Unconventional electrolysis

  • Hopefully this is informative too. After trying to debug why I would get slightly less (about 2-3% overall) "clicks" than the what the Geiger counter displays, I found that the analog pulse output actually appears to not show as many pulses as reported, or at least this is from what I could see by counting them manually on the computer screen.

    This is how a pulse usually looks like:

    The pulses (which are all positive) usually have a width of 120-150 samples at 192 kHz. I'm simply detecting them by applying a negative bias to the audio signal and counting the zero crossings. Every pulse should add exactly two crossings.

    Perhaps the counter uses a different counting method?

    In the lengthy debugging session I improved the script to retrieve and log the pulses, which is now in a shareable state. Also posting here for backup purposes.

    Attached are a typical .csv log (renamed to .txt), console output showing timestamp, total counts and counts per tick (1 second) in a sort of semi-graphical manner. As the log uses a slightly different format, I'm not using this right now, I'm waiting until current measurements are finished to switch.

  • I noticed that the Geiger tube was mounted with the incorrect polarity:

    According to this website this causes the tube to operate inefficiently:



    The tube is clearly marked with a "+" on one of the terminals. But theoretically it should collect charge on either terminal. So what happens if you reverse it?

    [...] Overall appears to be less efficient and works under a much narrower range. Presumably GM tubes are optimized for positive voltage though so maybe it could be improved a lot if you intentionally tried to design a negative center GM tube. In any case, the biggest takeaway is that under standard 400 V operation the tube works. This is actually unfortunate as you might not notice you installed it backwards (mechanically possible).

    So I tried reversing it and indeed, I'm now getting a significantly higher CPM reading: currently 100+ CPM which is almost twice what I was previously getting. However, are SBM-20 tubes supposed to be this sensitive? I will post an updated graph soon but this will invalidate my long term background readings.

  • can

    Looking forward to the new data. What is confusing me is that you are getting elevated CPM during local nighttime and minimal detections just after local noon. To my naive understanding this is backwards

    To my surprise the same thing seems to seems to happen for the X-ray flux recorded by GOES15. That satellite is parked in a geosynchronous orbit at 135degrees west which is UCT-10. If I have figured things out right, then the flux is maximal at local night-time and minimal near local noon which seems backwards as well. I wonder if the detector on the satellite is directional.

  • Bruce__H

    I think some instrumentation might be directional. For example from the file named g15_epead_p1ew_8s_20181025_20181025.csv, from the public directory for the current month:

    float P1E_UNCOR_FLUX(record);

    P1E_UNCOR_FLUX:description = "Average flux of 2.5 MeV protons from the B detector that faces either East or West depending on the yaw flip of the satellite with no correction applied to remove electron contamination ";

    P1E_UNCOR_FLUX:long_label = "protons-1-B (2.5 MeV) flux";

    P1E_UNCOR_FLUX:short_label = "p1B fx";

    P1E_UNCOR_FLUX:plot_label = "p1B(2.5 MeV)";

    P1E_UNCOR_FLUX:lin_log = "log";

    P1E_UNCOR_FLUX:units = "p/(cm^2 s sr MeV)";

    P1E_UNCOR_FLUX:format = "E10.4";

    P1E_UNCOR_FLUX:nominal_min = "1.0000E-03";

    P1E_UNCOR_FLUX:nominal_max = "1.0000E+05";

    P1E_UNCOR_FLUX:missing_value = "-99999";

    However there is no such indication in the X-ray flux files.

    On the other hand, I don't know how the orientation of the satellite changes over time.

    Perhaps I could try looking if other data better correlates with the observed changes. I just tried plotting the "Average total magnetic field measured by magnetometer-1" from the file g15_magneto_512ms_20181028_20181028.csv (and previous days): without time shift it seems to better align with my data (however here I applied Y scaling+offset to make the plot clearer)

    EDIT: attached the Geiger clicks I logged so far, also for backup purposes.

  • Nice work CAN!

    Regarding the chemistry of your experiment, I think you are seeing selective electroplating of the steel. I explored this behavior some years ago while reverse-plating some plumbing parts to remove chrome plating from brass valve handles. I used ordinary salt (NaCl) for the electrolyte, at about 6volts, 1 amp.

    It worked very well, removing the chrome in about an hour. There were a few spots left where traces of the chrome remained, so I put the part back in the bath. After another hour I noticed that the remaining chrome was only partly gone, and that the shiny yellow brass surface had turned copper-colored and lost its polish. I was able to polish off the orange copper color easily, and tried the bath again. The same color change happened, and I concluded that the brass alloy was being decomposed by electrolytic removal of the zinc, leaving a layer of less-active copper behind as a surface coating.

    The initial de-plating yielded a dark colored precipitate, probably CrCl3 which is insoluble. There was no sign of white ZnCl2 in the later run, but it is highly soluble in water so wouldn't precipitate. Copper chloride is soluble in its CuCl3 form, and would have colored the electrolyte bright green (not seen).

    So in the case of your SS parts, one or more of the elemental constituents could be selectively plating onto the cathode. Some experimenting with different electrolytes would give some useful insight into the chemistry. For example, using NaCl instead of NaCO3 might show a color change in the deposit formed on the cathode. And if you try the test immersed in a liquid bath of the electrolyte, more could be learned from any color change in the liquid.

  • magicsound

    I hadn't considered the possibility of selective electroplating; so far I assumed that for the most the layer formed contained partially oxidized iron plus other constituents from the alloy.

    If the black layer is allowed to dry completely under mild heating (by joule heating) it eventually turns reddish-brown. I thought this could be due to iron carbonates or red iron oxide forming.

    I don't have photos of this occurring, but I have a few which might show such reddish residues on both electrodes. The second one also shows the fine layer formed when current is low.

    It might be worth stressing that the gap between both electrodes/plates is typically so short (less than 150-200 micron) that cavitation from the noticeably boiling water (which also produces vibrations that get transmitted through the metal pieces holding them together) probably significantly affects the processes that would normally occur under ordinary conditions.

    More than chemical effects could even be occurring: for example some researchers have reported neutron emission from ultrasonic cavitation of iron chloride or nitrate solutions. I have wondered if cavitation from water boiling in a constrained space in the presence of a dispersion of fine particles would produce similar conditions, which is mainly what prompted me getting a Geiger counter in the first place (mostly to check for activation of nearby materials rather than real-time effects).


    I'd like try with a NaCl water solution at some point, but I would need first equipment to dispose of the HCl and Cl gas that would get produced, among other things. Electrolysis of brine makes the environment smell like bleach or pool and even in limited amounts it irritates the lungs.

  • Bruce__H . In the case of GOES15 I wonder if there is a thermal effect when the satellite is in eclipse.

    Could be, but geosynchronous orbits are quite high (about 1/10 of the way to the moon) so that from the standpoint of the satellite the sun would be occulted by the earth only about 5% of the time. So I'd expect any thermal-based oscillation look like a series of brief interruption to a steady signal ... which isn't what we see here.

  • Do some tests of the dry powder residue with a magnet. Iron(II) Carbonate is pale yellow, insoluble in water and should be ferromagnetic though I can't find any sure data. Its magnetic susceptibility is quite high, +11,300·10−6 cm3/mol. Iron(II) oxide is ferrimagnetic (+3586.0·10−6 cm3/mol), and will retain some magnetism after the magnet is removed.

    Nickel Carbonate is light green and paramagnetic, and will not retain magnetism. Stainless steels are typically 15-20% Nickel.

  • Bruce__H yup I had similar thoughts about it. I’m not sure if the duration in Geosynchronous orbit. I’m more familiar with low earth orbit and Heliosynchonous polar orbits where the eclipse is a more significant fraction. Even with thermal inertia and longer integration times though I would expect a more intermittent behavior from eclipse in geosynchronous orbit.

    As you say the apparent gradual maybe sinusoidal evolution does seem to point to a more directional aspect.

    This feature must be very well known to the instrument specialists. I wonder how they explain it.

  • magicsound

    I sacrificed the coating of a couple samples and attempted the test you suggested. It seems that the powder obtained responds positively to one of the magnets I often used in these tests (EDIT: it's attracted to the magnet). The video unfortunately is rather blurry.

    Since my steel samples are moderately ferromagnetic I suspect they're made of ferritic stainless steel, which most often contain little to no nickel. Also, since nickel tends to increase alloy costs manufacturers might prefer to avoid using it unless necessary.


  • I tried putting twice for a period of about 10 minutes of time the paper with powder residue from the steel pieces on top of the Geiger tube (à la JohnyFive), and although initially it appeared as if counts slightly increased for a while (also see CPS), it's very difficult to tell whether this wasn't just the oscillation of the background signal coincidentally giving this impression.

    EDIT: as a further odd coincidence, it seems there was a short spike in CPS readings when I removed the deposition layer from the steel pieces to obtain the (later found to be ferromagnetic) iron/iron oxide/carbonate powder. I indicated this with a dotted vertical blue line in the graph. This seems to agree with EXIF data from one of the previously posted photos:

  • Perhaps I could try looking if other data better correlates with the observed changes. I just tried plotting the "Average total magnetic field measured by magnetometer-1" from the file g15_magneto_512ms_20181028_20181028.csv (and previous days): without time shift it seems to better align with my data (however here I applied Y scaling+offset to make the plot clearer)

    Gosh. It's amazing how many things correlate well with a 24-hour periodic signal!

  • Bruce__H

    I realize it's clutching at straws, but there was a suggestion of a potential correlation with solar emissions in reported working LENR experiments (e.g. by Russ George et al) and the changes I'm observing so far do not seem to be due to temperature or other usual environmental changes. If LENR can be affected by solar emissions, background radiation probably can too.


    Perhaps by limiting the range studied to low energy gamma radiation it might be possible to use a Geiger tube for that. By lowering the operating voltage, these tubes can be brought to the so-called proportional region where pulse height depends on the energy of the incoming radiation. They might be too slow and have a too low signal SNR for this to be actually useful in practice, but in theory it should work. Unfortunately I do not have yet a suitable serial interface to change the voltage setting in my counter and try this.

    Some links: