Turquoise Energy Ltd. News #77
June 2014 (posted July 5th)
Victoria BC
by Craig Carmichael

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

* Flat Panel LED Lights: production steps & a great 'cracked ice texture' diffuser acrylic

* Turquoise Battery: Self discharge problem of positive electrode eliminated!

Month In Brief (Project Summaries)
- distractions - flat panel LED lights - torque converter, manual transmission et al - Peltier woes - NiMn batteries: self discharge of postitve electrode solved - VEVA Electric Vehicle meetings.

In Passing (Miscellaneous topics, editorial comments & opinionated rants)
 - Ooops: 'unsold cars sitting everywhere' was in 2009, not 2014. - ISIS & Iraq

Electric Transport - Electric Hubcap Motor Systems
* Suspension for Bicycles! - Loopwheel and Shockwheel - game changers for cycling and e-cycling?
* Application of my rim motor design to new wheel types

Other "Green" Electric Equipment Projects
* Flat Panel LED Lights
 - some more printed circuit board making techniques
 - case production
 - 'pebble texture' acrylic diffuser material gives great 'ice cube' look, passes more light!

Electricity Generating (no reports)

Electricity Storage - Turquoise (NiMn) Battery Project etc.
* Positive electrode self discharge problem solved: it was the impure graphite powder.

No Project Reports on: Variable torque converter transmission, Peltier heat pumping, Lambda Ray Collector, Magnet motor, CNC Gardening/Farming Machine (sigh, maybe summer... 2015?), Woodstove/Thermal Electricity Generator (may abandon), evacuated tube heat radiators.

Newsletters Index/Highlights: http://www.TurquoiseEnergy.com/news/index.html

Construction Manuals and information:

- Electric Hubcap Family Motors - Turquoise Motor Controllers - Ersatz 'powder coating' home process for protecting/painting metal
- Preliminary Ni-Mn Battery Making book

Products Catalog:
 - Electric Hubcap 4.6KW BLDC Pancake Motor Kit
 - Electric Caik 3KW BLDC Pancake Motor Kit
  - NiMH Handy Battery Sticks, 12v battery trays
& Dry Cells (cheapest NiMH prices in Victoria BC)
 - LED Light Fixtures

(Will accept BITCOIN digital currency)

...all at:  http://www.TurquoiseEnergy.com/
(orders: e-mail craig@saers.com)

June in Brief

   Various things that needed doing kept me from getting to green energy projects. One was the reporting of last year's project work. My T2 and SR & ED form and other things for Revenue Canada (CRA) being now 3 months late, and containing a couple of things I didn't know how to deal with, I tried to get accountants to do them. The first one looked it over and said it was too complicated for him. The next one, after 2 short but helpful sessions over about 3 weeks, looked everything over and said I was closer than I thought, and that I should finish it myself to avoid paying him a lot of money to redo it. A week of part time work finally finished it off and I put it in the CRA drop box (the only piece of CRA in town) on the 24th. After that and an "overdue T4 Summary" I also got done and posted, I have only two more overdue things to file for CRA - for now.
   Occupying another week's worth of effort (but spread out over much of the month) I assembled and wired ten 8-wire waterproof slip rings for vessel winches under contract for AGO Electronics. Then there were gardening (unfortunately not the CNC gardening machine), continued setting up of the aquaponics greenhouse, and other home projects. And weekly concert band rehearsals ending with a concert in the park and a barbecue on the 28th. With my alto Supercorder I was of course the only one who has invented and was playing their own instrument. (I played oboe parts, there being no oboe, and I doubled the flutes in places because the conductor liked the fuller sound... "Flutes can sound so thin!")

   I sat down a few times trying to figure out a mold for the big Electric Weel motor, and a new bicycle suspension-wheel system led me to consider anew the best way to make a bicycle rim motor. And I looked at the variable transmission and how to fit it all together. However, little was done beyond playing with layout and design concepts.

   To finish this subject, on July 1st I decided that even tho I finally have what I think is a workable configuration for the variable torque converter, there was still quite a bit of work to do to get it going, of which virtually none got done in June. To get the Chevy Sprint on the road I would -- hopefully only temporarily -- give up on it, and just go out and buy a manual transmission. The Sprint would at least be bound to start moving in first, second or reverse gear. And if I got a commercial motor controller with more amps, say up to 300, 400 or 500, that just might give it the power to put it on the street, and I would find out the real limits of my Electric Hubcap motors. I've been saying they're "4.5KW" or "5KW", but they might well handle 10KW or more for short periods - or even for longer for all I know.
   With the transmission out of the way, I could concentrate on fixing up the bugs in my own motor controllers, and on designing and making motors -- things I've been much more successful at so far than the torque converter transmission.
   Since that was Canada Day and everything was closed, I did the shopping the next day, the 2nd. As I bought the transmission and looked at it, I realized that I still didn't have the clutch, and the flywheel clutch plate for the motor side (Duh!), and when I got home, that all the mountings in the car were different. I might have to do some welding to fit it on. More and more I wish I'd found a manual transmission Sprint in the first place.
   But if what's missing is a clutch... didn't I just create a new sort of centrifugal clutch? Perhaps I could use that. Let's see... how hard might this be? Am I still going to be experimenting with mechanical transmission stuff after all?

   The big 62x62mm, 14 amp peltier modules arrived around mid-month and I installed one. It didn't work very well and I took it apart and redid it, checking for trapped bits that might push the face away from the heatsink or cold bar. That still didn't do it. I also attached the control unit I'd bought with it, but since it never got cold enough to shut off, it didn't do much except make a loud, annoying beep when the power came on, and show the temperature. It may still have a setup problem, so I'm not ready to say the module is bad. But I didn't have time to keep frigging around with the fridge system, so I have nothing definite to report.

   But near the end of the month, I got a couple of interesting things done. I made several cases for flat panel LED lights to get production going - at least for some samples (and 3 or 4 to install myself), and I started on the workings for a second light. Then, looking to see what Industrial Plastics had on hand that I might use for motor molds, I found instead some "cracked ice" pattern translucent - almost transparent - thin acrylic sheets to use for light diffusers. They look fantastic when the light is off, but almost a bit as if they were dirty when the light is on. However, they let more light through than anything else I've seen, and one doesn't normally stare at lights that are on. I think they'll work out great!

"Cracked ice" plastic diffuser prototype light

Turned on: Sufficient diffusion with high light transmission
(Left row: old emitters (4500K?). Mid, Right: new brighter, bluer ones (6000K?).)

   I also, finally, made a Ni-Mn battery on the 29th and 30th to see if avoiding the art store graphite powder would solve the self-discharge problem of the positive electrode. It did.
   Unless there is still deterioration of the posode over time, which I believe I solved by increasing the ratio of nickel oxides to manganese oxides (to form nickel manganates rather than potassium permanganate as the cell charges and discharges), the "nickel-manganese moderately alkaline" battery chemistry is now known to work with nothing to say it might be impractical for commercial use for any reason.
   But I still don't have a proper battery cell. For some reason the negative electrode unexpectedly didn't work right in this particular cell - not even in the fridge. Even its zinc powder wouldn't hold its charge. I must have done something wrong somewhere -- the manganese negatives with trace additives zirconium silicate and antimony sulfide have been working well until this one. I'll make a new one soon and demonstrate for certain everything working together properly in the same cell.

   Finally, in June just after the May newsletter, and on July 2nd, I went to meetings of the VEVA electric vehicle - Islands chapter. At the June meeting was a really well done Honda Del Sol conversion. The July meeting had a big turnout with quite a lot of electric bicycles.

 Is there some irony here? The 240 volt J-1772 electric car plug-in stations look nice, but
I had to go park the Mazda, the only EV on the premises, on the lawn where my 70 foot
extension cord could reach a regular 120 volt outlet, potentially risking a ticket or tow-away.

Honda Del Sol EV conversion, very professionally done by an auto mechanic.

The July 2nd VEVA-Islands meeting. I gave some rides in the electric Mazda, and I got to drive the Nissan Leaf,
and leave all the other cars far behind when I took off from a traffic light.

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

"Where Unsold Cars Go To Die"? (mistake from last issue)

My apollogies... I should have checked more carefully. The article on unsold cars was evidently incorrect. The 'countless acres of cars' pictures were real enough, but they were from 2009 after the 2008 'crash'. And car makers did stop production as inventories piled up.


    I must be more careful not to believe everything I read.

This may well be the type of storm drain that was under the grassy knoll
where people heard the shots coming from when John F. Kennedy was shot,
and where (I now hear) a puff of smoke was seen in the air after the shooting.
It certainly does appear to be a mafia hangout!

When this was made, these prices were probably intended to shock.
They're now the actual ballpark prices for a small car,
and in a year or two they may look like a real bargain.

ISIS - Iraq: invasion isn't liberation?

   While the real background story behind the news reports seems unclear so far, one hears rumors - or is it fact? - that as ISIS/ISIL (however it formed and whoever provided their military training and weapons) penetrates Iraq, it's perpetrating murders and atrocities. So still more inhabitants are fleeing their homes -- joining Iraqis who fled previously and the one half of the Syrian population driven from their homes.
   How then is this group better than those who invaded before them in 2003, and the government they set up? Now we have suni Muslims persecuting shi'ite Muslims instead of the other way around. (And all of them persecuting Christians.) Sadam Hussein was the last ruler of Iraq who kept internal peace between the various interests and religious groups (ditto for Moammar Kadafi in Libya).
   Tolerance, forgiveness, patience, benevolence... love... these are the leadership qualities that would rally citizens to the cause, or at least permit peace and stability to develop. Instead it would appear the populace only has one more prejudiced, dictatorial, manipulative and well armed group rampaging through their towns and cities, to hate and fear.

   But perhaps one should look beyond the specific case, broaden the perspective and ask oneself, "What are the conditions that favor the formation of such extreme groups?" Is it an isolated event unique to Iraq, or is there some common thread? How does it relate to the US led invasion of 2003, US and international relations and events today, and to the continual American drive to get middle eastern oil and to prop up the "petrodollar"? And what drives the aspirations of various groups around the world to want to separate and form their own administrative regions (countries) in the midst of growing global connectedness and political amalgamations such as the European Union?
   I think that implicit in all of it is unfairness, on many levels with many indistinct boundaries, and the hope that by becoming independent, more localized control might somehow address the unfairness. But (as Kennedy said) "We all drink the same water; we all breathe the same air." Mostly today the real divide is between those with wealth, power and influence - "the 1% of the 1%" - and the rest of us, who have lost or are losing it all to them. It's a system that increasingly people simply want out of, and which is starting to be sidestepped at the individual level by those who are starting to recognize that they are being manipulated and fleeced by the greedy.

   One suspects that as economic conditions worsen globally, hardships in various forms are likely to spread. Certainly there are governments, including nominally democratic ones, that are out of control oligopolies/corporatocracies/cleptocracies that badly need to be replaced. Our institutions of governance have structural weaknesses that have allowed corrupt gangsters to seize control over them. The ever increasing number of laws and rules for the populace don't apply to the rich and powerful. Not only the gross unpunished fraud robbing the middle class of its wealth, but the 25 or 30 banking executives murdered in the last few months (added to the regular persecution of journalists, politicians and inventors who would "buck the system"), with no investigations or charges laid, attest to that. Democratic power by the citizenry has been essentially lost*. Can we avoid the temptation to blame each other and split into factions ruthlessly vying for power or create smaller geographic groupings, and instead attempt to solve the structural problems of our unsustainable social institutions?
   It's said there are three core values that socially sustainable institutions must foster: Quality of Life, Growth, and Equality. I've mentioned before how our present institutions are unable to grow and change to meet the needs of the day, putting our civilization at an evolutionary dead end. And the other two values, quality of life and equality, have been under ongoing serious attack for generations. As individuals we don't have the continuity to look back 100 or 150 years to realize the many ways we've been socially regimented, economically controlled and otherwise... is this the right word?... enslaved. We believe the conditions we're born into are just and right, "that's the way it is", and as we see petty measures taken that restrict freedoms and liberties bit by bit, and adverse conditions gradually develop, things that we don't really agree with or like, in the news and around us week after week, we are like the frog who doesn't notice that the temperature of the water he's in is slowly, slowly, rising and rising. It all seems normal and the frog doesn't jump out, and finally the water is too hot and he dies.

* See of course my booklet  Fundamental Principles of Democratic Government - Towards Utopian Systems of Governance  at  www.saers.com/recorder/craig/FundamentalDemocracy.html for some ideas.

Electric Hubcap Motor Systems - Electric Transport

Suspension for Bicycles

  Various means for giving bicycles some shock absorption have been around for a long time. There have been "typical" motorcycle type springs and shock absorbers. Then there's a spring and shock that allows the seat to go up and down, springing the rider's body without springing the bike itself. But except for the inflated tire and padding in seats, these haven't caught on much with riders.

   Now "re-inventing the wheel" is an old saying meaning wasting effort to create something that's already been created. But maybe it was already a saying when wheels were round chunks of wood with a primitive wooden axle and rubbing bearings. We may think of wheels as "already done to death", but at various points they got steel rims, spokes, rubber and then air filled tires, and roller bearings: wheels have in fact been progressively "re-invented" many times.

   Here is another substantial new idea, seemingly invented independently first in the UK then in the US: bicycle wheels with the rim connected to the hub by curved leaf springs instead of by spokes. This gives the bicycle a springy suspension within each wheel, and makes the 'normal' bumpety-bump bicycle ride, jarring the rider at every lump, crack and pothole, apparently even smoother than that of a motorcycle. Suddenly bicycles -- and e-bicycles -- can be far more comfortable to ride. Maybe such e-bikes will start replacing "e-scooters" and "e-motorcycles"... and some riders may even decide they can replace their cars, or use the bike and drive less.

   The earlier invention would appear to be the "loopwheel" from the UK. And it's not only invented, one can buy a bicycle made with them. A BBC news report had the reporter riding pretty comfortably on a rough cobblestone road. The inventor said he worked 4 years on the composite material for the loop-springs. They're probably lighter than spring steel.

Loopwheels - For a smoother, more comfortable bicycle ride...

   At 20" the Loopwheel is smaller than a typical bicycle wheel, so simply replacing your crate's wheels isn't an option.

   The second similar invention, the Shockwheel by Chet Baigh, appeared on youtube in February 2013.

The ShockWheel invention by Chet Baigh - YouTube

First concept-prototype Shockwheel wasn't rideable

Footage of the second one in use, including on very large bumps, was the meat of the video

   The inventor had only done a prototype on the front wheel, and doesn't seem to have posted anything about it since except 'looking for someone to take it commercial'. Nevertheless it looked like it was doing a very good job in the video. And he said everywhere people stopped him to ask about it, and even crowds gathered around. An observation is that the wheel rim might need to be heavier steel or otherwise beefed up. On the other hand, maybe not: the Shockweel has four support points while the Loopwheel has only three, and on both, shocks to the wheels are in effect cushioned by the springs.

   A big advantage to Shockwheel is that it's made to fit a regular bicycle. I'm sure there'd be a gigantic market for retrofit wheels. Assuming it looked sufficiently robust and with any sort of economical price, I myself wouldn't hesitate. And I might even ride more!

   There have been other ideas for shock absorbing wheels. But they mostly use flexing rubber or plastic parts, and I doubt if any of them would last very well, or replace a suspension system as well as the ones above. The one below at bottom may have metal springs, but as shown it would only be good for small bumps - about like an inflated tire. (But now I'm starting to think of the many possibilities!)

I got these from some web site discussing Shockwheel... somewhere

Application to the Rim Motor?

   Assuming these types of spring-suspension wheels are the future of bicycling, the next question for me is: what about that rim motor with the arc of coils attached to the frame, that I've been planning to make? The magnet rotor ring was to mount on the spokes of the wheel. Now there are no spokes, and also the rim bounces around with bumps and dips on the road. The magnet rotor ring would bounce along with it. This wouldn't improve alignments to the coils, and 1/2" of sideways motion of the rim would have the magnets scraping the coil housing.
   This is doubtless going to call for some revisions to the plan. Perhaps the magnet rotor can be attached to the hub. That would make a single design, more applicable to a wider range of bicycles anyway. But looking at a couple of bikes, I'm wondering if a whole special wheel might have to be made to accommodate both the suspension springs and the motor. But such a wheel would have double the attraction to buyers: a smooth ride and power!
   As occasionally happens, I may be ahead by not having built this project yet.

Other Green Electric Equipment Projects

Flat Panel LED Lights

   My flat panel lights, being uneven in brightness across the face, may have a bit of a hard time competing with the fairly even glow of the Chinese flat panel lights. At first I thought they might not really be competitive. But they'll probably be brighter per watt, and it's a design I can make relatively easily and offer at a competitive price. Some "cracked ice" diffuser plastic I found near the end of the month looks nicer when the light is off than flat plastic, and transmits more light than anything else I've found.

n the 8th I designed a PCB for the other components. It was mostly a modification of the previous board as to component placement, dimensions and connections, but I added a receptacle for typical power adapters ('fat' pin, center '+', 12v) in addition to the CAT standard plug pins, and simply in parallel to them.

Circuit Board Making Techniques (the continuing search for better processes)

   I made a board the next morning. Instead of printing the artwork on thin, glossy magazine paper, I printed it on "toner transfer paper" from "Fab in a Box" (www.pcbfx.com). The first image transferred poorly, but I turned down the temperature of the iron and the next one looked good. It transferred well and the backing paper virtually fell right off after a brief soak. All the toner and no paper fiber was deposited on the board, which seemed to be an improvement over the magazine paper. It was again a bit light with missing spots... at least partly because I forgot again to print "darkest", which in turn is because the print darkness adjustment isn't shown in the multitude of print setup options. It's well hidden and doesn't have a big range. The on-line instructions said they preferred a laminator to an iron, and the instructions mention some other 'foil' product of theirs that I didn't buy, to laminate on after the toner transfer.
   When I etched the board I wasn't very happy with the final result. The general outlines seemed sharp and well defined, but the copper wasn't shiny and buffing it didn't help. Under a magnifying glass, many areas that were supposed to be solid copper were etched partly or completely through in a fine "woven" or "checkerboard" pattern. The iron may have been too hot or cold, and the print too light, and I didn't have the 'foil' stuff. So I thought I probably hadn't given it a fair trial.

   On the 12th or 13th I was driving by Microsec R & D, where I heard Ed had switched to "a better way of doing boards" a few months ago, and I stopped in. It turned out he was using the same toner transfer paper I was trying out, but using a laminator instead of an iron. He had some very nice looking boards he'd recently done and said it was as good as the old photo process. And he had the 'foil' as well, but said it just seemed to be a nuisance and he wasn't using it. "Run it through the laminator 10 or 12 times." It also turned out that laminators are no longer large machines doubtless costing many hundreds of dollars as they were in the 1980s when I used to deal with them, but could be had as a little on-off plastic device for 50$. 50$?!? Why was I bothering with an iron?
   On the 15th I printed 9 copies of the artwork in a vertical column. The print on regular paper was fine, but on the toner transfer paper it got worse and worse from top to bottom. I did the top 3 "V2" boards - the rest were unusable. The transfer via 12 laminator passes was good except in a few spots that inexplicably stuck to the paper instead of the board. I used a felt marker pen to touch these up. The boards came out no better than the previous ones, with the same crosshatch patterns in the copper.
   Surely the printer was the main problem then. After a search, I found where to adjust the darkness, under the heading "Printer Setting" -> "Graphic" -> "Color" -> "Manual color adjustment". I moved the "black" bar all the way to the right... but did that mean 'darkest', or 'lightest'? There was no indication. So I did a test print there, then moved the bar all the way to the left and did another.
   The first one was slightly darker, so I set it back. But under a magnifying glass, the same crosshatch pattern that was plaguing the circuit boards was visible on the paper in both copies. Humpf! I suppose that with the glossy magazine paper and the iron, there was just enough smear, or enough stuck paper fibers, to smooth out the pattern and fill the voids. The special toner transfer paper gave higher resolution that showed the printer's flaws. Evidently with my printer I should stick with the glossy magazine paper.

   Judging by the results, with even the fine crosshatch pattern showing up clearly, I did better with the iron, carefully pressing each and every spot right near the edge of the iron, and lifting the iron to move it, than I did with the laminator. That was a bit of a surprise. And the paper runs through the laminator so slowly I'm not sure, after 12 passes through it, it was any faster. But I'll try the laminator again... after all I now have 50$ invested in it!

   I do have one other laser printer, an "all in one" monochrome unit I had bought to use as a photocopier, and have never connected to the computer. For the next try I'll use that. In the meantime I have four poor but essentially usable boards to make prototype lights with.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

   In the afternoon (of the 10th) I put the workings of the first light together. I found a couple of mistakes on the board - I still didn't have the power adapter socket right and it came out mirror image, and the transistor pins were backwards. I didn't and don't see why, but I simply turned it around. I cut a couple of traces and ran a couple of wires to make the board work, and corrected them in the layout editor ("Eagle") for next time.
   I had spread out the LED s on the copper strips and the transistor was soldered to a piece of copper as well, but with just 1.15 amps flowing in at 12 or 13 volts - 12 or 13 watts in 15 emitters (much of which surely comes out as light), a transistor and a resistor - the whole 4" x 7" works got surprisingly hot. I think I'll have to use wider copper strips and space the LED s farther apart. And maybe punch holes in the copper to improve the airflow. A larger area panel will make shadows more diffuse but it'll be the same amount of light. This 4" x 7" panel size might be better with 9 LED s, 675mA, 8-9W. Concerns about simply upping the size are: (a) While the surface area is the length times the width, the edge length for airflow is only the length plus the width (x 2), so airflow doesn't increase proportionately as the size increases. (One can of course go for long and thin shape, or thicken the ceiling-to-light gap.) (b) The copper heatsink sheets are the most expensive component. Larger area means higher price. But you can't solder the emitters (or anything else) to aluminum, the cheaper heatsink material.

  From the 19th to the 22nd I made a square 7"x7"x1.5" case, and then changed the light to fit in that size by making two 2" wide copper sheets. When I put emitters in, I chose some of the new ones (from somewhere on AliExpress.com), marked 6000-6500K. (I'm sure I ordered 5500-6000K!) They looked identical to the others, but the web site said they were 100-110 lumens instead of 80-90 lumens. Not only were they markedly brighter, they dropped only 2.9 volts instead of 3.5. They didn't claim to be such a low voltage on the web page... but since they are, theoretically I could again put in 4 rows in series instead of 3 at 12 volts, upping the efficiency and reducing the heat generated. 20 emitters would be in the box instead of 15, using almost the same power. I could try them at slightly lower currents and they'd probably still make more light. Do I dare try that? What if, like the Cree emitters, the 2.9 volts gradually rises? Well, it's all good experimentation to try many variations... if they don't take too long to make! Since I'm sure this is a fabulous layout for an LED light and I think they could be economically feasible to market, I should start worrying about how to produce them easily. Or contracting out parts of the assembly.

   One further good thing I noticed on the plus side for the design as a whole: Whereas I had been concerned about the unevenness of the light, with the emitters showing through the diffuser as bright blobs, that was looking directly at the face. But for a ceiling light, that would be standing right underneath it and looking up. Viewed from more typical angles, the bright spots disappear and a fainter pattern replaces them. At further angles, a uniform glow is seen. So for typical lighting situations, the desired even glow is sufficiently attained by this layout. I even made the 7x7 box with transparent sides, since the bulk of the light is aimed downward. That way too, the light within and its construction can be viewed by potential partners, supporters and customers - a demo unit.

Three of the translucent light cases and the "cracked ice pattern" ones discussed below.
   On about the 28th I cut enough plastic pieces to make 5 flat panel LED light cases and assembled them minus the last wall that holds the light works in place and minus the mounting tabs. It took about 3 hours. I got better at sawing, finding that one key to smooth(er) cuts is to not quite cut it through, then snap it off and sand off the thin bits remaining. I also put masking tape along the line to be cut, top and bottom. Sharpening the saw blade probably helped too. But even for home production, I need a way to make it take less time to cut plastic, not more. The band saw also makes better cuts than the radial arm saw , even with a coarse toothed band. However, it doesn't really cut straight lines very well.

   On the 30th I did a little shopping looking for a fat piece of UHMW to make motor molds for the Electric Weel motor and the Bike Rim motor, but at the plastic shop I found instead some thin, textured acrylic plastic with a sort of inverse pebbly surface. (Duralens Cracked Ice Acrylic "22969") It let through more light than the thin sheet I had bought for the purpose - in fact, I think more light than anything else 'transulcent' I've seen - and rather than allowing the sun to show though as a small spot, it broke it into dozens of tiny points, each of which let through most of the sun's light.

   So I put together two more 7x7" lights to see how they'd compare with the others. One had the texture on the outside face and the other on the inside. I had the impression it didn't make much difference. Either way it seemed like a good look and it seemed to let light through really well. I could see using this on all sides -- the light would look like a cube of frosty ice! So I cut edge pieces and glued them over the transparent edges to see the effect.

   Then, having used the same light workings for all the tests, I started in on another one on July first. I took the copper 'beams' and punched holes through them for air flow by settings them over a hole in a piece of wood and then punching them through with a center punch. This made holes the size of whatever drill bit I used. This proved quite easy, and contrary to drilling holes, it left them with jagged copper sides sticking up - extra surface area ideally placed by the airflow for cooling.

The bright but broken-up pattern of light through the 'cracked ice' diffuser

Electricity Storage

Turquoise Battery Project

   For almost 3 months competing attractions kept me from the simple test of making a new electrode and battery cell to verify that the high levels of self discharge, the last nagging chemical problem of the whole Ni-Mn battery chemistry,
was simply due to graphite contaminated with nitrates/nitrites, purchased at an art supply store. As I hadn't found carbon black so far to buy, I settled for using the MnO2/carbon black mix from a dry cell. That leaves the cell with both less carbon black than desired and less KMnO4 than desired, but since it's battery quality ingredients (unless perchance the KMnO4 isn't pure... egads, another one to check out!), it should at least work.
   On the 29th I finally got to it - I just wasn't going to let it slip another month! I had worked out a mix in May, the first two ingredients being the approximate contents of a standard dry cell. But (without bothering with calculations) there didn't seem to be enough nickel compared to manganese. Extra nickel doesn't hurt whereas extra manganese does, so I added 10 grams each more monel and Ni(OH)2, and a bit more samarium to account for it, making well over the intended 100g:

28g - MnO2 (or Mn2O3 or MnOOH or Mn3O4 or Mn(OH)2 in various proportions depending on discharge state)
12g - carbon black (substantially less than I'd like)
18g - KMnO4
28g - Monel
28g - Ni(OH)2
8g   - Sm2O3

   I put in the now usual 40x120mm piece of graphite felt and shook it all up to impregnate the felt with powder. Then I folded it into 3 in the 40x40mm compactor box, adding a few drops of Diesel Kleen and Sunlight dishsoap. I pressed it to 3Mg (mega-grams) AKA 3 metric tons, in the 20 ton press with gauge, and left it pressing in the press for a while. Then I torched the surface for a 3-4 seconds, then painted in a bit of ferric chloride, then matched it with a composite graphite current collector and wrapped it in watercolor paper.

   I looked around for an existing negatrode, but I wasn't positive which was which now that both 'trodes have graphite composite current collectors... and anyway it might have become contaminated. I made a new one, then assembled the cell on the 30th. I used the old current collectors - not in bad shape - and tossed the electrodes and their papers and cloths. I put in a little modeling clay around the slot gaps in the jar so the negode wouldn't discharge from oxygen in the air getting in.

   After a couple of hours charging, I thought that this was perhaps a bit more like a flooded lead-acid cell than the usual alkaline dry cell, and wondered if it might benefit from pulse charging. In mid afternoon I happened across the narrow-pulse pulse charger I had made some months ago, and (after a little confusion with the unlabeled connections) hooked it up, with about 6 volts for power and for charge voltage. I put in a 10 ohm resistor to limit charge current.


   Voltage came up slowly from under 1/2 a volt as it usually does, stopping for quite a while at 1.6 to 1.8 volts ("Ni-Zn") while the zinc powder turned or returned from oxide to metallic form. When the pulse charger was put on, the reading jumped up to 2.4 volts, but that must have been peak voltages, or at least above the average DC level... I think.
   Later I found it hadn't charged above 1.9 volts - not an auspicious sign! In fact, it just didn't want to charge higher. That sounded like a negative electrode problem, not the plus side. Kind of like 2012 before the zirconium silicate, when it worked in winter but not in summer. I put some water in a container and put the battery in it, then I put in some ice cubes. Gradually the voltage started to rise. But the ice melted and it was bedtime. The container had indicated the mix had the right things, but obviously there was some problem with it.

   The next morning, July first, I put in a slice of zinc as a test electrode. This verified that the voltage from the negode was about the same as the zinc, the cell voltage being a little over 1.8 volts with either. The manganese wasn't charging. I disconnected the pulse charger, oscilloscope et al and put the cell in the fridge.

Self Discharge Appears to be Solved!

   After the charge had been turned off for a couple of hours it also looked like there was less self discharge from the posode. I used the zinc strip to check it against, and I pulled the strip out of the cell after each test, to prevent cumulative effects emanating from the minus side. I decided to leave it sitting a day or more and get a clearer picture. Voltage was 1.76 and it would supply 150mA into the meter shorted on the 0-300mA scale. After 12 hours voltage was 1.707 and it supplied 145mA, and these figures stayed steady another 3 hours until I went to bed. The next morning (24 hours) it had about the same voltage - even up a bit (<= 1.712v) after I wiped the zinc with a nylon pad. The current drive had dropped to 134-139mA depending on placement of the zinc. (Using two zinc strips didn't raise it much. Say, wasn't the electrode compaction supposed to be much stronger? Where did I get the low values I used this time?) 36 hours: 1.698v, 129mA. 48 hours: 1.690v, 128mA.

   Like most if not all rechargeable cells, Ni-whatever cells do have some self discharge. Especially over the first day they may lose 10%. The drop with time here is within that sort of range and quite workable for EV use. The essential high self discharge problem, which had been leaving the cells with dropping voltage and little usable energy after a day or so, seems to be solved.

   It would seem the art store graphite powder, probably impure with nitrates, was indeed the problem all along. I *think* all problems with Ni-Mn flooded cell battery chemistry are now solved. Remaining problems are production problems, especially getting things to stay sealed.
   But now, I still don't have a properly working cell because of the unexpected problem with the negode! The manganese won't charge even in the fridge, and even the zinc discharges itself over some hours. That's surely just some glitch - nickel-zinc is known to work, and manganese certainly was holding charge previously. (Maybe even from not compacting it enough?) I'll mix new chemicals and make another one in the coming days.

Victoria BC