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Author: Subject: Homemade Birkeland-Eyde reactor?
antimon
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[*] posted on 19-10-2015 at 03:06
Homemade Birkeland-Eyde reactor?


Hi, guys. I have some free time now i have an hour busride ahead of me. :)
I just have to ask and see if any of you have made a Birkeland-Eyde reactor yourselves?
I am asking because i recently found the thread on the Birkeland-Eyde process here on sciencemadness, and it seems like a very interesting process to me.
Also it is very hard to come by HNO3 these days, and it would be wonderful if you were just able to make it yourself at home. :)

I have googled it and i have read a bunch of stuff on it, and there are even a couple of clips on YouTube with people showing off their own homemade reactors, and that got me thinking about making one myself.

I have been working on a 555-timer ignition coil driver circuit for a while now, to make a Jacobs ladder, and i thought that it would be perfect for making the arc.

I have read that many people use neon sign transformers, but i was hoping that i wouldnt be forced to buy one of those, and the ignition coil would be sufficient?

Thanks in advance. :)
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[*] posted on 19-10-2015 at 03:39


for the sake of reading with your bit of free time, take a look at oil burner ignition transformers. I like mine. but I haven't tried running it for hours on end. I have read a few places where you can submerge them in oil to facilitate better cooling. I do know that with 2 platinum tips on the electrodes, I was able to fill a mason jar with orange haze quickly. noticeably strong rusty color in 30-45 seconds. though I have never revisited the issue. workspace is in my basement, so no more of that making toxic gas. have fun play safe, and read the existing thread through if you havent already
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hissingnoise
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[*] posted on 19-10-2015 at 04:28


Quote:
I like mine. but I haven't tried running it for hours on end.

It will burn out if left running!

Thermal cut-out required . . .

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[*] posted on 19-10-2015 at 05:59


I've posted some of my frustrations here, and other places in that thread.

My employer took an interest in what I was working on, i.e., I'm now getting paid to develop it, so I won't be posting more updates. However, I think my previous posts will provide some helpful information.
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[*] posted on 19-10-2015 at 07:37


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I'm now getting paid to develop it.

Now that's interesting ─ tell us more?

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[*] posted on 19-10-2015 at 09:23


There was a long ago link to a Russian process designed to use off peak electricity in electric arc generation to make NOX, combine that with cellulose in unprocessed farm chaff/straw/cellulosic byproducts and have an essentially free solid Nitrogen fertilizer... It's on here somewhere.



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WGTR
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[*] posted on 19-10-2015 at 10:56


My hobbies and work tend to overlap. The majority of my projects are duplications of earlier research, much of it 100+ years old. When they become more than that I need to get prior approval before posting them (which I sometimes can). Sometimes things go the other way, and my little projects turn into actual work. If it wasn't for my employer's generosity, I wouldn't have the resources to contribute much in any case.

Ammonia oxidation is more economical on the industrial scale than the BE process. On the lab scale, however, the economics are reversed. There are several commercial areas where a reliable supply of on-demand nitric acid might be useful. We're currently aiming towards a small unit that will operate > 1 year without requiring significant maintenance. Of course, the efficiency will have to rival the original industrial process, and be fairly safe to operate indoors.

I'm all ears for ideas regarding potentially viable markets. The wider the market, the more likely this will become available, and that would probably benefit SM members in some way.

Thanks, Bert. I'll see if I can find the patent that you're referring to. It doesn't ring a bell off the top of my head.
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[*] posted on 19-10-2015 at 11:35


WGTR: I have a hard-on right now :D



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[*] posted on 19-10-2015 at 12:33


Yea WGTR what do work on?
Even an engineer wouldn't have that freedom of interest at his job. :o

About the reactor, well there have been many many of these Birkeland–Eyde process reactors based on arcs, maybe we could try something different.
I'm thinking about experiment with lower or higher chamber pressures, see if that improves efficiency,
or doing something totally different which is building a reactor that works based on corona discharge, or (another different thing), a Dielectric barrier discharge.

I know I know the main theory about these arc reactors is that it's the arc's extreme temperatures doing the chemistry happen, but them again, any one of the methods I mention also create allot of free nitrogen ions, and at much higher efficiency.

Read on EHD thrusters or lifters.
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[*] posted on 20-10-2015 at 00:49


I was thinking about trying to apply pressure to see what happens. That would be interesting. But i guess that must have been done before.

WGTR: I tried to click the link, but i couldnt go any further. Its not a safe website it say. :(

Anyway, it is interesting work you do. I wish you best luck with it, and im looking forward to seeing your process. :)

I was thinking about this ignition coil, and if that would work. If it is too weak or too strong power.

I have read about using the oil ignition coil, but right now i only have the VW Golf ignition coil and i want to check it out to see what its good for.

I want to do this right, so it will be as efficient as possible, so i was thinking about the driver circuit. Are the 555 circuit good enough to control the coil, or should i maybe look at another circuit design?

Thanks for all the replies. :)
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[*] posted on 20-10-2015 at 23:38


Yesterday i read in some patent that the electric arc that was used in that reactor was flattened out with the help of a electromagnet.
How do you do this?
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[*] posted on 21-10-2015 at 16:05


It is a fun job :D

Arc deflection is related to arc current and magnetic field strength. If it doesn't deflect, then the current isn't high enough for long enough time, with a strong enough magnetic field.

You can follow the links safely. If you look at the links, they point to the HTTPS version of Sciencemadness. I get this message all the time. Polverone has explained it here:

http://www.sciencemadness.org/talk/viewthread.php?tid=25296
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[*] posted on 22-10-2015 at 05:10


WGTR: im going to check it out. I'll send you a pm if thats ok?

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[*] posted on 22-10-2015 at 13:54


Have you reviewed this thread?
http://www.sciencemadness.org/talk/viewthread.php?tid=1518&a...

I commend those trying to develop an efficient NO generator. But I think the real rub is going to be absorbing NO2 in water effectively.

[Edited on 22-10-2015 by Magpie]




The single most important condition for a successful synthesis is good mixing - Nicodem
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[*] posted on 22-10-2015 at 14:08


Quote: Originally posted by Magpie  
Have you reviewed this thread?
http://www.sciencemadness.org/talk/viewthread.php?tid=1518&a...

I commend those trying to develop an efficient NO generator. But I think the real rub is going to be absorbing NO2 in water effectively.

[Edited on 22-10-2015 by Magpie]

Maybe NaOH could help a bit... making a mix of Na nitrate and nitrite?

NO2 + H2O --> HONO + HONO2
3 NO2 + H2O --> 2 HONO2 + NO

Alternatively NH3 would make only NH4NO3 since NH4NO2 decompose to N2 and H2O.




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[*] posted on 22-10-2015 at 14:59


Quote: Originally posted by WGTR  
My hobbies and work tend to overlap. The majority of my projects are duplications of earlier research, much of it 100+ years old. When they become more than that I need to get prior approval before posting them (which I sometimes can). Sometimes things go the other way, and my little projects turn into actual work. If it wasn't for my employer's generosity, I wouldn't have the resources to contribute much in any case.

Ammonia oxidation is more economical on the industrial scale than the BE process. On the lab scale, however, the economics are reversed. There are several commercial areas where a reliable supply of on-demand nitric acid might be useful. We're currently aiming towards a small unit that will operate > 1 year without requiring significant maintenance. Of course, the efficiency will have to rival the original industrial process, and be fairly safe to operate indoors.

I'm all ears for ideas regarding potentially viable markets. The wider the market, the more likely this will become available, and that would probably benefit SM members in some way.


On-site production of fixed nitrogen for agriculture, maybe? I like the <a href="http://www.sundropfarms.com/facilities/">Sundrop Farms</a> greenhouse concept, and there are likely times when they have surplus PV electricity. If you could combine e.g. limestone with surplus electricity and water to make a nitrate solution, that would be a good use for otherwise-wasted electricity plus make the facility even more self sufficient.

There might also be opportunities at a larger scale doing the same with off-grid farms that have solar or wind power. Most of the world's fixed nitrogen demand goes toward farming, and intermittent renewables that sometimes produce surpluses are becoming more common, so if you can hitch your reactor to those trends I think you'll have plenty of room for growth.




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[*] posted on 22-10-2015 at 21:41


Quote: Originally posted by antimon  
WGTR: im going to check it out. I'll send you a pm if thats ok?
Sure!
Quote: Originally posted by Magpie  
Have you reviewed this thread?
http://www.sciencemadness.org/talk/viewthread.php?tid=1518&a...

I commend those trying to develop an efficient NO generator. But I think the real rub is going to be absorbing NO2 in water effectively.
Yes, I've researched that thread thoroughly. I also obtained a copy of Webb's "The Absorption of Nitrous Gases". It's a useful book and enjoyable to read.

The absorption problem can be a difficult one, but there are viable options for attacking it.

Quote: Originally posted by PHILOU Zrealone  

Maybe NaOH could help a bit... making a mix of Na nitrate and nitrite?

NO2 + H2O --> HONO + HONO2
3 NO2 + H2O --> 2 HONO2 + NO

Alternatively NH3 would make only NH4NO3 since NH4NO2 decompose to N2 and H2O.
I've given the idea some thought. Right now, though, we're trying to fix nitrogen from air, so adding ammonia feels like "cheating" in a way. We'll probably use an alkaline scrubber to capture what doesn't get properly absorbed, but otherwise we're intending to just make the acid. For hydroponic applications, I think it would be best to decouple the nitrate additions from any cations such as calcium, ammonium, etc (which can be added separately if needed), so having the acid itself would be more useful.

Quote: Originally posted by Polverone  
On-site production of fixed nitrogen for agriculture, maybe? I like the <a href="http://www.sundropfarms.com/facilities/">Sundrop Farms</a> greenhouse concept, and there are likely times when they have surplus PV electricity. If you could combine e.g. limestone with surplus electricity and water to make a nitrate solution, that would be a good use for otherwise-wasted electricity plus make the facility even more self sufficient.

There might also be opportunities at a larger scale doing the same with off-grid farms that have solar or wind power. Most of the world's fixed nitrogen demand goes toward farming, and intermittent renewables that sometimes produce surpluses are becoming more common, so if you can hitch your reactor to those trends I think you'll have plenty of room for growth.
We were talking about how useful something like this might be for a farm out in the middle of nowhere, with limited access to resources. I wasn't aware of an agricultural operation that was actually operating this way, though. I really appreciate your input; it turned on a few light bulbs for me. I'm willing to bet that they don't get their nitrates from seawater.
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[*] posted on 23-10-2015 at 04:02


I agree, a straight acid generator will be the most versatile, any neutralization can be done in a separate step allowing virtually any nitrate to be manufactured with the same setup.

The biggest issue as I see it is absorption and the ability to reuse the NO produced in that step. With straight air you're pretty much doomed to eject that NO as you have a surplus of N2, a zeolite oxygen generator should allow feeding it with a perfect gas blend allowing greater efficiency.




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[*] posted on 23-10-2015 at 06:23


Quote:
The absorption problem can be a difficult one, but there are viable options for attacking it.

An idea mentioned here a few times ─ that of combining the effluent of an ozone generator with that of a BE generator to oxidise half of the formed NO2 in the stream to form the anhydride would certainly solve the absorption problem!

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[*] posted on 23-10-2015 at 16:40


Quote: Originally posted by Fulmen  

The biggest issue as I see it is absorption and the ability to reuse the NO produced in that step. With straight air you're pretty much doomed to eject that NO as you have a surplus of N2, a zeolite oxygen generator should allow feeding it with a perfect gas blend allowing greater efficiency.


If you could separate the NO from the N2 then you could recycle it. But that likely is a tall order also.




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[*] posted on 24-10-2015 at 01:16


Since a hot electric arc is used to produce NO
could a high voltage corona discharge be used, either before or after the arc
to generate ozone which would rapidly convert NO to NO2 ?
OR (total speculation here, never tried)
could the equipment be run at low enough pressure to use a plasma discharge which might produce ozone and NO2 simultaneously?

[Edited on 24-10-2015 by Sulaiman]
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[*] posted on 24-10-2015 at 01:33


No, separating out the NO doesn't sound feasible to me either. Could it be utilized for something else fun?



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[*] posted on 24-10-2015 at 04:53


Quote:
Since a hot electric arc is used to produce NO
could a high voltage corona discharge be used, either before or after the arc
to generate ozone which would rapidly convert NO to NO2 ?
OR (total speculation here, never tried)
could the equipment be run at low enough pressure to use a plasma discharge which might produce ozone and NO2 simultaneously?

The NO formed is readily oxidised by free oxygen on cooling but ozone will oxidise NO2.
2NO2 + O ─> N2O5

Being the anhydride of HNO3, N2O5 reacts readily with water, forming HNO3 with no off-gassing!

Airfed ozonisers produce NO2 in addition to O3 if the air contains moisture but amounts are largely uncontrollable . . . ?

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[*] posted on 24-10-2015 at 04:59


Ozone seems like a viable idea, either by passing the cooled output from the arc reactor (does have a nice ring to it, eh) through an ozone generator or possibly by absorbing it into ozonated water?

Hissingnoise: While NO is oxidized by air to NO2 the reaction is slow, especially in low concentrations:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NOx#Formation_and_reactions

I would expect ozone to primarily increase this reaction, although some anhydride could be formed as well. Either way, yields should improve.

The BE-process is said to produce up to 4% NO, ozone generators should be able to produce ozone in similar concentrations. So it seems like it's possible to produce enough ozone for this to be possible.

[Edited on 24-10-15 by Fulmen]




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[*] posted on 24-10-2015 at 06:10


Quote:
Hissingnoise: While NO is oxidized by air to NO2 the reaction is slow, especially in low concentrations.

Indeed yes, the process requires a large chamber for oxidation to occur prior to absorption . . .

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