Turquoise Energy News #3

Craig Carmichael   May 1st, 2008

It's been a while, so here's an update!

All the energy related projects I started seem to be progressing well, and everything seems to be on the verge of going, almost all at the same time. The first sealed Ni-MH Turquoise BatteryTM is made and the first Electric HubcapTM motor is mounted on my car. There are good chances that all the designs including the ocean wave power mechanism will pass basic operating tests in the next month or two.

I hope I haven't put in too much boring detail. Anyway, there are a few fotos to look at for relief.


Technology Exploitation
The Electric HubcapTM Drive Motor
Turquoise Motor Controller
Turquoise BatteryTM
The Wave Power Machine

Technology Exploitation

The Electric hubcapTM vehicle drive motors are unique and seem to me to be the most practical way to turn existing cars into plug-in electric hybrids. I'm making an economical solid state dual motor controller that can offer valuable custom features in preference to purchasing high priced generic controllers. What can better be said about the Turquoise BatteryTM than that it appears it could be the battery everybody's been wanting for decades, to ditch those heavy, bulky lead-acid batteries for all uses.

Inventions and new products are of little value unless they are used in some way. Anyone is welcome to propose something, otherwise for consideration here are two options I'd go for:

1. Turquoise Energy can be funded to set up manufacturing facilities and to market the product(s). A division could be set up for each product to be produced (according to the amount of investment and the priorities of the investors after consultation with me): Motor-Generator Division (starting with the Electric Hubcap motors), Batteries Division, the Plug-in Hybrid Car Conversion Kit Division that puts all the pieces into a working garage/consumer installation package, and the Wave Power Division. An administrative branch will doubtless also be required. I would expect revenue in each department should begin to trickle in pretty soon unless there are regulatory hurdles, which should grow gradually with expanding experience and production facilities.

As an R & D person, an inventor and product developer, if I am president I will hire the best talent I can find, and I myself will be an active participant in the operations only for as long as it takes to get each division set up and running smoothly, at which time a divisional operations manager will be elected (naturally by choice ranking, so-called "STV", voting) or otherwise chosen for a two year term. I see great value in giving employees a say in choice of their supervisors and in limiting the terms of supervision. It inherently avoids the "Peter Principle", large severance settlements and claims of "improper dismissal", etc. to get rid of someone who isn't performing well, ends employee burnout, and will allow fresh talent, experience, tact and other good management qualities to rise naturally to the fore. No one can feel they've been unfairly overlooked, or people with valuable skills be shut out from promotions just because someone else is "in there for life". Various employee democracy protocols (always subject to veto by management or the board of directors, who may also have votes even if they decline to veto), should make the company somewhat self-governing, eliminate uncooperative employees, and establish a valuable team spirit.

Turquoise Energy Limited is incorporated as a privately held BC company. Shares are $10 each.

BTW I see value in the name "Turquoise Energy", which name I rather stumbled across in the form a large turquoise plastic water pipe when I was looking for an enclosure for the wave power unit's electric generator. It's sort of like "Microsoft" or "General Motors" in the "green energy" field: it says it all and it will draw attention naturally.

2. Alternatively, I will consider selling the inventions outright if good offers are forthcoming. (But please don't expect to buy one of these ground-breaking products for just a few thousand dollars - getting to this point has cost me much more than that in years and efforts.) Buying the product(s) will get you all I know on the subject of the product in question, and I will help plan and set up (locally) the manufacturing facility if desired. I have many thoughts about various potential techniques for production for all the products. I have no special talents to offer at sales or marketing (though my brother Ian, also in Victoria, does).

The Electric HubcapTM Drive Motor

Electric Hubcap Motor Factoids:

- The motor itself has no moving parts: only the car's wheel turns.
- There are no connections with or changes to the car's existing mechanical components and systems.
- For 13 inch wheels, the RPM 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, thus no gearing or transmission is needed.
- When not in use, the motor has no more effect on the car than any other 40 pounds of luggage.
- The motor sticks out less than 4" from the wheel (and could be made thinner if necessary). This is less protrusion than the outside rear view mirror.
- The motor has an RPM sensor coil and an IC temperature sensor (AD590) built in to ascertain actual speed and to warn of any overheat condition ("yellow alert" and "red alert" lights or an LED bar thermometer.)
- It's air cooled. I have a vague idea it will get pretty hot driving a car up a mountain. I have a new idea for "porous" polyester resin that should greatly improve the stator's internal cooling, that I hope to try out on the second motor.

The first electric hubcap has been mounted on the car. Tests as a simple PMG generator showed reasonable voltages and currents for the one rotor implementation, but lower than originally planned, as it was originally to have two magnet rotors. But the specs of torque, horsepower, the optimum battery voltage and the electric current required have yet be be worked out regardless. Actual performance testing as a motor awaits the completion of the controller, and actually going somewhere will need to also see enough batteries to run it.

First Electric HubcapTM drive motor on my so-called car.
Stud extensions mount the NIB supermagnet rotor to the wheel, while the stator bracket attaches to the rear of the brake drum housing.
It needs a nice fairing to cover up the ugliness. Oh... and cables into the car.

Turquoise Motor Controller

Three-fase AC motors such as the electric hubcap can't run directly off of batteries. Instead, a solid state controller converts the DC power of the battery into variable frequency AC power.

Not having designed any electronic circuits for many years, I must remark here what a treat it is today, to find semiconductor datasheets and application notes readily available on line, and fast tech support direct from the manufacturers, instead of scrounging around for info and specs. I would have made poorer choices without this excellent new info network!

The AC power frequency creates a rotating magnetic field in the motor that turns the magnet rotor and determines the car's speed. Increasing the frequency above the wheel's current speed causes acceleration and the motor uses energy from the battery. Conversely, a lower frequency causes deceleration, dynamic braking, which generates energy, which goes into charging the batteries. Some experimentation may show that the motor will perform acceptably at any nominal voltage from 72 to 144 volts, and can be coaxed into recharging the batteries while driving any fair driving speed on gas fuel.

There's a lot of talk about it being hard to get regulatory approval to run an electric car above 40 Km/H. This design blurs the boundaries: it changes nothing of the vehicle (beyond adding about the weight of a passenger), which is already approved for driving at highway speeds. Is a car, approved for highway travel, to be restricted to 40 Km/H when using one fuel (the safer one) but not when burning flammable liquid?

Furthermore, the dynamic braking effect means that as soon as the driver takes his foot off the gas, the car is being slowed down, akin to gearing down. This is safer than the usual system because accidents usually happen very quickly. In an emergency, the car already begins slowing before the driver can get his foot to the brake pedal. And it is safer for lesser related control reasons which I won't detail here.

If we have an existing safety approved car and an add-on system making no mods to that car (besides drilling a few mounting holes and intercepting a couple of electrical circuits to enable proper switching between gas and electricity), and that is actually safer to drive with than the gas engine, it would be negligent of regulators not to grant approval as quickly as due diligence allows.

The motor controller board. So far it generates the variable frequency 3-fase drive as digital signals (grey sliding potentiometer on left goes under gas pedal) and has On-Off (right switch) and forward-reverse (blue switch).
...My, don't those controls look "industrial"!
It remains to interface the MGD driver chip (the big one: IR2130 from IR, it simplified the whole design) to the power MOSFETs to drive the actual motor coils. (MOSFETs are still on order, sigh!) Top header strip is to the MOSFETs; lower one is to the dashboard panel for the "nut behind the wheel".

Turquoise BatteryTM

The first sealed Turquoise Battery has been made. Some time-consuming internal chemistry took place, but now I'm testing it. I didn't previously understand the need to SEAL the batteries very solidly, like little space ships. Ni-MH is not the same as lead-acid: there's internal pressure when they're charged, the "equilibrium plateau pressure" of the hydrogen in the metal hydride. I thought this battery was well sealed in ABS plastic, but there were some thin joins, and the power of the battery to find pinholes or make them in weak spots is amazing. When I got those sealed, by fairly extreme measures, everything started to bulge, and I began to wonder if the whole thing would burst. So I armored it with some reinforcing plates. (See lower picture!) I have no pressure meter, so I'm guessing when I say it's 10 to 20 PSI, on the high side but still a typical battery metal hydride pressure.
It's in its initial "electrophoresis/internal chemistry forming" stage. From previous ones I've taken apart again, I know there's some good stuff happening inside, and I'm pretty sure the chemistry should be good, but so far I'm disappointed by the voltages and currents I'm seeing and I'm wondering if I've missed something.
It's 3 x 4 x 6 inches, and weighs 5 pounds. (Nominally 6.25V. It looks like it should be about 25 amp hours. It should be easy to increase that - my electrode proportions were a bit off and the nickel hydroxide powder was evidently packed too loosely. (too little weight per volume.) I'm thinking of possible ways to "crunch" it down better.)
Specs are good to designers, but perhaps for most people it's more enlightening to say that, being Ni-MH, bipolar flat plate, and assuming it finally works, this looks like much the best battery so far for electrifying cars. It will keep the designs simple (eg, it should have no use for "supercapacitors"), it should be economical, and one sufficient for tens of kilometers of driving will weigh 100 pounds and take up the trunk space of a spare tire.
The several small but useful innovations in the Turquoise Battery may set some new standards for battery making. Perhaps especially of note, by creating a new ABS plastic working technique, by sealing with polyamide, and by an outside shell, I seem to have found a good way to pressure seal flat plate bipolar Ni-MH batteries, thus making bipolar the battery layout of choice, a feat no previous manufacturer seems to have managed.
I've made all these nice battery breakthroughs in just four months. It's taken much of my time, a lot of research and creative thinking, extensive previous product design and fabrication experience, financial risk, luck, and seemingly divine guidance! A great deal is also owed to previous battery and other experimenters who have placed their work and results on record over the decades, and it certainly couldn't have been done without the power of the internet to quickly seek out and view these valuable writings.
Turquoise Battery Factoids:
- Bipolar Flate Plate design with thick powder/paste electrodes and a single thin metal plate separating the stacked cells. This design has the highest intrinsic energy density for its size and weight and the highest amperage for power delivery when it's needed and for rapid charging.
- The intractable bipolar flat plate cell edge leakage problem has been solved by encasing the entire battery in ABS plastic....
- A new method of working with ABS has been developed to enable the above encasement, which might otherwise be impractical.
- This battery is neither alkaline nor acid; it is neutral. The electrolyte is a common "green" ingredient.
- All the ingredients are environmentally benign, "green".
- The positive electrode is the common beta nickel [oxy]hydroxide (which powder is turquoise in colour, and the paste formed is literally green - surely a selling point), but there are additives...
- A couple of them are added by a unique new phoresis technique. A possible new field of battery chemistry has been opened by the unique choices of materials.
- The hydrogen storage hydride (negative electrode) is a new formulation with never before used ingredients intended to achieve higher power, dense hydrogen storage and longer life...
- My technique for chemically combining the "incompatible" hydride ingredients has to be seen to be believed!

The 6V sealed Turquoise Battery as first made.
The other terminal is of course on the far side of the battery, whose 5 cells are stacked like slices of bread in a loaf.

The armored battery after various exertions to stop leaks and bulgeing.

The Wave Power Machine

Minor technical glitches and issues (and admittedly being more enthused by the other projects) have prevented a successful test thus far, but it's certainly coming. Slightly bigger waves at the last trial would probably have spun the generator. If I turned it by hand, a couple of times it sped up as a wave hit. I have since increased the magnet gaps in the generator to reduce the startup torque needed. A better gear system (less friction) might also have made the difference.

Tests are at nearby boat launches where I can easily access the shoreline with the machine. The rarity of suitable winds/waves ensures tests are few and far between, causing progress to be measured in weeks - even months - instead of days. (Naturally, boat launches are located in the most sheltered spots rather than the most open.)

Wave Power unit floats rocking in the waves at James Bay Anglers boat launch, April 17th

The potential start of a potentially billion dollar sustainable wave energy program and ultimately reversing the flow of power between Vancouver Island and the mainland hinges on this tiny but vital detail of initial "proof of concept" technical success.

Being sure myself that's coming, to my mind, the exploitation of wave power hinges on:

 (1) the confidence and will by those having resources to invest in a production prototype using any working, economical and practical wave power capture mechanism, and to install it and connect it to the power grid, then to invest in and proceed with initial large scale production and deployment on the west coast. (Eg, selecting sites from Jordan river to Tofino.) Then it will be obvious to everyone that all that's required is to build more and more until we're getting as much power as we want to harness in this manner, which will be a lot of power.

I delayed a year and more on making a prototype, and very nearly abandoned the project entirely, as most of my "feelers" and enquiries in various directions met little response. I thought this is what everybody wants. Why labour over a great design if it looks like no one will bother to do anything with it once it's working?

 (2) the provincial government's hearty cooperation in granting permits to anchor the units near the shore and allow creation of on-shore connection sites. These will probably amount to power poles above the maximum high water line with locked electrical equipment boxes at the base and a conduit under the beach into the sea. Even if there's one per kilometer, to harness an entire shoreline some of the units will need heavy undersea power cables over 1/2 a kilometer long. (BTW: The idea of somehow storing the immense generated energy of waves onboard the floating units in any form for periodic collection by vessels is preposterous. Wave power simply won't happen without shoreline connections.)

 (3) BC Hydro's permitting grid hook-up of the generators. I would presume this would be forthcoming if everything else is in order.

Here on the BC coast we have some of the best conditions on the planet for utilizing wave power. Under current rules, it would seem the best way to use the wave power is to set up an independent power producing (IPP) company and sell electricity to BC Hydro for a lower rate than all the competing technologies. Ultimately, the flow of electricity between mainland BC and Vancouver Island can be reversed with enough units "swimming" just beyond the kelp off the island's west coast.

To me the technical issues appear to be largely secondary, though no doubt each of the first few units will see various design and layout improvements in each successive construction as experience is gained. (I'll already be trying a layout variant on the prototype's next test.) Myself, I have in mind low maintenance, virtually unsinkable and unflippable ferrocement and styrofoam "starfish", with five power capture float units (of like materials) on arms spreading out from each of the five sides. (Perhaps some of those who, like me, think they have better designs, can be encouraged to try theirs out on one or more arms of the prototype units. May the best design(s) win!)


Victoria BC