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.
I agree. The car industry is in worlds of trouble, if this worked they would be all over it.
I would warn anyone against doing this to a vehicle you can not afford to replace. You are working with gasoline near a hot engine. Car fires are nasty ones.
Did somebody say "huge manatees"????
Unless you’re leaving out some pretty important details, I’m thinking you have a very active imagination...
I love Manatee steak with country gravy
The question then is, is the chemical energy release of burning the hydrox mix greater than the electrical energy required to crack them? Somehow I doubt this is the case. I expect a lot of dead batteries in these cars' futures.
This also kind of strikes me as similar to the more complicated versions of steam engines like triple or qudruple expansion engines.
Now if you were generating electricity from the waste heat off the exhaust and using THAT to crack the water. Then you'd definitely be getting somewhere but even then you are just increasing the efficiency of the internal combustion engine.
Just the same, the whole idea of doing it on the old pickup is to check it out on something we can afford to have it not work on and then fix afterward if necessary. A 1992 Ford F-150.
I'll post something on FR after we do so in the next coupe of months and then test it long enough in real world conditions here in IDaho to get a feel for the results.
Ding! Ding! They mechanically lean out the fuel mixture...
I drive a Ford Ranger with the small 4 cylinder and manual transmission.
I normally get 29/30 mpg. Since most of my driving is within 50 miles, the few minutes difference between 65 and 75 is worth the difference in gas money.
Here a while back I had to get about 400 miles away in a hurry and was not worried about gas millage. At 75/80 mph, my gas millage dropped to 19 mpg.
With a 4X4 pickup operating offroad in the mountains here in Idaho, you will not have to wrroy about that.
I now call it Der Hindenburban.
Congratulations, I find your post to be the most informative and credible in this thread.
When I was in the Navy, we had on board a rather large device known as an electrolytic oxygen generator. It generated oxygen using a process that is really no different from the device described in the article aside from scale.
There was a reason that we referred to it as the “bomb”.
The modern engine running at constant driving speed is giving as close to 100% combustion as you can get. There is hardly any raw gas or CO coming out the tailpipe. There's nothing left to burn. How can you improve on that?
Since it takes energy to make the hydrogen, even if it makes a difference, will it pay back the energy lost?
“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.”
Simply leaning the engine fuel mix. Plug-in engine modulators can be purchased aftermarket to tune the engine on the fly.
Burning water, burning hydrogen generated from water, nonsense, past and present.
Water is an ash. By chemical energetics, it is thus about the worst place to look for a bulk hydrogen source. At first glance, it seems easy enough to use electrolysis to split water into its oxygen and hydrogen components. Just apply any low dc current for bubble, bubble, toil and trouble. Full details first appeared by Michael Faraday over a century ago. And are easily found today in Britannicas Great Books #45.
Electrolysis is certainly useful for cooling generators or petrochemical refining or precision low energy torches or lifting research balloons or making fat pretty but deadly. But nearly all of these use unstored hydrogen-on-demand and do value their hydrogen much higher than by its meager energy content.
As weve seen, retail electricity is worth about ten cents per kilowatt hour. Lower exergy gasoline is worth three cents per kilowatt hour. Your value of raw unprocessed hydrogen is not well established, but we do know it will certainly be a lot less than gasoline today. Because it has not yet impacted gasoline in any significant way. I feel 0.8 cents per raw hydrogen kilowatt hour can be a reasonable ballpark estimate.
In a typical situation, electrolysis takes two or more kilowatt hours of electricity worth ten cents each and converts them into one or fewer kilowatt hours of hydrogen worth less than a penny each. And that is before any fully burdened cost accounting, amortization, storage or processing. Thus Electrolysis for bulk hydrogen energy is pretty much the same as 1:1 converting US dollars into Mexican Pesos.
At its very best, electrolysis introduces a staggering loss of exergy that dramatically reduces the quantity and value of transformed kilowatt hours of energy. Electrolysis is thus wildly unsuitable when driven from high value electrical sources such as retail grid electricity or any small scale photovoltaics.
If you have electricity, sell the electricity, buy some methane, and reform the methane. It is a lot cheaper and throws away a lot less exergy.
This is remarkably comparable to our earlier electrical resistance heat example. Where your best solution involves converting a few higher value kilowatt hours into more lower value ones. Rather than fewer.
Even if you have a renewable and sustainable source of ultra low cost electricity, electrolysis can still easily convert it back down into a net energy sink. Individuals making their own "homebrew" hydrogen by electrolysis face other rude surprises. For openers, some to much of the produced "gas" may end up water vapor from dielectric heating. Safety issues are largely unappreciated and easily lead to Darwin Awards.
But the really big gotcha is trying to use stainless steel rather than costly platinized platinum electrodes. Because of the hydrogen overvoltage of iron found in most any electrochem textbook, and because of the dead-wrong low energy passivated surface, stainless slashes your possible efficiency by one-half or greater.
Umm, pretty sure this was Mythbusted.
A lot of the output from the alternator is never used by the car in daytime driving; minimal use just charges the battery as you drive. Now, having the stereo on, the wipers going, headlights on and running the ac will consume most of the power from many makes of alternators.
Therefore, the alternator spins to produce voltage that charges the battery constantly whether that energy is needed by the battery or not. Power to run the vehicle's accessories is pulled off the battery.
My problem with the advertisers out there seem not to suggest reserve H2O tanks to automatically fill the electrolysis chamber as needed.
Also, if the system (Hydrogen Hurricane, etc.) cannot store small amounts of Brown Gas, then quick acceleration would be severely hampered.
My take is the units ability to supply the amounts of brown gas needed at a steady rate may be in question with respect to optimal combustion mix of octane and the brown mix.
It does not matter what kind of fuel an internal combustion engine burns as flex fuel vehicles are already demonstrating that capability.
Hydrogen burning in oxygen that is created from water using excess alternator energy is easily accomplished and feeding that gas mix to the air intake just in front of the MAFS is how it is down. One will have to change electrodes at times is my guess and the brown gas additive will tell the car's computer to lean back the fuel mix thus increasing mileage.
Yeah, they been such pioneers on fuel economy.
Electric plug-ins at home. Increase the R&D on batteries and increase the range into the future. You remember the gear up to World War II. This is a national defense issue. If GM and Ford won't do it, the Japanese and the Germans will and they'll produce some of the cars here.
Start nuke plants which we need anyway for other energy sources.
Supposedly, it uses the excess electricity produced by the alternator, which would be wasted, to split the water. I’m not sure if that really works that way, but it sounds good.
Your alternator doesn’t produce “excess” electricity. It produces enough to handle the load imposed upon it until it reaches maximum output at which point the battery will begin to drain.
An alternator is a variable current device. If it weren't, the battery charging voltage would vary with load instead of being relatively constant at 13.5 Volts.
Voltage and power are not the same thing. Electric power equals voltage times current. When there is no current draw on the alternator, it produces and consumes little power. When current is drawn from the alternator, the voltage regulator feeds more current to the exciter coil.
All the power produced by the alternator comes from the crankshaft of the engine. mechanical load on the engine varies directly with the amount of power generated by the alternator.
The efficiency of conversion for an alternator is about 50%. Likewise the efficiency for electrolysis is about 50%. Boiled down, if I force the alternator to consume 10 HP electrolyzing water, the upper limit for the power returned by burning the resulting Hydrogen would be 2.5 HP. The result is a net loss of 7.5 HP at the crankshaft. Engine efficiency is by definition shaft output power per unit of fuel.
Any benefit shown by such a system most likely due to one or more of: driver behavior changes, poor testing controls, or false claims.
Here we see the bitter fruit of the death of science education in America.
True, however, the amount of power (torque from the crankshaft or speed 2X above idle approx 1500 rpm) required to turn the alternator to increase the current being delivered at 12 VDC does not change while the engine is running. Therefore, the power is available for the electrolysis even though the car hasn't called for the power through the battery.
The alternator produces a 3-phase current sine wave which is converted by a 6-diode rectifier. The power is available limited only by low (idle) rpm, the current carrying capabilities of the diodes and the size of the stator and rotor.
The alternator can more than make up for the voltage needed to recharge the battery during electrolysis.
The anode and cathode plate efficiency requires fairly pure and expensive precious metals. That's one thing most people forget.
I have to disagree with your take on 'forcing the alternator' to consume power as it spinning when the engine is running regardless. There are no clutches, etc. in an alternator that increase torque on the engine when more electrical power is required.
Don't believe me? Do a simple test.
Check your gas mileage in normal driving. Then turn all you lights on, stereo, wipers, and passenger compartment fan on high and drive a qtr tank of gas out. Then check your mileage.
I'll bet you $1000 it will not drop because you used more electricity from the alternator recharging the battery.
You may want to change your perception of gasoline fuel independence for the internal combustion versus less gasoline use with extra brown gas supplied to the cylinders.
“”Unless youre leaving out some pretty important details, Im thinking you have a very active imagination...””
PM your email and I will send you a picture.
8 plug wires @ 2000 RPM = 16,000 min I do not know if I got hydrogen or not but I know I had a pretty good plasma thing going.