Skip to comments.Drivers Seek Mileage Boost From Hydrogen, Oxygen Bubbles
Posted on 06/11/2008 7:44:53 AM PDT by Incorrigible
Steve Kushnir's 'Hydrogen Hurricane' is an equipment package he sells that uses a car's electricity to make hydrogen and improve the way the engine burns gas. (Photo By Frank Ordonez)
[Liverpool, NY] -- Stephen Kushnir's 7-year-old Chevrolet Prizm used to get 35 miles per gallon on the highway. Not bad, but Kushnir thought he could do better.
A month ago Kushnir, a middle school technology teacher in Liverpool, N.Y., popped the hood and installed a gas-saving gizmo he had purchased over the Internet. He got it from a farmer in Missouri, who makes them in his spare time.
The main component is a steel cylinder filled with distilled water. With electricity supplied from the battery, the unit makes bubbles of hydrogen and oxygen. A hose carries the bubbles to the engine's air intake.
Now the Prizm gets 50 miles per gallon on the highway, Kushnir said.
"It's amazing,'' he said. "I did not think it would work as well as it did.''
Kushnir was so impressed, he became a dealer for the Missouri farmer's company. He sells the hydrogen generating system in his spare time.
Fueled by testimonials such as Kushnir's, interest in on-board hydrogen generators is spreading like wildfire. They are the latest in a long line of aftermarket gadgets promising better gas mileage few, if any, of which have been backed by independent studies to prove they work.
The Internet brims with start-up companies selling the technology and urging customers to "convert your car to run on water.''
Prices range from about $200 for small systems to more than $10,000 for systems designed for large trucks. Some sites offer free instructions for people to build their own.
Kushnir's company, Extreme Alternatives, sells a system that costs $849 before installation, or $999 installed.
In a world of $4 gasoline, hydrogen generators are drawing a lot of interest.
"Everyone's talking about them right now,'' said Patrick Serfass, director of technology and communication at the National Hydrogen Association in Washington, D.C.
But consumer watchdogs and government officials remain wary.
Some companies claim their hydrogen units can double a car's gas mileage while reducing its emissions. But Cathy Milbourn, speaking for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said consumers should be skeptical.
"If someone has something that works, we would love to see it, and we would love to help them bring it into the market,'' Milbourn said. "But we haven't found anything that really works.''
Proponents of the technology say it remains below EPA's radar because laboratory testing costs tens of thousands of dollars, which mom-and-pop entrepreneurs cannot afford.
In theory, hydrogen generators could boost fuel economy, scientists say.
A small amount of hydrogen mixed with gasoline or diesel causes the fuel to burn faster and at a lower temperature, increasing efficiency and reducing the amount of nitrogen oxides emitted, said Tom Ryan, president of SAE International, the Society of Automotive Engineers.
Whether any of the dozens of hydrogen generators on the market actually improve fuel efficiency is another matter, one that's difficult to assess without independent test results, Ryan said.
"There is a basis in science for this,'' Ryan said. "But the devil is in the details.''
Ryan, an engineer at Southwest Research Institute in Texas, said improving the performance of an existing car by adding aftermarket equipment is a complicated quest, because it involves changing the way the engine works. More promising, he said, is the likelihood that auto part suppliers will develop hydrogen generating technology with a view toward integrating it into new cars.
"We're getting to the point where maybe the cost-benefit is right,'' he said.
Michael Fowler, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Waterloo in Canada, said scientists are still studying the effects of introducing small amounts of hydrogen into internal combustion and diesel engines. It's likely that hydrogen improves combustion and reduces the production of smog-producing nitrogen oxides, he said.
"The question is, when you start generating your own hydrogen, and (factor in) the energy you take to generate the hydrogen by running the alternator, whether you get a net gain in the efficiency of the vehicle,'' Fowler said.
Fowler said he has not seen any conclusive answers.
"Is it possible? Definitely,'' he said. "Is it proven? No.''
Because hydrogen improves combustion, it allows engines to run on a leaner fuel mixture, said Ryan, of SAE International. But putting a device on existing cars would probably yield "mixed results'' depending on how each engine was calibrated, he said.
"It would take almost an engine-by-engine analysis to figure out the answer,'' he said.
Many consumers aren't waiting for such an analysis. Ken Smith, the Missouri hay farmer who manufactures hydrogen generators under the business name Hydro Fuel Solutions, said he's selling 250 units a week and growing fast. He's negotiating with a manufacturer to take over production.
"Every time the price of gasoline jumps, the interest in hydrogen generation for vehicles, tractors, farm equipment and all kinds of stuff jumps,'' he said.
But the technology is not new. Smith said he started selling hydrogen generators at county fairs and flea markets during the early 1980s, another era of high gas prices. Smith said he likes the interest in independent testing of hydrogen generators.
"There's a lot of stuff out there that really shouldn't be put on cars,'' he said, including a hydrogen generator made from a glass jar. His Hydro Super 2 is made from stainless steel.
Kushnir, 41, the Liverpool, N.Y., teacher, has been interested in fuel economy and alternative energy ever since he was a graduate student. His 1989 master's thesis looked at the possibility of building a corn-burning car.
He and his wife, Dina, started Extreme Alternatives last year to sell Chinese-made Lifan motorcycles, many of which get 100 or more miles per gallon. He usually has half a dozen display bikes parked at the end of his driveway.
Extreme Alternatives incorporates the Hydro Super 2 into a package with other equipment. Kushnir markets the package as the Hydrogen Hurricane.
A key component of the system is an electronic modulator for the car's oxygen sensor, Kushnir said. The device prevents the car's computer from injecting more fuel into the engine in response to cleaner exhaust produced by burning hydrogen, which would negate the efficiency gained, he said.
Kushnir also includes a special oil and a gasoline additive in the package he sells.
Kushnir said his Prizm is averaging 40 miles per gallon in city driving and about 50 mpg on the highway since he installed the Hydrogen Hurricane. His wife's Jeep is averaging in the low 20s, up from about 16 mpg, he said.
(Tim Knauss is a staff writer for The Post-Standard of Syracuse, N.Y., and can be contacted at tknauss(at)syracuse.com)
Not for commercial use. For educational and discussion purposes only.
At least it's a practical way to generate hydrogen!
What a load of BS. If it worked, Ford or GM would have tested it a few weeks ago and already putting it into their cars.
This may be about the 20th thread, but it is the best explanation so far. This device will void your car warranty and your engine might be damaged, but it has potential. Burning characteristics of fuel with an unknown amount of added hydrogen are highly unpredictable.
I smell a Hindenburg coming on.
“Oh the humanities!”
The problem with some of these units is they might “work” as far fuel economy is concerned but also increase nitrogen oxide (NOx), a big no-no for a production, EPA certified vehicle.
A “private” person might not care...
Anybody know if this is true or not.
I would hate to blow up my car while driving down the freeway.
So the first law of thermodynamics is no longer true? The perpetual motion machine is certain to follow..
I was playing around with same kind of thing. I took a plastic tube and mounted some spark plugs, then to a distributor which was then hooked up by a belt to an electric motor.
I then metered some water in one end.
What happened was on the exit end of the set up was I generated some kind of plasma. I could hold my hand over the exit end and could feel a fairly strong force pushing upwards or even from the side, it had a fairly definite field. From my other hand a 10 in. spark leaped from my finger tip to ground. Largest spark I have ever seen next to lightening. I still have the set up in my office but have not had the urge to turn it back on.
With HHO unit I am looking at, the output into the exhaust system contains no NOx.
Browns Gas is Oxygen and Hydrogen combined in the most perfect ratio for complete combustion. Hydrogen by itself is not combustible until exposed to oxygen like available in the air. A leak from a hydrogen tank can ignite but a sensor failure inside the tank cannot cause ignition until oxygen gets to it.
Browns Gas (the gas created by electrolysis if the cathode and anode are not separated into separate chambers) is highly explosive.
If you increase the heat during combustion due to adding hydrogen, you will increase the NOx output.
You would not be storing the H + O but so it would not be a problem.
Please do any tune ups of the engine prior to adding the hydrogen generators. Then run it for a while and get a good gas mileage figure for comparison.
One of the scams is to take a car, badly in need of a tune-up, install some worthless equipment and perform a tune-up, and claim the results as from the equipment.
As an engineer myself, this whole thing bears looking into.
Be extremely skeptical and cautious. I have a $200,000 engine dyno (I make airplane engines). I have tested Browns gas, it lowers the octane rating which retards the timing, not a good thing. If you accidently rev the engine you will destroy it. I have gotten good at destroying engines, lots of practice : )
What I have observed is that people who use these devices alter their driving behavior and tune up their vehicles. It is very easy to get better gas mileage simply by idling less, driving a little bit slower, not accelerating as quikly, etc. My dodge Cummins diesel pickup gets between 15 and 25 mpg depending on how I drive it. I think that driving into the wind as opposed to driving with the wind makes about a 2 mpg (10%) difference.
The bottom line is that gasoline is a very good fuel. Changing the composition by adding hydrogen and/or oxygen in any form has very marginal benefits, and a lot of potential bad effects. An engine is just a pump designed to run very close to the stoichiometric point, if you change the composition of the fuel too much be prepared to replace the engine.
I talk to these snake oil salesmen occasionally and I find the silence very telling when I tell them I would like to test their product on a dyno. More often than not, that is the end of the conversation, they lose interest in selling me the product instantaneously. I have even wondered if it isn't some kind of disproof of Einstein's theory of Relativity.
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