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Water Power
May 16, 2006 7:17 PM   Subscribe

Water Power (embedded video). Inventor creates a hydrogen-powered vehicle that can run completely on water, or rather HHO. This is perhaps nothing new (or is it?), but fasinating nonetheless. Warning: annoying local news reportage.
posted by zardoz (43 comments total)

 
It's not new and not completely powered by water. The water is being converted to combustible gases by an electical power source such as a battery and/or generator, which is recharged from an external power source. The hybrid version uses a petro-burning engine to crank an electrical generator.
posted by StarForce5 at 7:33 PM on May 16, 2006


Junk science.

Electrolysis is a well-known way to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen. The only problem is that the process consumes more energy than it produces.

The energy efficiency of water electrolysis varies widely. Some report 50–70%[1], while others report 80–94%.[2] These values refer only to the efficiency of converting electrical energy into hydrogen's chemical energy. The energy lost in generating the electricity is not included. For instance, when considering a power plant that converts the heat of nuclear reactions into hydrogen via electrolysis, the total efficiency is more like 25–40%.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:37 PM on May 16, 2006


Previously invented by Yull Brown (deceased).
posted by b1tr0t at 7:40 PM on May 16, 2006


This is not the Mr. Fusion I am looking for.
posted by loquacious at 7:45 PM on May 16, 2006


What's dumb is that the "inventor's" website says "it's well known that you can electrolyze water and then use the hydrogen for fuel, but this is different," but then of course carefully avoids specifying what this different process might be.

This post should be deleted. This "car that runs on water" thing is becoming a really obnoxious meme among internet people who don't get science.
posted by rxrfrx at 7:52 PM on May 16, 2006



Zardoz has no use for your puny science.
posted by substrate at 7:58 PM on May 16, 2006


If you want to buy one of his gas generators, it's only 7000 bucks.
posted by substrate at 8:03 PM on May 16, 2006


The gun is good. The SCIENCE is evil. The SCIENCE shoots IDEAS, and makes new STUFF, and poisons the earth with a plague of STUFF, as once it was. But the gun shoots death, and purifies the earth of the filth of SCIENCE. Go forth and kill!
posted by loquacious at 8:03 PM on May 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


the hydrogen generator on the grassy knoll
posted by caddis at 8:29 PM on May 16, 2006


Just in case anyone science-impaired reads this article:

This doesn't really work. The reason it doesn't is because it takes energy to 'crack' water into hydrogen and oxygen. When the two gases recombine, they give off energy, but NEVER as much as it took to crack the water in the first place.

All this guy is doing is wasting energy. He's using some kind of onboard power source to crack the water, and then recombining the hydrogen and oxygen immediately to give off power... but not as much as he spent cracking them.

The net result is that he's wasting energy... he's probably getting half the mileage that he would if he just drove the car on the original fuel source.
posted by Malor at 8:37 PM on May 16, 2006


I say delete, the video is highly misleading.
posted by parallax7d at 8:37 PM on May 16, 2006


aww, I'm disappointed. I was hoping this wasn't junk science. Here's another article on the subject.

What is anyone's thoughts about this company's idea about Hydrino power/ the catalysis of atomic hydrogen to novel hydrides as a new power source? "BlackLight Power has invented a novel chemical process of causing the latent energy stored in the hydrogen atom to be released as a new primary energy source. This allows the negatively charged electron that is otherwise in a stable orbit to move closer to the naturally attracting, positively charged nucleus to generate power as heat, light, and plasma (an energetic state of matter comprising a hot, glowing, ionized gas)."
posted by nickyskye at 8:48 PM on May 16, 2006


I

can't

believe

this

was

on

the

news.

Even Fox News.
posted by CynicalKnight at 8:53 PM on May 16, 2006


Hydrino theory is a colloquial term for one aspect of a controversial new hypothesis of atomic chemistry and physics developed by Dr. Randell Mills, of BlackLight Power, Inc., termed "Classical Quantum Mechanics".
...
Mills' hypothesis completely rejects the established theory of Quantum Mechanics, and as a result, it has drawn skepticism from most observers and has been ignored by the majority of mainstream scientists. However, Mills' theory claims to provide explanations for a wide variety of quantum phenomena within the constraint of a physical, deterministic physics, including such classic experiments as the double-slit experiment with photons and electrons, and the Aspect experiments.


I'm a skeptic, but apprently Blacklight Power has had some successful VC rounds.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:56 PM on May 16, 2006


It may also be worth reading through the discussion side of the Hydrino Theory page.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:00 PM on May 16, 2006


...Mills' hypothesis completely rejects the established theory of Quantum Mechanic...

It's worth noting that the Standard Model theory of Quantum Mechanics is one of the most accurate theories ever produced, and routinely predicts probabilities that are verified experimentally to within one part in a billion.

This is not to say that it couldn't still be wrong, but overturning such a successful theory requires extremely strong evidence.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:13 PM on May 16, 2006


I'm a skeptic, but apprently Blacklight Power has had some successful VC rounds.

Who are these VC idiots and where can I meet them?
posted by delmoi at 9:14 PM on May 16, 2006


the phonomena of non-radiative resonant energy releases from the catalysis of free atomic hydrogen forming fractional ground state hydrogen atoms called hydrinos has become common knowlege.

Well that's settled then. Muon-catalysed fusion can just fuck right off.
posted by meehawl at 9:15 PM on May 16, 2006


Previous discussion of Hydrino theory - general consensus, bollocks.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 9:24 PM on May 16, 2006


Furthermore, from the wikipedia article:

According to Mills, hydrinos are the bulk of dark matter. Unlike normal matter, hydrinos do not have excited states, i.e. they do not emit light, unless they are being formed or ionized.

And also...

Allegedly, limitations on confinement and terrestrial conditions have prevented the achievement of hydrino states below 1/30.

So, hydrinos are invisible (a material that does not have excited states cannot absorb or reflect light) and he can make them. Why, then, has he not made a vial of them, and presented them to a reputable analysis lab? If hydrinos do not have excited states, they will have mass but possess no absorption spectrum, which would be easily detectable with a spectrometer and would be absolutely groundbreaking.

Either he can't make them consistently or purify them, they break down (which would make them poor candidates for dark matter), or it's just another free-energy theory that will eventually waft away in the breeze. I suspect the third possibility.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:26 PM on May 16, 2006


b1tr0t, Mitrovarr, thatwhichfalls, delmoi and meehawl, thanks for the links and your thoughts.
posted by nickyskye at 9:35 PM on May 16, 2006


This is not to say that it couldn't still be wrong, but overturning such a successful theory requires extremely strong evidence.

Well said.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:38 PM on May 16, 2006


I got a link to this video from a buddy of mine, who flagged it
as interesting. I spent a pleasant time doing meatball
physics. I'll just cut and paste what I sent to him:

Let me be the first to poopoo this. I cannot believe that "members of congress" have
invited him to speak on his "invention". I guess they all flunked physics and chemistry.

First and foremost, he makes his magic hydrogen/oxygen HHO gas with electricity.
And then he burns the gas for heat. I think it highly unlikely that he gets more energy out
of the system than he puts into it.

There are a three other clues that he's fake. Look at the stuff about the gas being cold until
you aim it at something. Take a look at how he demonstrates "cool to the
touch" at 39 seconds: he is holding the copper top of the welder, and keeping his
fingertips well away from the oxygen/hydrogen flame. The tips of my oxygen/acetylene
torch are made of a copper alloy, and the flame of an oxyacetylene is hotter than
the flame of an oxyhydrogen torch. This appears to be sensationalist, designed to attract
attention.

The second clue is his claim that he drove about 100 miles using 4 oz of water. Not that
it took 4 oz of water to drive 100 miles. It is later revealed that his car is a gasoline hybrid,
so I suspect that he used about 2 gallons of gasoline, in addition to that 4 oz of water. He
never claims that the 4 oz of water drove him 100 miles. He just makes it sound like
it did.

From another viewpoint, 4 oz of water is 6.3 moles of water, and let's say that he drove
an average of 50 mph. 57.8 kilocalories per mole is the heat of formation for the combination
of hydrogen and oxygen to make water, so that is 364 kilocalories (these are gram calories)
of heat energy is liberated by the burning of his magic water gas. The gasoline that he used to
drive 100 miles, assuming 50 mpg, liberated about 62,000 kilocalories total. So that 4 oz of
electrolyzed water drove that car about 6/10 of one mile.

The final clue to bogosity is that it was seen on Fox News :-)

This stuff is also called "Brown's gas". It's all over the internet. The closest thing to fact
associated with it is Iving Langmuir's "atomic hydrogen torch", invented in 1926, which
uses electricity to dissociate H2 into monatomic hydrogen, which then recombines and
liberates heat, to the tune of 420 kilocalories per mole. It's like a plasma arc, but without
the flow of electricity. And then with a little handwaving and a little deception, these
people try to convince you that they have created monatomic hydrogen, or HHO,
by some kind of magic shortcut.
posted by the Real Dan at 9:40 PM on May 16, 2006



posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:38 PM on May 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


I remember seeing something for a "water powered car" like 20 years ago, on either Ripley's Believe It or Not, or some other similar show. They were saying that the guy was going to "revolutionize the auto industry". Some revolution.
posted by antifuse at 1:57 AM on May 17, 2006


It's pretty simple. If you have a good science idea, you publish it and everyone is sure you're a genius. If you have a supergreat science idea, you patent it first, so people can't get rich before you do, but then you go publish it anyway, and you get both money and fame. Doing neither pretty much proves that you're being a big faker when you brag about it.
posted by rxrfrx at 3:26 AM on May 17, 2006


Blacklight Power is a scam company. The engine that runs on water in the links (and Fox fucking News, of course) is a scam.

For those of you who think that getting venture capitalists all hopped up and excited is proof of viability, I invite you to check our Infinium Labs's most recent stock price, or that of Sniffex, former MeFite DirtyCreature's favorite scam.

Goddammit.

Science is not hard. Basic thermodynamics is not hard. No one's asking you to do the math or the heavy lifting; just be educated on the basic principles and you will protect yourselves from falling for this fucking bullshit.

A big fuck-you to postmodern philosophers and the willfully ignorant who help perpetuate this kind of shit as real science.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:53 AM on May 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


Hydrogen is the fuel of the future, and it always will be.
Too many unsolved issues.
posted by DesbaratsDays at 5:06 AM on May 17, 2006


Pshaw! You science types think you're so clever! Jesus invented this first - the Miracle of the Water and the Flame. You haven't heard of it? I read all about it in my Bible. so it must be true!
posted by kcds at 5:42 AM on May 17, 2006


I would never dispute the fact that no one has repealed the laws of conservation of energy or of physics in general, and I didn't actually read the article, after reading all of the comments so far. But doesn't the negativity somehow miss the point that regardless of the fact that while in toto more energy is required than is produced, there may be promise in having portable energy? I mean, you can't beam electrical energy today? So if you can produce electricity in a renewable and environmentally safe way, and use it to turn water into hydrogen and oxygen and use for fuel, doesn't this create a fuel which can be used for transportation, albeit, probably little else? It seems the other approach is batteries and fuel cells, neither of which I am anything close to an expert on...How does hydrogen compare in energy efficiency to the most efficient batteries? What about effect of greenhouse gases if everyone is burning hydrogen, no carbon...so is this better?
posted by sfts2 at 6:05 AM on May 17, 2006


sfts, if you run a car using this setup, you need to transport the energy to break apart the water. It would be more efficient, since you're already transporting the energy, to just use that to fuel the vehicle instead.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:26 AM on May 17, 2006


i AM kinda confused. why would you put this in the news unless there WAS something revolutionary about how he's doing it. is there something i am missing here or what? i knew about the electrolysis and the H2O power idea a while back, but as you have all said, it has its own inefficiencies.

what's so novel about this that even Fox news would blows 5 minutes on the air with this guy?!
posted by Doorstop at 6:42 AM on May 17, 2006


Optimus Chyme: A big "AMEN BROTHER!"

[+fave]

For some reason the video doesn't have any sound for me but from the way you guys are describing this, it sounds like a very basic fuel cell, albeit with a very low energy density (there are better ways of storing the hydrogen than as gaseous hydrogen)

And Doorstop -- the media wasting any time on some sort of "invention" means nothing in regards to its merit as science reporting is a joke. The reporters are just as susceptible to being conned as most other people.
posted by The Bishop of Turkey at 6:51 AM on May 17, 2006


SFTS2 - If you're thinking that it might be a good idea to turn water into HHO in a stationary facility, then carry around the HHO, this chart might explain why that's not a good idea: (ex: a ten liter fuel tank would hold 97,000 Wh/l of energy. To carry around an equivolent amount of hydrogen would require a 37 litre tank(if it was liquified. Imagine getting into an accident with a 40 litre tank of liquid hydrogen.) or a 240 litre tank, if it was only compressed to 150bar (Well over 2100psi.)

As a sidepoint, a 20 gallon gas tank is 75 litres. Multiply those numbers by 7.5, and the problems start becoming obvious.
posted by Orb2069 at 7:14 AM on May 17, 2006


i AM kinda confused. why would you put this in the news unless there WAS something revolutionary about how he's doing it.

Pretty much every journalist who isn't a dedicated science writer is just as informed about science as the average layperson; that is, not at all.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:42 AM on May 17, 2006


Is it me or does this resemble a Daily Show skit?

Oh right, it's Fox News, it's hard to tell the difference sometimes.
posted by disgruntled at 8:27 AM on May 17, 2006


Orb2069,

Ok, that make sense, less energy for a given volume, by a signiificant amount. How does this compare to the most modern, practical fuel cell/battery. I saw that the lead acid battery seemed to be much less energy dense in the chart.

If there is more stored energy in gasoline, why am I more concerned about carting around liquid hydrogen?

Doesn't the presence of carbon in gasoline make it produce CO2 upon oxidation further contributing to greehouse gases, versus just water vapor when H is oxidized to H2O?

Are these stupid questions? I am definitely not trying to be obtuse here.
posted by sfts2 at 9:03 AM on May 17, 2006


Mills' hypothesis completely rejects the established theory of Quantum Mechanics, and as a result, it has drawn skepticism from most observers and has been ignored by the majority of mainstream scientists.

So all those experiments that produced results which supported Quantum Mechanics were just wrong?
posted by bshort at 9:09 AM on May 17, 2006


If there is more stored energy in gasoline, why am I more concerned about carting around liquid hydrogen?

Gasoline can be safely stored at 1 atmosphere of pressure. Liquid hydrogen needs - um, a shitload more. If you crack something at 2000 psi, it will go off like a bomb.

Doesn't the presence of carbon in gasoline make it produce CO2 upon oxidation further contributing to greehouse gases, versus just water vapor when H is oxidized to H2O?

Producing the energy to crack the water molecules produces waste.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:01 AM on May 17, 2006


Real science or no, he's going to have the Stonecutters all over him.
posted by indiebass at 10:07 AM on May 17, 2006


How does this compare to the most modern, practical fuel cell/battery.
NiMH(laptop batteries) is listed there as being about equal with wood pellets for volume, and Liquid Nitrogen for weight. - That is, they suck pretty hard.

why am I more concerned about carting around liquid hydrogen?
Hydrogen becomes a liquid somewhere around 200 degrees below zero. Ever seen the movie Terminator2, where they freeze the 'Bad guy' solid with a tanker truck full of liquid hydrogen then shatter him? Even if you don't shatter, you're probably going to have hella serious frostbite. It's also pretty corrosive, IIRC, embrittling just about everything it comes in contact with. Gasoline is dangerous, but it's orders of magnitude less dangerous than a liquified/compressed gas.

Greehouse gases
Well...yes, but. The big problem with trying to compare the enviromental impact of hydrogen vs. gasoline is getting the big picture: Hydrogen does produce less greenhouse gasses than gasoline when burned... Unfortunately, most of the ways of creating a watt-hour of hydrogen require a lot more than a watt-hour of energy. Considering that most of the energy in this country is produced by coal fired plants operating under increasingly lax enviromental oversight...

Are these stupid questions?
Yes, and no. The science is pretty clear, but there's a lot of bullshit floating around right now. For example, President Bush allocated 1.2 Billion dollars towards 'Creating the hydrogen economy', despite the problems inherent in it. You can take that however you want, but I suggest you keep the rest of his fiscal spending habits in mind.

OP: Pretty much agreeing with O.C.
posted by Orb2069 at 10:15 AM on May 17, 2006


I didn't watch the video, tho the only other type of engine I can think of that uses HHO primarily involves using long strands of magnesium wire as a catalyst. (whereas the wire becomes consumed during the process)
posted by samsara at 12:20 PM on May 17, 2006


The appearance of scams like this is at least a sign that people are starting to think about Peak Oil and stuff. Of course, it tends to give people the hope that "technology will solve everything" and "a solution is just around the corner" so it's questionable how much it helps. Still, awareness is an important thing.
posted by beth at 1:12 PM on May 17, 2006


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