We should use water to fuel our vehicles!
As incredible as it might sound, we can use plain tap water to power our internal combustion engines. By converting water into hydrogen one can use it as a renewable, non-polluting fuel. The idea is simple but one must overcome some incorrect, ingrained ideas about the use of such a fuel.
It has been done in the past, there was a patent (USA number 2,006,676) issued to Charles H. Garrett on July 2, 1935 for a device called an Electrolytic Carburetor. It allowed a car to run with plain water! The reason we do not see this type of vehicle today is that the oil companies and the economies of many countries depend on the billions of dollars generated by the use of fossil fuels and so would be very reluctant to allow the use of a "free" fuel source.
The first reaction one gets from people about using hydrogen is that it is extremely dangerous. Hydrogen is flammable, however compared to gasoline it is less volatile. Hydrogen will ignite at1065 to1095 degrees F. where as gasoline ignites at 500 to 800 degrees F (Decker, 1993, Ignition Temperature of Fuels in Air section). A hydrogen powered vehicle would be like a propane powered vehicle, which have proven to be very safe!
Another obstacle is that it takes more energy to convert water into hydrogen than one gets back by using the hydrogen. This myth is untrue and has been disproven by those who power their vehicles with water. Any High School chemistry student can tell you it takes very little electrical current to change water into hydrogen and oxygen, less than 1.5 volts (Decker, 1997). Garrett found that he had to use a generator that was twice the size of the original one (Decker, 1993,¶7 of "Dallasite Patents Invention Which He Claims Substitutes Water for Gasoline as Fuel"), however four of the newer articles (Cella, 1996) (Newhall, 2001) (Keppler, 2001) (Gravman, 2002) make no mention of increasing battery or alternator size since the system only uses between 10 to 20 amps at 12 volts (Gravman, 2002, ¶10 of "Gasoline as a fuel is NOT NECESSARY"). Converting water to hydrogen becomes just another job done by the vehicles existing electrical system.
Hydrogen is difficult to store in large enough quantities to allow a vehicle to travel any distance. Because one can make the hydrogen as one needs it, there is no need to store any large amount of the gas, making the system much safer. Water holds a large amount of hydrogen; every cubic foot of water contains about 1,376 cubic feet of hydrogen gas and 680 cubic feet of oxygen (Cella, 1996, ¶9). One only needs a 4% enrichment of hydrogen to create a flammable fuel for the use in an internal combustion engine (Hasslberger, 1996, Archie H. Blue section). This makes it so that one can get great "gas mileage" from a gallon of water, anywhere from 50 to 300 miles to the gallon (Gravman, 2002, FAQ section), or as Archie Blue found, 40 km with one liter of water (113 mpg) (Hasslberger, 1996, Archie H. Blue section).
When hydrogen is burned the result is a recombination of the hydrogen with the oxygen forming water (H2O); this can cause rust in the exhaust system and inside the combustion chamber. Using higher quality materials such as stainless steel solves this problem. Both the valves and the exhaust system can be replaced with stainless steel. This will not be expensive but will make these parts trouble free (Cella, 1996, ¶12). I heard this same problem about using Propane (which also has water as a byproduct in its combustion), however I made no modifications and put on over 200,000 km without any noticeable affect on either motor or exhaust system.
Using water as fuel is great for people who live where the water never freezes; but when water turns solid for 6 months of the year, it becomes difficult to use. This problem is overcome by adding isopropyl alcohol to keep the water from freezing (Gravman, 2002, second last paragraph), or as John Moss found that using windshield washer antifreeze actually worked just like water and was "less corrosive than plain water" (Newhall, 2001, 26). In the winter months one would need to add some antifreeze to keep the water from freezing.
Creating hydrogen from water is a safe and cost effective alternative to gasoline. If we use water to power our vehicles we save both the environment and money.
© Stefan Ulrich - October 22, 2002
I wrote this as an assignment to fulfill a requirement for a writing course, I hope you enjoyed the information.
Cella, Carl (1996) A Water Fueled Car. Retrieved December 24, 2001 from the World Wide Web: www.haselberger.com/techno/hydrogen.html
Decker, Jerry W. (Ed.) (1993) The Next Step in Energy Production, Engines and Lighting. Retrieved January 20, 2002 from the World Wide Web: http://www.keelynet.com/energy/garrett.htm
Decker, Jerry (Ed.) (1997) Producing Hydrogen at 1.24 Volts! Retrieved October 20, 2002 from the World Wide Web: http://www.keelynet.com/energy/hydrogas.htm
Gravman, Dave (2002) Fuel from "Burning Water". Retrieved July14, 2002 from the World Wide Web: http://www.kelynet.com/energy/waterfuel.htm
Hasslberger, Josef. (Ed.) (1996) Hydrogen As A Fuel. Retrieved December 24, 2001 from the World Wide Web: http://www.hasslberger.com/tecno/tecno_3.htm
Keppler, Rolf (Ed.) (2001) Das Wasserauto von Daniel Dingel. Retrieved June 16, 2002 from the World Wide Web: http://www.s-line.de/homepages/keppler/wasserauto.htm
Layo (Ed.) (1998) Car Runs On Water. Retrieved June 16, 2002 from the World Wide Web: http://layo.com/
Newhall, Mark (Ed.) (2001) Farm Show Magazine: Energy-Saving Idea Book. Lakeville, Minneapolis: Farm Show.