Alan Smith’s HHO Experiment Report #1

Here’s an initial report from Alan Smith at Leap Forward Laboratory who has begun work on the HHO/’H-Cat’ experiment that has been commissioned by E-Cat World readers.

I started running system tests outside the calorimeter using the simplest system, the catalyst block to ‘burn’ the HHO gas produced by the electrolyzer. Since this was an early test, the concentration of KOH in the electrolyzer was deliberately low (2%) in order to limit the current draw and the HHO production. Obviously too low, since despite havving 150A @12V available I was only drawing about 10A (120Watts) and the gas production is too low to do more than get the ‘burner’ end of the system warm.

Pure water has quite high electrical resistance. The higher the resistance the less current the cell draws, and the less HHO is produced. Since I have quite large plate area and a lot of power available, I started out working at a low concentration. It is easy to change the electrolyte and put in stronger stuff which conducts more current and makes more HHO.

I increased the KOH level to 5% -about right, electrolyzer pulling 300 watts total which produced plenty of H2. As expected the catalyst started to get nice and hot, but sadly, after about eight minutes of starting the HHO production what happens to everybody in this game happened — I had a flashback that blew the safety valve assembly completely off the top of the electrolyzer and cracked a few bits here and there; but there was no serious damage. The blast ran back through the system all the way through the gas drier and into the copper condensation tube on top of the electrolyzer.

It also blew the catalyst slug out of the top of the holder. It quite an impressive bang, but all the safety precautions pretty much did what they should. I think I will have to put more ceramic wool in the small glass chamber underneath the catalyst holder to try to prevent flashback. I’ll do another run later — I have epoxied the safety valve (the black thing on top of the big copper tube) in place- waiting for it to go off.

On a positive note, the electrolyzer works very well. More to come in the near future. Below is a photo of the setup I am using (before the explosion). The copper cylinder between the catalyst and electrolyzer is the gas drier.

ECAT HHO 1 002

Alan Smith

  • Justin Church

    Your craftsmanship is top notch. Very nice looking setup. You may want to incorporate a flashback arrestor or safety bubbler into the system because the ceramic wool alone will not prevent flashback from reaching your drier or electrolyzer. None of us have solved the flashback issue yet so we really have not been able to truly know the peak temperature. My guess is the temps could soar high enough to melt the substrate but again flashback occurs way before we even get close to those temps. We are also still having issues with the substrate becoming water logged over time. Sterling Alan suggested we somehow vibrate the matrix to release the buildup of water

    . Keep running your test, the flashback issue has really got a lot of guys frustrated including myself. Maybe you can stabilize your experiment and pull some numbers for us.Some of the guys have had good luck with thin slices of substrate as well. I haven’t been able to do much experimenting lately but I’m eager to get back into it. I’d also like to try my hand at producing the liquid hydrocarbon fuels like the Navy is doing using the catalytic process. Appreciate you updating us. I was about to send over an email to ask how things were going and then I saw the new posting here at ECW. Thanks again for putting this together….

    • Alan Smith

      Dear Justin.

      Thank you so much for your help and encouragement. As you say, the ceramic wadding alone is not enough! (I can certainly confirm that :-). no harm done, happily, and I can up the flashback prevention as you suggest.

      The interesting (to me anyway) thing was that though the flashback ran all the way through the system – through the ceramic wadding beneath the catalyst slug -throught the gas-drier and back to the electrolyzer. The gas-drier which is packed with loose Silica Gel seems to have slowed down the bang in that zone – overpressure was confined to the copper ‘cooling tower’ above the electrolyser and the relatively tiny amount of gas under the catalyst. The gas-drier seems to work very well, btw. No problems with water-logging in the catalyst holder.

      I have some bronze-wool to hand, and will try packing that into the toughened glass ex fuel-filter just under the catalyst holder. That should help – I hope. 🙂 Your suggestions are both helpful and welcome.


      • US_Citizen71

        Why not try filling your ex-fuel filter with small glass or plastic beads like the type used in jewelry making? They should created a better barrier than metal wool and still allow gas flow.

        • Alan Smith

          Good thought. I’m not sure they are a better barrier than bronze wool, but I’ll certainly put it on the list in case of another blowback.. I have seen millet seed suggested, too.

          • US_Citizen71

            My thought is that the beads being made from glass would be less likely to heat up like a metal thread might from repeated flashbacks. The beads would also provide conditions similar to the loose packed silica gel in the gas dryer.

      • Justin Church

        Bronze wool works in most cases, the problem is packing the wool tight enough to get a uniform pore structure which is small enough to prevent flame propagation through it. One thing I can say is a safety bubbler with pressure relief valve or rubber blow out stopper will work 100 percent of the time and will never fail you. I build two stage bubblers for my systems. Bottom or first stage is the actual bubbler that you fill with water and the second stage can be filled with filtration or absorbent materials such as the silica gel. Works very well. I’m working on rebuilding my split cell to try out some H2, think I’m going to build a small pipe reactor, pull a vacuum, send in some of pure H and see what happens. Good luck to you.

        • Alan Smith

          Hi Justin.
          If you want some pure H2, the simplest way to make it probably to use scrap aluminium (coke cans etc) and Caustic Soda (lye) solution. Probably easier than building another cell. This works pretty well, the only snag being that the reaction is quite exothermic, there is consequently a lot of steamy water-vapour in the evolved gas.

          • Justin Church

            Yeah back in my teenage years we used to make what we called toilet bowl bombs. Little bit of drano or something else loaded with lye and some aluminium bits, plastic bottle, cap, and a mailbox….lol. Good times…but I understand what your saying. The membranes in my split cell is clogged so I plan on ripping it apart to replace them anyways. I’m hoping to have an on demand hydrogen or hho catalytic heater built by next winter to experiment with. HHO is hard to tame so I’m going to begin working with H2 but your right, I could produce dozens of liters of gas quickly using the process you suggested to test things out in the meantime. Either way, none of the experimenters have tried pure hydrogen yet, only one way to find out how well it works…

  • jousterusa

    Thanks very much for taking the time tio respond, Alan. Good luck with the project!

  • Daniel Maris

    Very interesting, especially that your early experience seems to replicate that of others – in explosive fashion.

  • Alan Smith

    Hi jousterusa.

    I’m very familiar with the work of Howard Phillips, a wonderful guy. We chat now and then, and I have some of his patent chemicals here. The idea of using (presumably) .880 Ammonia to make hydrogen is a new one to me- sounds like the Haber process running backwards. 🙂

    • jousterusa

      The idea wasn’t mine. It belongs to one of the most advanced developers in the country, a fellow named Dan Merrick, of Sweet Springs, MO. His Merrick Reformer can guarantee a 50% mileage improvement in most vehicles, and is currently selling for about $300. He is teaching classes at a votech where kids make the “kits” for themselves. A picture and some background obn all that is available at Dan’s professional expertise is in the variety of fuels and petroleum.

  • Oceans2014

    very impressive setup, look forward to hearing more updates!

  • Allan Shura

    I can’t see from the picture but is the copper tubing airtight to the HHO? The early videos showed the heating without lighting the gas in open air. I would expect a different result with airtight HHO.
    A possibly could be to pre-test the pressure resistance of the substrate in the tube if any. Regular
    flashback arresters can be coupled together.

  • Ophelia Rump

    Just a suggestion: I would put a little wire mesh basket around that glass cylinder, as a precaution.

  • clovis ray

    Hi, Alan, nice looking outfit, i know you have things under control,EXCITING STUFF,on the way, i bet.