27 August 2008

Joe Nathan

Eddie G

1st pitch

Hydrogen fuel cell

25 August 2008


Well, it took about one week into summer-vacation, and gadget fever overcame me. Got an iPhone!!! What does that mean for the blog? More photos! woo hoo. I also got a new phone number: -5.0.3-7.0.3-

We're headed to MN this week, for the holiday weekend.

then it's back to business w/ 3 races in 3 weeks, and no school until Sept 29th! :D

12 August 2008

Twilight Crit

In the midst of finals week, writing a race report:

8.8.08, portland twilight criterium sponsored by healthnet; cat 3, $3000 at stake.

It was a perfect example of an American criterium: short technical 800 meter loop, bumpy, L shape around downtown Portland city blocks.

The race started. 1st 4 corners were intense. Crowded road, sprint out of each corner, heavy breaking into the next. Speed increased. Eventually (1 lap) we were strung out all the way. I thought I was last rider. I glanced back, and there were people behind me. Good, I thought, at least I'm not last rider. Now move up. Course was too technical to pass very much. Then a dude crashed on the straight away after the start finish and slid on what looked like his cheek bone on the curb for 10 meters with his legs up in the air. Then more crashes. In the corners. Each time, the riders in front didn't even notice, kept going. Riders behind the crashes (like me) in back slam on the breaks to avoid the pile up and carnage, and then desperately sprint to try and catch back on. Found my self in a group of maybe 10, and I thought we weren't that far back, but they weren't going full gas. So I went full gas for about 2 laps, and then it was someone elses turn. But it wasn't enough and we were pulled just short of 1/2 way through. I complained to the officials and told them we should have all gotten a lap, because we were all held up by multiple crashes, but they still pulled us, then I apologized a few minutes later for complaining. I do have to say the the Oregon racing association (OBRA) is top notch and they put races on like none other.

Through the crashes and suspense, it was fun. Got the fever back so to say. More races on the horizon, after this week though.

06 August 2008

Big Day, plus news, etc. (long post)

Here I am, back in the blog-o-sphere, and taking a time out to update the world on everything going on out here. Today was all-in-all a decent day. Still have next week with 4 final exams, 2 presentations / demonstrations, but today was big progress.

This summer I'm taking a 'Fuel Cells' course. It basically consists of learning how fuel cells work, what they are good for and why we may need to put effort into learning and advancing this technology. Part of the course is a lab, and in that lab, my group's assignment is to build a real fuel cell. I'm talking hydrogen fuel cell here. Sounds pretty far out, and dare I say-futuristic or amazingly complicated? You may think it is complicated, but it's actually quite simple, and finally today, on week 7 out of 8, we connected our fuel cell to the H2 gas line.

Keith & Jeff and I were pretty much worried sick about the whole thing and even though we still probably would have done a good job in the eyes of Bob, the professor, if it didn't work, it would be a bit de-moralizing. The cell was pretty much finished on Monday, and we planned to do final assembly it and connect it to the gas today. The first step was assembling it. Keith and Jeff were basically chomping at the bit to get this thing together, and I was like, cool it boys, we don't have to rush this process here (because they were almost shaking they were so focused on getting this thing together). It got together, and we did a pressure test (w/ about 7 PSI) and it was not successful. One of our electrodes needed to be sealed up. We sealed it and re-connected the electrode. No problem, sealed ready to go. Then Keith got a little excited and as he was tightening one of the gas valves, broke the electrode off. Luckily, the screwed in part was still threaded in the plexi glass (only way to fix this, is to re-build this half of the cell (photos are coming soon, I promise). Luckily we could still measure the voltage using a needle tip multi-meter. So we were still OK to continue.

Next step: Connect gas. We are connecting pure oxygen to one end, and hydrated hydrogen in the other end. We were putting the hydrogen through a erlymeyer flask with warm/hot water, because the middle layer of the fuel cell requires hydration to work optimally. So we finally got everything connected, I put my goggles on (because we've had explosions in the lab before during this process), and turned on the gas. There was no explosion, but instead of injecting hydrated gas go into the fuel cell, the hydrator that we connected sent water at about 5psi into our fuel cell. We (I) hooked up the hydrator wrong. So that wasn't the best case, and we could have very well been ruined right there. In hindsight, this may have acutaly helped us, because it ensured that our nafion was really hydrated. (Nafion: the expensive part of the fuel cell)

When we finally got the hydrogen running through our fuel cell we measured a no load voltage of 997 mV (the perfect ideal voltage for a hydrogen fuel cell is 1.229 volts). We were pretty stoked and it pretty much made the term, so far. Alot went in to building this thing and even though the design is pretty simple, it is a pretty cool project. I will get photos up.

- The other summer school project is a pretty cool system we're building for Motors class. Someone (me) had the idea to attach some kind of contraption to a bike wheel to generate useful power. We attached magnets the rim, and those magnets pass by a couple of coils, which create a voltage that lights low voltage super high intesity LEDs. It works pretty well, and we are finalizing our design, and once I have the pics downloaded you'll see them here (or on my flickr site).

- Friday I'm bike racing. Finally. Unbelievably it's the first bike race of 2008 for me and it's none other than the Portland twilight criterium, cat 3, 6:30 pm. I might be off the back, but not without a fight. There's $3000 purse, so it might just be the Pacific northwest Cat 3 world championships. Should be fun...

- We've been stocking up on blueberry's every weekend, and our freezer is about full of them. If anyone has any suggestions on long term berry storage let me know, because I think they tend to ice up in the freezer. We already made about 8 cans of JAM, and a pretty awesome pie.

- The garden is doing really well. The highlight so far have been lots of green beens, and in a few weeks we are going to have WAY more tomatoes than we will know what to do with. We have 3 corn stalks, and the some of the sunflowers are about 9 feet tall.

- Going to MN over laborday weekend, but leaving out of seattle. We got tickets to the Mariners at Safeco field, and they play none-other-than, the Twins, so I'm super stoked about that, especailly since the twins continue to kick ass, even though they trade all their good players, like Johan Santana an Torii Hunter. I'll be the one w/ the Joe Mauer T-shirt on in section 139.

- Tonight the Statics teacher bought pizza for the class. Pretty nice dude, thanks Joey.

- Tonight, to celebrate the last statics lecture, went to the witchita pub w some classmates. I biked there, and the other 5 renewable energy students each drove seperately. (We are renewable energy students, not energy conservation students I guess).

- Bike commuting is in full effect: Get this: in July, Laurie and I didn't get gas in the car. We did in June, (and we did a huge road trip to Montana in June, so we got alot of gas in June), but during July, we didn't need to get gas once in either the subaru, or the rally car. Take that OPEC. I don't know when the last time that happened in this household but I think it was a long, long time ago, and maybe never.

- That's it. Now the schedule is: work then school on Thursday, work then bike race on Friday, homework / study on sat-sun, one final on Monday, two finals on Wed, one on Thur, then the two presentations / demos on Friday. Then no school till sept 29th. woo hoo!