Every crisis can also be viewed an opportunity, or so it seems. As many motorists are having trouble making ends meet with rising fuel (and food) prices, various websites are popping up (usually with affiliate schemes) that make tempting promises such as:
- “…use water as fuel and laugh at rising gas costs…”
- “double your mileage”
- “…cooler running engine…”
- “no knocking”
- “one quart of water provides over 1800 gallons of HHO gas which can literally last for months”
You will find numerous websites if you google for “water fuel car” or similar terms. Mostly the websites that make these claims sell e-books and other kits with instructions on building your own hydrogen generator from glass jars, electrodes and tubes to hook up to your existing engine.
Such kits draw power from your car’s electrical system (the battery and the generator charging it) to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gas, which is then fed into the air intake of the engine, so the hydrogen-oxygen mixture will be burnt along the air/gasoline mixture in the car’s combustion chambers. How well can such a system really work?
If a a “water-engine” as described above were to produce extra power beyond the power obtained from burning gasoline it would violate fundamental laws of physics. The First Law of Thermodynamics states that no energy is ever lost or gained, it just changes form, such as chemical energy to heat when you burn wood or heat to mechanical energy in a steam engine. An engine that uses only liquid water to produce water vapour (i.e. water plus heat) in its exhaust while providing mechanical energy violates this law of energy balance. It outputs energy with no energy going it. It would be a perpetual motion engine, which is physically impossible.
The sad fact is, people who buy these systems usually have a very rudimentary understanding of science. They take these unverified claims at face value, or are at least prepared to give them the benefit of doubt and spend money on testing unverified claims.
The “water-fuelled car” in detail
To split water (H2O) into its constituent elements hydrogen and oxygen takes electric energy. While the engine is running that energy will come from a generator driven by the engine via a belt. Just like running with your headlights on or your radio blaring will cause your engine to work a bit harder and burn more fuel, so will an electrolytic “hydrogen generator” take its toll on your gas tank.
Assuming an efficient setup, about 50-70% of the electrical energy provided will end up as chemical energy in the explosive hydrogen-oxygen mixture fed back into the engine, the rest will just warm up the water. A gasoline engine manages to convert up to 20% of the chemical energy contained in its fuel into mechanical energy, which is then available for driving the wheels or a generator. That generator converts maybe 90% of its mechanical input into electrical power. Altogether this means that burning the hydrogen returns only around 1/10 of the power originally invested into generating the hydrogen from water. It’s like you just burnt 10 litres (or gallons) of fuel in order to avoid burning one litre (or gallon).
What this of course means is that a “water-powered car” actually burns more gasoline and gets worse mileage than an unmodified car. However, the output of the “hydrogen generator” is so small and its practical negative effect on fuel mileage is so minor, you are unlikely to actually notice that, even if you accurately measure fuel economy. For example, a setup that draws 3 amperes of current from your generator (as claimed in one of the websites we’ve studied) will only use 1/20 of one horsepower (3 A x 12 V = 36 W = 0.036 kW = 0.050 hp). The difference in fuel usage is smaller than the difference between say driving with a full or a half empty fuel tank, which also changes fuel economy as a heavier car takes more power to accelerate.
The advertised fact that the “water-powered car” uses so little water (“one quart lasts for months”) is actually a give-away that the system is a hoax. If you produced hydrogen at home from tap water and a solar panel on your roof and stored it in a pressurized tank in your car to run it on only hydrogen, you would find that the amount of water used to make the hydrogen is still in the same order of magnitude as the amount of gasoline used, maybe something like a third by volume (I’d have to look up the exact numbers on relative energy content of hydrogen and hydrocarbons). In a water car that uses virtually no water (no matter where the electricty to make the hydrogen came from) the hydrogen can not be making any significant contribution to running it because there’s too little of it!
Less pinking / knocking?
I don’t know how many of the people who sell these useless plans are simply ignorant about science and how many are fully aware they’re scamming people. In any case, their other claims are equally baseless as their claims about improved fuel economy. Hydrogen has a higher energy content but also much lower octane rating than gasoline because it burns faster, more violently. This means your engine is more likely to start knocking or “pinking” than when run on gasoline (or gasoline / ethanol mixtures), not less. This is a problem that BMW had a hard time dealing with when they converted the engine of a 7-series saloon car to run on hydrogen. In practice this problem doesn’t matter in a “water car” because those “hydrogen generators” output so little hydrogen that it makes almost no difference to the engine, unlike real hydrogen cars with hydride or high pressure hydrogen tanks.
Cooler running engine?
Also, a hydrogen / oxygen mixture does not burn “cooler” than a gasoline / air mixture. Ask the space shuttle designers: The only reason the space shuttle’s hydrogen-oxygen engine doesn’t melt itself is because it’s cooled with liquid hydrogen (at -253 C / -423 F). Hydrogen / oxygen flames burn so hot they can be used for cutting steel like butter. First, hydrogen release more energy per unit of weight than does gasoline. Secondly, while the oxygen used for burning gasoline in a car engine is diluted with nitrogen (which makes up 80% of the air we breathe), the ogygen / hydrogen mix from the generator has not been diluted with anything inert, which is another reason why it burns so hot.
The vater vapour in the “water car” exhaust has no cooling effect whatsoever, because it’s not derived from liquid water, hence there’s no cooling effect from evaporation heat. Again, in the “water car” setup it makes no difference because there’s too little hydrogen involved.
In reality a “water as fuel” car is a placebo. Technically it doesn’t make any noticable difference to the amount of gasoline you use per kilometre or mile, but it may change the way you think about driving. If you do see any drop in fuel usage, it may be simply that you’re thinking more about fuel usage because of the investment you’ve just made and now drive less aggressively than before and that can indeed result in a modest reduction. Beyond that, any claimed changes are either due to wishful thinking, a vivid imagination or a cruel hoax to deceive unsuspecting customers.
The only way you’ll really see a 50% drop in your monthly fuel bill is if you basically cut your driving in half or if you change to a significantly different kind of car, such as from a bulky V6 to an economical Toyota Prius.
The number one factor that affects fuel economy around town is weight: A lighter car uses less fuel. Don’t get a more powerful engine than you really need. A more efficient setup, such as a hybrid or a new clean diesel can make a big difference too. Use public transport, ride a bicycle or walk wherever you can. It’s good for your health too 🙂
UPDATE: Here is a good page that explains in more detail why the claims for “HHO” don’t add up (use Ctrl+A to mark the text as it’s difficult to read as dark text on dark background).
can you answer this simple question for me: If these guys are so convinced the equipment that they sell yields the benefits they claim, why don’t they have it tested by an independent credible third party of their choice?
Why should I have to drop my hard earned money into their pocket to test something for them that they themselves can’t be bothered to have independently verified, even though it’s their business?
Let’s imagine a world in which neither cars nor pharmaceuticals would have to be tested before being thrown on the market. Would you be happy to crash test a car for Ford, or feed untested pills to your kids for pharmaceutical companies?
I wouldn’t have thought so.
Your line of argument comes straight out of these snake oil salesmen’s playbook: They tell their shills to ask anyone who questions the validity of their claims if they have bought and tried one of these systems, which is of course how these people make money, by people buying their untested kits.
@ bufford boy
cold tubes condense gas right? isnt this how condensate forms?
I have seen the gas in the delivery line condense into water at cooler temperatures.
cold air expansion rates are better in combustion engines with cool air versus warm air because you are drawing denser air into the intake hence in colder temperatures I should get even better consumption.With the technology in oil today do you really think there is much more frictional resistance when the engine is cold(maybe for a few minutes) after all most engines maintain themselves at the correct operational temperature very well and car manuals delivered with new cars do not recommend”warm up” periods.Unless your pavement is made out of cement,try pushing a car on warm tarmac with warm tyres .most cars will spin the wheels better with cold rubber and a cold road.” more friction more grip right?less friction and my wheels will spin easier, try it, your wheels will always spin easier when the rubber is cold.to “take more energy to rotate the tyres against the pavement “try again.check out some drag cars and see what they do to the tyres before a run,they dont cool them down to create more friction thats for sure.
Joe, Thank you very much for your time. I was away for sometime, and, have read this only now.
So, doesnt this explain how you get better fuel efficiency? The presence of Hydrogen, makes the fuel to burn quicker, and, delivers some more energy to the piston (to the wheels), which would have otherwise gone into the exhaust?
Assuming this works, it explains a lot of things. The amount of Hydrogen (with excellent dispersion & flame velocity) probably does not matter, and, even miniscular amounts are sufficient to ignite the entire fuel air mixture inside the piston relatively much faster. Also, it is not ‘lean’ fuel-air mixture which gives this additional efficiency. Efficiency of conversion of water to HHO does not matter, as very little of Hydrogen is required, because the energy from HHO is not responsible for this.
How the ‘knocking’ is avoided, is probably to be answered. It is left to the ECU algos, which is varied. Or, is the fuel burning got just a little speeded up to cause any ‘knocking’?
Now, about the guys who sell – They have no knowledge of what they sell – but found something that worked! – they have no infrastructure or knowledge or willingness to get into a business with manufacturing these kits – get it tested – all time and effort taking measures – but want to cash in what they have tested in their own crude way – they just want to make fast buck – so they are doing it this way.
Just my opinion…
I would agree with you about the tires. I was thinking one dimensionally; colder surfaces in contact have greater coefficients of friction, and perfectly flat surfaces at cold enough temperatures can cold-wield together. Your description is more accurate because of the adhesiveness of the warm tires.
The other affects are there to be sure, but may be small. The greater friction from driving through denser is likely to be the greatest mpg killer among the ones I mentioned.
Here is another try. At the same throttle position, the same volume of air goes into the intake. Colder air is denser (more mass), so it makes sense to say better fuel economy is expected. However, my guess is that the ambient temperature sensor is connected to whatever sensor you have that measures air mass/volume, and this causes the ECU to lengthen the pulse-width for fuel injection, and negating the increases in mpg.
I recently made a post in another forum and tried to explain all of the science behind why this device works. Also, I posted some links to the National Hydrogen Association where it shows that one of their members sells these electrolysis devices. My username is the same as it is here. Here is the link:
I have read your other thread, and, see that you seem to share my views. Except the ‘lean fuel air mixture’ area. The amount of Oxygen added to the air intake by the electrolyser is so little, less than 1%, (I am not starting from molar volumes, as it is there somewhere in the thread above) that it does not make it ‘lean’, or by the ECU either. If the entire water (750gms/hr as mentioned) ( – 750cc * 22.4 / 18) is consumed for water vapor, this produces just about less than ( – 750cc * 22.4 / 18 = 933 litres) 1000 litres of water vapor (I have not considered the higher temperature), which again is very small compared to the 240 kl of air intake at 2000 rpm for a 2 litre engine.
My reasoning of the engine running cooler is this way – With the addtion of Hydrogen, the combustion process takes place faster near the TDC, and, more energy is transferred to the piston. Now this additional energy comes from the erstwhile losses, which is more in the form of heat – others, light (Yes, the explosion produces light too), mechanical losses etc., remain the same. This lesser heat energy explains the engine running cooler. In addition, these electrolysers, by and large uses 12V straight, and, much of this energy (electrolyser requires about 1.5V only) is used up in heating the water. So the intake contains water vapour too, though small, which helps in running the engine cooler, though this effect is toa very much smaller degree.
@Copparam P Ashok
Your argument and description makes good sense as well. Other people have said this in other forums. I have considered this too, but haven’t been able to fully conclude that this would result in a net increase of energy.
I agree with you concerning my previously stated hypothesis; the effect would be small, so it may have no effect whatsoever (?). The interesting thing is that a lot of scientific research articles explore hydrogen addition with lean conditions. For those that don’t know already, hydrogen allows one to run a car leaner without the risks to the engine to a certain extent, depending on the quantity of hydrogen.
My electrolyser design could be modified to take better advantage of the applied voltage by using multiple plates in series. I am getting good results, so I haven’t been concerned with this design yet. The minimum applied voltage to split water is 1.23 V.
Or, alternatively you could have a DC-DC converter to reduce the battery voltage. These are pretty efficient 80% to 90%, and, compact. So you can avoid the bother of additional plates and the size. BTW, I am an Electronics Engineer, so my bias is on that side. You need to have the plates closer, though, or else the amount of current will reduce.
However, you could leave things as it is, because it is probably not the quantity of Hydrogen, as Hydrogen is not being used for its energy content here, but as an igniter only. Assuming your electrolyser takes about 2A, that is only about 24Watts (or maybe 29W, as the alternator regulated output voltage is set at 14.4-14.7W) – too small to be ignored, considering the increase in mpg you get.
@Copparam P Ashok
The DC-DC converter is interesting idea. However, I have blown 25 amp fuses with the device–as the water solution warms, more current draw takes place–but have yet to blow a 30 amp fuse. So, assuming the 25 amps is constant over an hour, this equates to (25 A) x (12 V) = 300 Watt-hours.
The theoretical energy needed to split 2 moles of H2O into 2 moles of H2 and 1 mole of O2 is about 27 Watt-hours at standard conditions (298 K) according Gibbs Free Energy equation. Of course, there are efficiency losses, so assuming a 60% efficient device, this becomes about 45 Watt-hours. I may be producing about 6 grams of hydrogen per hour (?). Warmer water does lower the energy requirements by a few watt-hours, but I have yet to decide if boiling water is a good thing or not.
I received an email from an author of a research paper that explored hydrogen addition under lean engine conditions. This is a summary of his response to explain how it works for lean conditions: ” Hydrogen allows the engine to engine to operate leaner. There is extra air so this reduces the need to generate a vacuum for light load/part load operation. There are less combustion gases in the cylinder and not all are exhausted after the exhaust stroke, which results in a better value of gamma, the ratio of specific heats. Because of additional air, the combustion gases have lower temperatures, which reduces the heat transferred to the cylinder walls.”
He also said that the idea will not work unless the engine is operating lean.
I agree, lean burn is the only possible route how adding hydrogen could lead to any fuel savings.
Several manufacturers have used direct injection to enable lean burn on spark ignition engines in order to be able to do away with throttle losses. However I notice VAG (Volkswagen Audi) only claim a 15% improvement for their direct injection FSI engines compared to regular non-lean burn engines.
Also they added exhaust gas recirculation and a second NOx-absorbing catalyst in order to avoid the high NOx emissions that normally come with an excess of oxygen in the combustion chamber.
@Copparam P Ashok,
a faster burn that leads to a higher working pressure in the engine closer to the beginning of the work stroke is a double-edged sword. Not only does it allow more work to be performed from the same amount of heat, it also puts more strain on the engine. That’s because the conrod hasn’t moved much sideways yet, hence downforce at this point would strain the bearings, in the same way knocking does. Therefore there is a limit how much efficiency can be gained here without wrecking the engine.
Thanks, Joe. I was exactly thinking on those lines as the movement of the piston per degree is small near the TDC (or near BDC). In addition, even if the spark is retarded to just after the TDC, the timing advance mechanism at higher rpm of the engine, could fire the spark before TDC moving towards knocking. If it is well after TDC then there is probably no benefit.
Only 1.23V is being used for conversion, and, at this level the efficiency is less than 10%, rest of it heats the water up.
About the leaner burn, the point I was making is that addition of such small quantities of Hydrogen (HHO) itself is insufficient to make it leaner. That is, if you want it leaner, you need to make it leaner.
@joew and Copparam P Ashok
I liked the info on post #’s 109 and 110. Btw, studies have shown that hydrogen can lower harmful emissions that are normal to operating lean.
There is obviously a contradiction: I claim positive results, yet it appears that the vehicle needs to operating lean to obtain such results according to the research and the response from one of the authors. However, I do not believe that my results occur only due to placebo effect; of course, I haven’t proof otherwise at this point. The author’s response was vague in some regards, so I still consider modification of the sensor readings to somehow play a role for these results–the author never discussed this possibility. The steam mechanism seems very questionable (I haven’t heard or seen similar statements). The only other alternative that I can imagine is that the emission products are modified in such a way that affects the oxygen sensor. Still, it appears that 10-15 grams of hydrogen per hour is the maximum input for standard 80 amp alternators and semi-efficient electrolysis design, so its hard to determine if there is a significant effect on the overall emissions. What do you guys think about this idea? I also recently heard that the oxygen sensor doesn’t measure oxygen content in the exhaust directly, but rather the gasoline vapor, which is then correlated to the equivalent oxygen content–is this correct joew?
From all I’ve read the oxygen sensor really measures oxygen, not hydrocarbons. It measures oxygen inside the exhaust pipe vs. oxygen in outside air:
Zirconium oxide ceramic along with a platinum coated electrode and a heater make up the major internal components of the zirconia oxygen sensor. The zirconia sensor generates its own voltage and is not reliant on the ECU to operate. The main element is the zirconia ceramic, which becomes conductive for oxygen ions at about 310° C. At this temperature, zirconia dioxide develops an electrical charge as oxygen ions pass through it. Since nature is constantly seeking to balance itself, when you place zirconia ceramic between environments with different amounts of oxygen, as the oxygen passes through the zirconia to offset the balance, the zirconia will develop a slight charge. The strength of that charge will depend on how many oxygen ions pass through it. The greater the difference in oxygen between the two atmospheres, the greater the charge developed. The zirconia oxygen sensor then uses a thin platinum coating to accumulate that charge, carry it to the sensor wires and onto the ECU.
To JoeW, Bob and others – Thanks for sticking to your guns here and making scientific truths available to us less scientifically knowledgeable consumers. I instinctively knew that this was just another of many “improve your fuel efficiency” scams when I saw an ad on CNN.com, but I couldn’t resist checking out the various purveyor web sites to see what their claims are. Amazing how they take pot shots at you for using science to make a common sense conclusion but how they consistently fail to use science to back their claims. If what these folks are doing wasn’t so shameful, I’d be amused at how they make their pitches while using terrible grammar, misspelled words and so many unsupported “facts” and “testimonials.” No doubt you’ve saved at least some people from lining the pockets of these predators. For anyone who is reading these blogs contemplating the claims of the scammers, you came here because you are skeptical. Go with your instincts.
According to website Aardvark.co.nz (http://www.aardvark.co.nz/ozzie_freedom.shtml) Ozzie Freedom of “Water 4 Gas” fame, whose original name was Eyal Siman-Tov, appears to be a Scientologist. His resume on one of his websites (http://www.sanecomputers.com/articles/resume/eyal.htm) includes a link to the website of the “International Association of Scientologists” and proudly displays a so called “Sponsor for Total Freedom” award that he received from the cult.
Scientologists are taught that “75 million years ago [evil dictator Xenu] brought billions of his people to Earth in DC-8-like spacecraft, stacked them around volcanoes and killed them using hydrogen bombs” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenu).
Of course these beliefs have no direct relationship to whether his “water 4 gas” plans work or not, but there is a connection. Back in 1995 it was estimated that to rise to level “OT8″ of the cult requires courses that cost around $380,000. Prices probably have gone up since then.
So while you can’t be sure how much mileage you’re going to get out of buying one of these untested kits from Ozzie and his friends, the cult that Ozzie appears to be a member of is likely to get some mileage out of the course fees that Ozzie will be able to afford with your money 😉
hello your article is good and also accept that energy is transferring from one form to another. but you forgot that water is also created with chemical reaction in oxygen and hydrogen. we can break the atomic combination of water( hydrogen+oxygen) using electricity. and hydrogen is the most powerful fuel . when the oxygen and hydrogen is extracted . it is directed toward engine where the hydrogen burns with gas and push the pistons. remember Hydrogen release twice energy than gas or another form.
We’ve been over this one many times: Burning energy-rich hydrogen by itself can not improve mileage if that hydrogen is paid for by burning an increased amount of (less energy-rich) gasoline to drive an alternator to make electricity for splitting water.
If hydrogen stores three times the energy by weight as gasoline does then it follows from the laws of physics that you have to burn at least three times more gasoline to make a certain amount of hydrogen (considerably more if you take into account the losses involved in a combustion engine, an alternator and an electrolysis cell). You gain nothing by then using that expensively made hydrogen in place of gasoline.
To give you an analogy: A US dollar is worth about 10 Mexican pesos, but it doesn’t follow from that that a guy in Mexico gets richer by changing dollars to pesos, if he starts off by buying those dollars with pesos. In fact he’ll end up with considerably less money than he started off with, because of conversion losses.
It’s the same with energy carriers: Turning gasoline to electricity to hydrogen in order to replace gasoline ends up using more gasoline as sticking with burning gasoline directly.
The only serious argument that can be made (and buffordboy23 has made it very well) is if hydrogen burnt *in conjunction with* gasoline can make the burning of gasoline so much more efficient that this makes up for the considerable energy losses involved in making hydrogen.
There are studies that have demonstrated a net gain may be achievable under certain lean-burn conditions, but it has to be remembered that regular gasoline engines do not usually run lean and that there are various good technical reasons for why they don’t.
Lean burn engines, such as the new VW/Audi FSI engines, have reduced throttle losses. They are mostly free breathing, like diesels. To make them work well required considerable technical effort, including a new injection system, new oxygen sensors and a new emission catalyst.
You are not going to get there simply by adding a jam jar with water and baking soda and a rubber hose hooked up to your battery in 10-15 year old car.
I think the steam mechanism proposal is a junk idea now. I modified the setup to bypass the sensors, and still obtained good results.
Here is a new idea for criticism. We already talked about how hydrogen makes the charge more homogeneous and leads to a better burn. As a consequence, more pollutants such as nitric oxides, etc. should be produced during combustion. This would imply a reduction in free oxygen. The result could be that the O2 sensor measures an oxygen content that differs from the stoichiometric point for a given throttle position. In this case, less oxygen means the engine is running rich, so the ECU leans the mixture by shortening the fuel pulse-width so that the combustion products have enough free oxygen so that the O2 perceives the engine is running at stoichiometric. So in other words, the car is actually running lean and with poorer emissions, although the ECU thinks it is running at stoichiometric.
By the way, these devices appear not to work well for drivers who stop and accelerate often, such as in city driving conditions. During heavy acceleration, the O2 sensor is ignored by the ECU, and the car runs rich to protect the engine. Perhaps, this lends some support to the idea above?
@ buffordboy re post #108
I have reduced current draw by using two homemade units in series as I too found I was blowing 20 amp fuses.Therefore indeed putting too much load on the alternator.I also found by using a fluke meter and 12volt power source that I could vary the initial current draw by the amount of bi carb/soda added to the water.The current draw does increase as the water heats up but not as much as running a single unit.Best result now using two units on the same route to work 10.1 litres/100km average speed 60km/h outside temp 17.5 degrees.two units in series seem to produce slightly more gas but use decidedly less current to do this.
Thanks for the info. Here is a site that may be of interest to those who want to build and discuss homemade hydrogen supplementation technologies:
There is a lot of great info/ideas on all topics (electrolytes, designs, etc.) concerning the technology. There is also a lot of garbage too.
I would really like to see some data for O2 sensors, emissions, and fuel-injection pulsewidths of hydrogen supplementations vs. normal usage. Please let me know if find such info.
I like that theory – the replacing of oxygen molecules in the WBO2 thus affecting closed loop stochiemetric calculations (ECU reduces idc / thus leans out)
You can test that theory by forcing the car into open loop and seeing if the fuel savings exist.
Another theory could be that with modern cars the adaptive ignition / fuel control is altered to lean out & run more timing with the addition of hydrogen because hydrogen both adds stability to the combustion as well as forces the front 02 sensor to lean. Keeping in mind that vehicle manufacturers generally tend to map their vehicles on the richer side of the AF curve during acceleration (for safety reasons) it is plausible that the hydrogen is in fact reducing the amount of fuel entering the combustion chamber. This is not unheard of, it is the exact situation when tuning for race fuel, where ignition timing is advanced, fuel mixture leaned, and more power is extracted from the same volume of fuel. A good datalog and some dyno time should easily be able to test these theories.
Do you know of any datalog software that would be good for such tests?
I see that OBD-II interfaces and accompanying software are sold in packages around $150-200:
Do you know anything about the quality this software?
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The anchor of CNBC can be heard saying in that famous anti-stimulus rant video that in Cuba, a lot of cars are running on water.
The distinguished professor of physics Y Zhao at the U of Ga will tell you, if you call, that there is no vilation of the second law of thermodynamics because there’s no “closed loop” to allow one. You have one process when you make HHO and another when you burn it with gasoline. Only if you burn only hydrogen is there a closed loop, and no one is trying to do that. BTW, if you look at the URL above. between 01:35:00 and 01:44:00 into it. you’ll see the anchor of CNBC remark how strange it is to see cars in Cuba “all running on water.”
Oh, a guy said that on TELEVISION? I guess it MUST be true then! 😉
(Sorry for being sarcastic!)
But seriously, commercial television networks are primarily an advertising medium. That’s how they make money after all. Secondly they also provide entertainment, to keep people in front of the sets in between the commercial breaks. If you consider them your main source of *accurate information*, I’d say you’ve got a bit of a problem 🙂
As for “hydrogen on demand” as a way to boost efficiency, I understand your point about burning hydrogen in conjunction with gasoline not violating the laws of physics, though many peddlers of “HHO”-kits fail to explain things this way and make it sound like a perpetuum mobile.
buffordboy23 posted some studies about added hydrogen helping in lean-burn situations, but it’s by no means clear that the quantities generated by those DIY electrolysis kits are sufficient to make any impact or that any boost in efficiency exceeds the losses involved in making the hydrogen (heat losses in the engine, generator and electrolysis equipment).
I’d like to see these wild claims of vastly improved fuel mileage independently verified. So far none of the people pushing these gadgets seem to be too interested in that.
I presume you are the person behind the site you linked to (Joe Shea / HHOgames.com). Have you done anything to have a major car magazine or government institution do a road test on a hydrogen DIY kit?
As far as Cuba is concerned, there may well be some guys there rigging up jam jars and wires to their 1954 Chevrolets, hoping to save fuel. For all we know it might work out about as well for them as the blockade imposed in 1962 that was meant to bring down Fidel Castro’s regime, but probably ended up helping him stay in power for half a century: It conveniently gave him someone else to always blame for all the economic problems in his country.
Let’s get real and determine the value of ideas not by how attractive they sound when some guy tries to sell them, but by their actual results.
One of the links on Joe Shea’s site took me to another hydrogen-related site that sells gadgets to manipulate the oxygen sensor readings.
Here’s a document where they try to explain why they are doing what they are doing:
They claim their device needs to tell the engine to use a leaner mixture (less gasoline in proportion to air) in order for it to work at the normal mix ratio of 14.7 to one (air to gasoline). That’s the ratio at which complete combustion occurs and both CO and NOx pollutants are minimized.
However, their explanation doesn’t hold any water (excuse my pun!).
They claim that the presence of hydrogen results in more complete combustion and that this leaves excess oxygen in the exhaust stream, which is sensed by the oxygen sensor and prompts the engine control unit to add gasoline, resulting in higher fuel consumption.
They claim they fake the oxygen sensor results only to counter this supposed effect.
In reality, more complete combustion in the engine would mean that carbon monoxide (CO) is oxidated all the way to carbon dioxide (CO2), a reaction that consumes one extra molecule of oxygen for every two molecules of carbon monoxide. If “hydrogen injection” really enabled more complete combustion, this would result in less leftover oxygen, which in turn results in less fuel being injected (without tinkering with the oxygen sensor), not more.
What they really are doing is forcing the engine management to shift to a leaner mixture, which burns hotter (possibly shortening engine life, especially valves and pistons) and also allows more smog-causing NOx
pollutants to escape from the exhaust pipe.
This most likely is the secret of how they can show any fuel savings at all: Yes, lean burn saves fuel at partial loads, but it will not work well in an engine not specifically designed for it and could cost you dearly down the road, not to speak of increased air pollution.
Hi Joew, I check this site out every now and then. It’s good to see the topic being discussed again.
What they really are doing is forcing the engine management to shift to a leaner mixture, which burns hotter (possibly shortening engine life, especially valves and pistons) and also allows more smog-causing NOx
pollutants to escape from the exhaust pipe.
I agree. If you make the engine burn leaner by some modification, you don’t need “HHO” at all to get better mileage; it will kill your car though. The only way HHO can work is if the fuel map data is shifted due to the HHO inputs, so that the car runs leaner. I still want want to see data on the latter method (no mods, HHO only), but haven’t had the funds yet to purchase a labtop and necessary interfacing software. Apparently, this was done in a Popular Mechanics article and failed: http://www.popularmechanics.com/automotive/how_to/4276846.html?series=19
I am still not convinced until I see actual data myself.
If this very simple technology really does work as described, then please explain to me:
1) Why doesn’t some auto company implement it so that they can claim huge mileage gains for their vehicles and thereby absolutely BURY their competitors?
2) Why don’t countries with no domestic oil production (nor oil-related industries which someone on this forum would claim are conspiring against the technology) give their Gross Domestic Product a big boost by lowering their dependence on “foreign oil” (and the expenses which come with such)?
3) If this simple jam jar technology works so well, why don’t any of the “fans” who have supposedly BUILT such high-mpg systems go into business and make billions in profits? Indeed, you could franchise the idea (or even sell it through Jiffy Lube!) and have signs on the highway saying, “Let us improve your mileage over 20% and more! Only $199.95 and 30 minutes!”
4) The politician (or even the President of the United States) who ends the nation’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil [our #2 supplier] would go down in history as a great hero — and would also lower our contributions to Global Warming. (!) After all, improved mpg means less oil consumed — perhaps enough savings such that American and Canadian oil sources would be sufficient! We wouldn’t have to send billions of dollars annually to an Islamic world that uses those dollars to support terrorism against us.
Yes, even if someone can’t understand the basic scientific principles involved, it is easy to see that no “worldwide conspiracy” is going to be big enough and strong enough to prevent all sorts of people and nations from using the technology to make themselves RICH. Indeed, I see posts in this forum from people who claim they use this amazing technology to save on their car’s fuel costs. But why don’t I see any posts saying, “After seeing the amazing improvements on my own car’s mpg, I put such devices on every vehicles in my company’s fleet cars. It was such a success that I opened a retail store and installation shop where we converted an average of 25 cars per day in our first year. We recently opened our third location and we are discussing a deal with Sears Auto Centers for permission to use our trademark and design nationwide so that I can retire and live off my share of the profits. Yes, I would never have dreamed that I would be the first one to take a very old technology and make a fortune off of the obvious! It seemed too good to be true but it wasn’t!”
Yes. I guess I will have to be very patient while I wait for such a posting here. (And meanwhile countries and companies will ignore this incredible technology and waste billions of dollars in oil expenses and leave billions in easy profits on the table. Yep. Makes sense to me. But I will always wonder who talked all of them into trading those billions of dollars for a membership in the biggest conspiracy in history.)
You said, “If this very simple technology really does work as described…”
I would suggest that a big part of the problem concerns “who” is actually “describing” this technology. The people vary as well as their descriptions, so this can be detrimental to meaningful discussion.
What is meaningful to discussion? The best answer is objective scientific experiments. Yet, I have never once came across a single experiment in the literature that analyzes the device at its most simple form, a homemade jam-jar electrolyzer. However, I have found many scientific articles that discuss various aspects of how an analogous device may work and the aspects of hydrogen addition to gasoline combustion. For those that are interested, see the link to my thread on physicsforums.com:
It includes 13 sources with links from peer-reviewed scientific journals.
I may have overlooked the answer to this question; but has anyone on this blog ever actually installed a water/hydrogen unit on their vehicle and documented the results, or is the information above all based on other peoples’ findings??? I would like to hear from someone who has done so without the political pressure of suppressing information for the oil companies or from those looking for additional funding for research. Perhaps a common man/woman that has used this type of product, and has first hand findings.
What’s the best way to document results? The first option is a dyno test, where the variables can be controlled. They cost about $100-200 according to what I’ve seen on other discussion boards. A second option to document results is to purchase an OBD-II interface and software to pull sensor measurements directly from the ECU while carefully running trials that will smooth out the variables (e.g. elevation differences). The software and interface can run about $200 and up. Also, emissions testing, which does not measure the proposed mileage gains, may be necessary to ensure that emissions comply with EPA standards.
I haven’t seen any data yet concerning either option, despite looking for it pretty frequently. DIYers probably aren’t willing to pay that much when they can just fill up their tank and compute their mileage immediately afterward. “Professional installers” could easily have these tests conducted by a neutral party to ensure consumer confidence, but this appears to be absent among their online advertising pages, so heavy skepticism is warranted.
Personally, I have installed a hydrogen supplementation kit on my vehicle and obtained consistent results of around 30% in fuel savings. It should be noted that this was only for highway driving, low-load conditions. The kit was of the most simple form, a jam-jar electrolyzer, that resembled something similar to the “water4gas” kit but with modifications (Note that I am not promoting water4gas kits in any way). With this device, I would often pull around 25 amps from the 12 volt battery, or 300 watts. Assuming 50% efficiency, this equates to 5 grams of hydrogen per hour (about 30 watt-hours needed to produced 1 gram at perfect efficiency), which is not a whole lot when compared to the amounts used to obtain positive results in the scientific literature. However, could it be possible that the baseline sensor measurements are modified appropriately on some vehicles (2001 Nissan Sentra for me) to enable the ECU to shift toward a leaner running engine, or the spark-timing is shifted closer to top-dead center because of the faster burn that may be enabled by the hydrogen addition? I can’t say with confidence until I am in a position to do some actual experimentation or see actual data, but they are the only two ways that this particular setup could work since, in theory, they could modify the heat transfer mechanism.
Agreed. I see many people building their own hydrogen generators to save money on gas bills. Seems like the trend is gonna rise soon and most of us would be running our cars on water.
You can’t run cars on water, I think we’ve discussed the physics of that in detail. That would be like a perpetuum mobile. Water is not a fuel.
None of these jam jar electrolyzers have been scientifically tested. The guys who sell them don’t seem too interested in having them independently tested to verify how well they work (or don’t work, as the case may be).
If you’re selling “hydrogen generators”, as seems likely from your pseudonym and the link you posted (which I removed), you’re not running your own car on water but on the money that other people send you after you make them believe that they can run THEIR cars on water…
Right! They don’t sell Hybrids either.
What’s the matter? The oil company
can’t buy everyone off, like they used
too. Don’t like it heh!
H2O2 might be the answer instead of thinking H2O1!!!???
It’s funny how they keep saying the auto industry hasn’t caught up yet. This scam has been going for how many years and they still say next year we will see cars with the this technology.
If you believe this BS I have plans for a working time machine that the govt doesn’t want anyone to know about.
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