°
06th 4125.14, 8.49, 24.61, 42.05 => 7.61 [60Km; 1101@17:30] Some sun. No rain or snow. cold. Afternoon losing time has finally ended thank God! For a few weeks, anyway.
07th 4125.46, 8.70, 24.72, 42.31 =>   .90 [1164@17:00] Clouds. Frozen. What happened to the carport panels? Light is out on one. There were two brief power failures today. Must investigate tomorrow! (Seemed nothing was wrong. Maybe the "700W" microinverters aren't good in low light?)
08th 4127.25, 8.90, 25.99, 43.22 => 4.17 [55Km; 1238@17:30]
09th 4129.18, 9.07, 27.41, 44.35 => 4.65 [1304@17:00] -2° brrr
10th 4129.20, 9.18, 27.43, 44.41 =>   .21 [55Km; 1368@17:00] +7° strong wind & 3 hr. power fail in PM.
11th 4132.83, 9.30, 30.07, 46.50 => 8.48 [90Km; 1440@17:00] Sunny until mid afternoon. Frost AM, +1 to 6°.
12th 4133.73, 9.40, 30.41, 46.90 => 1.74 [60Km; 1510@17:00]
13th 4135.32, 9.52, 31.25, 47.61 => 3.16 [1578@17:00] a little brighter.
14th 4138.36, 9.61, 33.65, 48.95 => 6.87 [1631@17:00] Sum sun today. Perry turned off/way down the heater in his RV (~17:00).
15th 4140.16, 9.71, 34.84, 49.88 => 4.02 [60Km; 1665@17:00]
16th 4142.89, 9.81, 37.23, 51.52 => 6.82 [10Km; 1704@20:30] Fog AM, then Sunny day!
17th 4146.17, 9.90, 39.66, 53.51 => 7.79 [10Km; 1731@17:30] Sunny all day!
18th 4147.57, 9.99, 40.59, 54.22 => 3.13 [90Km; 1770@17:00] Clouded over ~9 AM.
19th 4147.95,10.09,40.74, 54.41 =>   .82 [60Km; 1822@17:00] Dark and windy.
20th 4149.34,   .08, 41.47, 55.09 => 2.88 [Laundry; 1866@17:30]
21th 4149.49,   .16, 41.52, 55.19 =>   .38 [55Km; 1905@17:30] Even mor dark & windy.
22th 4151.15,   .24, 42.49, 55.92 => 3.44 [3xLaundry; 1950@19:00]
23th 4151.23,   .31, 42.53, 56.00 =>   .27 [1984@17:00] Even more dark and very windy.
24th 4152.97,   .42, 44.28, 57.01 => 4.61 [55Km; 2015@17:00]
25th 4154.42,   .53, 45.10, 57.72 => 3.09 [2054@21:00]
26th 4155.57,   .62, 46.05, 58.46 => 2.93 [2074@17:00]
27th 4158.10,   .72, 47.95, 59.94 => 6.01 [2105@17:00]
28th 4160.69,   .81, 49.78, 61.50 => 6.07 [2144@17:00] Sunny days! (But freezing)
29th 4160.77,   .86, 50.33, 61.55 =>   .73 [2187@17:00] Snow, freezing. Roof slope solar panels are covered with snow, but not the steeper ones on the pole and on the carport roof. (The steep ones on the lawn however, are covered with snow.)
30th 4160.77,   .88, 50.49, 61.58 =>   .10 [2237@16:30]  -4° overnight, ~ -3 all day.

1st 4160.91,   .95, 50.86, 61.61 =>   .61 [2286@17:30] -6.5° in AM. I brushed some snow off lawn panels - probably why the house system gave anything much at all (unlike yesterday.)(But still ice on lawn panels - melted on 2nd.)
2d  4161.48, 1.04, 52.41, 61.84 => 2.44 [2319@17:00] -1°. Still icy snow on shallow angle roof panels (10 of 18 panels).
3rd 4163.00, 1.15, 54.26, 62.57 => 4.21 [60Km; 2357@17:00] Sunny. -4.5 last night. Snow on panels turned to ice - more transparent.
4th 4165.21, 1.28, 56.06, 63.78 => 5.35 [2405@16:30] Ice on panels turns to frost overnight.
5th 4167.40, 1.40, 57.87, 64.87 => 5.21 [2444@17:00; 50Km] Sunny yet again, but still cold. -3°, -1°

Chart of daily KWH from solar panels.
(Compare NOVEMBER 2022 (left) with October 2022 & with November 2021 - but note number of solar panels differs from 2021.)

Days of
__ KWH
November 2022
(18 solar panels)
October 2022
(18 solar panels)
November 2021
(14 solar panels)
(2 doing not much!)


















Total KWH
for month
Km Driven
on Electricity
793.1 Km
(~120 KWH?)
1043.2 Km
(~143 KWH)?
917 Km
(~140 KWH?)

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

Things Noted - November 2022

* On the darkest days it seems there often isn't enough light to keep any of the grid ties properly running. In that case probably putting as many panels as possible onto one tie to give it enough to operate would probably provide substantially more watt-hours over the day than having as few panels as possible per tie and none of the ties do much of anything.

* The "700 watt" grid ties seem to work worse in low light levels than the "Y Solar" 1000W and 1400W ones.

* This month gave exactly double the solar output of November 2021 - and nearly as much energy as the car used, in the second worst month of the year. Gotta love the few new panels in the sunniest places!

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 Solar [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!]
July   - 1-31: 232.12 + 4.57 + 143.03 + 139.65 = 519.37 KWH Solar [from power grid: 710 KWH; 165 KWH (est) used by car]
August-1-31: 205.57 + 4.20 + 157.88 + 137.47 = 505.32 KWH Solar [from grid: 561 KWH; 145 KWH (est) used by car]
Sept. - 1-30: 165.52 + 3.97 + 132.24 + 104.29 = 406.02 KWH Solar [from grid: 856 KWH; car used (est): 165 KWH]
Oct.   - 1-31: 97.96 + 2.86 + 78.76 + 59.04 = 238.62 KWH Solar [from grid: 1067 KWH; car used (est): 143 KWH]
Nov.  - 1-30: 47.37 + 3.30 + 37.81 + 26.43 = 114.91 KWH solar. [from grid: 1504 KWH; car used (est): 120 KWH]

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]
4a. March 2022-August 2022: in (the best) 6 months, about 2725 KWH solar - more than in any previous entire year!

Money Saved or Earned - @ 12¢ [All BC residential elec. rate] ; @ 50¢ [2018 cost of diesel fuel to BC Hydro] ; @ 1$ per KWH [actual 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 some extra equipment and a battery, sufficient solar can deliver essential power in electrical outages however long.

Haida Gwaii, BC Canada