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Hydrogen assisted Internal Combustion Engines

PostPost by: billwill » Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:38 pm

Some people mostly in the USA seem to be experimenting on adding a little hydrogen to the air intake to get more miles per gallon.

Try google[how to add hydrogen to a car?] for more info.

Ditto on Youtube for how to home build electrolysis units.

Seems dangerous to me as some of them are breaking down water to Hydrogen & Oxygen and then feeding BOTH gases into the air intake. So that is a doubly-highly-explosive mixture. Somewhat deadly if you leave the hydrolysis unit running with the engine stopped.

The theory is pretty much the same as nitrox injection. The highly combustible gas improves the ignition of the normal fuel and thus allow you to run it on a leaner mixture. Or leave the fuel settings the same and get more horse-power and a much hotter engine.
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PostPost by: summerinmaine » Mon Oct 04, 2010 5:06 pm

billwill wrote:Some people mostly in the USA seem to be experimenting on adding a little hydrogen to the air intake to get more miles per gallon.

Try google[how to add hydrogen to a car?] for more info.

Ditto on Youtube for how to home build electrolysis units.

Seems dangerous to me as some of them are breaking down water to Hydrogen & Oxygen and then feeding BOTH gases into the air intake. So that is a doubly-highly-explosive mixture. Somewhat dealy if you leave the hydrolysis unit running with the engine stopped.

The theory is pretty much the same as nitrox injection. The highly combustible gas improves the ignition of the normal fuel and thus allow you to run it on a leaner mixture. Or leave the fuel settings the same and get more horse-power and a much hotter engine.



I looked at this a while back, and it sounded like a lot of snake oil to me. But the electrolysis chamber could easily be wired into the ignition, so that it doesn't run if the car isn't running, so I don't see that as a big drawback.
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PostPost by: Galwaylotus » Mon Oct 04, 2010 6:15 pm

Gentlemen, there's no free lunch. In other words you cannot create energy. It takes energy to break down water into its constituent parts and you won't get any more energy out of the resultant hydrogen by burning it. I don't believe you can get enough to make a dangerous mixture but you won't make any energy gains either! 8)
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PostPost by: summerinmaine » Mon Oct 04, 2010 8:24 pm

Galwaylotus wrote:Gentlemen, there's no free lunch. In other words you cannot create energy. It takes energy to break down water into its constituent parts and you won't get any more energy out of the resultant hydrogen by burning it. I don't believe you can get enough to make a dangerous mixture but you won't make any energy gains either! 8)



At least in the write-ups I read, the claimed gain in energy from the IC motor is as a result of using the excess energy produced by the vehicle's electrical system (e.g. the alternator) to perform the electrolysis, and thus recapture some energy that would otherwise go "down the drain." The idea is that it takes no more mechanical energy to spin the alternator and produce the extra energy consumed by the electrolytic chamber than it would to produce just enough energy for the vehicle's ordinary needs.

My thoughts on snake oil were more along the lines that the amount of potential energy gain (e.g. in power to the wheels) was so minimal as to be virtually undetectable (for the reasons you observed). Now if one were to couple this electrolysis schema with a magnetic collar on the fuel line to align the petrol molecules for more efficient combustion, THEN we might seem some REAL action! :D
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PostPost by: Frank Howard » Mon Oct 04, 2010 8:32 pm

summerinmaine wrote:The idea is that it takes no more mechanical energy to spin the alternator and produce the extra energy consumed by the electrolytic chamber than it would to produce just enough energy for the vehicle's ordinary needs.
Jim,

Of course it does. If you could increase the load without the alternator working any harder, you'd be getting something for nothing. As Galwaylotus said, there is no free lunch.
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PostPost by: summerinmaine » Mon Oct 04, 2010 10:47 pm

Frank Howard wrote:
summerinmaine wrote:The idea is that it takes no more mechanical energy to spin the alternator and produce the extra energy consumed by the electrolytic chamber than it would to produce just enough energy for the vehicle's ordinary needs.
Jim,

Of course it does. If you could increase the load without the alternator working any harder, you'd be getting something for nothing. As Galwaylotus said, there is no free lunch.



Maybe I didn't express myself as well as I could have, or need to go back to school, but your observation doesn't appear accurate with the electrical systems on, e.g., vintage Brit Iron. There, the generator works just as hard always, and excess voltage is dumped to earth by the zener diode acting as a voltage regulator. I never said the claim was that they were getting something for nothing, but rather they claimed to make use of something that would otherwise go to waste.

It's a bit like the energy produced by the ignition system controlled by a Boyer. There's a waste spark on each cylinder every other 360 degrees of rotation. If you could capture that spark and use it for another purpose, you don't get something for nothing but instead get something for what would otherwise go to nothing.
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PostPost by: paddy » Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:15 pm

Jim, I have to disagree.

There is no such thing as free energy. If he voltage regulators on our alternators were working the way you say, then they would be getting very hot.

The torque required to turn the alternator depends on the work that is done by the electrical energy that it generates. An alternator will generate 12v with zero torque, provided that there is no current (ie no work). Voltage doesn't cost any energy to generate.

As an aside, I got the impression that these hydrogen systems *are* creating a net increase in energy because they cause the engine to work more efficiently, ie to derive more mechanical energy from the hydrocarbon that is burned (presumably generating less heat, or hydrocarbon, or both). I don't know whether or not this is true, but it is theoretically possible to get a net increase in energy. Obviously the water -> hydrogen+oxygen -> water cycle doesn't release energy by itself, but it can have a side-effect on the other process that's happening.

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PostPost by: summerinmaine » Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:34 pm

paddy wrote:Jim, I have to disagree.

There is no such thing as free energy. If he voltage regulators on our alternators were working the way you say, then they would be getting very hot.

The torque required to turn the alternator depends on the work that is done by the electrical energy that it generates. An alternator will generate 12v with zero torque, provided that there is no current (ie no work). Voltage doesn't cost any energy to generate.

As an aside, I got the impression that these hydrogen systems *are* creating a net increase in energy because they cause the engine to work more efficiently, ie to derive more mechanical energy from the hydrocarbon that is burned (presumably generating less heat, or hydrocarbon, or both). I don't know whether or not this is true, but it is theoretically possible to get a net increase in energy. Obviously the water -> hydrogen+oxygen -> water cycle doesn't release energy by itself, but it can have a side-effect on the other process that's happening.

Paddy


But Paddy, if what you say is universally applicable, why do my Bonneville and my Velo Venom mount their Zeners on such large heatsinks? They ARE generating excess heat, as I understand it, because the electrical systems continue to put out large amounts of current even though the batteries are fully charged, as unless alternate pathways are provided, you would boil out the electrolyte and fry the batteries.

I admit to knowing far less about the operation of a voltage regulator in an alternator (or any modern system for that matter), but I'll do some reading up and see where it takes me.

And yes, enhancing operating efficiencies would be a way to gain energy (not for "free" of course), but that's also where the snake oil part of their explanations started to set off warning buzzers.
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PostPost by: Frank Howard » Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:48 pm

summerinmaine wrote:your observation doesn't appear accurate with the electrical systems on, e.g., vintage Brit Iron. There, the generator works just as hard always, and excess voltage is dumped to earth by the zener diode acting as a voltage regulator...
Jim,

I hope we don't appear to be ganging up against you but I beg to differ. First of all, these futuristic cars are not going back to using generators but just for the sake of argument, if they did, I have never heard of a zener diode. It's the voltage regulator that rapidly connects and disconnects the generator from the battery depending on the load on the electrical system. When the generator is disconnected, it spins more freely. When it is connected, it requires more torque from the engine to turn it. It is my understanding that alternators depend on their internal voltage regulators to determine the same thing. As the load increases, so does the amount of torque required to spin the alternator.

My British University Professor father-in-law drove through many winters thinking he was saving gas...er petrol by suffering with the heater turned off. He's been a lot more comfortable since I let him know that aside from the small amount of energy that the fan uses, he was not saving anything as he was sending the wasted heat directly into the atmosphere rather than into the car. :shock: I understand your argument about recovering wasted energy but I don't think it applies here.
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PostPost by: summerinmaine » Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:50 pm

Okay, now that I've read up a bit, it's easy to see that the mechanical load imposed on the engine by the alternator varies according to the amount of electrical current it is generating. The ML would not sink to zero with zero current production, of course, due to the inertial load of the rotor and frictional losses in the bearings. But the increased electromagnetic field that accompanies current production would clearly increase the ML imposed by the alternator on the engine.

But in the case of the Zener-controlled system, it still appears to me that there is often excess current production that is shunted to ground, and some of this could be captured and energy returned to the system by the electrolysis of water. Whether the amount of gain obtained is worth the increased complexity of the system remains an open question in my mind.
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PostPost by: summerinmaine » Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:54 pm

Frank Howard wrote:Jim,

I hope we don't appear to be ganging up against you but I beg to differ.



Don't worry about ganging up, Frank. I learn a lot from these exchanges, and obviously my extensive experience with Brit-Iron has tended to freeze my understanding of certain systems in the "Iron" Age. :D

But check out the function of a Zener diode. It may have been a relatively crude and inefficient solution in its application to voltage regulation, but the creation of the diode itself was rather elegant.
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PostPost by: summerinmaine » Tue Oct 05, 2010 12:05 am

BTW when I looked into this at first, I saw a number of internet arguments over whether the mechanical load imposed by an alternator varied according to the amount of current being produced. :mrgreen:
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PostPost by: billwill » Tue Oct 05, 2010 12:15 am

Galwaylotus wrote:Gentlemen, there's no free lunch. In other words you cannot create energy. It takes energy to break down water into its constituent parts and you won't get any more energy out of the resultant hydrogen by burning it. I don't believe you can get enough to make a dangerous mixture but you won't make any energy gains either! 8)



That is only the case for cars that purport to run completely on water electrolysed. etc. That isn't the case here. Apparently a relatively small amount of electricity from the alternator around 80 watts, is sufficient to create enough hydrogen to ASSIST IN BETTER BURNING OF THE MAIN FUEL.

The energy is there, it being normally wasted in unburnt fuel or incompletely combusted gasses in the exhaust of non-assisted cars.

And folks this has little or nothing to do with and recovery of unused energy from the alternator (that's rubbish, in Car alternators) the extra load of 80 watts will indeed be consuming EXTRA energy from the alternator which in turn gets it from the crankshaft, which in turn gets it from the burning fuel, but the point is that the improvement in efficiency of the burning of the main fuel is way in excess of 80 watts. (apparently). The extra energy from the hydrogen ignition itself will be trivial probably around say 50 wats.

But the overall effect is like having 50 watt spark plugs!!!


Car alternator have an ELECTROMAGNET as the rotating part, with electricity fed to it through slip rings. The electronic controller controls the current through the rotor and hence its magnetic strength; this in turn affects the output voltage directly, so a car alternator does not produce any excess electricity to be wasted.

On the other hand some motorcycle alternators had/have PERMANENT magnets in the rotating part, presumably because it has to be smaller, lighter and less subject to corrosion. Because the magnetic field is fixed it can't be controlled, so the voltage rises with the speed of rotation. To stop that burning out lightbulbs and destroying batteries, the power is controlled externally either by dumping the excess electricity into a Zener diode (as described in earlier messages) or by a more complicated electronic series controller (effectively a variable resistance). So with a permanent magnet-rotor alternator, you could possibly recover some of that dumped energy by using it for electrolysis and storing the hydrogen momentarily. However the quantities of energy are small compared to the energy needed to drive a car or bike and the effect will be small on performance.
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PostPost by: summerinmaine » Tue Oct 05, 2010 1:13 am

In addressing the question of just how much hydrogen (and oxygen of course) could be produced in a simple electrolysis system, I found this:

The most modern Electrolyzers consume 4.0 kWh per cubic meter of this gas. Electrolysis process takes place by voltage of 1.6-2.0 V and current strength of dozens and hundreds of amperes. When one cubic meter of hydrogen is burnt, 3.55 kWh of energy is released [Translated from Russian].

This doesn't address the temperature at which the electrolysis reaction is performed, and I understand that the efficiency of production rises with elevated temperatures. Thus, waste engine heat could possibly be used in this application
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PostPost by: paddy » Tue Oct 05, 2010 7:13 am

Jim,

Yes, your Zener voltage regulators must be dissipating some heat - but how much? I've no idea, I would be interested to know, but is it 5W, 10W, even 100W ?

Compare that with the 1kW that would represent a 1% change in engine output, or the 10kW that might start to make an appreciable difference.

I think we're agreed that the only situation in which this approach makes sense is if it changes the energy economics of the main fuel conversion.

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