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July 6, 2006
Mobile Labs Could Not Have Produced Hydrogen As Described, Part III, And Rebuttal

In the final installment of ChemicalConsultant's analysis, he addresses the engineering of the mobile labs in relation to the hydrogen production explanation, as well as the folly of using these facilities instead of simply buying trucks to transport prefilled containers of hydrogen. He also provides a rebuttal to comments made in the thread for Part I.

8. A bank of 5 Air Storage Cylinders is reported in the Major Components of the Trailers section. These serve no purpose for making hydrogen, although Annex D suggests that perhaps they were used as a source of sparging gas (see Comment and Assessment, Aeration and stirring). The investigators do point out that the sparging tube is too short to reach the alleged reaction liquid. Even if the tube were long enough, the air would dilute the hydrogen produced. Also mentioned in the Major Components section are two feed tanks. If the trailers were really used for making hydrogen, these would be unnecessary since water could be monitored and fed directly from the main water tank.

9. Annex D does not report whether the Iraqis ever explained why a mobile system would be preferable to using only pre filled cylinders. Instead of wasting space with a reaction system, 10 or more cylinders could be easily cushioned to be driven over rough terrain and used to fill at least 20 2.5 m3 balloons far more rapidly, thus decreasing the system vulnerability in a combat situation.

10. I have also read an article from The Observer, June 15, 2003 which quoted an “experienced” observer, Martin Furmanski. He claimed that large numbers of balloon launches are required to collect meteorological data for unguided rockets and field artillery. He also claimed that typical balloons require 4 m3 of hydrogen. The alleged Iraqi process takes 3 hours (see Process Description) to miraculously make 10 m3 from 1 kg of sodium hydroxide. This means that supposedly three hours are spent out in the field, then, even if 10 m3 were produced, less than 3 balloons are filled and then the process is repeated. Sounds hard to get large numbers of launches this way.

Mr. Furmanski also mentions the Marconi Military Meteorological System manufactured in the UK, reportedly purchased by Iraq in 1985. Back in 2003, I found a link on the Marconi website to this equipment. Regrettably, I failed to print it out at the time, but as I recall, it made no mention of in-field hydrogen production. The photos didn’t show any of the equipment that appeared in Annex D. Marconi also claimed that the balloons could be filled within 20 minutes and then the mobile unit could move elsewhere. That would only be consistent with pre filled hydrogen cylinders.

Rebuttal For Part 1 Comments

Thanks [to Dave] for providing the links to the two patents you cited in your response to my Part I. Some of us 120 year olds like to keep up with what’s going on. I did take a look at the 2003 patent application which you say deals with the same process as the 1909 patent.

Lines 29 through 41, p1, of the 1909 patent describe mixing molten caustic soda (NaOH) with finely divided aluminum. Claim 7 of the patent, lines 24 through 29, p 2, of this patent says that the ratio of caustic soda molecules relative to aluminum ranges from one to three, i.e. an excess of soda. The 2003 patent application (which became a patent later) involves adding small amount of aluminum to a strong caustic solution stepwise until the aluminum is in excess. Is it ok if I tell your boss at the chemical outfit where I assume you work that you view these as the same process?

You and Simon666 didn’t seem to note the typo in the 2003 application, section 0055, You, Simon and the Andersens wrote the equation as

2Al + 6H20 -> Al 2 (OH)3 +3H2

Back in 1909 when I learned how to balance chemical equations I was told that if you have 12 H and 6 O on the left side you are supposed to have the same on the right, not 9 H and 6 O. The compound that’s being made is alumina trihydrate (tri as in three) so you should have had 2 Al(OH)3 on the right.

The 2003 application is quite interesting so I will be following up with a detailed analysis. In brief I would like to point out that the Andersens in part claim that it is essential for add the aluminum and possibly water stepwise for the “catalytic” process to work whereas the Al Kindi process described in the Iraq Survey Group Final Report (i.e the Duelfer report) annex mixes aluminum and NaOH dry, then adds water.

ChemicalConsultant is reviewing the comments on all of the threads and may present further arguments in the coming days.

UPDATE, 7/13: I'm closing the comments. I think the debate has gotten off-track a little bit (but still handsomely done by all sides), and it's now just two or three people talking past each other.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 6, 2006 12:00 AM

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» "Hydrogen Production Cover Story" from Presto Agitato
Captain Ed has an interesting three part series (plus an Aside) on the hydrogen production trailers that were mistaken for biological weapons production trailers. I would also recommend this site, at the CIA, as being either informative or illustrative... [Read More]

Tracked on July 6, 2006 2:03 PM

» Mobile Labs Could Not Have Produced Hydrogen As Described from Cabal of Doom
Over at Captain's Quarters there's a multi-part post about those discredited mobile labs that were cited by Colin Powell at the UN in the run-up to the war. The media tells us they were for making hydrogen, an expert... [Read More]

Tracked on July 6, 2006 10:43 PM

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