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Old 01-05-2008, 22:22   #1
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using hydrogen fuel cell to improve gas consumption

The other day a friend told me that he uses a small home built, hydrogen fuel cell in his car to improve the gas milage. He has a 2006 crysler.
I looked around and found bunch of youtube videos on the topic. Some of the videos are pretty informative unlike many others which are just advertisements. Most of the websites on tis topic also seem like scams, and sound too good to be true. There's always something suspicious about large "100% Money back gurantee" and simmilar banners and flashing logos that make me hesitate to even read what whose websites have to say.

I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on using, for instance the extra alternator output to power a hydrogen cell and feed HHO(aka Brown gas) via air intake into a diesel or gasoline engines to increase horse power or lower fuel consumption?

I have a gasoline engine, and at about a gallon per hour my motoring range is pretty small. But seems like extra alternator power can be used to help the cause. The concept is not that hard to understand and it seems very easy to implement. Parts are just readily available hardware. And you need a little bit of salt water.

Petar
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Old 01-05-2008, 22:48   #2
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The greatest drawback to hydrogen is it takes a lot more volume to store the same amount of heat content as gasoline or diesel. Even highly compressed hydrogen. The other obvious drawback is the availability of hydrogen unless you make it yourself.

What do you mean by an "alternator output to power a hydrogen cell"? It sounds like perpetual motion, a violation of thermodynamic laws, but I am sure that is not what you meant.

Salt water? Electrolysis for generating hydrogen requires very pure water otherwise the impurities cause problems with the generation process.

I'm not saying it cannot be done, I just don't think it is all that simple and the practicality is questionable. Space and weight on a boat is critical. Keeping things simple and user serviceable and repairable is also important.

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Old 02-05-2008, 01:32   #3
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Yeah I have taken a good long look at similar adds on our "trademe" here in NZ. It seems that most of these adds are for video's and the other few that are not Vids are for parts kits that I suspect are more likely scams.
Back in 1975 an Ozy guy buy the name of Yule Brown made a hydrogen generator and was trying to scale it down to fit a car. I was in my last year at secondary school and was a science nerd. My lab teacher allowed me to play with generating hydrogen and I did get a small single cylinder engine engine running briefly. But I could not make enough gas to keep up with the needs. I believe this Brown character did, but the electrical plate unit was large and had to be because of it's inefficiencies. The issue being that as the plates produce gas, the bubbles then end up becoming an insulator thus stopping the further production of the gas. This point was beyond my 16yr old ability in finance and knowledge. But Mr Brown had been working on special metals that were efficient and a system that would scrub the gas from the plates. Very shortly after, a large oil company bought up all his rights and the system nor him was never really heard from again. However, there has been a few that have carried on the research and have made Hydrogen gas generation cells and have used it in metal cutting with fantastic success. But it takes a lot of power and far more than you can generate from an alternator to be able to keep a four cylinder engine running, plus a great deal of water.
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Old 02-05-2008, 03:00   #4
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Originally Posted by phorvati View Post
I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on using, for instance the extra alternator output to power a hydrogen cell and feed HHO(aka Brown gas) via air intake into a diesel or gasoline engines to increase horse power or lower fuel consumption?
As they say "There is a sucker born every minute".

But if you insist on being one you cannot do better than send your money to me and I will design you an HHO producing plant that is at least 20% more efficient than anyone elses and guarantee it to boot (big cheque please, I am hankering after a big boat ).

An even bigger cheque will get you a top of the range cold fusion plant (and me an even bigger boat ) which, as known to all scientists of any merit, is far more efficient again.
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Old 02-05-2008, 03:20   #5
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Experts cite three big roadblocks to a hydrogen economy:
- manufacturing hydrogen cleanly, and at low cost
- finding a way to ship it, and store it, on the vehicles that use it
- reducing the astronomical price of fuel cells

Hydrogen can be produced via various process technologies, including:
- Thermal (natural gas reforming, renewable liquid and bio-oil processing, and biomass and coal gasification)
- Electrolytic (water splitting using a variety of energy resources)
- Photolytic (splitting water using sunlight via biological and electrochemical materials)

See:

Hydrogen Production and Delivery ~ National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
NREL: Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Research - Hydrogen Production and Delivery

Hydrogen Production Current Technology ~ US Department of Energy (DOE)
HFCIT Hydrogen Production: Current Technology

BTW: The BMW “Hydrogen 7" is powered by an internal combustion engine, capable of running on (burning) both hydrogen and gasoline (not a fuel cell).
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Old 02-05-2008, 15:19   #6
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I was only looking to help out the fuel consumption, not to run purely off hydrogen.
As the engine runs we all have extra amps to spare, at least at some point, especially during long motoring, say 20amps at 12V or so, but a lot of us probably get more than 20amps to spare.
Put those amps via cathode and anode through a sealed cell with seaweater or rain water or RO water. Which one I don't know yet. I'll try all three and see which one produces more hydrogen. Small cell like the size of those home depot filter housings. Bubbles will form and you can collect them at the top and run them via hose to the engine intake, or inbetween carburator and manifold intake. According to some of the videos its that simple.
Those bubbles are HHO and probably some impurities which they don't talk about. Then, at least in my case with tinker-friendly atomic 4, I can set the carburator mixture to run leaner, and see if I can save gas. I think A4 is a good engine to try as its 30 years old and I don't mind opening it up.
As far as storage, hydrogen is stored in the form of seawater, so nothing to blowup accept for the bubbles you make, and thats a small quantity not enough to do anything. I also don't think you need that much water because liquid H20 is compressed hydrogen and oxygen in a stable state. Stable state meaning you need lots of energy to split the molecules. I can spare those 20amps and see what happens.
There's few little things to consider like the heating of the cell if too much juice is run through it or the type of metal used inside, and the geometry of the metal surfaces. But all the materials are less than 50$ or so.
And I also wonder what would Nigel Calder say about the metal surfaces inside the cell after 24 hours of electrolysis at 20 amps?
The only thing I would like to find more about is the impurities in seawater that get reliesed via the bubbles and then end up in the cyllinder. I guess after the first oil change, I could take the used oil for analysis to sea what kinds of stuff is there. But hey, its the beast, the A4! That thing ran one time full of seawater when I cracked the head. I never even noticed the loss of power.
I probably wouldnt try this out if I had a new yanmar but with A4 or an old dinghy outboard which just needs a little extra boost in order to get the loaded dinghy to plane, what's there to loose? long term, I wear out the cylinders or rings on a 30 year old engine and do another rebuild. After 10 years I am due for another rebuild anyway.

Petar
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Old 02-05-2008, 15:23   #7
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United Nuclear - Hydrogen Fuel Systems

This has always been interesting to me. A little suspicious, but still interesting.
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Old 02-05-2008, 15:27   #8
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Well if you weren't so worried about the "impurities" there is an electric system called Lectrasan that sanitises your sewerage by passing a current through plates to produce Chlorine. A few more herbs...sorry, kiwi speak.....Amps poured into the plates will produce the hydrogen and sort the waste at the same time. :-)
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Old 02-05-2008, 17:47   #9
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Originally Posted by phorvati View Post
I was only looking to help out the fuel consumption, not to run purely off hydrogen.
As the engine runs we all have extra amps to spare, at least at some point, especially during long motoring, say 20amps at 12V or so, but a lot of us probably get more than 20amps to spare.
You are missing the point - you will not get those 20A for free, you will burn more fuel in producing them. But if you know a way it can be done without burning more fuel then let us all know because I am sure we are all very interested in being able to produce 20A for free and therefore charge our batteries for free .

So, you burn more fuel to make your 20A and doing that suffering the thermal inefficiency of the engine and the inefficiency of the alternator, so you will use much more energy in the form of fuel than you will get out in the form of electricity.

Then you are going to use that electricity to electrolyse water to get O2 and H2 (so called HHO by the charlatans to lead the gullible astray). There will be an inefficiency in that and added on top of that the current laws of physics are such that you cannot make H2 and O2 then burn it to produce water again without some loss of energy, so another inefficiency.

So give it a go if you wish but in trying you will be joining the ranks of those that believe in perpetual motion - I guess if you are such a believer already there is then not much point anyone trying to explain further as my experience is that nothing will convince them otherwise.
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Old 02-05-2008, 17:50   #10
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phorvati,

If you electrolize salt water, you will produce Hydrogen gas, Chlorine gas, and Sodium Hydroxide in solution. Not a good thing to do on a boat!

If you electrolize plain water, you will produce Hydrogen gas and Oxygen gas (what you call bubbles). Doing this with your alternator places an extra load on the engine, burning more diesel. You can't get "free" energy out of your system. It takes energy to break apart the water molecules.

If you were able to collect and pressurize the Hydrogen and inject it into your engine to supplement your diesel fuel, you will have lost energy along the way to produce it and pressurize it. And I doubt your engine is capable of accepting Hydrogen gas as a supplemental fuel.

You can't beat the laws of Thermodynamics.
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Old 02-05-2008, 17:57   #11
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MidLandone has the explaination correct.

It comes down to the fact that you have to burn more than "20A" worth of gasoline to generate that 20A of power from an alternator. That's where this idea can't work.

Now maybe with a superconducting alternator....
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Old 02-05-2008, 20:11   #12
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One day we will have sustainable fusion here on Earth and any energy shortages will be a thing of the past.
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Old 02-05-2008, 20:33   #13
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Now maybe with a superconducting alternator....
Nope, still won't work. It still takes more energy to create other energy. Or as I like to say it, everytime you convert one form of energy to another, you have a loss. So you are taking water, which locked up in it is energy, that takes energy to unlock it and that then is turned into mechanical energy(engine) which then takes rotational energy and turns the ALT. which then uses Magnetic energy to create electrical energy to unlock the energy in the water again. Each process has a loss. The only way of producing more energy than you use is to have a Fusion process. Even then, it has to be in the realm of a 500megaW reactor to self sustain and produce more than it makes. 500MW is kinda the break even point. The most energy efficient is cold fusion, which so far has not been able to be done. And I really can't see how it ever can. But if it could, one ltr of water will supply the energy needs of an average household for 30years. But even then, that is taking heat and producing steam and converting to mechanical energy and we still end up with losses.
The real trick I reckon, lies within the Atom itself. In Fusion, two atoms fusing together produces about 17million electron Volts. Now if we could find away to take those actual Volts straight from the Fusion Process, Wow. But I think we will have to wait for the Startrek Enterprise to come out of the future before we get to play with that kind of stuff.
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Old 02-05-2008, 20:54   #14
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Old 05-10-2008, 12:20   #15
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Experts cite three big roadblocks to a hydrogen economy:
- manufacturing hydrogen cleanly, and at low cost
- finding a way to ship it, and store it, on the vehicles that use it
- reducing the astronomical price of fuel cells

Hydrogen can be produced via various process technologies, including:
- Thermal (natural gas reforming, renewable liquid and bio-oil processing, and biomass and coal gasification)
- Electrolytic (water splitting using a variety of energy resources)
- Photolytic (splitting water using sunlight via biological and electrochemical materials)

See:

Hydrogen Production and Delivery ~ National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
NREL: Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Research - Hydrogen Production and Delivery

Hydrogen Production Current Technology ~ US Department of Energy (DOE)
HFCIT Hydrogen Production: Current Technology

BTW: The BMW “Hydrogen 7" is powered by an internal combustion engine, capable of running on (burning) both hydrogen and gasoline (not a fuel cell).
Hi guys, I recently visited your site.I'm doing a Chemistry project and was wondering if HHO is a viable source of energy?
Does it waste more energy than it uses?

Thanks.
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