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Platinum Catalyst Hand Warmer questions

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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.

standardgold.th.jpg

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:

paltinumburnerpad.th.jpg

 

 

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

 

burnerl.th.jpg

 

 

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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I see no one has posted in almost 6 years.  I love the Jon-e warmer, and I have a bunch.  The one I'm using this cold winter doesn't like to lay down.  Also, I'm using a felt bag to hold it; the flannel bag always allowed over heating, but more O2.  Anyhow, I do get it that the catalytic combuster may get fouled --- eventually.  I went back to the original patent (2,670,728) to see what I could do about it.  Possibly baking the element at a high temperature would help.  Otherwise, I can make new burners with silica fiber cord and silica fiber (or fiberglass) woven tubes.  Then I need to buy platinum chloride or palladium chloride.  Soak the cord in the solution, then heat to 1400 F to make elemental Pt or Pd.  Palladium chloride costs ~$50/g on ebay; Platinum chloride is ..... unavailable.  But I think I can make it from platinum wire and bleach.  Stay tuned.  If it works, and doesn't kill me, I'll repost.   

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Wow, six years and I'm still trying to find the magic sauce for handwarmers.

I'm wondering if a carbon fibre sleeve, 'finger trap style' may be more suitable than a silica woven tube. Big Clive has a video about how to improve negative Ion generators using carbon fibres. I want to upgrade ours to improve our indoor air quality in case we get bad forest fires again next summer. A friend who's son deals with all sorts of carbon fiber sent me some pictures of what his son has, and one of the items is a carbon fibre sleeve that looks like it has a diameter perfect for a Jon-e GI.

But while we're on the topic of silica, I replaced the cotton packing in a handwarmer last week with diatomaceous earth. I capped it with some carbon felt to stop it from spilling out. The results were very good, better than the cotton. It seemed to hold 50% more fuel, and absorb more of the fuel smell.

I had an impression that the energy produced by palladium in an exothermic reaction was less than platinum, but I'd have to go look for where I got that idea, I think it was from an engineer friend that dealt with catalyst material in his job.

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I think that all of us with JON-E warmers, or at least those that work fairly well, like Peacock, feel similarly.  I also thought about carbon fiber.  It will oxidize at elevated temperatures (like 400 degrees) so I don't think it is a good choice.  I have had experience with silica fiber and asbestos.  While hazard from asbestos is next to nil, it has such a bad reputation these days that I wouldn't consider using it in any application.  

There are articles and patents on use of carbon fibers in air purification.  The fibers are conductors and are loaded with metalic particles.  I don't know if "spark-over" shortens the life of the apparatus or not.  But whether you are using carbon fiber or steel wire, with collecting plates, the priniciple remains the same.  It is electrostatic precipitation.  For more information, look up the Cotrell precipitator.  It describles how the concept was first embodied.  These days, electronic controls are use to prevent arcing as much as possible.  Smoke from a brush or forest fire, or from a fireplace for that matter, will have alkaline particles that can successfully be captured by an electrostatic precipitator. If you would like to build a model (not hard) go to https://www.instructables.com/id/Electrostatic-Smoke-Precipitation/  There are other sources too, of course. 

Diatomaceous earth has a bulk density of 16 lb/cu. ft. so it can well be a great choice for warmer packing.  I wonder if the fuel vaporization rate would be too great for the burner to handle, however, leading to less efficiency.  Maybe you can answer that.  As for absorbing odor, I don't see how DE would do anything; you are dealing with a vapor, after all.  Importantly, the cotton/felt packing is intended to prevent spillage.  If the DE does the same thing, then no worries. 

Palladium is a lot cheaper than platinum, which is what the Zippo warmer may use.  If I am correct, I think it may be a poorer catalyst than Pt, which could be responsible for the poor reviews of the Zippo.  

Anyhow, like I wrote, I'm thinking of getting some Pt wire and seeing if I can make Pt(IV)Cl from it, which I would then distribute onto silica fiber cord.   If this works, I post. 

By the way, I almost forgot.  I removed a JON-E burner from its housing and inserted it into a coil of copper wire.  I left the ends of the wire long enough to reach the bottom of the warmer fuel reservoir.  When i lit the wick, the wire transmitted heat to the reservoir, preheating and vaporizing the fuel.  This helped keep the warmer working under conditions where the unmodified device fell below the required catalytic temperature. 

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Interesting.

I also tried a conductive screw from the catalyst head down the center into the reservoir to transfer heat and promote evaporation. Didn't notice a large difference.

I just did the test once with the diatomaceous earth in a zippo. It held about 40ml of fuel without leaking out, and went for about 14 hrs., the amount of heat however did not seem to be greater than previously when the cotton was there, so not sure if that meant evaporation was the same. I'm going to have to try a few more times. I also tried fragmented hydroton clay pellets, and rockwool. They seemed to work about the same as cotton, but had the advantage that it will not get charred. Do you think that diatomaceous earth would hold more liquid than the rockwool, or perhaps silica kitty litter?

I didn't realize that that carbon fibre would oxidize like that, my only experience has been with using the carbon felt.

The video from Big CLive about improving a negtive Ion generator using the carbon fibre is here:

https://youtu.be/cKCUJ89Vvi8

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Neat!  What I really like about the video is that as the carbon fiber ablates, more is exposed.  When you get down to the sleeve, you can just toss it and make a new one. Regardless of the material you use, ESPs will collect smoke particles and are fairly energy efficient; high voltage, low current. 

As to rock wool v. DE, rock wool is less dense. I suppose that translates to more fluid capacity.   I don't know if the low density is due to it being "fluffy" or not.  If it is, then you probably will have fuel that can spill out, potentially a fire hazard.  I like your idea of DE, so long as spilling out is not a problem.  The only question I have about its use is if the fuel:DE surface tension is stronger than the potential for capillary action/evaporation to bring the fuel to the burner.  If "yes," then you would likely be leaving fuel behind.  If "no," then the DE is not actually being "wetted" and it is not clear if it is an advantage as compared to cotton packing.   As to charring, I've had a little browning of the packing, but nothing that would make me change to some other media. 

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I've seen enough charring on the cotton to suspect that it 'glazes' and forms a partial barrier to the evaporation of the fumes, and that's why I use a strip of carbon felt across the top of the cotton, which seems to work well.

I'm still trying to put my finger on why the Zippo's seem to be the worst of breed even after you replace the catalyst with proper platinum catalyst.

For the one experiment I did with the DE and the Zippo, I just thought that as it ran for 14 hours or so, most of the fuel must have been used. When the reservoir had the cotton, it seemed to go out and needed to be re-activated numerous times. With the DE, it did not go out once it was activated. Do you think it would be best to run the test again, but first weigh the DE, and then after the fuel seems to be used up, remove the DE afterward and compare weight to see how much fuel may have been left behind?

Good to hear that the CF hack makes sense. Seems odd to be preparing for forest fires when a virus is the big concern. But ironically I was listening to a podcast today that pointed out that the virus has caused much better air quality in polluted places like Wuhan which has cut deaths attributed to the poor air quality by 30%. And the air quality we had 2 years ago as a result of the fires was worse than they have in the worst city in China apparently. I can't make any home test kits for virus, but I can mitigate indoor air quality, so I may as well be pro-active now. (I'm just taping MERV 16 filters to floor fans to place in windows to draw outside air in, and also using the Negative Ionizers). I had them ready last summer, and we had no fire smoke to contend with, which is fine by me.

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I don't know your home set-up.  If you have central HVAC, you can install electrostatic air filters which will collect ash particles pretty well.  While I understand your concept, I'm just wondering if the power consumption won't put a strain on your electric bill.  The ionizers, by the way, typically cause charged dusts to settle on adjacent surfaces, like cloth, walls, etc.  Perhaps really good masks is a better idea?  I'm on a Prepper website and a fellow showed his design for a safety mask.  It was one version, and I began toying around with another.  I'm seeking a design that people can throw together quickly using available materials, is effective and cheap.  My first iteration worked -- but it needed improvement.  What I have now is a 2-gallon zip-lock bag with inlet filters made of disposable water bottles.  I haven't made an exhaust valve yet.  The water bottles are cut to hold paper towel.  By lightly spraying with cooking oil, and by providing layers, particles have to go through a labrynth so particulate matter will tend to impinge on the oil surface and be taken out even if indivdual fibers are otherwise to widely spaced to stop them.  In essence, this is a depth-filter.   What I'm not satisfied with is that the bags are not sufficiently clear to provide undistorted vision.  I think some of the clear, polypropylene bags used for candy or bread, or a clear plastic bottle that I can cut to the right shape would work.  These plastics can all be fused to each other so no glue or tape is needed and the seal is rather good.  I need a little more work, then I can send it to a lab for efficiency testing.  If it passes, I'll publicize it so people can improve their level of safety.  Also, it is very portable. 

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The March 22 episode of the Podcast 'Science VS.' discusses the effectiveness of different mask materials, primarily against viral transmission, but also touches on particulates. It may be of some interest.

I'd rather wipe down a few surfaces than wear a mask indoors 24/7, especially while sleeping. The power draw of the window fan is 100W on high speed. So you can run ten of them for about the same power as one air con unit. The fanless Ionizers use less than 10W. The lights I use for hydroponics are the biggest power draw.

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Thanks for the heads up.  I listened to the podcast.  Son-of-a-gun!  I think I can help.  I mentioned my base concept.  Today I will work on the mask further.  If you don't mind, where are you?  I'm in North Hills, CA (and when the weather clears and when travel bans are lifted, at Fawnskin, CA, North Shore of Big Bear Lake).  Name is Jay.

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