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Title:
PRESSURIZED ELECTROLYTIC CELL FOR IMPROVED HYDROGEN AND/OR DEUTERIUM LOADING
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/070521
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The presently disclosed is directed to reactor configured as a closed and pressurized electrolytic cell that provides for increased hydrogen or deuterium loading into a reactant electrode. Particularly, oxygen is released at the electrolytic cell anode while deuterium or hydrogen ions migrate towards the cathode. The surge of ions bombards the cathode, resulting in dense hydrogen or deuterium loading. As a result, heat in excess of the energy input to the cell is generated. Further, pressurization within the cell allows for high temperatures to be reached without the need for an external heating source. The disclosed electrolytic cell can therefore be used as an effective and improved power generator compared to prior art devices.

Inventors:
MURRAY, Joseph, A. (2646 Saint Mary's Street, Raleigh, NC, 27609, US)
HILL, Melissa, Brent (3825 Knickerbocker, Parkway Apt., Raleigh NC, 27612, US)
LUO, Lan (2326 Good Wood Circle, Cary, NC, 27513, US)
Application Number:
US2018/053363
Publication Date:
April 11, 2019
Filing Date:
September 28, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
IH IP HOLDINGS LIMITED (44 Esplanade, St. Hellier, JE49WG, JE49WG, JE)
MURRAY, Joseph, A. (2646 Saint Mary's Street, Raleigh, NC, 27609, US)
International Classes:
C25B1/12; C25B9/06
Foreign References:
US20110139631A12011-06-16
US20040226830A12004-11-18
EP1544325A22005-06-22
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1 . A pressurized electrolytic cell comprising:

a closed vessel for housing an electrolytic reaction, the vessel comprising a plurality of walls and a sealed lid that form an interior;

a deuterium or hydrogen-absorbing cathode positioned within the interior of the vessel;

an anode positioned within the interior of the vessel;

a partition positioned within the interior of the vessel, configured to partially divide the vessel into a first compartment housing the anode and a second

compartment housing the cathode;

electrolytic fluid comprising water and an ionic component positioned within the interior of the vessel;

a first gas input configured in the first compartment and a second gas input configured in the second compartment, configured to allow first and second gases to be pumped into the interior of the vessel; and

a port configured in the vessel allowing the selective exit of one or more gases.

2. The electrolytic cell of claim 1 , wherein the cathode is constructed from one or more of palladium, palladium-silver alloy, palladium-lithium alloy, palladium- samarium alloy, palladium-carbon alloy, palladium-lithium-carbon alloy, palladium-beryllium alloy, palladium-sulfur alloy, palladium-boron alloy, palladium-ruthenium alloy, or doped palladium.

3. The electrolytic cell of claim 1 , wherein the water of the electrolytic fluid comprises heavy water.

4. The electrolytic cell of claim 1 , wherein the first gas is selected from nitrogen, argon, helium, or combinations thereof and the second gas is selected from hydrogen, deuterium, or combinations thereof.

5. The electrolytic cell of claim 1 , wherein the interior of the closed vessel is

pressurized to at least about 200 kpa.

6. The electrolytic cell of claim 1 , wherein the port comprises an oxygen-selective membrane to allow oxygen to exit the vessel.

7. The electrolytic cell of claim 1 , further comprising a catalytic recombiner.

8. The electrolytic cell of claim 1 , wherein the vessel comprising a transparent or semi-transparent triggering window.

9. A system comprising:

a pressurized electrolytic cell comprising:

a closed vessel for housing an electrolytic reaction, the vessel comprising a plurality of walls and a sealed lid that form an interior;

a deuterium or hydrogen-absorbing cathode positioned within the interior of the vessel;

an anode positioned within the interior of the vessel;

a partition positioned within the interior of the vessel, configured to partially divide the vessel into a first compartment housing the anode and a second compartment housing the cathode;

electrolytic fluid comprising water and an ionic component positioned within the interior of the vessel;

a first gas input configured in the first compartment and a second gas input configured in the second compartment, configured to allow first and second gases to be pumped into the interior of the vessel; and a port configured in the vessel allowing the selective exit of one or more gases;

a voltage source; and

leads that connect the voltage source to the anode and the electrode.

10. The system of claim 9, further comprising a pump connected to the vessel to pressurize the vessel interior.

1 1 . The system of claim 9, further comprising a heat exchanger that cools the

electrolytic fluid.

12. The system of claim 9, further comprising an outer container that houses the

vessel, wherein the outer container comprises heat exchange fluid.

13. The system of claim 9, wherein the cathode is constructed from one or more of palladium, palladium-silver alloy, palladium-lithium alloy, palladium-samarium alloy, palladium-carbon alloy, palladium-lithium-carbon alloy, palladium-beryllium alloy, palladium-sulfur alloy, palladium-boron alloy, palladium-ruthenium alloy, or doped palladium.

14. The system of claim 9, wherein the electrolytic fluid water comprises heavy

water.

15. The system of claim 9, wherein the first gas is selected from nitrogen, argon, helium, or combinations thereof and the second gas is selected from hydrogen, deuterium, or combinations thereof.

16. The system of claim 9, wherein the vessel comprising a transparent or semi- transparent triggering window.

17. A method of loading a cathode with deuterium or hydrogen, the method comprising:

applying a voltage to the electrodes of an electrolytic cell, the electrolytic cell comprising:

a pressurized electrolytic cell comprising:

a closed vessel for housing an electrolytic reaction, the vessel comprising a plurality of walls and a sealed lid that form an interior;

a deuterium or hydrogen-absorbing cathode positioned within the interior of the vessel;

an anode positioned within the interior of the vessel;

a partition positioned within the interior of the vessel, configured to partially divide the vessel into a first compartment housing the anode and a second compartment housing the cathode;

electrolytic fluid comprising water and an ionic component positioned within the interior of the vessel;

a first gas input configured in the first compartment and a second gas input configured in the second compartment, configured to allow first and second gases to be pumped into the interior of the vessel; and

a port configured in the vessel allowing the selective exit of one or more gases;

applying a first gas in the first compartment of the electrolytic cell through the first gas input;

applying a second gas in the second compartment of the electrolytic cell through the second gas input;

wherein deuterium or hydrogen ions are loaded onto the cathode; and wherein heat in excess of the energy input to the cell is produced.

18. The method of claim 17, further comprising initiating a triggering mechanism to initiate the flow of current through the electrolytic cell.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein the triggering mechanism is selected from an optical triggering mechanism, an electromagnetic triggering mechanism, an acoustic triggering mechanism, or combinations thereof.

20. The method of claim 17, wherein the heat produced is at least 1 .5x the energy input to the electrolytic cell.

Description:
TITLE

PRESSURIZED ELECTROLYTIC CELL FOR IMPROVED HYDROGEN AND/OR

DEUTERIUM LOADING CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 62/567,929, filed October 4, 2017, the entire content of which is hereby incorporated by reference. TECHNICAL FIELD

The presently disclosed subject matter relates to a pressurized electrolytic cell for improved loading of hydrogen and/or deuterium. The increased loading results in the generation of heat in excess of the energy input to the cell. The disclosed electrolytic cell can therefore be used as an effective and improved power generator.

BACKGROUND

An electrolytic cell is an electrochemical cell that drives a non-spontaneous redox reaction through the application of electrical energy. Traditional electrolytic cells comprise two electrodes (an anode and a cathode) submerged in an electrolyte solution of water and a salt, such as sodium chloride. When driven by an external voltage applied to the electrodes, the water in the electrolyte solution is decomposed. As a result, the hydrogen atoms of the water are separated from the oxygen atoms to generate hydrogen gas and oxygen gas that bubble to the surface of the electrolytic solution. In an open electrolytic cell structure, the gases escape or are channeled away from the electrolytic cell. In a closed cell structure, the gases are retained, building pressure to the extent gas is produced from the electrolysis reaction.

Hydrogen-absorbing or deuterium-absorbing materials are commonly used for one or both electrodes in an electrolytic cell. In such cases, the electrode is loaded during electrolysis due to the presence of an applied voltage and the corresponding creation of ions. However, the loading of hydrogen or deuterium in electrolytic cells is typically limited by the applied current, and builds with increasing current up to a critical point. After reaching the critical point, the loading decreases with increasing current. Prior art closed electrolytic cells can further introduce pressurized gas, but have limitations due to electrolysis equilibrium (i.e., the introduction of product gases alone drives the reaction in the reverse direction).

It would therefore be beneficial to provide an externally pressurized electrolytic cell that overcomes the shortcomings of the prior art to increase the loading of hydrogen or deuterium onto a reactant electrode.

SUMMARY

In some embodiments, the presently disclosed subject matter is directed to a pressurized electrolytic cell. The electrolytic cell comprises a closed vessel for housing an electrolytic reaction, the vessel comprising a plurality of walls and a sealed lid that form an interior. The electrolytic cell further comprises an anode and a deuterium or hydrogen-absorbing cathode positioned within the interior of the vessel. The electrolytic cell includes a partition positioned within the interior of the vessel, configured to partially divide the vessel into a first compartment housing the anode and a second compartment housing the cathode. The electrolytic cell further comprises electrolytic fluid comprising water and an ionic component is positioned within the interior of the vessel. The vessel comprises a first gas input configured in the first compartment and a second gas input configured in the second compartment, configured to allow first and second gases to be pumped into the interior of the vessel. The vessel further comprises a port allowing the selective exit of one or more gases.

In some embodiments, the cathode is constructed from one or more of palladium, palladium-silver alloy, palladium-lithium alloy, palladium-samarium alloy, palladium- carbon alloy, palladium-lithium-carbon alloy, palladium-beryllium alloy, palladium-sulfur alloy, palladium-boron alloy, palladium-ruthenium alloy, or doped palladium.

In some embodiments, the water of the electrolytic fluid comprises heavy water. In some embodiments, the first gas is selected from nitrogen, argon, helium, or combinations thereof and the second gas is selected from hydrogen, deuterium, or combinations thereof.

In some embodiments, the interior of the closed vessel is pressurized to at least about 200 kpa.

In some embodiments the port comprises an oxygen-selective membrane to allow oxygen to exit the vessel.

In some embodiments, the electrolytic cell further comprises a catalytic recombiner.

In some embodiments, the vessel comprises a transparent or semi-transparent triggering window.

In some embodiments, the presently disclosed subject matter is directed to a system comprising a pressurized electrolytic cell, a voltage source, and leads that connect the voltage source to the anode and the electrode. The electrolytic cell comprises a closed vessel for housing an electrolytic reaction, the vessel comprising a plurality of walls and a sealed lid that form an interior. The electrolytic cell further comprises an anode and a deuterium or hydrogen-absorbing cathode positioned within the interior of the vessel. The electrolytic cell includes a partition positioned within the interior of the vessel, configured to partially divide the vessel into a first compartment housing the anode and a second compartment housing the cathode. The electrolytic cell further comprises electrolytic fluid comprising water and an ionic component is positioned within the interior of the vessel. The vessel comprises a first gas input configured in the first compartment and a second gas input configured in the second compartment, configured to allow first and second gases to be pumped into the interior of the vessel. The vessel further comprises a port allowing the selective exit of one or more gases.

In some embodiments, the system further comprises a pump connected to the vessel to pressurize the vessel interior.

In some embodiments, the system further comprises a heat exchanger that cools the electrolytic fluid. In some embodiments, the system further comprises an outer container that houses the vessel, wherein the outer container comprises heat exchange fluid.

In some embodiments, the presently disclosed subject matter is directed to a method of loading a cathode with deuterium or hydrogen. Particularly, the method comprises applying a voltage to the electrodes of an electrolytic cell, applying a first gas in the first compartment of the electrolytic cell through the first gas input, and applying a second gas in the second compartment of the electrolytic cell through the second gas input. Deuterium or hydrogen ions are thereby loaded onto the cathode, and heat in excess of the energy input to the cell is produced. In some embodiments, the electrolytic cell comprises a closed vessel for housing an electrolytic reaction, the vessel comprising a plurality of walls and a sealed lid that form an interior. The electrolytic cell further comprises an anode and a deuterium or hydrogen-absorbing cathode positioned within the interior of the vessel. The electrolytic cell includes a partition positioned within the interior of the vessel, configured to partially divide the vessel into a first compartment housing the anode and a second compartment housing the cathode. The electrolytic cell further comprises electrolytic fluid comprising water and an ionic component is positioned within the interior of the vessel. The vessel comprises a first gas input configured in the first compartment and a second gas input configured in the second compartment, configured to allow first and second gases to be pumped into the interior of the vessel. The vessel further comprises a port allowing the selective exit of one or more gases.

In some embodiments, the method further comprises initiating a triggering mechanism to initiate the flow of current through the electrolytic cell.

In some embodiments, the triggering mechanism is selected from an optical triggering mechanism, an electromagnetic triggering mechanism, an acoustic triggering mechanism, or combinations thereof.

In some embodiments, the heat produced is at least 1 .5x the energy input to the electrolytic cell. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The previous summary and the following detailed descriptions are to be read in view of the drawings, which illustrate some (but not all) embodiments of the presently disclosed subject matter.

Fig. 1 is front plan view of a pressurized electrolytic cell in accordance with some embodiments of the presently disclosed subject matter.

Fig. 2a is a perspective view of an electrolytic cell vessel in accordance with some embodiments of the presently disclosed subject matter.

Fig. 2b is a side plan view of the vessel of Fig. 2a.

Fig. 3a is a top plan view of an anode in accordance with some embodiments of the presently disclosed subject matter.

Fig. 3b is a top plan view of a cathode in accordance with some embodiments of the presently disclosed subject matter.

Fig. 4 is a front plan view of a system comprising a voltage source, a filter, and an electrolytic cell in accordance with some embodiments of the presently disclosed subject matter.

Fig. 5a is a front plan view of a cylindrical pressurized reactor vessel comprising a triggering window in accordance with some embodiments of the presently disclosed subject matter.

Fig. 5b is a front plan view of the cylindrical pressurized reactor of Fig. 5a, further comprising a heat exchanger.

Fig. 6 is a front plan view of a cylindrical pressurized reactor vessel with PCB- style electrodes.

Fig. 7 is a front plan view of a multi-reactor system comprising free flowing pressurized reactor/heat exchange fluid.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The presently disclosed subject matter is introduced with sufficient details to provide an understanding of one or more particular embodiments of broader inventive subject matters. The descriptions expound upon and exemplify features of those embodiments without limiting the inventive subject matters to the explicitly described embodiments and features. Considerations in view of these descriptions will likely give rise to additional and similar embodiments and features without departing from the scope of the presently disclosed subject matter.

Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood to one of ordinary skill in the art to which the presently disclosed subject matter pertains. Although any methods, devices, and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of the presently disclosed subject matter, representative methods, devices, and materials are now described.

Following long-standing patent law convention, the terms "a", "an", and "the" refer to "one or more" when used in the subject specification, including the claims. Thus, for example, reference to "a cell" can include a plurality of such cells, and so forth.

Unless otherwise indicated, all numbers expressing quantities of components, conditions, and so forth used in the specification and claims are to be understood as being modified in all instances by the term "about". Accordingly, unless indicated to the contrary, the numerical parameters set forth in the instant specification and attached claims are approximations that can vary depending upon the desired properties sought to be obtained by the presently disclosed subject matter.

As used herein, the term "about", when referring to a value or to an amount of mass, weight, time, volume, concentration, and/or percentage can encompass variations of, in some embodiments +/-20%, in some embodiments +/-10%, in some embodiments +/-5%, in some embodiments +/-1 %, in some embodiments +/-0.5%, and in some embodiments +/-0.1 %, from the specified amount, as such variations are appropriate in the disclosed packages and methods.

The presently disclosed subject matter is directed to a reactor configured as a closed and pressurized electrolytic cell that provides for increased hydrogen or deuterium loading into a reactant electrode. Particularly, oxygen is released at the electrolytic cell anode while deuterium or hydrogen ions migrate towards the cathode. The surge of ions bombards the cathode, resulting in dense hydrogen or deuterium loading. As a result, heat in excess of the energy input to the cell is generated (e.g., 1 .5, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5, 4, 4.5, or 5x the energy input). Further, pressurization within the cell allows for high temperatures to be reached without the need for an external heating source. The disclosed electrolytic cell can therefore be used as an effective and improved power generator compared to prior art devices.

Fig. 1 illustrates one embodiment of electrolytic cell 5 comprising vessel 10 that houses anode 15, cathode 20, and electrolytic solution 25. As shown, the electrodes are connected to voltage source 55 that provides a power source to generate the electrolytic reaction.

Vessel 10 can be any known structural member suitable for containment of an electrolytic reaction. The vessel can thus be configured as any appropriate container, such as a jar, box, tube, chest, packet, canister, tub, carton, bottle, vial, ampule, and like receptacles. Figs. 2a and 2b illustrate one embodiment of vessel 10 comprising cavity 11 for housing the electrodes and electrolytic fluid 25 therein. The vessel can include lid 12 and a plurality of walls 30 that join together to create a closed container. The lid can be adjusted (e.g., moved) or completely removed to allow access to cavity 11 when desired by the user. In some embodiments, the lid is sealable to the vessel to generate a closed electrolytic cell. The term "closed electrolytic cell" refers to an electrolytic cell configured with a defined volume (e.g., configured as a closed vessel with a sealed opening).

In some embodiments, vessel 10 can comprise partition 35 that divides the upper portion of the vessel into two portions. The partition functions to partially separate cavity 11 to create partial cells on each side of the vessel. The term "partial cell" refers to the partial separation of the anode-containing side of the vessel from the cathode- containing side of the vessel. The partition allows for pressurization at each electrode (such as with a different gas). Alternatively, the partition can be use to eliminate or reduce contact between hydrogen or deuterium and oxygen gas produced during the electrolytic reaction. Electrolytic solution 25 remains connected with both halves of the vessel, and thus each partial cell is pressurized equally, as described in detail herein below. Partition 35 can be configured to span about 40-90 percent of vessel height 40, such as about 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, or 90 percent. Alternatively, in some embodiments, the partition can be configured to completely divide the vessel into 2 or more compartments, and can include one or more openings to allow communication between compartments.

In some embodiments, the partition can be positioned to divide the cavity in approximately equal portions, such as about half of vessel length 45. However, the presently disclosed subject matter is not limited and partition 35 can be configured to divide the cavity into portions of different sizes.

Partition 35 can be constructed from any desired material. For example, in some embodiments, the partition can be constructed from an impermeable material, such as a polymeric material, metal (e.g., stainless steel), ceramic material, glass, or combinations thereof. Alternatively, in some embodiments, the partition can be constructed from a semi-permeable material that displays different permeabilities for different molecules. For example, partition 35 can be configured as a semi-permeable membrane that allows permeation of oxygen from one side of the membrane to the other. The semipermeable membrane can be constructed from any suitable material, such as TEFLONĀ®, polyetetrafluoroehtylene, and the like.

The vessel and partition can be constructed from one or more non-reactive materials. The term "nonreactive material" refers to a material that does not to an appreciable extent react with other components of the electrolytic cell. For example, in some embodiments, the vessel can be constructed from glass, polymeric material, ceramics, metal (e.g., stainless steel), and the like. In some embodiments, the materials used to construct vessel 10 and/or partition 35 can be transparent to allow the viewer to monitor the electrolytic cell components housed within cavity 11.

The vessel can be configured in any size and/or shape as desired by the user and/or as required by a particular reaction. Thus, the vessel can be configured in a rectangular, square, etc. shape and can be scaled up or down in size as needed.

As set forth above, vessel 10 houses anode 15 and cathode 20. Figs. 3a and 3b illustrate one example of an anode and a cathode, respectively, suitable for use in the disclosed electrolytic cell. The term "anode" refers to the electrode of an electrochemical cell at which reduction occurs (e.g., the negatively charged electrode). Anode 15 can be constructed from any suitable material. For example, in some embodiments, the anode can be constructed from platinum, palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, gold, platinum on titanium, vitreous carbon, steel, nickel, nickel alloys, stainless steel, tantalum, or any other stable metallic elemental materials, oxides, and alloys. Anode 15 is not limited to the materials set forth above, and any suitable material can be used.

The term "cathode" refers to the electrode of an electrochemical cell at which reduction occurs (e.g., the positively charged electrode). Cathode 20 is configured as a hydrogen and/or deuterium-absorbing electrode. Thus, in some embodiments, the cathode can be constructed from one or more of palladium, palladium alloys (e.g., palladium-silver alloys, palladium-lithium alloys, palladium-samarium alloys, palladium- carbon alloys, palladium-lithium-carbon alloys, palladium-beryllium alloys, palladium- sulfur alloys, palladium-boron alloys, palladium-ruthenium alloys), doped palladium, palladium deposits (e.g., palladium deposited onto carbon, silica, or titanium), nickel, nickel alloys, titanium, titanium alloys, and the like. It should be appreciated that cathode 20 is not limited to the materials set forth above, and any suitable material can be used.

Electrodes 15, 20 are not limited by the Figures, and thus can be configured in any desired shape, such as rectangular, cylindrical, square, abstract, and the like. Further, the size of the electrodes can be selected based on the size of vessel 10 and/or the particular reaction desired.

In some embodiments, the electrodes can be configured as solid structures, as shown in Figs. 3a and 3b. However, the presently disclosed subject matter is not limited and the anode and/or cathode can be configured to have a non-uniform thickness, with one or more apertures therethrough (e.g., lattice-shaped), in a coiled configuration, and the like. In some embodiments, the anode and cathode can have an identical or similar size and/or shape. However, the presently disclosed subject matter is not limited and the cathode can be configured in a different size and/or shape when compared to the anode.

The electrodes are operably connected to an external voltage source (e.g., positioned outside vessel 10) through leads 50, 51 , as illustrated in Figs. 3a and 3b. Particularly, voltage source 55 is connected to the electrodes via positive lead 50 and negative lead 51. The positive lead is connected to the anode and the negative lead is connected to the cathode. In some embodiments, a switch can be connected to one of leads 50, 51 for interrupting the electrical connection with the corresponding electrode as desired by the user.

Leads 50, 51 can be constructed from any suitable electrically conductive material, such as copper, aluminium, gold, silver, palladium, platinum, and the like. Leads are typically covered with a protective insulative layer, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), ethylene propylene diene monomer rubber (EPDM), neoprene, and/or silicone rubber.

Leads 50, 51 can be attached to each electrode using any known method. For example, in some embodiments, mechanical elements (e.g., nuts and bolts), riveting, soldering, conductive adhesive, or welding can be used to bond the electrode to the corresponding lead. It should be understood that the positive voltage and the negative voltage leads are also bonded to the positive voltage terminal and the negative voltage terminal, respectively, of voltage source 55 using the same or similar methods (e.g., welding, soldering, and the like).

In some embodiments, lid 12 or any other surface of the vessel can include one or more apertures 60. The apertures function to connect the electrodes configured within vessel cavity 11 with the power source positioned outside the vessel. For example, as illustrated in Fig. 2a, the lid can include apertures 60, although they can be configured on any desired surface.

The voltage source is electrically connected to the electrodes through the leads to provide an electrical potential to the electrodes. Voltage source 55 can be selected from any known voltage source, such as (but not limited to) a replaceable battery and/or a rechargeable battery. Any known battery can be used, including (but not limited to) one or more zinc-carbon batteries, zinc-chloride batteries, magnesium batteries, aluminum batteries, alkaline-manganese dioxide batteries, mercuric oxide batteries, silver oxide batteries, zinc-air batteries, lithium batteries, solid-electrolyte batteries, magnesium water-activated batteries, zinc/silver oxide batteries, thermal batteries, lead- acid batteries, iron electrode batteries, nickel-cadmium batteries, nickel-metal hydride batteries, nickel-zinc batteries, nickel-hydrogen batteries, silver oxide batteries, rechargeable lithium and lithium-ion batteries, rechargeable zinc/alkaline/manganese dioxide batteries, metal-air batteries, zinc/bromine batteries, sodium-beta batteries, and/or lithium/iron sulfide batteries.

Alternatively, in some embodiments, voltage source 55 can comprise a capacitor.

The term "capacitor" refers to an electric circuit element used to store charge, and generally comprises two metallic plates separated and insulated from each other by a dielectric.

Fig. 4 illustrates one embodiment of system 5 comprising assembled electrolytic cell 5. As shown, the cell can be a pressurized electrolytic cell. The term "pressurized electrolytic cell" refers to an electrolytic cell where the electrolytic reaction within the cell occurs at a pressure that is greater than atmospheric pressure (i.e., greater than about 101 .3 kilopascals). For example, in some embodiments, the pressure within the interior of vessel 10 can be about 200-1000 kpa. Thus, the pressure within the electrolytic cell can be no more than about (or no less than about) 200, 225, 250, 275, 300, 325, 350, 375, 400, 425, 450, 475, 500, 525, 550, 575, 600, 625, 650, 675, 700, 725, 750, 775, 800, 825, 850, 875, 900, 925, 950, 975, or 1000 kpa. The increased pressure ensures that the electrolysis reaction can be conducted at a higher temperature and at a lower voltage compared to reactions conducted at atmospheric pressure. It should be appreciated that electrolytic cell 5 is not limited and can be operated at a pressure that is a higher or lower than the ranges given above.

In some embodiments, a gas source can be used to pressurize electrolytic cell 5. To this end, lid 12 can comprise inlet 14 to that allows a gas source to enter the interior of the cell. For example, a gas supply line (e.g., pipe or tubing) can connect a gas source (e.g., nitrogen tank) to the lid inlet to pressurize vessel 10. The gas source can include any desired gas or mixture of gases. In some embodiments, the gas can include an inert gas. The term "inert gas" refers to a gas that does not substantially react with the system to which it is exposed. Suitable gases can therefore include (but are not limited to) nitrogen, argon, krypton, xenon, carbon dioxide, helium, and the like. The gas supply line can include one or more valves and/or gauges to control the flow of the gas.

As set forth above, in some embodiments, partition 35 divides the upper portion of vessel cavity 11 into two portions, each housing an electrode, as depicted in Fig. 4. The partition allows each side of the vessel to be pressurized with a different gas if desired by the user. For example, in some embodiments, the cathode side of the vessel can be pressurized with first gas 71 , which can be nitrogen, argon, helium, or any other desired inert gas or mixture of gases. In some embodiments, the anode side of the vessel can be pressurized with second gas 70, which can be hydrogen and/or deuterium gas. "Deuterium" refers to an isotope of hydrogen having twice the mass of hydrogen, with one proton and one neutron in its nucleus.

Gases 70, 71 can be introduced into the cell at any desired flow rate, such as about 50-500 cc/min. Thus, the flow rate of the gas can be no more than about (or no less than about) 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, 175, 200, 225, 250, 275, 300, 325, 350, 375, 400, 425, 450, 475, or 500 cc/min. The gases can be introduced into vessel cavity 11 for a desired amount of time, such as a sufficient amount of time to allow the cavity to reach a desired pressurization level. Alternatively, in some embodiments, the gases continuously flow throughout the reaction. In some embodiments, gas 71 is fed to the cathode chamber to adjust the pressure to about the pressure level in the anode chamber.

Vessel 10 can include port 65 that can be configured as an aperture extending through one face or the lid of the vessel. The port prevents excessive pressure buildup within vessel cavity 11 , resulting from the introduction of gases (e.g., nitrogen and/or hydrogen/deuterium). In some embodiments, port 65 can be positioned in relatively close proximity to cathode 20. For example, the port can be configured in the cathode portion of the vessel, as divided by partition 35. In some embodiments, the port can include filter 75 to allow exhaust gas 80 to exit the cell, as illustrated in Fig. 4. For example, filter 75 can include an oxygen-selective membrane to allow oxygen-rich gas to exit the vessel.

As further shown in Fig. 4, electrolytic solution 25 is housed in the bottom portion of vessel 10, in contact with the anode and cathode. The term "electrolytic solution" refers to a solution that has electrical conductivity, such as a salt. In some embodiments, the electrolytic solution can comprise water as the solvent with an electrically conductive material. The term "water" includes not only regular water (H 2 O), but also heavy water comprising deuterium (e.g., D 2 O or di-deuterium oxide) and one or more ionic components. Representative examples of ionically conductive materials include, in addition to metal oxy-compounds (such as metal oxydeuterides, metal oxy- triterides, metal hydroxides, like LiOD, LiOT, NaOD, NaOH and so on), inorganic and/or organic soluble salts, such as sodium or potassium chloride, sodium sulfate, quaternary ammonium hydroxides, etc. The ionic component can be present in an amount of at least about 0.01 -1 .0M concentration. Electrolytic solution 25 can therefore comprise at least about (or no more than about) 0.1 , 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.6, 0.7, 0.8, 0.9, or 1 M concentration of an ionic component.

The conductivity of electrolytic solution 25 can be at least about 0.0001 ohm "1 cm "1 , such as at least about 0.005 or 0.01 ohm "1 cm "1 . Those skilled in the art will appreciate that conductivity of the electrolytic solution can be measured by a standard conductivity meter and can be adjusted by the addition of additional conductive material (e.g., ionic components) or the dilution of the solution as needed.

The disclosed electrolytic cell functions as an electrolytic reactor. The term "electrolytic reactor" refers to an electrolytic vessel that uses energy (e.g., electricity), water, and oxygen to generate a reactant. The electrolytic reactor is configured as a closed electrolytic cell, thereby allowing it to be pressurized. Applying an electric potential across the cathode (e.g., palladium and/or palladium alloy) forms deuterium hydrogen or other deuterium isotope gases in the presence of deuterium gas. Substantial heat is generated in addition to the energy generated by resistance heating caused by an electric current passing through the electrode. Thus, in use, the voltage source is initiated to give rise to a surge of current in the electrolytic solution that flows between the anode and cathode. The surge of current causes the electrolyte (e.g., heavy or light water) in electrolytic solution 25 to decompose, releasing oxygen at the anode. Partition 35 separates the cathodic compartment from the anodic compartment. Current is still allowed to pass, but recombination of the oxygen and hydrogen/deuterium discharged from the electrodes is prevented. Hydrogen or deuterium ions migrate toward cathode 20. The hydrogen or deuterium gas diffuses into the cathode, which is configured as a hydrogen or deuterium-absorbing electrode. As a result, a high loading ratio of hydrogen and/or deuterium is consistently achieved. The high intensity surge of hydrogen and/or deuterium ions that repeatedly bombard the cathode give rise to a dense hydrogen and/or deuterium packaging in the cathode to produce heat. Cathode 20 is therefore capable of increased loading and/or absorption of hydrogen and/or deuterium.

The pressurization of the electrolytic cell allows for a safer design while increasing the efficiency of the reactor by decreasing the voltage required for electrolysis as the pressure increases. Particularly, the size of the gas bubbles formed in the electrolyte solution at the electrodes decreases, which deceases the resistance and therefore decreases the voltage required for electrolysis. As the resistance decreases, the voltage required also decreases, but this competes with an increase in pressure causing an increase in the voltage required according to the equation (E=AG/nF), and the Gibbs Free Energy Equation (AG = AG 0 + RT In Q, which will increase as the increase of partial pressure of hydrogen and/or oxygen). Finding a pressure range that balances the two competing factors allows for optimal operation of the cell and increased hydrogen or deuterium loading into the absorbing electrode.

At anode 15 where hydrogen and/or deuterium gas is produced, the partial cell is pressurized with hydrogen or deuterium gas, respectively, to encourage loading of the absorbing electrode (the cathode). At the cathode (where oxygen gas is produced), oxygen is continuously removed and the partial cell is pressurized with-nitrogen gas to achieve pressure balance with the hydrogen partial cell. As described above, in some embodiments, filter 75 is placed in the oxygen partial cell, thereby allowing the preferential passage of oxygen. As a result, the partial pressure of oxygen is reduced, promoting the electrolysis reaction. Particularly, the removal of one of the products coupled with the increase in overall pressure, drives the electrolysis forward and improves the efficiency of the cell, while the pressurization of one of the partial cells with hydrogen or deuterium gas allows for better loading of the absorbing electrode.

In some embodiments, a catalytic recombiner can be positioned in each partial cell to allow for the recombination of any hydrogen/deuterium gas and oxygen gas. Particularly, the recombiner can include a catalyst (e.g., a hydrophobic platinum catalyst). The catalyst initiates the recombination of hydrogen gas and oxygen gas to form water, or the recombination of dissociated deuterium and oxygen to form deuterium oxide. Water or heavy water is thus formed, which is added back to electrolytic solution 25. In some embodiments, the recombiner can include a body constructed from a chemically inert material (e.g., stainless steel) with an inlet and outlet. The body is designed to direct the flow of gas mixture through the apparatus. The catalytic recombiner can be located inside or outside of cell 5 so long as it is sealed from the exterior environment. One such embodiment is illustrated in Fig. 4, depicting recombiners 26 configured on the exterior of the electrolytic cell. It should be appreciated that recombiner 26 is optional.

In some embodiments, a triggering mechanism can be used to initiate the flow of current through the electrolytic cell. Fig. 5a illustrates one embodiment of a cylindrical vessel 10 comprising a pair of lids configured as caps 85 to create a closed electrolytic cell. Electrodes 15, 20 are positioned within the interior of the vessel and are in electrical contact with one cap 85 to allow for an applied voltage differential while the remaining reactor is electrically insulated. The system includes pump 90 connected to cap 85 that functions to pressurize the electrolytic solution housed within vessel 10. The term "pump" broadly refers to any device that moves a fluid by mechanical action. Any type of pump can be used, such as (but not limited to) gravity pumps, direct lift pumps, and/or displacement pumps.

The vessel can further include window 95 to allow for triggering of the electrolytic reaction. Window 95 can be configured as a transparent or semi-transparent portion of vessel 10 to allow a triggering mechanism to reach electrolyte solution 25 and/or the electrodes. The term "transparent" refers to a material that has the property of transmitting visible light without appreciable scattering, such that an object placed beyond the transparent material is visible. The term "semi-transparent" refers to a material that has the property of transmitting visible light with some appreciable scattering, such that an object placed beyond the transparent material is at least partially visible. Window 95 can be constructed from any desired material, such as (but not limited to) polymeric material, glass, and the like.

In some embodiments, an optical triggering mechanism can be used to trigger the electrolytic reaction. Any desired optical trigger can be used, such as (but not limited to) the use of a laser. The term "laser" refers to a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the simulated emission of electromagnetic radiation. Any suitable type of laser can be used. Particularly, a laser can be tuned to a desired wavelength and applied through window 95 to contact the electrolytic fluid during electrolysis. The application of the optical trigger initiates a pulse of high voltage that is applied to the anode and cathode, resulting in an increase in the rate of production of hydrogen/deuterium. In some embodiments, the triggering mechanism can vary and can include multiple configurations of one type.

In some embodiments, an electromagnetic triggering element can be used. For example, the triggering can be applied either around the reactor vessel (such as with an electromagnetic coil) and/or through window 95. Particularly, a magnetic coil can be configured to surround at least a portion of the exterior of vessel 10. A magnetic field is induced in the coil, which is applied to the electrolytic fluid and/or electrodes to thereby trigger the electrolytic reaction. It should be appreciated that the magnetic coil is not limited and any desired magnetic element can be used.

In some embodiments, an acoustic triggering mechanism can be used to initiate the flow of current through electrolytic cell 5. For example, electrolytic cell 5 can be configured with a port that allows attachment of an ultrasonic wave generator. A range of frequencies can be cycled through, or an optimal frequency can be selected as desired by the user. The production of the acoustic signal triggers the electrolytic reaction.

As illustrated in Fig. 5b, the electrolytic fluid 25 in the reactor vessel can further function as heat exchange fluid. Particularly, as shown, the pressurized fluid circulates from reaction vessel 10, where it is exposed to electrodes 15, 20. In some embodiments, one or more triggering mechanisms are introduced via window 95. Fluid 25 exits the vessel and flows into heat exchanger 101. Particularly, the heated electrolytic fluid travels through the heat exchanger where it is cooled to a desired temperature and re-pumped through the cell. The fluid can be cooled using any known mechanism, such as indirect contact with cooled water or gas. Any type of heat exchanger can be used, such as (but not limited to) helical-coil heat exchangers, spiral heat exchangers, and the like.

In some embodiments, electrolytic cell 5 can be integrated within sealed secondary container 100. For example, as shown in Fig. 6, secondary container 100 can include integrated anode and cathode 15, 20 in electrical contact with cap 105 to allow for an applied voltage differential. In some embodiments, the anode and cathode can be configured as PCB-style electrodes (e.g., printed circuit board-type electrodes). Pump 110 can be used to pressurize the secondary container to any desired pressure. For example, in some embodiments, the pressure within the interior of secondary container 100 can be about 200-1000 kpa.

Heat exchange fluid 115 positioned within the interior of secondary container 100 flows over cell 5 to transfer the heat generated from the electrolytic cell farther down the system. The term "heat exchange fluid" refers to a fluid that can absorb heat, such as the heat produced during the disclosed electrolytic reaction. Heat exchange fluid can comprise electrolytic solution 25 in some embodiments. Alternatively, heat exchange fluid can include water, ethylene glycol, or any other suitable fluid.

In some embodiments, multiple reactor vessels can be used in conjunction and cooled with the same heat exchange fluid, as illustrated in Fig. 7. Particularly, as shown, secondary container 100 can include one or more electrolytic cells 5 positioned within its interior. The secondary container comprises one or more inlets 120 and exits 121 to allow the movement of the heat exchange fluid into and out of the secondary container as shown by the arrows.

The presently disclosed subject matter therefore is directed to an electrolytic cell that allows for the increased loading of hydrogen and/or deuterium onto the associated cathode. As a result, of the high loading ratio of hydrogen and/or deuterium, heat is produced which can be harnessed and used. The increased loading results in the generation of heat in excess of the energy input to the cell. The disclosed electrolytic cell can therefore be used as an effective and improved power generator.

The above description is intended to be illustrative and not limiting. Various changes and modifications in the embodiment described herein may occur to those skilled in the art. Those changes can be made without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention.