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Thread: Water Fuel

  1. #1
    Frakkin Toaster Cynic81's Avatar
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    Behold the Future:
    http://www.ebaumsworld.com/2006/06/waterfuel.html

    As far as I know, this is completely legit.

    For those unable to watch the video: A man in the US has invented a practical hydrogen engine that is fueled by liquid water, and is apparantly talking to the US government about making a water/gas hybrid hummer, and an unnamed automaker.
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    Actually, this came up recently on the large science forum I'm on:

    Scienceforums thread on this subject

    It's fairly long and involved, and somewhat beyond me (I'm no chemist). Some of the experts dug up actual papers deal with it, and woelen evidently has some colleagues trying to replicate the results. Nothing's conclusive yet.

    The general gist of the thread: if the torch system works, it's very interesting due to the chemistry behind it. The car system could be useful too, in the sense that the limited, localized heat could improve engine design. It would also mean no messing around with pure hydrogen, which is good because pure hydrogen is incredibly explosive.

    However, the statement that the car can run for hundreds of miles on only a few ounces of water is misleading (though technically true), since the water isn't the source of energy, but merely a respository for it. That's like me saying my car runs for 3000 miles on only a few quarts of oil; it's true, but it's not the relevant metric of performance. Electricity is being used to induce the water into an unusual state in which it holds that energy, then releases it when used to run a car or cut metal. A car running on this technology will still require large quantities of electrical energy, and very large batteries to store it, thus making it prone to many (but not all) the problems of other electric cars.

    It's interesting, but not exactly the world-shattering breakthrough it's hinted at being.

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    There's a good reason water is so common - it's a thermodynamic sink. That is to say, it has no potential chemical energy - you can't burn it and get more energy out of it.

    This video is terribly misleading - yes, he's using water as the "fuel", in that 2H2O + electricity --> O2 + 2H2, and it is the hydrogen-oxygen mixture that he is burning. This process is called electrolysis and can be done at home with a 9 volt battery and a glass of salty water, but my problem with his claims of a major breakthough is that you DON'T GET MORE ENERGY OUT THAN YOU PUT IN. The electricity required to split the water is equal to or greater than the energy you get by burning the gasses to reform water.

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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]yes, he's using water as the "fuel", in that 2H2O + electricity --> O2 + 2H2, and it is the hydrogen-oxygen mixture that he is burning. This process is called electrolysis and can be done at home with a 9 volt battery and a glass of salty water
    If you read through the thread I linked to, apparently it's not exactly just H and O, but some weird high-energy configuration of the molecule which then reverts to normal, releasing the energy.

    Also, I wouldn't be at all surprised if most of the shifty stuff is actually the media taking things out of context or mis-interpreting what was actually said. Sometimes they do it intentionally to 'spice things up', but with science reporting it's often because they have no clue whatsoever about what's actually going on.

    Mokele
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    Reading that thread proves my point - anyone posting there who knows enough to say more than "ooh, cool" recognizes that HHO doesn't exist, that he's using electrolysis methods that have been around for over a century, and that he's using more electricity to split the water than what he gets out of it.

    Hydrogen doesn't have enough orbitals to form H-H-O bonds instead of H-O-H (and HHO would leave the oxygen without a full octet). This whole thing sounds like the polywater hoax, but without the publications in real chemistry journals to back the claims.

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    Cardiac Nurse JB_OrchidGuy's Avatar
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    Very interesting!


    Decapod73 I would be kinda leery to say something doesn;t exist before its proven to be a hoax. I have learned through my short life that even things "proven" sometimes get unproven. We don't know it all in this world. The things we take for granted as fact could very well be wrong. I don;t know if this is a hoax or not, and personally I would love to see something like this work. I see your argument though that the structure of hydrogen doesn't have enough electrons to combine like they claim, as you pointed out. What about isotopes of hydrogen with multiple electrons? Since they have more electrons could they potentially combine like they claim? I haven't had enough chemistry to know.

    My biggest reason for editing this post though is to say that we should watch out. Remember that saying never say never? Just because it hasn't been done, or can't be conceived in our minds eye doesn't mean it can't happen. Things like that happen everyday. Remember when man wasn't supposed to fly? Remember when the helicopter wasn't supposed to work? The list goes on and on. There is no reason we can't be skeptics, but just give it a chance. Our world needs a break through like this. I;m tired of giving all my money to the rich oil sheiks.
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    chloroplast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]Reading that thread proves my point - anyone posting there who knows enough to say more than "ooh, cool" recognizes that HHO doesn't exist,
    The authors of the video may have used "H2O+energy-->HHO" so that those not familiar with the principle of stoichiometry wouldn't be confused. A similar simplification can be found in many physics books published for the non-scientist--namely, that the most predominant form of nuclear fusion found in stars involves the fusion of two hydrogen nuclei (protons) to form helium. It's actually more complicated than that but it's presented as such to make the take-home point more easily understood.

    But I agree, it would likely be unacceptable to use the term "HHO gas" in a peer-reviewed chemistry journal, though I'm not a chemist so I could be mistaken.

    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]What about isotopes of hydrogen with multiple electrons? Since they have more electrons could they potentially combine like they claim?
    All non-ionized hydrogen isotopes have the same number of electrons (one), they simply have a different number of neutrons in the nucleus.
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    What a friggin bunch of cynics. If something appeared on Fox News, it has to be true. In fact, I'm thinking Iraq's WMDs might have been based on HHO technology.
    Bruce in CT

    Madness is something rare in individuals but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

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