This isn’t new technology but I still find HHO generation fascinating. You may have seen or heard some of the “Run your car on water” ads over the years and disregarded them like I initially did, but there appears to be some amount of truth to this.
My understanding of this is that through electrolysis you can create something called HHO (Hydrogen, Hydrogen, Oxygen) gas from an electrolyte. The electrolyte is mostly water. Electrolysis breaks the hydrogen and oxygen bonds in water (H2O) yielding HHO. Electrolysis however takes electricity and the question is does this process gain more than it loses.
In a car application the car’s alternator generally produces more power than is needed to run the car’s electrical systems. Some of this excess power can be used to run the HHO generator.
A typical HHO application is to use a small HHO generator to “enhance” the combustion process to get a MPG increase. Claims of a 25-35% increase in MPG are common on the Internet. However, if enough HHO were produced a car could actually run on straight HHO.
One of the well known people in the field of HHO generation (Stanley Meyer) actually made a car that would run solely on HHO. There are number of Internet links that show him and his car in operation, but he died before the technology really caught on.
One of the goals of HHO generator design is to produce the most HHO with the least amount of current and heat. A number of Internet sources indicated that the optimal voltage for HHO gas production is 1.24 volts and any more than that results in heat (wasted energy). Since car electrical systems produce around 14 volts, the optimal HHO generator design in theory should have around 7 “cells” to split the voltage across so that each cell gets around 2 volts.
A cell generally consists of a positive and negative stainless steel plate separated by about a 1/4″ of space. One plate is connected to the plus side of a DC voltage source and the other to the negative side. When the cell is submerged in an electrolyte and power applied, HHO gas is a result.
There are designs which also use stainless steel wire in a double-helix configuration. Generally though, the larger the surface area of the plates/wires the greater the potential for HHO gas creation.
I’m still looking around for an inexpensive and easy to build HHO generator design. There are a number of them out there. Once I settle on one and build it I have some simple tests I’d like to try.
Using a small gas engine powered 4KW generator I will –
- Connect the engine’s fuel line to a small tank container that will allow it to burn ALL of the fuel applied
- Time how long the engine runs with a small fixed amount of fuel
- Connect the HHO generator and re-run with the same amount of fuel and time how long it runs
- Measure the current consumed by the HHO generator
The HHO generator will be supplied electricity directly from the 4KW generator. This means it will only produce HHO when the 4KW generator engine is running (a safety feature). The question I’m trying to answer for myself is if the gain from HHO is worth the amount of power required to produce it from the 4KW generator.
For example, if the engine runs for the same amount of time with the HHO as without it’s not worth it as the HHO generator is consuming some of the generator’s capacity with no decrease in fuel consumption. If the engine runs say, 30% longer and the HHO generator only consumes a couple of amps then it’s probably worth while.
I always heard and thought that HHO generation isn’t worth while because it takes too much power to create a usable amount of HHO gas, but there’s a decent amount of evidence to the contrary. I’m not sure if the people making these positive claims are people trying to sell snake oil or if this process is truely viable, so I hope to see for myself.
If I make it as far as building a working HHO generator and my initial tests are positive I’d also be interested in seeing if I can make one that can create enough gas to run the 4KW generator on straight HHO.
This will actually be easier to determine if the effort is worth while. If I got this to work, even if the HHO generator consumed 70% of my 4KW generator’s capacity it is still producing 30% more power than it’s using and the fuel it’s running on (mostly water) is basically free. Of course the cost of the 4KW generator would need to be factored in as this is not free and has a limited life, but I already have one so it’s a good test platform.
The other nice thing about the 4KW generator is that it’s carbureted, meaning there’s no computer trying to adjust the gas/air mixture. Though this process can supposedly work in fuel injected cars I can see how it gets a bit trickier to get the same gains out of it.
Some other notes of interest –
- The electrolysis process is corrosive. All metal components (cell plates, screws, wires, etc.) in contact with the electrolyte should be 316L stainless steel
- As mentioned, HHO gas is very volatile and explodes if ignited
- Connected to a carburetor, a backfire can ignite the HHO gas all the way back to the source unless a flashback preventer (1-way valve) is used
- The HHO gas should be run through a scrubber (a separate bottle of water) to remove any caustic components of the gas before being delivered to the engine
- The line from the HHO generator to the scrubber and the scrubber to the engine should both have 1-way valves to help prevent a flashback from reaching either component
- As an additional precaution, the HHO generator and scrubber should have a pressure release valve in the event the gas in it is somehow ignited
- The HHO generator’s power source should be automatically shut-off when the engine it’s supplying is not running
- It is not a good idea to try to store HHO gas. Rather, the HHO generator should produce it on demand
- The electrolyte is a mix of distilled water and a catalyst
- The catalyst (among other things) varies the resistance of the water. More catalyst = lower resistance.
- Lowering the resistance of the electrolye generally produces more HHO gas, but also causes the HHO generator to draw more current and run hotter
- A number of electrolyte solutions can be found on the Internet, such as distilled water with vinegar or baking soda. The recommended electrolyte however is approximately 10 parts distilled water to 1 part Potassium Hydroxide (aka – Caustic Potash or KOH). One reference as to why can be found at http://hho2u.hubpages.com/hub/hho_fuel_hho_Generator
- An HHO generator can be of the type referred to as “Dry” or “Wet” cell. Both do the same thing but the Dry cell type encapsulates the electrolyte such that the electrical plate connections are outside of and not in contact with the electrolyte
- A wide variety of plans as well as complete HHO generators are available on the Internet