Turquoise Energy Ltd.News #10

Victoria BC
Craig Carmichael  -  December 3rd 2008


November in Brief (overview... summary... the short version!)
* or, this TOC is the Super Short version...

"Secret" Federal SDTC Program: Filling the Funding Gap!
* Funding for developing clean technologies

Electric Hubcap Motor Making Course/Workshop: Hybridize your car (or other relevant motor project)!
* Cheaper, easier with only two motors needed?
* starts, um... Feb? March?

Electric Hubcap Motor "Kit": Marketing Idea
* Sell manuals and parts

Electric Hubcap Car Drive Project, Very Longwinded Detailed Report
* Double power "production model" motor:
- probably just 2 motors needed per car instead of 4!
- made from off-the-shelf automotive parts!
Turquoise Battery Project, Very Longwinded Detailed Report
* Effective Sealed Battery Housings:
- plumbing pipes & rubber test tube stoppers!
* Convoluted battery chemistry... experiments continue.
* Recent patents disclose battery work paralleling mine.

November in Brief

   After many months of trials and remakes with improving concepts and designs, October saw the car finally move under electric power, driven at an unhazardous 36 volts by one tiny Electric Hubcaptm motor.
   But it unless the thrust of each motor could be significantly increased, it seemed that all four wheels would need to be driven instead of just two. That should work fine, but it would nearly double the expense and effort to "hybridize" a car.
   A better optimized "production" version motor was designed, whose mechanical components consist of proven, robust and widely available automotive and trailer wheel parts. The off-the-shelf parts that all fit together nicely were - at long last - all found in one week in October. With the various minor improvements planned, it was hoped for 50-60% more thrust, but at the start of November, estimates calculating all the small gains together indicate that the thrust should be double, and more than double at low speed when starting up from a stop! Two motors could do the work of four!
   Furthermore, a new low-hertz pulse drive technique was conceived to put an end to the wasteful runaway currents and resulting rapid heating that burns out motors and controllers at very low RPMs when they must labour hard to gradually start up from a stop. (and which had "taken out" several of my controllers.)
   Strangely, no one seems to be applying this quite simple idea. As far as I can see, instead of dealing with the problem, everyone uses a high RPM motor and gears it down, simply trying to get the motor out of that "annoying" low RPM range quickly. I myself almost decided to substantially "beef up" the controller and coil wires before I realized it wasn't necessary. Perhaps here is a glimmer of why no one has previously done an ultra-efficient direct drive wheel motor!

Car pulling out with 36 volts Electric Hubcaptm prototype in October
(movie URL below)

   So in November, this "double-power" second motor was undertaken, but withall I didn't get it finished, the motor controller fixed, and the pulse technique circuit made in time for tests for this newsletter.

   Funds could help to get more things happening:
        * Parts for the 2nd Electric Hubcap "Production Prototype" motor to get the car actually out driving on the roads.
         * Possible approvals: CSA type approval on the Electric Hubcap motors and controllers and automotive safety approvals on the system components.
        * Purchase of better chemicals (Dysprosium ingots, Osmium powder) for batteries.
        * Development of:
           - Electric Hubcap motor coil making techniques
           - Electric Hubcap electronic parts: motor controller & optics,
           - Driver's control/interface unit with microcontroller & display.

   Not producing whole motors and complete installation kits is a liability advantage for a starting-up company, car safety being a major liability issue: anyone who assembles and installs their own motors should be responsible for pretty much all aspects of their safety themselves and will have a hard time sueing a manufacturer that merely supplied some of the parts.

   Movie Clips (reprinted from last month - nothing new to show.)

*   Wheel Spin Up: http://www.saers.com/~craig/LastSpinUp.AVI [22.5MB]
      At perhaps 1500-2000 RPM, this wheel has never before turned this fast!

*   Car Moves: http://www.saers.com/~craig/CarMoveWave.AVI [23MB]
      The pivotal event!
      (With extra footage - the remote didn't turn the camera off.)

   Finally I'll mention that I'm getting a metal lathe, a most valuable tool for making many odd parts. I wouldn't have been able to afford one, but someone I know offered me one for an irresistable $300, disassembled, to get it out of his house, and my mother (Thanks Mom!) has paid for it. I'll pick it up near Courtenay at Christmas. I'm setting up a largeish room in my house as a machine shop for motor making.

Canada's SDTC Clean Technology Development Funding Program

   I've remarked before that with what little support there seemed to be here for new products, China would be more likely to bring out products based on my designs than Canada (which we would then of course import), and in the last issue I editorialized that inventors developing truly cutting edge products seem to fall through the cracks in all the government support programs, before having enough to show to attract even adventurous "angel" investors much less venture capital, and that I've heard less than one percent of inventors, after all their unpaid labours, ever make good money off what they create. With society and the government providing verbal encouragement but no actual support (like a salary to live on while doing the work) through the critical phases of product prototyping and development, most people have to go out and get jobs doing something else in order to live, rather than developing their concepts to marketability. Thus are practical new products and technologies unknowingly swept under the carpet unseen by the world, as we all wonder why so little that's real and practical ever seems to come of promising concepts, demos and ideas we see in the news.

   Of course I am writing my own impressions and opinions, but after doing R & D much of my life and rarely getting paid - and then mostly to do other people's projects - it has gradually dawned on me in the last year or two, especially after talking with some other product developers, that this seems to be generally the fare of inventors and product developers in our society, that it wasn't just me who was hopelessly inept at chasing after support or investment to turn great ideas into actual products.

   I am therefor very pleased to report that it seems that our federal government has recognized this very problem and, seeing value in new "clean technology", has started Sustainable Development Technology Canada [http://www.sdtc.ca] to assist with the very sort of projects I've been doing and writing of herein.

"The Funding Intensity line shows the gaps in funding that are the consequence of the lack of maturity of new technologies, the risk aversion of the financial sector, and a profound ÒdisconnectednessÓ around the ["small number of"] key players in Canada. The Funding Intensity line is an illustration of how this lack of integration can allow substantial breaks in the Innovation Chain."

"Funding Gap", from SDTC

   Unfortunately this program, valuable in concept and which is evidently a few years old now, seems to be essentially unknown.
   I've been working on the very sort of projects they hope to foster since early 2006, and this year sending out these monthly newsletters, yet in all this time No One ever mentioned it to me, until I wrote the Premier's office in mid November and complained about valuable innovations - progress - falling through the cracks, and about the specific exclusions of invention and innovation in the ICE funding program which (getting specific) prevented development of wave power: a multi-billion dollar industry, a 1/2 price alternative to the Site C dam, cheap "green" electricity, going begging for want of a pittance of investments in R & D, and some government leadership.
   "No One" includes: the BC Innovation Council, the BC Ministry of Energy ocean power official who thought my wave power design looked so promising, people at BC Hydro, VIATeC (notwithstanding that I recently attended a VIATeC information workshop about federal government funding programs that featured some very odd specialized programs along with better known ones like NRC/IRAP and SR & ED), my MP when I wrote him about having no funds to develop wave power in summer 2007, others developing clean energy products, or anyone else.

   What good is a program nobody knows about? Well, if you're a clean energy innovator, you've at last just read about it!
   Evidently, having unfortunately just missed an October deadline, it will take Turquoise Energy Ltd. (assuming they take me), over a year to get any funds from the program. That's an extra six months over if I had applied in October. (If I can't generate some revenue before December 2009, I will certainly have a very lean year with little to spare for continuing the work!)

First Proposed Class - Workshop

   I expect I won't be ready with final course/workshop details by January, let alone be able to start them then. (Is anybody surprised?)
   I can't definitely say whether two or four motors will be required for a typical car until I've done some road testing on the first "production model" motor. My feeling now is that two should be sufficient, but I spent considerable time on other things in November and just got the motor controller repaired on the 29th, so this rather important detail of how many motors are needed remains in suspense, muddying planning for workshops.

   And I had hoped the tuition and perhaps the materials for the course could be made deductible as an education tax credit, to reduce the cost for participants. It seemed to me logical that bringing interested BC'ers to the leading edge of progress in such an aspect of the energy field as taught by the inventor - de facto the only person so far with the knowledge to teach it - would be something of considerable value that BC and Canada would want to encourage. Alas, inquiries revealed that educational deductions are only allowed for courses at "an accredited educational institution", and I somehow doubt that any sort of accreditation for specific courses, however worthy, is realistically attainable. It appears the only way I can help is by reducing my course fee.
   On the other hand, hopefully the doubled thrust of the second motor design will drop the cost for "hybridizing" your car considerably, as well as substantially decreasing the amount of work required.

   As a disclaimer, I must point out that being all new, none of this equipment has any sort of official sanction by ICBC, CSA or other bodies. Still, assuming the installation is good and reliable, changing the type of thrust from noisily burning a flammable liquid to quiet electric propulsion having safer, easier, driving characteristics, without modifying the car, surely has much less risk than driving while talking on a cell phone, which is, after all, not illegal in spite of being a known factor or cause in some accidents.

   The Electric Hubcap is not a polished product. More fabrication and trial of design variants would be of value. The microprocessor controls aren't ready and motor operation will be quite basic (drive power and forward/reverse, no regenerative braking or displays...) until they are.

   On the other hand, it would seem enough is known now to make reliable, workable motors that move cars, and if I on my own very meager resources try to get all the desired things tested alone, it could take a year or more and meanwhile nobody's driving on electricity, whereas if workshop participants each make and test a motor or two, much would be learned before the sessions end, the participants would have electric drive cars (or other motor project of choice) and know how to make them... and I would have some funds to continue the R & D for the batteries and the computer controls, which is otherwise about to go into very low gear. (When ready the computer controls would be provided at parts cost to workshop alumni.)
   So if anyone is eager to electrify their vehicle, please let me know! I'd be very pleased to run a workshop series once the "production model" motor and a more advanced controller have been tested, probably in February, March or April when about 4 or 5 people are signed up.

Here is a description of the proposed program as I currently see it, details subject to change:
Course Overview

* Instruction session: working principles of the Turquoise Energy Ltd. Electric Hubcaptm vehicle drive motor and its ancillary components, as applied to creating a plug-in hybrid car and other useful applications.
* Motor making workshops as required to assemble the motors.
* Instruction session: motor controller details; simple controls details.
* Workshops: assembling the motor controllers and wiring boxes, and the simple controls.
* Instruction session: various aspects of installing the motors, and the computer controls.
* Motor installing workshops as required to get the cars going.
* Additional instruction and workshops as required to complete projects.
* Followup session(s) when computer controls are complete: install computer controls.

Participants should be mechanically inclined. Experience with design, fabrication and installation in any fields of metal working, mechanical, auto mechanics, electrical and electronics are assets. Participants are encouraged learn principles of construction during the workshops and do work on their own if and as convenient. Work will be inspected and discussed by me and by the other participants. Creative thought in adaptation to specific vehicles and improvements to systems is encouraged.

The object of this course is twofold:
(a) to have the participant create his or her own Electric Hubcap equipped super efficient plug-in hybrid vehicle or other similar motor installation of choice, and

(b) without obligation, to provide a trained nucleus of people to who are familiar with this exciting and promising new technology, the future of propulsion. They'll not only save on gas, they'll be engaged with the cutting edge of electric transportation technology.

I haven't specified the number of workshops for each phase: there's lots of new things here and it's hard to quantify how long the jobs will take. We'll continue for one or as many sessions as it takes to satisfy the class. Installating things in the car is the most time consuming part, and is likely to vary considerably by vehicle.

   There'll be three instructional manuals (or subjects in one large manual) to accompany the workshop: Making the Electric Hubcaptm Motor, Making the Electric Hubcaptm Motor Controller, and Installing the Electric Hubcaptm Drive System in a Vehicle. Writing of these proceeds apace.

   The tuition fee for the workshop program will be $1950 (maybe less), and the parts cost will be $900 per motor. That includes most everything: the motor, controller, wiring box, and cables. But (what else is new?): batteries not included.
   I think I should order/buy the parts, paid for in advance by the participants (at cost - but see below). That should bring some quantity discounts, and the materials would all be on hand when the workshop sessions commence. Perhaps the money for materials (as well as the tuition fee of course) can be made tax deductible and PST exempt - that would lower the costs for participants.
  I was surprised the materials for each complete motor installation cost so much when I added them all up. Anyone who wishes to provide some of the supplies themself is certainly welcome to do so. I will of course need to know what you are bringing before I order the parts. Particular items to provide that can save money are listed below.

Particular items to provide that can save money:

* car disk brake rotors - Honda Civic(?) rotors (10.25" diameter with a hub of 5.5" inside diameter) appear to be ideal for typical 4 lug bolt wheels. Discount: $75 per motor. Anywhere that does auto brake repairs should have used rotors going into the garbage can. They don't have to be in great condition, though a pretty flat face to mount the magnets on is desirable.

* winding and varnishing/baking your own coils: Discount $100 per motor. Count on spending a couple of days or more doing them. (Otherwise I'll make them before the course starts.)

* Finding your own heavy copper wire, 200 amp circuit breakers, motor capacitors (3 x 7uF 120+VAC "run" capacitors, 3 x 100uF 120+VAC "start" capacitors), wiring boxes (preferably aluminum for heat dissipation) and other electrical parts. Heavy #4 battery cables and #6 "cab tire" cables to the motor cost several tens of dollars per motor. 200 amp breakers for the motor controller boxes (preferably aluminum boxes for heat dissipation) all add up. Discount will have to be determined when the parts are known.

Electric Hubcap Motor Kit: Marketing Idea

   How to make money with something like the Electric Hubcaptm is an interesting study. At first glance, it would seem the thing to do is to simply start making motors and selling them. This is technically possible, but there are regulatory and liability issues that will no doubt take time and money to overcome, not to mention a large parts inventory to be acquired. Evidently, aside form automotive considerations, even CSA electrical approval is required for any products using over 24 volts, and this is... oops... 36 volts! It's not that these things can't be, shouldn't be and eventually won't be overcome. In fact, a system that actually makes it safer to drive by slowing the car significantly (as much the regulators desire) as soon as the foot is off the gas, should be welcomed by regulators. It's just these hurdles are hard for one person starting out to jump before getting revenues going.
   Then one considers that the mechanical parts are widely available, mostly automotive supplies, and that the motors are very easy to make at home. There are a few parts that take some specialty making, but once having them, a home handyman can assemble a motor in a few hours.
   The home handyman market is of course be much smaller than the market for a finished product. But even if one sold complete motors, the bulk of the work involved is installing the whole system in a car after they're made -- requiring a home handyman. So it's really pretty much the same market whether one sells a construction manual and parts or the finished product.
   As the market develops, no doubt there will be people who begin to do these things - assembling motors, installing them in cars - on an enterprising basis.
   The things to make and sell here are mainly the specialty parts that enable the whole process to go forward:

* The Instruction Manuals
* Motor controller circuit boards with parts
* Whole motor controllers with circuit breakers and big filter
  capacitors, pre-made and mounted in the wiring box
* The optical parts that go in the motor on a circuit board
* Motor Coils
* 36 volt fan-heaters (windshield defoggers and car heat)
* Gas pedal potentiometer assemblies
* The driver controls/displays panel
  (runs one or two EH motors - four if four motors are needed)
* Any parts we are able to offer more cheaply than regular
  suppliers owing to bulk purchases

* Better chemistry batteries (or "kits" for them)!

   While instructions will be given for making most of the things for oneself in the manual, there will be lots of people who want to make their own motor but, for example, don't want the hassle of making their own coils or making their own motor controller. Nine coils are needed per motor and likely two motors per car, and along with the controllers and other parts that will all be ordered at the same time, sales should be lucrative. Since the purchaser is assembling the pieces himself and Turquoise Energy is only the supplier of some of the parts, the liability and regulatory issues rest mainly with the end user. Yet there are already lots of people facing those issues and installing their own electric motors in "homebrew" electric cars. I once signed onto an E-vehicle email chat list and there were over two hundred messages in one day! (I signed off again within 24 hours!) How many people would quickly know of the Electric Hubcap once it was announced there?

Here are some hypothetical prices:

* Electric Hubcap Construction/Installation Manual: $40
* Coils: $35, or $300 for a set of nine.
   (If I can cut the labour & time, they can be less:
    $19.50/$160 would be better!)
* Complete Motor Controller (Wiring box, controller, filters, breaker,
     heavy battery and motor cables et al.): $500.
* Supermagnets (sourced from some wholesaler): $110 per motor set (18).
* Driver control parts set (Gas pedal pot, switches,
     with microprocessor, LCD display, operates two motors): $250.

   One can see that workshop attendees will be getting a break over the expected retail prices with the total parts per motor charge of $900 - the items above already add up to $1200.

   I don't expect anyone else will start making and selling the coils and other parts until things get really big. Then I don't see how they can be stopped, as little equipment and setup is needed to make them. And I see no reason to give away things like the circuit board layouts and source code for the driver control panel microprocessor.

   Once the regulatory approvals have been obtained one by one will be the time to expand and offer whole motors, and start making available on the web site (without endorsement) a list of installers in cities all over North America, so masses of people can start hybridizing their cars without having to learn how to do it themselves.
   In the latter context, it would be valuable to let people post comments about their experiences with installers - then the next prospective customer would know whether the name they see is good and trustworthy of not, without TEL presuming or needing to comment/endorse or blacklist.

The Electric HubcapTM Vehicle Drive Motor
November Gory Details

   For a prototype of a novel conception, one is more concerned with getting it to work than with optimizing every detail. It works! I hoped that if one went over and optimized everything, 50 or 60% more performance might be expected. Then I made up the list of planned improvements, and, like adding up the motor parts prices, the result was surprising: it appeared that double the thrust could be expected. Hopefully after all, only two motors would be needed to run a car!

Here are the electro-magnetic improvements for the second motor intended to coax "a little more thrust" from it:

1. A smaller magnet gap, 2-3mm, instead of the 6mm the prototype (accidentally) had when it moved the car.

2. #6 power wires to the motor instead of #10. (I picked the #10 when I was originally going to run 120 volts at 1/3 the current.)

3. I changed the coil iron core cross section shape from tapered rectangular 1" x 2", to 2" round, thus increasing the surface magnetic area acting on the rotor magnets from two to pi square inches, a 57% increase. All things being equal, the same electrons won't be able to increase the total magnetism by 57%, but things may not be equal. Doubtless an iron cylinder with a copper donut around it is the optimum shape to coax the most magnetism out of any given electricity and length of wire. Also, at very low RPMs before the car gets going much, the iron probably saturates magnetically, where further current doesn't increase the flux. In that case, 57% more iron could actually have the potential to give thrust headed towards 57% more at "starting up" speeds, even if its effect at higher speeds is less. (say 30% better overall.)

4. I made the coil wires 70 turns of wire instead of 60. I think 60 may have been a bit few. This could increase the thrust a bit starting up, with less current, though it will also lose power faster with RPM. A motor is also a generator, and more turns generates a higher back voltage per RPM, decreasing the effective input voltage as RPM goes up.

5. Twelve of the supermagnets will be magnetic strength "42", whereas the ones in the first rotor, and the remaining six of the new one, were strength "35" or "37". (Can't recall exactly.) Even strength "50" is now available, though pricey where I saw them. (For further motors, I expect to order all "42" or better.)

6. The new rotors are 10.25" diameter instead of 9.5". The magnets being two inches long, the average magnetic radius is an inch less, so 4.125" average magnetic radius instead of 3.75", a 10% increase in leverage. (Or one might think of it as a lower "gear ratio".) But the magnets will have a bit of space between them and so a bit lower flux density. Perhaps it's around 7% overall improvement.

Roughly (and perhaps conservatively) estimating the percentage improvement to be expected from each design change and multiplying them together, we see:

(1) 15% * (2) 3% * (3) 30% * (4) 8% * (5) 12% * (6) 7% = 1.99 *, or 99% more thrust.

The total cumulative effect surprised me. It's an exciting result. We go from a 45 pound motor that only just gets a car rolling to a 50 pound one with at least twice the push! With luck, two wheel drive will be sufficient after all!

Old (second version) prototype stator (R) - the one that moved the car.
"Production prototype" stator (L): larger diameter, coils with more iron and more copper, and sturdy standard trailer axle hub.

Fixing Stopped and Low RPM Currents

   After thinking heavier stuff seemed to be needed all around, I've realized that the problems I've been having with motor controller burnouts and hot coils in the prototype can be solved without going to more paralleled MOSFETs and heavier coil wires. "Magnetic saturation" of iron is one of those factoids one hears of, but I didn't quickly connect it with the problem. Now I have:
   At very low speeds such as when the car is just starting moving, the drive signals are such a low frequency they look like DC instead of AC. Since the coils are wound for AC, they have far fewer turns of much thicker wire than they would for DC. (70 turns for 18 VAC versus, eg, 225 turns for 12 VDC.) The high current that starts to flow after perhaps 1/4 of a second magnetically saturates the iron in the core. Once the iron is magnetically saturated, the coil starts looking like a short circuit. That would be when it starts blowing MOSFETs, and also why the coil wires heat up so much.
   In order to overcome this, the coils need to be pulsed on and off at just a few hertz - introduced AC - shutting off the current just before the iron saturates. Since there's virtually no more thrust to be had beyond saturation anyway, this should provide nearly as much thrust with far less current and heat. And the bigger iron cores and somewhat heavier stator of the "production" model motor should provide more magnetism and thrust than the prototype has before saturating. As speed increases, this pulse/interrupter circuit phases out and allows full drive current, per the regular pulse width modulator from the gas pedal, which will go from 0 to 100% duty cycle.

   Hah! forget the #12 wires and quadruple MOSFETs! It's a waste of time, space, copper, MOSFETs, and electricity!

   No doubt others are cognizant of the problem. Someone who seemed to have considerable experience told me I'd never get the car to move (the week before it did), that the motor would sit "stalled" and things would quickly burn out. He wasn't exactly wrong - I burned out the motor controller (again) after the successful tests.
   And oddly enough, later on the same day that I figured out the solution and wrote the above paragraphs (November 5th, which was the day after I recognized out the nature of the problem), an electronics/green energy friend visited on his electric bicycle. Evidently, these bicycles are made so the motor won't turn on until the machine is going 3 Km/Hr. If it came on when it was stopped, the motor controller might burn out, so you have to pedal it to start it moving!
   But why? After all, it's programmed not to come on below 3 Km/Hr, so "case: going very slow" is programmed in anyway. That can't be it.
   The most likely explanation is that people avoid the problem instead of dealing with it. On the bicycle, make sure the bike is moving already. On vehicles, put the electric motor through reducing gears - a lossy transmission - so it never has to work hard at very low RPM for long before it gets some speed up.
   And I thought I was slow for it having taken me so long (and so many MOSFETs!) to realize what the problem was and to figure out a solution. Is this another "first", along with the "opto-electronic commutator" "first", both within my direct wheel motor "first"? I simply can't understand how some of my "firsts" could be "firsts".


   With the off-the-shelf auto and trailer parts, the one "bottleneck", the only remaining thing that looked like a really time-consuming operation for making Electric Hubcap motors, was winding the coils.

  Asking at motor shops about having coils wound for me led to the realization that they weren't going to be able, economically, to provide cores for coils unless they were ferrite, and even then there would be problems with mounting holes. Ferrite is used for RF transformers and coils, but for a motor it isn't as good as iron cores. Pushing a car demands best performance!
   If you use a solid chunk of iron, the rotor magnets going by will generate electricity into it - a big "short circuit" block, generating lots of heat and drag, and ruining efficiency - correctly oriented isolated strips or (even better) isolated wires of iron are required.
   So having searched for and asked for a better alternative and not found one, I think the best idea is to stick with the nail gun finishing nail strips for the cores, and to vastly improve the production process. If the coils take 1/2 an hour of labour each, they'll be much more economical than if they take 2 hours.
   I still haven't found a better core material, and a cylinder would be an awkward shape to cut transformer/motor laminates for anyway. And, the unique coils could be good merchandise... but that aspect is for the "motor parts" marketing plan, also in this newsletter.

   First I cut a 1/2" long piece of 2" ABS plumbing pipe since that circle is now the desired (dare I say it: the IDEAL) core cross section. I assembled the nail strips into it upright. Then I sprayed them with polyurethane insulating paint. For the next one, I sprayed one side of the flat strips first to insulate them well from each other. I put in two 1/4" nuts at opposite edges and screwed specially cut hex-head bolts into them, whose smooth shafts extend right to the nuts, where the threads begin. Short strips of shorter nails fill in the space above the nuts and around the bolts.
   When the coils including the cores are cast in epoxy or varnished and baked, the bolts are broken loose with a wrench and unscrewed, leaving the nuts captive. Holes for bolts will be drilled through the motor stator. With the nuts, there's now no need to thread holes in the stator (another minor production speed-up), though the bolts will need to be just the right length. Nyloc nuts, or lock washers at the bolt heads, should prevent coil mounting bolts from working loose.

The new 2" diameter coil cores sitting on the new stator with trailer axle parts, which is propped up by the old stator.

   Then I made a little jig to wind the coils, and found it works amazingly fast and well.

Coil winding goes fast with a winder!

   Now having a reasonable way to make the cores and a zippy coil winder, just the casting is tedious, and no doubt much better procedures - eg, doing big batches - can be found for that too. So why did I try to buy coils? Better to sell them! Let's see, 9 coils per motor, 2 motors per car...

   After trying out the new processes on actual coils, I was dissatisfied. I made a new winder spool, and now (improving technique) some tape and tie wraps holds the shape of the wound coils. The core strips are assembled right into the coils, which are then dipped in motor varnish and baked. This ensures they fit together well, and it cuts out the steps of spray painting the core to "glue" it together for handling, and then inserting it into the coil, which tended to end up scratching the insulation of the inside coil wires. Using motor varnish instead of epoxy also makes things easier - you can't mix enough epoxy to simply dip the coils in as it is expensive and it will all harden. The motor varnish does require two or three coats and is no doubt not as strong as epoxy, but unless coils start falling apart in use, it's enough.

  On the old rotor, there was lots of space between coils, at least 1/2 inch. The new coils pretty much fill the slightly larger rotor. In fact, I had to make a slightly smaller winding spool and make a couple of extras in the smaller size, tossing a couple of the first bigger ones, to fit them all on. I had to select which one went where, and you can't slip a piece of cardboard between some of them! (I'll shave a bit off the winding spool for next time!) Like the magnet rotor when the magnets went from 12 to 18, it now has a more "industrial" look.
  When I was making the new stator coils and cores, I weighed a leftover core (with no coil) of the old size, and three of the new ones. Theoretically there should have been 57% more iron in the new ones, but they actually weighed double: 280+ grams versus 140. This certainly bodes well for increased thrust! I expect I'm getting better density of nail strips, with the rows all being straight, where the trapezoidal shape of the originals left epoxy-filled gaps.

Electric Hubcap Motor Factoids:

* Two small but powerful hubcap motors supplied with 36 volts should have the power to drive a motor vehicle instead of using the car's engine.
* The motors weigh about 50 pounds each.
* They are very easy to make.
* Most installations are expected to use two motors, or perhaps four for high performance, even numbers providing for left-right wheel balance and better, balanced, regenerative braking.
* Only the car's wheel turns. The only moving part in the motor is an extended axle that ties the stator firmly to the wheel. Brackets extending around the wheel from behind prevent the stator from spinning.
* The virtually frictionless magnetic link to the wheel magnifies useful power by transmitting it all directly to the wheel. There's no losses from a transmission or gears. It requires no gear shifting or other attention by the driver, and it's quiet.
* Permanent magnet synchronous motors also have the highest intrinsic efficiency of all electric motor families, further leveraging the efficient power transfer. Roughly, one might perhaps expect up to 50% greater range than other (geared induction motor) electric motor systems from the same energy, and correspondingly better performance for the same kilowatts of electricity used by the motor.
* Installation requires no connections with or changes to the car's existing mechanical components and systems.
* When not in use, the motor has no more effect on the car than any other 35 pounds of luggage.
* The motor sticks out just 4" from the wheel or a couple of inches past the fender, less protrusion than the outside rear view mirror.
* The RPM with 13 inch wheels is about 10 per one kilometer per hour of speed, that is, 450 RPM at 45 Km/Hour. Most electric motors prefer much higher speeds, but the "Hubcap" has good low RPM torque and power. 120 Km/hour is just 1200 RPM, a stately pace for most electric motors but a good upper range for the "Hubcap".
* The rotor is a 10 inch steel disk brake disk mounted on the wheel lug bolts, 6 poles using 6, 12 or 18, .5" x 1" x 2" NIB supermagnets, glued and-or bolted on.
* The stator is a similar 10 inch brake disk (but with cooling vanes), with 9 epoxy cast coils bolted to it, each of 60 turns of #14 wire, in 3 phase "Y" configuration. Magnetic flux is axial.
* A unique design breakthrough is that the stator coil iron is strips of regular nail gun finishing nails in the coil cores instead of custom die cut iron laminate sheets. With this and no axle or other moving parts, the motor is simple enough to make at home, or the coils could be wound by machine and cast, for super economical mass production. Individual coils can be easily replaced.
* The motors dissipate their waste heat via air cooling, avoiding the complexity of liquid cooling systems. There's maximal coil air exposure and heat sinking with the magnets blowing air in front of them, an air scoop on the front of the fairing and air guide vanes, plus a temperature actuated electric fan in case all else is insufficient at low motor RPMs that don't move much air and high power (eg, climbing hills and mountains).

Motor Controller Factoids:

* The controller switches the DC power from the battery onto three power wires that go to the motor's stationary magnet coils, in a six state drive sequence timed to continually push/pull the supermagnets on the rotor around in one direction.
* Three optical sensors looking through slots on the rotor tell the controller the rotor magnet positions, to time the switching.
* The amount of torque is controlled by pulse width modulation of the power, proportional to depression of the accelerator pedal beyond "neutral". Reverse torque to slow the motor (regenerative braking) is provided by differently timed pulses proportional to the release of the accelerator pedal above its "neutral point".
* A reverse switch switches the signals to reverse the push on the magnets.
* In accelerating, the motor uses energy from the battery. In decelerating, the motor generates energy, which goes back into the batteries.
* The individual motors and controllers have minimal digital logic and will run connected to controls having nothing more than a 555 timer to generate the PWM signal (connected to the gas pedal) and a forward/reverse switch, though connection to a microcontroller "brain" at the front of the car is needed to provide the more sophisticated features such as dynamic braking.
* The microcontroller chip in the motor controller is the "brains" of the switching system, reading also motor temperature, car speed and direction, and battery voltage.

Turquoise Battery Project
November Gory Details

   The battery project wasn't neglected in November. I'm tackling sealed cases (a much more challenging aspect to the project than expected) and I've learned some more electrochemistry.

   First, an attempt was made to make a nickel/zinc battery that wouldn't leak, in a salad dressing bottle. In the first bottle, shoving the rubber stopper in hard broke the plastic top of the bottle.

   With much trouble and some ripping of separator papers, the contents were transferred to another bottle. This one seemed to be charging fine and (at last!) not leaking. It was late. I went to bed. When I got up in the morning, I found the bottle had split right down one face and the caustic electrolyte had leaked all over the table. (Anyway, the transparent bottle makes a good illustration.) The red color is ferric oxide powder (yes - rust), smeared on the separator papers to reduce self discharge. Some of it mixed into the electrolyte.

   The basic construction technique and layout I kept. The next battery was made in a 1.5" I.D. ABS plumbing pipe. The bottom has an ABS cap glued on, and the top has an open threaded fitting. The rubber stopper (with the terminals through it) goes over that, and then the end fitting is screwed on, covering the edges of the stopper so it can't pop out. The nickel-brass sheet metal bases for the electrodes, a foot long, are silver soldered to the #6 wire leads. (also nickel brass.)

   This makes a robust battery housing and construction that will withstand a lot of gas pressure. When I tried this out, the pressure certainly manifested itself, bulging the rubber stopper out to an amazing degree. I can't bend the stopper a tenth as far by hand! Fearing I may have created a "pipe bomb", I bled pressure out by forcing a jewellers screwdriver in - with difficulty - beside one of the terminals. Charging just brought it back. No wonder I've been unable to make a battery that didn't leak with any sort of "normal" constructions! The next one will have a car tire valve on it to test the pressure and let some out if needed. Perhaps I should be looking into chemical means to reduce gas pressures in batteries.
   I didn't get very good results with this. When I opened it, I found that the zinc wasn't wrapped very well and it had leaked out all over.

   Then I realized I could make a transparent battery with pipe of acrylic plastic, using ABS or PVC fittings, so I obtained the pieces. (Ironically, the only cap that fit was the one from the dead salad dressing bottle.)

Acrylic pipe battery starting to charge.

   The ingredients for this lanthanum-zinc battery were:

* The monel - lanthanum hydroxide mix, burned to fuse them together in thiamin mononitrate (tinned bean sauce), mixed with 1-2% anhydrous cobalt chloride in Sunlight dishsoap (accept no substitutes!), then gelled in agar agar using acetal ester (made from acetaldehyde made from vodka with potassium chlorochromate made from potassium dichromate with HCl) for the liquid. (The alcohol cost more per kilogram than the lanthanum.) On this was sprinkled a layer of zirconium silicate ("zircon", SiO2:ZrO2). (Phew! No wonder most people have just stuck with nickel hydroxide! But this should hopefully have higher energy density and last longer, if not indefinitely.)

* Calcined zinc oxide ("denzox") bleached with regular bleach (NaClO), with Sunlight, and 2% cobalt oxide, added. Hard to stir but will gradually all leak out the tiniest gap... otherwise simple.

* An electrolyte of water with KCl salt (to s.g. 1.15), some potassium hydroxide, a bit of methyl hydrate, a bit of MEK, a bit of Methylene chloride, and a little baking soda. I'm still experimenting with electrolytes. Finding the right stuff seems to be a key to getting results from "rare earth" elements in a battery. With one electrolyte mix it charges the opposite direction from the others!

Gradually growing bridges between electrodes as it charges.

The bottom popped off with a bang at 80 degrees C when I tried seeing if anything special would happen above, eg, 65c where cobalt chloride changes colour. Evidently ABS cement softens when it's hot! Here are the electrodes. The lanthanum one shows what should hopefully be some grey perchlorate mineral, which soon turned a green or cyanish color on exposure to air. In fact, when completely dry it was a brighter turquoise colour than nickel hydroxide powder - a sure indicator that the "Turquoise Battery" project is headed in the brightest "green energy" direction!

The calcined zinc oxide electrode didn't look much different than when I wrapped it. Above that is the other electrode, newly re-wrapped in cellophane.

   As to electrochemistry... I play with theoretical ideas; I try some out.

   Zinc is generally seen as the highest energy substance that can be used with an aqueous electrolyte.

   It looks like dysprosium should make for a higher voltage than lanthanum. I've been unable to find a figure for lanthanum, but oxidizing dysprosium to from Dy(OH)3 to DyO2 in an alkaline environment is substantially higher voltage than almost any of the other lanthanides. Again, I can't find the the reactions I'm actually looking for, nor their voltages:

La(OH)3  + OH- <===> LaO(OH)2 + H2O + e-        [>1v ?]
Dy(OH)3  + OH- <===> DyO(OH)2 + H2O + e-        [2v ?]

   Note that the charged/oxidized substance on the right is tetravalent while the one on the left is trivalent. This is akin to the usual divalent/trivalent nickel reaction ( Ni(OH)2 <===> NiO(OH), [+0.5v] - in Ni-MH etc.) but the voltage I expect to see from certain so-called "rare earths", lanthanum and especially dysprosium, and hence the energy density, should be higher (all else being equal).
   I can't find a reference to tetravalent lanthanum, eg LaO2 or LaO(OH)2 in any tables. In fact a web search comes up almost blank. However, someone said he had grown crystals of lanthanum oxyhydroxide, electrically. This indicates that it can be made. He was only interested in growing crystals, so there was no electrical info.

   The voltage to make DyO2 is so high it probably can't be done in aqueous solution, which means it wouldn't occur as an unintended byproduct. It suggests an excellent battery of around 3+ volts might - possibly - be made with dysprosium-zinc. On the other hand, I haven't priced or tried dysprosium yet.

Similar Research

   I found a 2005 patent for a "lanthanide-zinc" battery with many features similar to what I've been doing with the lanthanum and nickel or zinc. It was good info and they've done some fine work. (but... the things they'll give patents for! As it reads, basically any attempt to make a battery using any element from lanthanum to ytterbium, #57 to 70 violates the patent. (And the only one they tried was cerium, #58) I somehow doubt such a sweeping claim to essentially "owning" all these elements would stand up, but the patent was granted.) I'll contrast their work with mine in the next paragraphs.

   In an alkaline environment, the zinc is Zn(OH)2 (solid) or Zn(OH)4- - (a dissolved ion) when discharged, becoming zinc metal upon charging. (This is where, like cadmium only more so, it can grow crystal "dendrites" that can short out the battery. I think there are ways to avoid this, and also... one could perhaps take my batteries with the above layout apart and slip a sheet of paper or something between the electrodes if it happened.)
   According to the patent, for lanthanide elements and zinc, an alkaline electrolyte isn't very good. An organic acid is better, in particular methyl sulfonic acid. I must comment (a) that getting the organic methyl group in there should be useful, and (b) that acidity would be good, even necessary, with cerium, their element of choice, but not necessarily for most of the other lanthanides.
   I myself have wanted to try di-methyl sulf-oxide (DMSO - compare: "methyl sulfonic acid"), an organic polar aprotic solvent with unique properties. In spite of being a simple solvent, it's been classed as a "drug"... because people have used it topically and claim to have derived health benefits. It can't be obtained without a doctor's prescription. If one can get it at all, I hate to imagine the price per litre sold as a prescription drug instead of as a solvent! I wonder how much chemical research and processes in Canada are hindered and thwarted by these sorts of seemingly arbitrary bans and restrictions on chemicals, that seem to disregard the fact that they may have valuable uses - perhaps undiscovered uses - besides the one being considered at the moment?

   The same people took out another patent for a gelled electrolyte using "carboxymethylcellulose, a polyacrylic acid, a poly(acrylonitrile), and a poly(vinylidene fluoride)", again parallel to what I'm doing with the lanthanum electrode (and admittedly prior). I, however, am simply using agar agar as the "jello", along with previously tying the lanthanum hydroxide to the monel powder in the burning step.

  In their acid environment, the zinc dissolves as Zn++ ion. When the battery is charged, the zinc is deposited on the "-" electrode as metal. It dissolves again when discharging. (or apparently all by itself, from what the patent says. This seems puzzling.)
   Also in this environment, a touch of indium in with the zinc evidently can increase charging efficiency to up to 95%. Typical batteries are ~~65-80%. Eg, 80% means you have to put in 125 watt-hours of charge to get 100 watt-hours out.
   It must be admitted this efficiency is very impressive, and zinc reactions have good voltage and hence energy. (and I even have some tin-indium alloy...)

   However, the voltage listed for the acid Zn/Zn++ ion reaction [-0.79v] is notably lower than for the alkaline reactions [-1.25 & -1.29v]. Yet, they get over 2.4 volts open circuit voltage, as the cerium ions give 1.7.
   One wonders whether possibly zirconium might not work better for their battery: in acid, Zr/Zr++++ [-1.55 v], making their battery perhaps 3.2 open circuit volts with double the amp hours. (and how could "Zirc" not be a great substitute for "Zinc", when the only difference is the tail on the "n"?) And perhaps zirconium wouldn't grow the "dendrite" crystals that have plagued zinc batteries?

   The second of the zinc alkaline reactions, if it occurs, Zn(OH)4- - + 4e- <==> Zn + 4OH- [-1.29v], is a dissolved ion reaction, so rather similar to the acid reactions, and it moves four electrons instead of two. Double amp hours, higher voltage... these are good targets if it can be coerced into working properly! It probably requires an electrode separator  that will pass hydroxide ions but not the larger zincate ions. The patent says they're using Dupont Nafion(r) membrane to pass hydrogen (H+) ions, AKA protons, and that's some good info, but it turns out to be very pricey stuff. I'm now trying cellophane, which I had thought of and bought in the spring and then forgot about. (But what ions will it pass? OH-? ClO4-? or only H+? or none?)

   If possible I'd rather have electrolytes that aren't strongly corrosive, either alkali or acid. The nickel-zinc battery seemed to work okay with 10-25% alkali and the rest KCl salt. (Whether it was as good as straight KOH I didn't determine.)
   For the lanthanum, I've been trying some organic constituents. Some perchlorate could be formed oxidizing the salt.
   An idea I've been thinking about is to add some methoxychlor along with or instead of the MEK. That brings in another methyl group and some perchlorate forming oxy-chloride in one chemical. Methoxychlor is usually used as an insecticide. Oh well, I don't think there's many battery electrolytes one can drink anyway! (Rats: I went to buy some and evidently methoxychlor has been banned in Canada - one more chemical I've wanted but am not permitted to buy!)

   Having more neutral chloride and perchlorate for electrolytes is going to create new redox reactions and voltages rather than the "standard" potentials listed for alkali and acid electrolytes. I can use the listed potentials for rough guides, but this is rather striking out on new ground, and the lanthanum-zinc or dysprosium-zinc reactions and voltages will have to be found by testing rather than calculated in advance. I'm hoping for around 3 volts with dysprosium, which has very high voltages going from valence 3 to 4 in both acid and alkali, and zinc is known to produce its higher voltage in neutral PH manganese oxide/zinc 1.5 volt batteries. (The common so-called carbon/zinc battery.)

   So far, my batteries are showing somewhat lower voltages than expected and poor current drive capacities, and I must confess I don't have a properly working product yet. I think I have some good processes and reactions occurring with some good chemicals (even without the ones I haven't bought yet or can't get at all). That the things I'm trying aren't wildly off base is shown by the recent patents by the group of people working along parallel lines, as mentioned above.

Victoria BC