Evolving Gas at Depth

While studying floating power production, I was also looking at techniques to store and transport the energy in a form that can be usable. Observing the ROVs used during the Deep Water Horizon oil pipe blowout, it occurs that transmitting electrical power down to any depth in the ocean can be accomplished with the only opposition being resistance along the conductive media itself, while evolving oxyhydrogen (a mixture of H2 and O2 gasses, sometimes referred to as HHO gas or Hydroxy gas) or separately decomposing water into its component materials (O2 and H2 independently) at depth provides an energy storage system of pre-compressed gas by simple collection.


Using an openly shared design, I built two matching HHO generators – one for open air operation (control) and the second for operation within a pressurized vessel that mimics deep-water submergence at depth. By first preparing the potassium hydroxide electrolyte using flakes left over from past workshops making biodiesel and saponified soap from bacon fat, I was able to ensure that both vessels would be as similar as possible.

Submerging both generator vessels in distilled water alone (not particularly conductive), the pressure vessel made from metal water pipe was increased to simulate conditions at greater depth. This is the same system used to test our inexpensive underwater camera housings, although we only used 4 bar (58.5 pounds of pressure, the same as during a 100 ft. dive) for those tests. For this experiment, we were able to use an air compressor to achieve a pressure of almost 13.8 bar (200 pounds, or roughly the same as a 425 ft. dive).

HHOGasEmitterBy placing the vessels in series with a 220Kohm resistor, we were able to ensure that both received a consistent current, with the voltage roughly divided in half across each generator cell. With electrolyte introduced, the resistance across each cell was within 80ohms of each-other. After achieving the desired pressure, both generators were operated for 1 hour and the resultant gas collected for comparison.

More gas would have been evolved with a higher voltage, but the volume was sufficient to measure successfully. After the first test, the same configuration was used but the two cells were reversed as to the air-pressure and high-pressure testing locations, and again the volume of HHO gas was measured.

The interesting aspect of this test, following my earlier test of a single gas generator cell, was that it proved the original observation that under pressure the volume of gas evolved was slightly higher for the same period of time and electrical current. Observable variation only revealed a smaller surface area of the electrodes were occluded around nucleation sites with higher pressure. Further experimentation using a vibratory element to shake all gas free and limit isolation of the electrode surface area will allow us to determine if the cause is a direct effect of the pressure or related to the conditions of gas evolution.

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