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.
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.
But does this tiny amount of hydrogen increase the heat given off by the internal explosion?
It seems to me the only way this adding of the Hydrogen and Oxygen from the electrolysis of the water could create an end benefit to the cars MPG would be if the engine actually ran cooler, converting more energy into HP and less into heat. Because that’s the only two directions the energy is going to go... mechanical energy and heat. The small (and it must be incredibly small amounts) of hydrogen being added adds that much in terms of BTU to the combustion chamber.. but the O which is the other product of splitting the water molecule may be causing the fuel to burn more efficiently, and thus more energy gets transfered to mechanical than heat? I dunno.. but I woudl think you’d have to run cooler in the mixtures they are probably winding up with, to see any discernable MPG increase.
This is what I am thinking.. the O is probably the beneficiary, causing the fuel to burn more completely, and creating greater MPG.
I’d be curious to see if you added pure O to the injection chambers at various small quantities if you could get the same results.
Yes, actually it does.
This is the fundamental thing you are missing. If I drop a 1/4 Ohm 1000 Watt power resistor across the terminals of the battery while an engine is idling, the resulting 50 Amp load increase will make the idle speed droop slightly. This is due to the extra 3 or so HP consumed by the alternator and the reaction time of the idle governor.
An alternator produces a variable output current in order to regulate a constant output voltage. As output current load increases, so does the required input shaft HP. The alternator converts mechanical power into electrical power.
The total electrical load presented by the accessories in a car represent an insignificant load to the engine. The extra fuel consumed by turning them all on could be resolved on a dynamometer, but probably not in road driving.
Assuming the battery is charged and no accessories are on, where does the output go?
Remember to that the electronic coils in today's autos also constantly require voltage to step up the spark to the plugs when the engine is running, OB computer, dash instruments, etc, so there is always an electrical load on the alternator through the battery. In older cars, the ignition switch was off, everything was off...that's not the case today in the newer cars.
Basically, think of it like this......the larger the load on the battery, the slower the recharge rate of the battery from the alternator, however, power is maintained to the accessories.
Three laws of Thermo. For this to work you have to violate at least two.
Guess what, it doesn’t work.
I don't think that is correct.
Why would a 5000 watt emergency generator require, say , a 12 hp gas engine where a 5 hp generator will only put out 1500 watts?
If there is no increase in hp needed why put the larger engine on the larger generator?
(figures are approx)
Doesn't the magnetic field in the field windings make the stator more difficult to turn as power is required from the alternator. This requires more hp to turn the stator.
You have a generator?
If so, fire it up with exactly 1 pint of gas and pull 500 watts of load. Measure the time until the gas runs out.
Then take the same generator with exactly one pint of gas and load it to 1500 watts and time it until the gas runs out.
There will not be 2 minutes difference in those times - been there on that one.
You are are correct about the flux field getting stronger when more load is being required, however, I do not believe there is a direct (linear) ft-lbs of torque required to overcome to turn the rotor versus to total charge on the stator surfaces if we are discussing electric flux, not magnetic flux as: Gauss's law for electric fields, another of Maxwell's equations versus Faraday's equation for magnetic flux.
One thing's for sure, there is no energy gain nor energy conservation running a H2/O2 generator for fuel supplementation to gasoline engines, however, the electricity is available from a car's alternator to supply the power easily if the brown gas generator isn't too large and the electrodes are of high quality.
My question is how many cu ft / min of brown gas has to be made to lean back the gasoline consumption when a vehicle is traveling 60 mph to where there is at least a 25% savings in mpg on the gas.
I don't see such a device saving gas in stop and go city driving as much as when traveling a constant speed. Seems to me an adjustable voltage has to be supplied to generator when idling or a compressor with pressure regulator is needed to temporarily store the brown gas to add more when accelerating to obtain the gas mpg efficiency.
It's definitely doable....does a car's gas mileage go down when some young punk hooks up a 1000 watt boom boom stereo system in his ride? I think not....the only thing that goes down is his hearing. LOL!!