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Author Topic: Building supercaps  (Read 5053 times)
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Some great progress has been made with building supercaps.
After watching Lasersaber's fantastic video yesterday, several areas slotted into place.
As such, I now have super slim caps that will run a 6mm motor for a couple of minutes. Nothing startling compared to TinMan, LS, or Robert Murray-Smith, but vastly superior to flashing an LED for a minute.
Main thing missing is graphene, which i'm never quite sure that i've made correctly anyway, by any process so far.

I'd been stuck at about 0.4V charge voltage and 20mA fading current levels.
Dozens of cells just didn't work out.
The key thing mentioned and shown by LS, was the phosphoric acid and, that's why i'm posting this thread.
 

I may have it completely wrong, but, on viewing the structure of the acid, something jumped out.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phosphoric_acid
See, the 'P' is connected to Hydrogen and Oxygen atoms.
How do we separate the 2 ? by electrolysis !!!!
Hence, I grabbed some matches from the kitchen drawer, for their phosphorus ends.
Mixed up a batch of activated carbon and the match ends and crushed it all up.
Then added a couple of drops of white vinegar (to make it acidic). The vinegar is 5%, so 95% water.
We need water to gain the H and O.
'burning' the mixture for 5 seconds with 12V from a Li-Ion pack of cells, was envisaged to be causing a heavy handed method of electrolysis. The H and O then bonding with the P.
Well, it seems to have worked.  

[youtube]uZauWJlNNw4[/youtube]

Next thing I should do is to read RMS's ebook, though have watched nearly all of his videos.
https://www.smashwords.com/extreader/read/306318/4/supercapacitors-101-a-home-inventors-handbook
If home graphene making doesn't work, the aim is to buy some of his powder, it's known to work.
Same with TinMan...am sure his work would bring in sales from an online store !  



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Here are some pointers, which were originally written out just now to Lidmotor, on the video page.

Stainless screen door mesh/dollar store stainless seive also work and are lighter.
Strike on the box type of matches...which, surprisingly enough AFTER i had crushed to a powder, realised that they don't set themselves on fire lol. I use a rubber ended screwdriver though.
Easy phosphorus extraction is to crush the match in pliers lightly and then roll it in the pliers. The material flakes off the match wood.
The paper is soaked in vinegar and perhaps interestingly, fizzes while wetting. Is only regular printer/copy A4 paper.
The graphene will likely extend the run times out to the 4hr 'grail' of this.

Adding Epsom salts extends the total run time, but the initial power delivery on connecting to a load is lower. Also likes to charge slower.
Moretons salt is no benefit it seems.
Toothpaste reduces high amperage fizzing, but does little else.

Hopefully helpful tips - if your mix fizzes on charging, it's fine for 5 secs. Don't go past that though else it degrades. 12V is also fine. Will get an ear for when it's too strong a charge voltage or not enough.
If your mixture begins to fade out because it's drying with heat/fizzing etc, pour more vinegar in the cell ! The motor even kicks up again for quite some time with no extra charging, after it has gone flat and then vinegar has been added.


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A progress video.
In common with TinMan's comments and others talking of it...pressure is essential !
Here's a demo of a 2min 30seconds run of a selfmade cap running a motor.
Record is 5 minutes so far, with a run last night, but I didn't have the camera with me....long way to go, but having no graphene within them makes these a good baseline to work from.


[youtube]ceoOfhfuwZ4[/youtube]


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Ed Lovvorn mentioned in the comments section of one of these vids, that potato starch and iodized salt may improve a supercap cell.
I smeared the half potato on the paper separator and then sprinked a pinch of the salt to either side.
The resulting 6 minute run is my best so far, with one of these 'baby step' supercaps.

[youtube]yIalLPpvYfM[/youtube]


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It's turtles all the way down
Mark
May I recommend that instead of driving a small motor, you use your power supply to reverse current through the device to perform a controlled discharge at whatever rate you think the device can handle.

For example, if your power supply is set to limit at 10mA, you will be discharging the capacitor / battery at the 10 mA / hour rate.

You can collect good engineering data on your cells by then plotting voltage against the discharge rate over time. There are low cost two channel A/D converters that will easily interface to your computer so that you can produce professional discharge plots for your cells and have meaningful data for comparisons.

If you do not have a power supply with adjustable current limit, you can use a single transistor in current sink mode to discharge the device at a controlled rate.

Lacking all of that, you could also just use a properly sized resistor as a load, but as cell voltage drops off so does current, so it is not a controlled discharge, but at least will allow you to plot meaningful data.

Regards
ION


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Apologies in advance...was just turning off the PC for the night when I saw your post. Can expand on anything better tomorrow, but wanted to say thanks for your suggestions and to explain a couple of things.

I don't have a settable power supply unfortunately. Solar charged batteries tend to be the power source, but it was stated in the last YouTube video about not wishing to use this old bank of ex laptop Li-ions. They are pretty solid but used in case of short circuits, big power draws, whatever may mess up something else of value ! These could pop and they'd have served well.
  
Very interesting proper protocols and I agree that plotting would help in furtherments.
Mostly, the situation is really easy...folks showed motors running with graphene caps, so i've been showing something part way similar with no graphene. Not much extra thought went on at first, simply because I didn't expect anything more than a few seconds of LED running.
As far as needing to be graphed and using results to refine, the aim has been to get something worthy of doing so.
When of a quality and refinement that looks like ratios and quantities could lead to better results, then would be the time to record meaningful data. Development beyond something to put a light plane in the air as a motorized freeflight, has been certainly secondary....short-sighted probably :)

However, because of many factors now that give real pause for thought of this being a viable energy storage route, my thinking is coming around to acquiring good data.
Stefan from overunity.com has been very helpful with suggestions and ideas and, indeed has asked for charge level details and such.
A fairly new subscriber has kindly offered to ship some graphene when his arrives from Ebay...otherwise i'd have let others carry on with this after a short while. Lasersaber, TinMan, Robert Murray-Smith and likely NeatPete45 have all shown a next level understanding and production of graphene based cells. Those guys are the leaders and this all began for myself as a mere interest in what exactly was being added by using graphene.

There are so many eyebrow raising traits...which I could detail further. Most of which probably very well known to those with experience in the field, but very different to my experiences of 'salts cells' over the past 5 years,
Tap charging - less than a second of charging, for a 6mm coreless motor and prop to run for 2 minutes.
Electrolyte  - any acid works, including juice drinks such as Cranberry.
Cell size indifference - for whatever reason, a 1 gram tiny cell performs similarly to cells 5 times larger.
Voltage range - some success has been had charging with a AAA battery.
Stagnation ranges - using a AAA produces highly similar results to using a 9V battery.
Low voltage, high current - the present cell design will charge only to a low 1.2V, but the current carries on and on. Previous cells would charge to >2V, but current output ability was much lower. Also, after half an hour at rest and settling to an unmoving 0.7V, the cell will power up the motor. First builds would fade to zero within 5 minutes.
Pressure changes - too much pressure on the cell appears to be as detrimental as too little. There seems to be an ideal pressure of the electrodes onto the mixture between.
Fuel cell behaviour - 12V charging may fizz the cell but produce longest power runs. In time the cell dries out. Add electrolyte after high volt/current charging to return the cell to good as new again. Even if a large charge source such as 12V at 5A for 30 seconds burns up any electrolyte as heat, tipping the semi sealed cell to 45 degrees in vinegar/any acid rejuvenates.
Phosphoric acid creation - perhaps the most controversial. The possible creation of phosphoric acid, via brute force electrolysis of the water in the 5% vinegar.  

There are more, but this is getting lengthy and it's time to switch off :)
Thanks again for your insights.


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What is the difference between a "battery" and a "capacitor" ? 

It seems to me that what you are building may be batteries, not capacitors.

Can you, for example, put these "supercaps" into an LC tank circuit with an inductor and make it resonate? What's the output impedance of your devices, is it really low like a true capacitor or higher, like a battery?


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Buy me some coffee
Apologies in advance...was just turning off the PC for the night when I saw your post. Can expand on anything better tomorrow, but wanted to say thanks for your suggestions and to explain a couple of things.

I don't have a settable power supply unfortunately. Solar charged batteries tend to be the power source, but it was stated in the last YouTube video about not wishing to use this old bank of ex laptop Li-ions. They are pretty solid but used in case of short circuits, big power draws, whatever may mess up something else of value ! These could pop and they'd have served well.
  
Very interesting proper protocols and I agree that plotting would help in furtherments.
Mostly, the situation is really easy...folks showed motors running with graphene caps, so i've been showing something part way similar with no graphene. Not much extra thought went on at first, simply because I didn't expect anything more than a few seconds of LED running.
As far as needing to be graphed and using results to refine, the aim has been to get something worthy of doing so.
When of a quality and refinement that looks like ratios and quantities could lead to better results, then would be the time to record meaningful data. Development beyond something to put a light plane in the air as a motorized freeflight, has been certainly secondary....short-sighted probably :)

However, because of many factors now that give real pause for thought of this being a viable energy storage route, my thinking is coming around to acquiring good data.
Stefan from overunity.com has been very helpful with suggestions and ideas and, indeed has asked for charge level details and such.
A fairly new subscriber has kindly offered to ship some graphene when his arrives from Ebay...otherwise i'd have let others carry on with this after a short while. Lasersaber, TinMan, Robert Murray-Smith and likely NeatPete45 have all shown a next level understanding and production of graphene based cells. Those guys are the leaders and this all began for myself as a mere interest in what exactly was being added by using graphene.

There are so many eyebrow raising traits...which I could detail further. Most of which probably very well known to those with experience in the field, but very different to my experiences of 'salts cells' over the past 5 years,
Tap charging - less than a second of charging, for a 6mm coreless motor and prop to run for 2 minutes.
Electrolyte  - any acid works, including juice drinks such as Cranberry.
Cell size indifference - for whatever reason, a 1 gram tiny cell performs similarly to cells 5 times larger.
Voltage range - some success has been had charging with a AAA battery.
Stagnation ranges - using a AAA produces highly similar results to using a 9V battery.
Low voltage, high current - the present cell design will charge only to a low 1.2V, but the current carries on and on. Previous cells would charge to >2V, but current output ability was much lower. Also, after half an hour at rest and settling to an unmoving 0.7V, the cell will power up the motor. First builds would fade to zero within 5 minutes.
Pressure changes - too much pressure on the cell appears to be as detrimental as too little. There seems to be an ideal pressure of the electrodes onto the mixture between.
Fuel cell behaviour - 12V charging may fizz the cell but produce longest power runs. In time the cell dries out. Add electrolyte after high volt/current charging to return the cell to good as new again. Even if a large charge source such as 12V at 5A for 30 seconds burns up any electrolyte as heat, tipping the semi sealed cell to 45 degrees in vinegar/any acid rejuvenates.
Phosphoric acid creation - perhaps the most controversial. The possible creation of phosphoric acid, via brute force electrolysis of the water in the 5% vinegar.  

There are more, but this is getting lengthy and it's time to switch off :)
Thanks again for your insights.

Try a 2% per unit volume of canola oil in the graphene mix,and 5% saltpeter per weight volume for crystalline growth in the graphene=triphene.
If crystalline growth is too high(cell turns white),reduce % of saltpeter by 1% portions until desired mix is found.

Hope this help's.


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@TK - A great question, because we hear all the time about hybrid capacitor/batteries. Plus what really is the difference for practical purposes between a small value rechargeable battery and a large value supercap ?
Then there are such cells as polyacene that go completely unnoticed. Tiny little 1/3 Farad discs, 1 of which is likely sitting in your phone right now as RAM backup during battery swaps.
With alkaline batts there's a copper rod through the middle, zinc/carbon has the carbon rod. Caps have aluminium foil and carbon pastes.What if you had a carbonundrum paste with 1 electrode aluminium and 1 as copper ?  ;)
I have no idea about the resonation, but would do it as a test if I knew what to do.
Plus the impedance...all I know is they charge stupidly quickly and can discharge stupidly quickly, which I would say isn't being impeded pretty much anywhere. A good and bad trait  :)

@TinMan Once the graphene arrives, i'll try that and THANk YOU for your input too.
I was weighing up oils the other day. A few years ago I think it was 'ibpointless2' over at Energetic who was saying that oils helped his salts cells. Couldn't see the logic in it myself, because of the insulator effects. But, not every oil is the same and not every oil is dead dinosaur based...if indeed any are. Tried it out extensively and just ended up with dirty hands, but he got it to work. So the thinking was that I was using the wrong oil.
To link with what Stefan was talking about, does the canola and saltpeter form an ionic liquid ?


Forgot to post this, for completeness. Here is the 1 gram cell.
It has a slightly different method of cell construction and uses a piece of shrink tube for cell pressure.
Has almost the same abilities as much larger cells and is the direction i'll go in with graphene.

[youtube]A4gayAybVWw[/youtube]


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@TK - Got to laugh...your question of cap/batt difference just got blurred even more, when looking at Stefan's kind advice on the 1 gram video.
"Hi Slider you might also try to dope the carbon with MnO2, that might also give a boost. YOu can get it for free from used discharged Zinc Carbon D-Cell batteries...Just wash it out there and filter the Manganese Dioxid powder out and put it mixed with the Graphite powder into the Supercap electrodes."

:)


Oh and let me ask this here.
Last night, I tried a super saturated solution of iodized salt in vinegar. To mix it thoroughly I decided to microwave it for 30 seconds.
At about the 10 seconds mark, there were flames spitting around inside the container. Little balls of fire  :D
What happened ? looked spectacular and, with no metals confused me...is it the iodine ?

Edit:
For chuckles and grins, here's what happens.

[youtube]sowMJXGSHJo[/youtube]
« Last Edit: 2015-10-24, 16:04:28 by Slider2732 »


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What is the difference between a "battery" and a "capacitor" ? 

It seems to me that what you are building may be batteries, not capacitors.

Can you, for example, put these "supercaps" into an LC tank circuit with an inductor and make it resonate? What's the output impedance of your devices, is it really low like a true capacitor or higher, like a battery?

Hi TK & all

Yes well, first there is a distinct difference between a capacitor and a super capacitor. Supercapacitors store charge across an interface between an electrode and an electrolyte, similar to a battery, but in this case in a Helmholtz double layer of ions. They are limited to low voltages (but extremely high capacitance) because higher voltages electrochemically breaks down the electrolyte.

Hybrids use the double layer and the chemical reaction together, the chemical part being reversed when it is charged. This double layer has now been utilised within huge labyrinths of surface area created by chemical etching etc

Putting a supercap into an LC tank circuit and it resonate, I do not know, needs are to do the experiment. A hybrid maybe will not resonate with having some battery aspect I think, so the test may not be conclusive :-\

Plotting charge and discharge graphs of the 3 energy storage types I think would show what is what ;)

My 3 penny worth :)

Regards

Mike 8)


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Thanks for your input Mike.
Your rusty iron inclusion was tried in the step by step building vid that I did. Am not sure there was much change but, then again, ratios are a developing area to explore and it did no harm either. All quite similar to the potato slice starch on the separator and oinized salt inclusion.
See, the weird situation exists now, where changes and alterations aren't changing much at all.
I see the point of a lot of them, particularly oils and evaporations etc, or gel making for the electrolyte....but...seems to me that the graphene arriving will make the bigger fundamental change as the next stage. A small quantity has been kindly sent by a poster on my vids channel, with 1/3rd of his container of it going to Lidmotor too.
Am very much looking forward to Lidmotor's own experiments...a fella of many ideas.

I wrote the next part out for an R/C buddy of mine, who is similarly interested in applications of this starter homemade process in flight. We can get cells at this point, for freeflight appraisals. While not at any power density to manage full 4 channel 3D flight and hanging upside down from the propeller, they are viable for a little farty backyard thing with a motor on it :)



Carbonacci Flight Trials
Carbonacci - carbon because of the wing structure and there being carbon in the flight cell, bonacci from Fibonacci because i'm hoping it will be the first of a series.

Yesterday evening saw the first ever flight trials of a personally homemade supercap.
But, let's not be grandiose here, the final result was borderline for the 5g build, or at least the aircraft itself was pitchy as hell and glides were hit and miss even when not powered.
I have to strengthen the wing somehow due to flexing, which, at only 5g for the whole thing is disturbingly rubbish.
The Carbonacci is a rebuild of the one I made a couple of weeks back. it just seemed to be the right platform, with its floaty nature and slow performance. But, by the end of those original flights, the wings had proven to be a bit too flexible and i'd shelved it.

The ITC gear came off and the 2x 4mm came off.
On went the 6mm test motor + ITC prop from the YouTube videos and the 1g supercap.
1 wire was directly soldered, the other had a single pin connector fitted.
And, she was ready for flight trials.

Something highly strange happened immediately, for mental consideration, quite exciting really.
Y'see, at the moment, these cells 'burn fuel'. They work best when fresh vinegar is applied. That can be actual 5% from a bottle or cranberry juice or pretty much anything acidic.
So I sat there dipping the end of a hobby knife in a cap full of vinegar and considered it like readying a gas airplane for flight...such folks would love that procedure ! Different mixes, different strengths.
1 application will last for many charges, so it's not a chore either.
Took it outside and charged up for the first time for 5 seconds, using the 12V li-ion pack.

Flights were frustrating. It would climb and then often turn back on itself..the CG was way too far back. But, because of the weight difference to the original, nothing could get moved further forward by the needed margin. Another odd experience, was deciding to bring her in for some repairs at one point and simply letting the prop carry on spinning. I was at the bench gluing by the time it ran out of power !
The final thoughts from last night are to rebuild, make it smaller, give the cell a chance on a decent airframe.
And, that we are actually here, where flight trials are possible. The graphene should arrive by Thursday and builds of cells that will output 4V are next in line.

Pics attached.



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The graphene should arrive by Thursday and builds of cells that will output 4V are next in line.
O0

Keep up the good work!  very interesting.
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Thanks Steve :)

The graphene arrived and has been experimented with, but hasn't shown the effects yet that were expected.
Or, another way of stating that *waves hand* in Obi Wan Kenobi way "this is not the effect you're looking for".
There's some kind of Jedi component to this lol, how those other guys get 4hr runs from credit card sized cells !
 
Went to Lowes yesterday for the Loctite Rust Remover, as shown by Lidmotor in a recent vid. It works very well and comparisons are now being made to the matches/vinegar method.



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A full on change of direction - instead of tweaking acidic formulas and using bought bottled graphene - let's go neutral/alkaline and make our own graphene !

A video by Red Rake on YouTube helped with the thoughts:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMaQOGBr338

The process is really easy to make a graphene layer. 2 pencil 'leads' in a solution of epsom salt and water. Charge it for an hour and on top should be a layer of graphene.
Only...it didn't work quite that way for me.
After letting it sit for a few hours, there was a sediment of graphitic flakes on the bottom of the bottle, but not really anything on the top of the liquid. A piece of plastic dipped in the top showed no electrical properties when measured.
So, what the hey, let's remove the now cleared epsom salts and water, perhaps to reuse.
But, what about that stuff at the bottom ?
I decided to use that in a cell.
A piece of kitchen roll was soaked in it, then iodized salt and activated carbon were sprinkled on both sides.
The cell was finished off with a piece of galvanized steel on both sides.   
Charged it for 5 seconds with my regular 12V Li-ion pack and the connected motor shot off at a great rate !  :D
It ran the motor for a clear 2 minutes...so I grabbed the camera.
The run in the video was the 3rd ever and spun that 6mm coreless + propeller for 5 minutes !

Much more environmentally friendly, cheap ingredients, great performance characteristics.

Here's the vid, including a talk on how to make one:

[youtube]dul7HtFSTUs[/youtube]




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Buy me some coffee
A full on change of direction - instead of tweaking acidic formulas and using bought bottled graphene - let's go neutral/alkaline and make our own graphene !

A video by Red Rake on YouTube helped with the thoughts:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMaQOGBr338

The process is really easy to make a graphene layer. 2 pencil 'leads' in a solution of epsom salt and water. Charge it for an hour and on top should be a layer of graphene.
Only...it didn't work quite that way for me.
After letting it sit for a few hours, there was a sediment of graphitic flakes on the bottom of the bottle, but not really anything on the top of the liquid. A piece of plastic dipped in the top showed no electrical properties when measured.
So, what the hey, let's remove the now cleared epsom salts and water, perhaps to reuse.
But, what about that stuff at the bottom ?
I decided to use that in a cell.
A piece of kitchen roll was soaked in it, then iodized salt and activated carbon were sprinkled on both sides.
The cell was finished off with a piece of galvanized steel on both sides.   
Charged it for 5 seconds with my regular 12V Li-ion pack and the connected motor shot off at a great rate !  :D
It ran the motor for a clear 2 minutes...so I grabbed the camera.
The run in the video was the 3rd ever and spun that 6mm coreless + propeller for 5 minutes !

Much more environmentally friendly, cheap ingredients, great performance characteristics.

Here's the vid, including a talk on how to make one:

[youtube]dul7HtFSTUs[/youtube]




Well that one is a winner Mark for sure.
How big can you make a cell,and what kind of voltage do you have across it?.

Cheers

Brad.


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Hi Mark, very cool.

Pencil leads are a mixture of graphite powder and plaster, yes the stuff on your walls :)

If you use a thick pencil lead the likes of out of a carpenters pencil, as the change over electrode (2) of my SMD, and electrode (1) stainless steel, you can then play with the third electrode of other metals such as copper.

With copper you will create a pink/copper colour in the electrolyte, this is copper coated graphene which can be manipulated later on. If using SS for the 3rd electrode then you will have graphene only, and this is very quick to make.

The top cm of all electrodes in the electrolyte should be insulated. Sodium acetate is the best electrolyte for SMD, it can be made with a ph of around 7 (non toxic).

Now can a super cap be built into an electrolysis cell and take advantage of complex electron chemical reaction and movement? well that has been my goal for some years, so close I can nearly touch it ;)

As I said Mark, good work.

regards

Mike 8)


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@Brad - How big would be unlimited I would think. You have me thinking though...got an 8ft sheet of galv steel out in the shed.
Initial charge from 5 seconds is 1.9V, dropping within 10 seconds to ~1.2V and then sorts itself out slowly to around the 1V area. Then it sits there quite well. Fully drained off, as best I can without a short, it stops at 0.3V. Bounces back quite well indeed.
That initial extra output was heard in the vid. One caveat with the voltage tests, is that this is the same cell, untouched from yesterday.
Just had it running an EDF 6mm motor from a toygrade R/C plane...needs 3 of these in series lol. But the wind out of the back of that fan was still pretty good. If I could find a way of making really light half tubes, then i'd build another Custer Channel Wing and try these cells on it.
http://www.maam.org/aircraft/ccw5.html

@Mike - Plaster ?!?!?! well I never knew that.
It's interesting, the actual current yesterday seems to have been 250mA, not the 950mA written on the wall adapter. Putting a trusted meter across the outputs reads 250mA. I should put a 1ohm resistor in series and do it that way, was just a bit surprised.
Anyway, as such, there's now a 47ohm resistor in series and that has reduced amperage to a wished for 1/2 of 120mA. A finer mist gassing was expected, but instead it looks like the negative graphite rod has only split. Lots of bubbles, but nothing misting from it.
In that light, an SMD approach with the usual 2A or so might well be a very good route to take.

Copper coated hmm, I have a bottle of gold for electroplating  :D
Pretty spendy cells after that, rather than cheap as chips for making in the kitchen.

  
 


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