Unconventional electrolysis

  • In an attempt to bring the signal down and check out if the strong short-term variability is due to internal noise, radiations or some sort of external electromagnetic interference, today I added a lot of shielding in the form of old 3.5" hard disks, computer cases, etc around the Geiger counter, not having lead bricks at disposal.

    The GC is in the middle of the black case shown in the photo below, inside a tin-plated steel container, in turn inside a "brick cave" composed of hard disks. Behind the black computer case lie four thin steel layers of 0.4~0.7mm thickness. Having run out of dense materials, The empty space inside the computer case was filled with other material like paper. After I shoot this photo I added another empty computer case to the left, also filled with books/paper.

    The overall signal decreased appreciably, but the general behavior didn't. Since the entire assembly is basically a multi-layer Faraday cage I think it can be relatively safely assumed that external EM interference isn't driving those changes.

    Yet, despite all the effort and having added at least 15 mm of steel (excluding other materials, although it's hard to quantify their actual contribution) on all sides, I could only get on that location to about 50 CPM, from the ~60 CPM I was previously getting with just the static-free wrapping in the 0.75mm copper tube (in turn down from the initial 80-85 CPM when the counter was exposed to the environment in the same location).

    The noise-like behavior appears to have somewhat decreased, but I'm not sure / not clear yet if proportionally to the decrease in overall signal.

    It would be nice to check out the response with lead bricks of known properties and size, but at an estimated cost of 4-5 euro/Kg in the best case scenario, a suitable brick cave to attenuate most radiations below at least 1500 keV is going to cost a small fortune that would probably be best invested elsewhere.

    I think I'll leave it like this for at least 2 days to check out for the Geiger's long term behavior, then put it out again of the entire assembly and verify that the periodic signal is still there. After that, I think I will be out of ideas for the time being besides doing actual experimentation. The periodic signal still remains a mystery.

  • In the relevant video period (about 2 minutes length) the average is about 25 CPM, while the counter ranges 18-29 CPM on the display, or roughly +/- 20%. It does appear to be relatively stable.

    If I get abut 50 CPM average, in my case the counter appears to range 30-70 CPM which is more than +/- 40% from the average. I have been mainly trying to find out if by decreasing the total level the signal itself would get more stable, but there doesn't appear to have been significant improvement on this regard. I was suggested elsewhere to check for interference by local cell towers (which could for example have affected my own model in particular, even if this family of detectors isn't known for being RFI-sensitive), but I think the test I did should have ruled this out.

  • I couple days ago (2018-11-10) I rearranged the "shielding material" around the Geiger counter into a tighter configuration, which seems to have helped somewhat, bringing the average background to 45 CPM. The long term behavior over the span of these past two days didn't show an appreciable periodic behavior as seen earlier.

    I have now removed the over 100 Kg of material that was put around it and left the instrument with the tube exposed to the atmosphere on the corner of the room like it was initially. In the second graph it can be seen that this caused an almost immediate increase in average counting rate, currently seemingly back to the original values. Short-term variability has increased as well.

    Attached are the latest data, and event file summarizing in a csv format most of the changes I performed so far to the setup.

    EDIT: I'm not going to just measure background emissions forever, so here's the principle of what I'd like to try soon-ish. Will it produce anything remarkable? Probably not, but I'll try anyway.

    Tiny strips of insulating material will be put between both electrodes to ensure a minimal gap, and of course the clamps will also have insulating material added. Right now - I've just tested with a multimeter - there is electrical conduction between the electrodes.

  • For the very few who care (copy/pasted from my notes, which I try to keep maintained in a somewhat organized fashion). Probably the most interesting feature that I have no idea what to make of is the appearance of what looked like craters on the top (exposed) part of the anode. However this only happened in the initial part of the test.

    No change in Geiger measurement observed, but the counter was still in a corner of the room a few meters away.

    1 Initial observations

    • Started with 5V line voltage
      • Measured voltage 5.00v
    • After a while, applied 12V line voltage
      • Measured voltage initially 11.33~11.35V
      • Appears to jump a bit
    • Experimental setup
      • Tap water and no electrolyte
      • Added Nd magnet to bottom of the plastic container, resulting in weak attraction by the electrode assembly
      • Anode (+) is at the top, cathode (-) at the bottom
    • Due to seemingly low current being passed, perhaps the gap obtained with insulating tape is too large
    • From time to time I'm seeing the emission of energetic bubbles that jump considerable distances upward
    • After a while the water got red from presumably iron salts dissolved from the electrodes

    2 First testing session

    • <12:40> After some period of operation the AM radio started making static noise
      • As this happens, measured voltage decreases, meaning that load increases
    • <12:43> Static has acquired a more constant quality
      • Voltage is 11.42V, slightly unstable
    • <12:47> 11.47V, gas production decreased, static noise is more irregular
    • <12:50> 11.42V, voltage trending downwards
      • Static noise from the radio seems to be rising
    • <12:54> Gas production increased, then decreased
      • Voltage lower than 11.37V, reached 11.30V
      • Static increasing, more irregular
    • <12:56> From the increasing load it feels like I will need soon to change to 5V line voltage
    • <12:57> Voltage peaked 11.17V, then went back to 11.40V
      • Static more apparent
      • But gas production weak
    • <12:59> Gas production increased
    • <13:01> Voltage peaked 11.05V
      • Production of strange clear floaters observed
        • Is this just iron salt production?
      • Water barely warm
    • <13:03> Gas production increases, voltage decreases to 11.25V
    • <13:06> Voltage now about 11.22V, seemingly decreasing
      • Static seems stronger
      • Gas production seems steady
    • <13:11> I tried removing the magnet placed at the bottom of the container
      • Static noise unchanged
      • Gas production slightly decreased? I'm not sure
      • Voltage stable at 11.32V
    • <13:12> Placed magnet to the previous position
      • Static now more irregular? But only very slightly so, if at all
      • Voltage didn't change appreciably
    • <13:14> Electrodes making bubbling noise, perhaps water level is too low. Refilling a bit
      • Noise did not stop after this
    • <13:16> I'm observing that leftover organic/carbon residues from past testings from the surface of the electrodes are getting removed, or this is my impression
    • <13:19> I tried making a test by displacing water
      • When water is low, load decreases (as I expected)
    • <13:22> PSU turned off by itself
    • <13:23> Tried applying 5V; it does not look like a complete short. Measured voltage 2.64V. I decide to disassembles the electrode assembly.
      • The electrodes seem both clean at the interface
      • Apparently the of the anode has developed crater-like formations on the portions that were not covered by insulating tape. These were areas that seemed to have bubbles on their surface.

    3 Second testing session

    • <13:41> Resumed testing at 5V
      • Voltage is 5.00v
      • The electrodes have been reversed to check a hypothesis about crater formation on the anode
    • As progression seemd slow, I applied 12V line voltage / measured 11.50V
      • Static quickly ramped up to a continuous quality
      • I am thinking that electrical conduction of the wires to the electrodes might not be optimal, but this could be just an impression
    • <13:44> Anode has bubbles on fixed locations on its surface. I think these could be future crater locations
    • <13:46> Voltage 11.40V, decreasing
    • <13:47> PSU turned off by itself
      • Made a quick 5V test
        • 2.85V measured: partial short
    • <13:51> I disassembled the electrode assembly.
      • Black formation observed at interface, cathode seems the cause
    • <13:57> Resumed testing at 5V line voltage
      • 5.00V measured
      • Strong irregular EMI from AM radio
      • But be aware of wire location. I think the wires are the source of the electrical interference
    • <14:00> 12V = 11.56V
      • No significant static noise at this point
    • <14:05> Added liberal amounts of sodium carbonate electrolyte
      • Conduction between both electrodes increased significantly at 12V line voltage, with measured voltage dropping to 10.4V. I switched to 5V line voltage.
    • <14:07> Measured 4.4V, sometimes it appears to shorts and gets as low as 2.15V, but recovers quickly by itself
      • Noise from the radio changed in quality
    • <14:09> The surface of the anode appears to be visibly oxidized
    • <14:13> I'm having trobles keeping the assembly working as intended. They keep shorting out.
    • As previously observed, static noise only occurs when the electrodes are not shorting
    • <14:16> It seems that just interrupting power briefly makes the electrodes recover their previous working state, but not for very long
    • <14:19> A water displacement test reveals black formation at interface, probably conductive
      • Likely elemental iron or magnetite
    • <14:25> Paused testing. PSU manually switched off.

    4 Third testing session

    • <14:40> Resumed testing at 5V line voltage
      • Manual intermittent control still needed because the electrodes appear to short transiently, to only recover soon after when power is briefly removed
    • <14:41> Measured voltage when not shorting is 4.85~4.90V
    • <14:42> I notice that when shorting occurs, smell from burning insulating tape comes out
    • <14:47> Annoyingly intermittent application continues. No-short voltage is 4.82V
    • <14:54> No-short on voltage is 4.76V
    • <14:58> Added more Na2CO3 electrolyte
    • <15:01> Shorting problem seems now more severe.
      • Static noise from AM radio ramps up and then eventually stops while a short-circuit occurs. Interrupting power a few times restores normal operating conditions.
    • <15:18> Impossible to continue without frequent interruptions, aborting testing
    • I disassembled everything
      • Ferromagnetic reddish and black residue observed
      • The cathode looks deep black in some spots
      • Anode not significantly oxidized
        • No crater formation observed on its top
      • One spot at the cathode shows a hard protuberance which might have been the culprit for the previously observed short-circuit events

    5 Conclusions for the day

    • No particular change in Geiger counter measurements noticed during the experiment
      • Will check out if there will by any after (e.g. periodic signal)
    • Initial testing period with tap water and no electrolyte felt controllable but slow-proceeding
      • The 12v testing brought interesting results with the anode, but I'm not entirely sure if the features observed were already there. I do not recall them there.
      • But photos checked out at a later time confirmed that they are present only on parts that were not covered by tape.
    • During the second part of the test adding electrolyte brought conditions more similar to those I experienced in past testing with the electrodes not immersed in water
      • However, there were issues with protuberances (?) causing short-circuits. These would be apparently easily removed by interrupting power quickly a few times or keeping applying a current, if the wiring could sustain it.
    • Not LENR-related: it would be more practical to use Org-mode's built-in time clocking functionalities rather than inserting short times manually.

    EDIT: I added a couple graphs, one about 6000 pixels wide showing Geiger counter measurements the entire experiment period (right-click and save to see in full size) and another showing the past half day or so. Keep in mind that times in the report are UTC+1.

    It's difficult to tell whether there was any actual increase during the testing; there's a risk of looking to much into the values. What can be confidently said is that average (30 minutes) values have not increased (if anything they decreased slightly).

  • Wyttenbach

    The electrodes+magnet arrangement was as follows; it most probably wasn't clear from the overexposed photos:

    I can't guarantee that the magnetic field was perfectly parallel to the applied current, however. For instance, the magnet isn't symmetrically shaped.

    In other news, the periodic signal in Geiger counter measurements is still there, perhaps even slightly more present than it was earlier, although more days will need to pass to be sure.

  • Wyttenbach

    I'm assuming that charges are going to flow along the axis shown in this more abstract representation of the experiment and that the resulting current (what you're calling electrolyte current?) will produce concentric magnetic field lines along it. I'm not entirely sure what you're asking me to do:

    Of course it's entirely possible that I have some fundamental misunderstanding of the processes involved.

  • A brief update, sparing the forum from another long series of copy-pasted experimental notes people might not be interested about.

    Since I have a vague suspicion that some experiment types might be causing an increase of the background radiation level, in the past few days I tried partially reproducing some of those I did in the weeks prior to acquiring a Geiger counter to see if anything unusual can be observed.

    Sometimes there are oddly coincidental increases following some changes, but it's difficult to tell whether they are real or not. What I did so far in general:

    • 2018-11-12 : the "unconventional electrolysis" test I previously described
    • 2018-11-13 : contact arc discharge tests with metal pieces and water traces, in air
    • 2018-11-14 : immersed all previously coated or treated pieces in heated H3PO4
    • 2018-11-15 : tried cleaning the phosphate layer formed on many of the pieces with standard electrolysis (first) and then HCl bath

    Today there was a strange short-term increase when I increased electrolysis voltage in the morning, but that could not be reproduced. Might have been coincidental.

    The day when I performed contact arc discharge tests in the morning seems to have been the one which showed the "fattest" periodic increase later on. Again, possibly coincidental.

    In general I've had the impression that the initial phosphoric acid bath "ruined" something, but that could be wishful thinking and the daily changes essentially be of random nature.

    Mystery still remains about this daily signal regardless of personal hypotheses.

    Some photos randomly taken over the course of the past days attached. I'm aware they're showing unprofessionally performed experiments.

    After checking out again if anything interesting occurs with arc discharges under various configurations I will revert to testing more of the deliberately unfruitful ("unconventional") electrolysis of this thread.

  • CWatters

    Thanks for the interesting references (other ones are also linked in the second paper but I haven't checked them out yet).

    The first researcher is located in Switzerland and is measuring these variations from his building in a low background radiation area, the group from the other paper is in located Greece, apparently in an area where Radon emissions could be a problem. It's not clear (to me at least) if in the latter case they're performing measurements on a outdoor location or inside a building.

    My measurements are performed indoors on a corner of a room which has relatively stable temperature and humidity level. Opening or closing the window does not appear to affect appreciably the readings. Also, the testing location is not in a basement, but on the first/upper floor of a single-detached home. So I was not led to believe this is due to Radon in the environment, unless other processes are involved (possibly traveling from the soil to the inside of the the walls?).

    The variation in gamma radiation in the first case is small (roughly 15.7-16.4 uR/Hr in one of the averaged graphs presented. The maximum value is about 4.5% higher than the minimum), and a bit more than this (1.14-1.25 x1E3 CPM, less than 10% increase) in the second case.

    In the current location in my case 30-minute average gamma radiation values can swing in a day from 70 to 95 CPM, for roughly a 35% daily increase. I'm not sure how sensitive my counter is to Alpha radiation, but a test I did several days ago seemed to show that most of this daily variation is not due to Alpha radiation.

    On the same subject bocjin linked in another thread this paper where they link heightened emission with low humidity and high temperature conditions: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.astropartphys.2017.10.011 (the original authors - from Israel - apparently linked them with solar neutrino emissions).

    I will try to pay attention to environmental conditions over the coming weeks, but if there is any suggestion for minimizing any variation from them, short of moving into a climate-controlled area, I will also try to follow that.

    On a slightly related note, it seems that today I had the highest peak values over the past days, but it's neither a particularly warm nor dry day. However to be fair the difference is not very large.

  • By the way, here are some close-up photos of the anode that in a previously described test/experiment that I thought had some "craters" formed in the process on the exposed surface. More than craters it looks like material is missing: these look like relatively deep holes. The surface appears pitted, although this could be the result of cleaning in HCl bath. The larger holes occurred (or so I thought) on areas that were not covered by insulating tape during the previous "unconventional" electrolysis test.

  • After trying to replicate the previous experiment (photo posted above) with a very similar procedure, I could kind of reproduce the porous appearance of the anode on the exposed (top) area, but I'm starting to suspect it's mostly a result that etching of the oxides in acid bath (10% HCl) is magnifying.

    Photos below show the anode before and after etching.

    Besides this, there's no particularly noteworthy oddity to report. I'd like to think that the odd jumpy behavior of Geiger counter readings today were due to the electrolysis testing, but there's no strong evidence of that. The red dashed line in the image in the zoomed up view (first graph) is when AM radio noise started appearing and kept varying up and down throughout the rest of the test. I had began applying power to the electrode assembly about 12 minutes earlier.

    EDIT: added notes

  • Longview

    I tried to reproduce closely what I did last time, so I used the same materials and procedure. The clips do corrode far too easily and their paint annoyingly flakes off during operation and I acknowledge that there certainly are more suitable ones that could be used for such tests.

    A different construction where the electrodes could be bolted onto some sort of tunable structure rather than held together with pressure would be better, but I initially simply used what I could readily find at home to test the concept. Besides the Geiger counter I haven't specifically acquired anything yet for the sole purpose of these tests.