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Platinum Catalyst Hand Warmer questions


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#1 BrandoAZ

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Posted 15 June 2010 - 07:36 AM

Looking for information on Platinum Catalyst hand warmers, not sure if this is the right place, perhaps someone can direct me.

My wife has used "peacock" style hand warmers for some time, they use lighter fluid and a platinum infused pad to produce a catalytic reaction that produces heat.
Posted Image
the catalyst pads "wear out" so to speak and need to be replaced. I am curious if there is a simple way to just make my own.
they look like this:
Posted Image


and are inserted into this piece( which is placed on top of a unit that contain cotton batting that soaks up lighter fluid):

Posted Image


the reaction is started by holding a flame close to but not igniting the pad for about 10 seconds.
Any ideas on how to go about creating these little pads? i thought i may be able to use felt infused with ta catalyst....where can i get the catalyst?
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#2 JamesNBarnes

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Posted 15 June 2010 - 05:10 PM

Hmm, that's interesting. The a catalyst is not "consumed" in a reaction so it shouldn't wear out. I suspect that the by products of the reaction are collecting in the pad and coating the platinum so it can no longer act as a catalyst.

You would have to ask a chemist about what exactly is formed in the process, but i would suggest giving it a clean! Try water first, if that fails maybe an alcohol or some acetone might be worth trying.

Good luck.
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#3 BrandoAZ

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Posted 15 June 2010 - 09:36 PM

interesting to know that the catalyst is not consumed, but the problem is that the pads deteriorate and fall apart.
They used to be made out of a loose fiber similar to fiberglass, most have changed over to the more solid type pad seen pictured above, but then they still deteriorate and become unusable.

It occur to me that that one could use electrolysis to coat fine steel mesh with the catalyst and use several layers of the mesh cut to fit in place of the "pad".
But i really don't know enough about how this actually works to know if THAT would work.

Can anyone explain the reaction between common lighter fluid and platinum that creates heat without actually burning?( no smell either)
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#4 JamesNBarnes

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Posted 16 June 2010 - 02:35 PM

From what i can tell, the "burning" of the fuel should only produce water and carbon dioxide, assuming that the fuel is relatively pure, because i could only find hand warmers that burned naphtha or LPG, both are mixed hydrocarbons. So with that in mind lets try and attack it logically.

Please bear in mind that im not a chemist ;)

So, if we have 2 waste products: water and CO2, how do they make the pad degrade?

It could be that the substrate (the thing that the platinum is impregnated in) is hygroscopic, and absorbs the water from the reaction. This is my best guess purely because it would stop moisture building up in your pocket and allows them to sell more pads.

Its possible that the C02 could dissolve in the water to make a weak acid, and that makes some interaction, but i would err towards that not being much of a contributing factor.

So, with that in mind, what can be done to stop it?

You could try and use a powerful desiccant to extend the life of your pads. Adding a powdered desiccant should absorb at least some of the water and therefore increase the life of your pads, you may even be able to to add some dry crushed silica gel to the top of the pad. The problem with that though is that the substrate is much more efficiently placed to absorb the water, so it might not be that effective.

If the water is indeed the issue though, you could take some of you old pads, and separate the platinum (try burning at a low temp followed by an organic solvent). That should leave you with colloidal platinum, carbon, and some ash (from the unknown substrate). Try impregnating various other substrates with that, perhaps with your own desiccant.
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#5 cypress

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Posted 18 June 2010 - 02:26 AM

Platinum of course is the catalytic chemical that participates in intermediate reactions breaking the hydrocarbon bonds at much lower energy levels than without the platinum intermediates. the platinum infused pads break down by two mechanisms. One is that a small percentage of incomplete and side reactions generate coke and coke byproducts that infuse into and also surface foul the platinum thus preventing the platinum from participating. In addition a small percentage of the platinum is continuously oxidized by other side reactions. The second reason is that the heat resistant fiber material that the platinum is infused onto breaks down over time further limiting surface area for exposure of the platinum to the hydrocarbon. The lighter fluid of course vaporizes and then reacts while passing through the catalytic pad.

As far as how to make one? I don't have any information on that.
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#6 BrandoAZ

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Posted 18 June 2010 - 10:19 PM

Cypress, thank you for the information, it helps in my understanding of the process.
I am in process now of trying to buy a quantity of the pads from a manufacturer in china through alibaba.com thought that may not be cost effective
that said, id still like to figure out a how to create see a more "durable" version of the pad
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#7 lunar

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 09:40 PM

Cypress, thank you for the information, it helps in my understanding of the process.
I am in process now of trying to buy a quantity of the pads from a manufacturer in china through alibaba.com thought that may not be cost effective
that said, id still like to figure out a how to create see a more "durable" version of the pad


Hi Brandon, I am on the same boat. Have you discovered how to make your own catalyst or buy raw materials in bulk to use on these hand warmers? The burners they produce are crappy as hell. I appreciate your attention. Thanks.
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#8 TSellers

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Posted 8 November 2014 - 08:34 AM

These questions are still very germane. I recently repacked a hand warmer's reservoir with Carbon Felt and that seems to have improved its performance and reliability. The next obvious improvement would be the catalyst head as noted in this thread. You'll laugh when I confess I tried to make a catalyst out of JB Weld and carbon felt, which of course did not work.

 

Now I wondering about the silica wick that is used by the vaping community. Would that have any potential as a material in hand warmer catalyst heads?


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