Safety concerns - Brian Ahern

  •  Safety concerns for LENR replication.
     
    The replication of Parkhomov/Rossi involves sealing an ampoule with dangerous levels of gas. This looks like a bebign experiment that can be accomplished in Grandmother's kitche n. It can be done that way, but I would take out an insurance policy on grandmother and her house.
     
    1. LiAlH4 is:
     
    A. Pyrophoric
    B. Explosive
    C. Poisonous
     
    Therefore, this effort should be conducted within a hood using protective face shields and non-flammable clothing. Elbow length gloves are recommended. If no hood is available use a box fan and operate outside and upwind with the ampoule inside an explosion-proof chamber. People have died from breathing fumes from LiAlH4. ( hence the need for a fan)
     
    2.REACTING THE LiAlH4 AT HIGH TEMPERATURES RELEASES H2 GAS. With little internal volume the resulting pressure can achieve 3,000 psi! Even after cool down the tube would contain 50 atmospheres of internal pressure, so the ampoule is dangerous until it is cracked open.
     
    3. Weighing the sample - proceed quickly just prior to loading. Warm the upper surface of the scale and use dry paper to contain the powders.
     
    4. Loading the sample - LiAlH4 can spontaneously ignite in moist air or on moist surfaces. The alumina tube should be preheated in an oven at 350F for several hours. A machined funnel must be placed over the end of the alumina tube and the powders poured inside. The bottom has been previously sealed with alumina cement.
     
    5. Sealing the top end of the ampoule require alumina slurries and local bake out. The ampoule is dangerous from this step forward.
     
    6. Heating the ampoule - if the powder is inhomogeneously loaded it can cause hot spots and decomposition. I am using an open ended quartz tube into which the alumina tube is inserted. This outer tube has the nichrome heating wire coiled around the OD and is covered with a roll of Zircar insulation. This is not a protection against explosion. It simply limits the power input needed to get to 1,000C
     
    7. After operation and cool down, the ampoule is still a danger until the pressure is released by breaking open the alumina ampoule. The thermocouple confirm low temperature after the cool down, but the sealed ampoule is like a ticking bomb until cracked open.
     
    8.Analysis of byproducts - There is no need to do this unless significant excess energy is recorded. Little change is anticipated until the sample has been operated for extended periods at high temperature.
     
    9. Be careful with every step!
     
    Brian Ahern
    Acton MA

  • As Brian has pointed out elsewhere in our forum here, an armored box makes experiments safer.


    Once you have loaded a reactor, it is wise to store it inside an armored container. Such a container might consist of a homemade plywood box. You can line such a box with metal sheet.


    Wearing kevlar gloves outside of nitrile gloves can give an extra layer of protection to your invaluable hands should a loaded reactor decide to burst while you are holding it. In addition to a full face shield and goggles, placing some strong acrylic sheet between you and a reactor can pay dividends. This is why you see the fancy boxed in areas in labs with what might be misconstrued as "sneeze shields" - though in some sciences that is a major factor.


    Another option: a sand filled steel container like a trash receptacle.


    In video of A.G. Parkhomov's experiment you can see what appears to be an enameled steel pot which surrounds his reactor. A heavy steel lid covers the pot.


    While it may seem ambitious, rigging a system which can quickly dump sand atop your reactor seems a good idea.


    If your armored container has no vents then pressure can build up inside. Some venting makes sense. AGP seems to rely on his metal lid merely opening should there be a spike of pressure release.


    Avoid touching or breathing in any metal powders - nickel or otherwise. This is very important.


    If your guard is down, you might take a punch, so keep your guard up at all times to avoid a bloody nose or worse.

  • Very good advice from all above. I hope all will read and heed. If one reads Chemical & Engineering News regularly, there are "surprising" accidents reported quite often, and often those make the pages because someone was killed or injured. And that is presumably just ordinary chemistry. With at least the theoretical potential to generate energy densities 1000X or more conventional chemistry, the risky endpoint of an "L" ENR explosion should be on every experimenter's mind.

  • Once you have a loaded reactor, what would the proper procedure be to dispose of it after an experiment? Brian Ahern mentions cracking it open after it has cooled in step 7 above, but presumably it could still have 100's of psi of hydrogen locked inside. How do you safely crack that open to "disarm" it?

  • @wishfulThinking


    Remotely opening a reactor inside a much larger volume vessel sealed from the atmosphere is one way to "disarm" it. If your reactor body is glass you can score the outside and then snap the end off - however, this is likely dangerous without very stout gloves.


    A remote guillotine which breaks off the end of the reactor is a better solution provided you take into account that ejecta MUST be contained. Imagine a spring loaded chisel perpendicular to the long axis of the reactor. Housed inside a closed chamber the chisel breaks the tube end. Then the operator opens a valve which slowly lowers pressure in the chamber.


    You need a way to grasp the reactor at a safe distance and to cut wires. I see a long forcep-like appliance with a built-in shields near the tongs. Setting up the thermocouple and heating wires on refractory anvils allows remote cutting by long chisel. The more you can put between you and the reactor during these procedures the better.

  • With regard to the comment of 1000X energy potential of this compound over conventional chemistry, how would one account for this in calculating energy in vs. energy out in a LENR experiment? Namely, how would one know they're getting a nuclear excess heat reaction and not one of those 1000x chemical reactions

  • With regard to the comment of 1000X energy potential of this compound over conventional chemistry, how would one account for this in calculating energy in vs. energy out in a LENR experiment? Namely, how would one know they're getting a nuclear excess…


    Hey David. I believe the 1000 times referred to involves calculations found in the Lugano Report. See the Ragone Plot in the report. Below is an edit of the original plot/chart from the report.



    The context might also relate to an event described by Fleischmann/Pons in which a runaway experiment melted through a typical chemistry lab benchtop, the supporting structure, and then through rebar and concrete in the floor.


    I should emphasize that I seek not to speak for Longview, who posted the phrase you would like clarified.
    He can best provide his intended meaning.

  • Very briefly. There are NO 1000X chemical reactions. The BTUs, calories, joules, watt-seconds, horsepower hours, kilowatt hours or any measure of ENERGY in a pound of oak firewood, or a pound of table sugar is very close to that in a pound of dynamite. Perhaps you are asking about the relative reaction RATES such as the self oxidation of some high explosive, which can easily be a thousand or even a million times FASTER than burning wood in your fireplace, or sugar in your metabolism.

  • And yes, Nickec is correct, that was the source of the 1000X, if one follows it back. So there is the possibility of releasing much more energy in an LENR reaction, if we believe the Lugano Report (I would like to believe it). So the important isssue is not only the 1000X total energy... But also the unknown RATE at which it might be released. The potential for disaster is there. Fortunately the high energies involved have not involved huge powers and//or large power densities, that is, there yet appears no ominous evidence--- that is nothing like say a kilowatt hour LENR reaction showing any tendency to produce the exact same ENERGY equivalent much faster, for instance as a megawatt over say 3.6 seconds, or a gigawatt over 3.6 milliseconds--- the latter being truly an explosion.


    And in terms of power density, the small, under aqueous electrolyte craters in Pd electrodes do show that there is the potential for very high power density, so far under very spatially and/or temporally limited conditions.


    Bottom Line: Extra caution is in order, since the Lugano graph suggests it could be essentially 1000X times easier to get to a disasterously large energy release, so it could match a chemical explosion with a 1000X less material. Or viewed another way it might match a chemical disaster but it may need only to run 1000X slower to get there, because the POWER (per unit of "reactant' or other comparative metric) may be 1000X larger.


    But as the theory develops and the engineering follows, without appropriate safety concerns, the chances of that "safety concern" write up in C&EN or even Physics Today may become very real.

  • Perhaps, and that might not be good. Better that everyone take Mitchell Swartz' approach. Make your experiments and devices small, particularly if the components and conditions are new to you and / or new to the LENR community at large.


    My father's college chemistry book dated 1938 shows a photo of a very impressively flattened chemical plant somewhere. It leave an impression to this day. That combined with all the crazy homemade explosions some kids are prone to. I still have piece of shrapnel in me <X from one such "experiment"-- that is another form of impression.


    Beware of positive feedback loops in your designs. That is something like "the higher the temperature, the faster the reaction, the more heat generated" and so on. I am fairly certain these characterize some of Rossi's and probably others, including the famous F&P "meltdown". Also remember pressure as a possible participant in a positive feedback loop.

  • Due to the dangerous nature of LiAlH I have elected to build a cell that utilizes metallic Ni, Al and Li, and H2 is supplied externally. The Al is present to act as an oxygen getter, reacting to produce Al2O3. I just received a few 10s of grams of Li from a Chinese source, sealed under Ar in packets. There they will stay until I can store the Li under paraffin oil. BTW, does any one have a source for paraffin oil?


    H2 is potentially dangerous if improperly handled, so I plan to purchase the smallest size cylinder possible from my local welding shop. Also, all the plumbing between the H2 tank and the cell is 316 SS tubing connected together with brazed VCR fittings utilizing Ni or Cu gaskets. These are the same type used in the semiconductor industry where they routinely handle arsine, silane and other nasty gasses.


    Again, keep the quantity of hazardous materials in the cell as small as possible. Ditto for any stored materials.


    Jeff


  • I believe "paraffin oil" is simply one of several mineral oils, but in this case straight chain n-alkanes of a certain size range (I see C15 to C40, but I suspect that is a bit wide. Mineral oil or high purity is readily had by buying pharmaceutical grade from a pharmacy or big box store. The only problem is that the mineral oil (and even paraffin oil) might not be strictly anhydrous. If you have access to metallic sodium, that is a good test for dryness (should be no bubbles of liberated H2, no build up of soaps or salts indicating other non-alkane comstituents). I would pay close attention to your ultimate application, you may well want no trace of oily hydrocarbons in say a powder or other application related to LENR. It may be best to buy a small tank of Ar while you are at the welding shop, keep those packets under Ar, open them in a glove box under Ar etc.

  • Jeff,
    Yes hydrogen is dangerous but nothing compared to lithium aluminum hydride. LENR experiments can be done with bottled hydrogen, avoid the LAH approach at all cost. You will probably use a considerable amount of hydrogen so standard welding size is best. Exchanging and handling small cylinders is a nuisance and adds to the danger.


    Alain wrote: "you are right, the fear of quick release of energy is an argument to block LENR until there is a solid theory."
    The hypothesis that low amu fusion is proton fusion to produce helium may well become theory. No reason to block work on LENR, if that is your implication. A NiO reactor to study this form of fusion can be easily controlled.

  • I recall noting in the Lugano report, that Rossi handed one of the testers an envelope of fuel powder who then poured it into the cell, with no mention of using a glove box or handling the fuel under inert gas. Am I the only one who is surprised that Rossi, who should certainly know better, would be so cavalier about handling a mixture that contains LiAlH? Perhaps the LiAlH was coated with some passivating agent, but there was no mention of any such thing in the report.


    Jeff

  • I believe "paraffin oil" is simply one of several mineral oils, but in this case straight chain n-alkanes of a certain size range (I see C15 to C40, but I suspect that is a bit wide. Mineral oil or high purity is readily had by buying pharmaceutical grade from a pharmacy or big box store. The only problem is that the mineral oil (and even paraffin oil) might not be strictly anhydrous. If you have access to metallic sodium, that is a good test for dryness (should be no bubbles of liberated H2, no build up of soaps or salts indicating other non-alkane comstituents). I would pay close attention to your ultimate application, you may well want no trace of oily hydrocarbons in say a powder or other application related to LENR. It may be best to buy a small tank of Ar while you are at the welding shop, keep those packets under Ar, open them in a glove box under Ar etc.


    When I need to keep hydrocarbon liquids anhydrous, I place a generous amount of molecular sieve in the container, and mix it up periodically - but of course alumina is a good water absorber too! - and probably readily available to LENR experimenters. I've seen 5% w/v recommended.


  • Extra caution is always in order, and given the number of amateurs who are maybe doing things Brian's warning here is timely and important.


    However the Ragone chart from the Lugano report comes from an interpretation of experimental results that is known to be wrong. When correctly interpreted those results show a COP of 1.07 +/- errors (which are of order 0.3 * input energy, so COP range is 0.77 - 1.37. Two decimal places here is misstating the the accuracy of the error analysis - this contains many assumptions so all we know is that there are significant potential errors.


    Bottom line, the Lugano observations are consistent with no excess heat, and in no way justify 1000X.

  • jeff :


    Rossi likely did not give them a mix of LAH, Ni, and Li, he gave them a processed powder that have already been through the phase of hydrogenation, that is heating to 150-180C moving into 200C and possibly worked it also in about 500C.


    In that case, I speculate, there would be none of the LAH and the Li, having been melted would be either be coating the Ni or be in LiH (not pleasant either) or LiAl likely clustered around the Li coated Ni particles. At any rate, the description of the Lugano experiment seem to not entail the delicate handling of the hydrogenation.