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Monday, January 7, 2008

Water Fuel Cell - DC voltage results

Today I performed some tests measuring gas production with DC voltage. The tests were performed in order to obtain aproximately the same consumed power, namely 22 Watts.

DC test performed:

High frequency test (100 KHz) at same voltage:

The DC test shows a clear increase in efficiency (almost 25%) relative to the pulsed electrolysis.
Still to compare these results with low pulse frequencies (it is likely that power losses are quite high at 100 KHz).

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Water Fuel Cell - more results

For one measurement taken without the inductor coil, we have the following values:

Friday, January 4, 2008

Water Fuel Cell - measured results

I performed two consecutive runs without changing the conditions. The data obtained is as follows:

Considering that it consistently took 4 minutes to produce 80 ml of H2 + O2, this
gives a rate of 1.2 litres/hour of H2 + O2.

Water Fuel Cell - back to business

After reparing the WFC and adding extra safety measures, here is the entire setup producing hydrogen at 12 Volts DC and 1.94 Amps. Next I will provide a grid with measured values, including gas volume:

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Water Fuel Cell - cleaning the mess and repairing the electrolyser

After yesterday's mishap, and of realizing how lucky I was to still be in one piece, it is time to take a deep breath and after looking into what went wrong, follow all the safety measures to prevent one such event from ever happening again.

I started by getting a new lid for the electrolyser and putting a new seal rubber in it, this time with two clamps instead of one. Now only the clamps are used for holding the lid. The original ring around the lid was discarded. By itself this doesn't provide extra protection against an explosion, apart from the slight probability of the lid popping out in one piece instead of fragmenting into several pieces (today I still found fragments of the lid in distant corners of the room).

Considering that there is not much to be done in therms of safety with the electrolyser itself, I am starting to employ more effort in building two cascaded bubblers, with two main features: be long enough to maximize the distance between gas input and output (allowing for a large water barrier in case of a back-flash) and each bubbler be made from a material which will not fragment into many pieces in case of an explosion, or the lid be allowed to pop-off in this case. The major problem with the electrolyser lid lies in its acrylic nature, which when broken will fragment into many sharp pieces. When propagating at the speed of sound these fragments will cause damage to whatever is in the way.

Here is a picture of the refurbished electrolyser:

Safety goggles is also an extremely important item to wear during the elecrolyser operation:

Supersonic fragments will most certainly rip an eye off, in case you be in the path of the explosion.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Sometimes mistakes can be the death of the artist. In this case I got closer to it than desirable: after building a tiny bubbler for testing sustained combustion I hooked it up to the electrolyser (aka: Water Fuel Cell) - one tube going from the electrolyser to the bubbler and another tube from the bubbler to the gas exit, where combustion would be tested.

The bubbler was working fine, air tight as necessary. After approaching the output from a flame, small explosions along the tube would occur, without affecting the WFC.

But after pressing the tube and letting some pressure build-up, as it was released close to the flame, the gas immediately exploded, propagating to the WFC. The entire process occured instantly, blowing-up the thick polycarbonate lid from the WFC, and scattering fragments all over the room (some could be found 4 meters away from the point of explosion). A lamp that was just overhead was partially damaged by the blast, and the ceiling was slightly bruised by one of the fragments.

Conclusion: bubbler design is a critical part of the system. A good bubbler will provide proper separation of water between the input and the output, in order to ensure that the fireball from the explosion will not advance through the liquid, reaching the tube that leads to the WFC, where the greatest concentration of hydrogen and oxygen can usually be found. It is also important that the volume of gas the bubbler will allow to be formed be minimal, in order to ensure the effects of an explosion inside it be under control. A good solution can be the combination of small gas volume with a mechanism of pressure limiting in case of explosion. Added to that there should be a minimum of two cascaded bubblers, further limiting the effects of an explosion. It is worth to remind that the hydrogen combustion is about 1000 times faster than propane gas, so even at atmospheric pressure the violence of such an explosion is a lot greater.

Picture of the hazardous bubbler used:

Electrolyser after explosion (water removed before the photo):

Damage to the ceiling:

Fragments of the lid:

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Water Fuel Cell - inductive load added

Just as refered by several people doing this type of research, adding and inductive element to the load would create a resonant LC circuit, with the WFC as a capacitor. I used as an inductive load the secondary coil from a 220 V / 12 V transformer which was added in series with the WFC. The most notable effect was the suppression of the high frequency signals at the WFC, along with a voltage dropout of nearly 5 volts. The curious thing however is the fact that the gas production doesn't seem to be affected for the same input voltage/current conditions. As the transformer becomes hot after a couple of minutes of operation, this shows that there is less energy going to the WFC.

This sample video shows the cell in operation under these conditions: