The basic science: you add a water tank to your car. Use a little juice from your battery for electrolysis to split the water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. Inject that hydrogen into the internal combustion engine. Boom! Your fuel burns more completely and cleanly. EVO claims to have achieved fuel efficiency gains of over 30% in the vehicles it has tested.
So is the idea legit? EVO offers an installation manual with component images and an electrical diagram, but their Products page remains "Under construction." The "installation expert" cited in the manual is "firstname.lastname@example.org". That appears to be Erez Borowsky, marketing executive and partner at EVO Technologies. Borowsky is the registrant of the hplus-hybrid.com domain name. Borowsky also appears to have a hand/money in wrapped carbon competition kite tubes. And if I'm reading the Internet right, Borowsky played minor-league baseball for the Twins for five years. Some casual Sunday Googling doesn't turn up anyone else associated with this company.
EVO's website does produce a 2008 report from the Southwest Research Institute summarizing past successful research on hydrogen-enhanced internal combustion engines. However, Mike Allen, senior automotive editor at Popular Mechanics, has written quite a bit debunking this technology:
This malarkey boiled down to perpetual motion: something for nothing. Essentially, it takes more energy—in the form of the chemical energy in the gasoline you're burning in the engine, to spin the alternator to make the electricity and generate the HHO—than you get back. In fact, it's not even close: Multiply all the inefficiencies in that system and you only get a few percent back, certainly not in excess of 100 percent [Mike Allen, "Why Water Won't Improve Your MPG," Popular Mechanics, 2009.03.27].
But what about all that research?
Before you start e-mailing me copies of those same scientific papers (I've seen them a dozen times) that supposedly prove that this works, let me tell you, these documents don't apply to your car. Without getting very detailed, these papers all deal with ultralean experimental engines with fuel-delivery systems enhanced with a stream of pure hydrogen, achieving a small improvement. They have nothing to do with retrofitting a conventional engine (with computer-controlled engine management that keeps the mixture near a perfect 14.2:1) with a device that adds a hydrogen-oxygen mix [Allen 2009].
I welcome commentary from my science-minded readers. I'd like to think innovations like hydrogen injection could help us save gasoline. Even small decreases in consumption can produce significant price declines. But from this weekend's reading, I'm inclined to believe hydrogen injectors won't be beating high gas costs or the laws of thermodynamics in my Jeep any time soon.
- Dateline NBC report to which Mike Allen contributed, debunking a similar hydrogen technology peddled by Dennis Lee. Note that Lee tells Dateline that NBC is simply in he pocket of Big Oil.
- Allen and Dateline didn't buy Lee's claims about his hydrogen assist fuel technology, but a New Jersey judge found the Federal Trade Commission failed to prove Lee had broken any laws.