Diagram from 2006 illustrating how Hydroxene works
Dadi, LMG, LM Auto Star, Hydroxene and “Just Add Water“… these were a few phrases that were uttered across Malaysia when controversial LM Star Autoworld embarked on a massive ad campaign in 2006 advertising its Chinese-sourced Dadi trucks with a hydrogen injection fueling system called Hydroxene. Hydroxene is a technology from Hydrogen Fuel Technology (M) Sdn Bhd. The PM himself launched the car, and then the whole project disappeared for over a year.
HFT Sdn Bhd is now appearing in the papers again, but this time they are not associating themselves with LM Star Autoworld’s cars. The Hydroxene device has been described once again as a device comprising of “a small canister in the engine compartment” and a 5 litre water tank in the boot. The separation of water into hydrogen and oxygen happens in the small canister in the engine bay, and the hydrogen is then injected into the engine. HFT claims the device is on test on 100 local taxis. Two models are available, a unit for carburetted cars priced at RM1,300 and RM2,300 for fuel injected cars.
It is an law in physics called the Conservation of Energy that the amount of energy in this universe is fixed and the amount of energy you can get out of something is equal to the amount of you put in. In such a device, there is energy used in separating the hydrogen and oxygen. You may end up using more power extracting the hydrogen out of the water than you will gain from burning it in the combustion process. A device that can create more energy than what is required to power it is called a Perpetual Motion Machine.
The arguement for many of these water fuel devices (there are plenty being advertised on the net, it is nothing new at all) is that the hydrogen provides many other benefits other than being a fuel for the combustion process – some include helping the combustion be more efficient in extracting power out of the carbon-based fuel (petrol, diesel) and also improved emissions. This MAY be where the improved fuel economy is coming from.
Using hydrogen as a supplemental “fuel” in a regular petrol combustion engine has even been the subject of an SAE paper (#2002-01-2196 Performance and Fuel Consumption Estimation of a Hydrogen Enriched Gasoline Engine at Part-Load Operation – I bought it for USD14.00). The paper discusses the idea of hydrogen being introduced into the combustion process to enable leaning out the air-fuel mixture – more air and less fuel required. The end result MAY be similiar to the fuel savings achieved by lean burn operation in a direct injection engine. I was shocked to read that the SAE paper found petrol consumption was reduced by up to 56% depending on conditions!
The other issue that may or may not be of concern is hydrogen embrittlement, where metals especially high-strengh steel can become brittle and crack when exposed to hydrogen. Exposing your combustion chamber to hydrogen may cause your cylinder to crack! Check out the wikipedia page I linked for more info about this. This is quite an issue in the hydrogen economy and engines that burn hydrogen (instead of using hydrogen in a fuel cell) such as the motor in BMW’s Hydrogen 7 and Mazda’s hydrogen-powered RENESIS have been specially designed to withstand this.
Why did Hydroxene disappear for a few years and appear now? Strategically now is a good time because of the recent fuel price increase, and a report by Malaysiakini also reported that the government has approved a RM100 million loan fund for public transport operators who want to install the Hydroxene system… how convenient.
Water4Gas – teaches you how to build your own hydrogen fuel module
Hydrogen embrittlement on Wikipedia
Perpetual motion on Wikipedia
Conservation of energy on Wikipedia
Hydrogen fuel enhancement on Wikipedia
Efficiency of Electrolysis of water on Wikipedia
Water-fueled car at Museum of Hoaxes
Popular Mechanics tests a water injection device that resulted in 20% worse fuel economy
Gas Saving and Emission Reduction Devices Evaluation by US EPA