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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hydrogen Power in Your Tank Today?

An eager reader (probably another one of those darn liberals trying to use less gasoline) told me about a Texas outfit, EVO Technology, that is working on a new kind of hybrid car: gasoline plus hydrogen. If it works, it could reduce gasoline usage and be a step toward that fabled water-powered car.

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 "eborowsky@hplus-hybrid.com". 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.
Read more:
  • 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.


  1. This is all total bunk.

    Step #1 - Break water into oxygen and hydrogen using an incredibly inefficient process (~10% efficient at best).

    Step #2 - Recombine the hydrogen and oxygen using a combustion reaction which is again, not terribly efficient (~50-60% at best).

    Step #3 - Convert the magical energy surplus into mechanical power.

    Step #4 - Convert your mechanical power back into electricity at an another loss through your alternator (maybe 30% efficient).

    Goto Step #1.

    If all of your efficiencies are less than 100% you can only lose energy through this process. The only possibility would be through magical step #3 which is of course not possible.

  2. This reminds me of an idea I dreamed up years ago: generate massive power with a stationary bicycle. Connect the rear wheel to a small generator that produces a few volts. Use that generator to power a motor that drives a bigger generator, which in turn drives a still bigger motor that drives a bigger generator that drives a ... [iterate as many times as desired to electrify a house, neighborhood, city, region, nation, world, planetary federation, galactic empire, etc.]

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. In addition:

    I did play baseball for the Minnesota Twins.

    I did run a company, for fourteen years that made composite tubing for not only "kite tubes", but also aerospace, medical, motorcycle, industrial, and sporting goods industries. I have sold that company three years ago.

    There are no products on the products page of our website because we will not introduce a product until it is completely tested on a wide variety of vehicles.

    I am the installation expert because I have not formally formed the company. I do not promote this website, and you have had an early preview, because a friend of yours has been in communication with me.

    There is allot of negative publicity surrounding this technology. I have purchased many other systems that I have been able to find. I place them into two categories; not producing enough hydrogen to make any changes in the system, and those that produce enough hydrogen, yet draw up to, or over 80 amps, which will burn out the vehicles altenator. If I cannot make this technology work efficiently and effectively, you will always see our products page as "under construction".

    However, at this time, I believe our technology will be ready for sales within the next few months.

  5. The technology to create Hydrogen from water is NOT difficult to develop. The difficulty is in creating enough hydrogen AND maintaining the energy requirements of the generator. THAT is what we have created. The HPlus Hybrid System’s unique combination of plate design, plate configuration, i.e. use of raw materials, electrical design, and electrolytic solution focuses and efficiently uses the electrical energy required. There is NO need for any other electrical devices to constantly monitor and manage because of a “run away”, or “out of control” generator unit.

    When I first heard of the technology I was very skeptical. Even after I tested for many months, 200 mile trips, I stayed skeptical. I needed to know! When I drove my Volvo S80 T6 to Las Vegas (566 miles) on ¾ (17.611 gallons at the refuel(32.14 mpg)) of a tank, It never got more than 500 miles on a tank on the highway. I drove that car many times (more than 20) between Carson City, NV and Yuma, AZ, 650 miles. The Volvo S80 T6 has a 21 gallon gas tank, 500 miles would equal 23.80 mpg, which is slightly higher than the 23.5 mpg the EPA says it should get. I had much experience with that car. After my trip to Las Vegas, I started to believe that we may be onto something. The next hurdle to overcome was “how to maintain amperage at an acceptable level? What was an acceptable level? The cars stereo, standard, can pull between 20 and 40 amps. Surely if we can produce enough hydrogen to make a difference, and keep the unit drawing under 25 amps, we have something truly incredible. We did just that. Our unit. And you may want to see it working, will produce an enormous amount of hydrogen/oxygen at less than 15 amps (12 volts). And stay at that level! That is why we believe we have a unique system that truly works, and that is why we believe that we should be allowed an utility patent.

  6. [I'll take EZ at his word that he is Erez Borowsky.]

    Darned interesting response, Mr. Borowsky! And hey, if you can make this technology work, get to it! When you're ready to sell, I'll take a good look at buying.

    Indeed, negative early publicity from shysters will make it hard for legit inventors to establish their products. But real performance will overcome the baloney other fakers have placed in your way. By all means, keep researching... and when you've got a machine that works, give us a heads up... and maybe even buy an ad here on the Madville Times!


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