Tuesday, May 10, 2011

More Free Energy Nonsense...

Recently, at work, there was a discussion thread about the Genepax car as a recent article popped up on a Canadian news website.

The link is here -- http://presscore.ca/2011/?p=1910

It basically brings up the claims of a Japanese company called Genepax, who say it's possible to run a car on water by electrolyzing the water into Brown's Gas and run on that gas as fuel either for combustion or for a fuel cell.  The actual claim came out in 2008, and the company apparently shut its doors in 2009, though the Canadian Presscore writer didn't seem to know about that last part.  The reason this article came out was because the writer totally swallowed the claim that you can somehow electrolyze water with no external energy input to provide hydrogen from the water and run for about 1 hour on it.  This is also a time when Honda has its hydrogen fuel-cell car, the FCX Clarity, and it's actually proving to be quite feasible as a vehicle (provided there's a hydrogen economy, which is a big conditional)...  so the writer of the article thought...  what if you could combine the two and have Genepax's hydrogen generator in line with Honda's hydrogen fuel cell?  A water-powered car that spits water out the tail pipe?  How cool would that be?

Very cool, especially since it violates the laws of thermodynamics!  Yay, non-science!  I'm sorry...  but what did you think would happen?  You think you can make fuel and burn it and get no loss of energy in the process?  But you know what...  even if you could assume zero loss of energy in the process (that is to say, perfect 100% efficiency), it still doesn't work.  When I responded to the thread, I basically showed that point, and it pretty much silenced the discussion.  Here's an inline quote of my response to the email thread where I was responding to the question "Can it be true?"
NO.
It's physically impossible to break down water for the same energy you get out, and the only way this can work as described is if electrolysis is done through an external power input while you're loading in the water and then it stores the hydrogen and oxygen separately for use during the power cycle.

Think about a high-end automotive alternator that puts out, say, 100 amps. Assume that all 100 amps go towards electrolysis, for argument's sake.
Note : 100 amps of current is not typical for a car alternator, but there are performance-oriented aftermarket alternators made for very large high-power V8s (e.g. 6.0 Liters and up) which are conservatively spec'ed to output up to 100 amps.
100 coulombs per second = 0.00103642688 moles of electrons per second.
Since it takes 2 electrons to electrolyze one water molecule, we'll divide this in half and multiply by the molar mass of water to get --
9.32784192 milligrams of water per second can possibly be electrolyzed.

Out of that, only 1/9 of that mass is hydrogen, so you're getting 1.03 mg per second of hydrogen coming out of there. Not significant at all. You can get more hydrogen than that just from the atmosphere when running a turbo. That too, this is what you get with 100 amps going towards powering the electrolysis and assuming that you are operating at 100% efficiency.  Still, for combustion, this is about equivalent 3 mg of gasoline vapors, but since hydrogen combustion gives up its energy with a very high speed flame propagation, it can yield a stronger impulse.

On the link to the company website, it mentions a lot of other existing technologies for the generation of Brown's Gas (HHO gas) as a fuel efficiency booster for regular gasoline engine.  Problem is that you can't do this. The only way you'll get enough hydrogen to improve your combustion characteristics is to have a separate storage tank and mix it in like you'd do with nitrous oxide.  HHO gas is a transient product in the course of electrolysis, and cannot be stored -- it's just too unstable.  Try putting it in a tank, and it'll just become water vapor again in under 1 second.  That said, you could argue there are some theoretical possibilities for Brown's Gas (HHO) to do better than diatomic hydrogen alone since it is an unstable molecule that will dissociate into hydrogen and oxygen very quickly under high heat, and so you're getting both hydrogen and oxygen into the combustion mixture. The dissociation in the chamber can either help or hurt since it will increase pressure inside the cylinder. This also happens with nitrous, but with nitrous, the dissociation occurs in the heat after spark ignition, so the increased pressure (increased because you now have two gases instead of one and they each want to take up space) actually aids the power stroke. With HHO, it's unstable enough that it may break up in the compression stroke long before TDC, so you'll end up losing that advantage since the engine will have to work harder to compress. Either way, it'd probably be the same as pumping in both the hydrogen and the oxygen you get from full electrolysis.

Going back to the prior example of 100 amps directed to electrolysis, consider this :
Pure hydrogen-oxygen combustion will only net you 38 KWh per kilogram of hydrogen. While this is technically higher energy density per mass than that of gasoline, it's mainly because you need a lot of hydrogen to yield one kilogram.

To make the math easy, lets say you run this 100 amps for 1 hour --
100 amps * 3600 seconds = 360,000 coulombs or 3.73113678 moles of electrons.
This can electrolyze 1.86556839 moles of water or 33.58 grams...  or 0.03358 liters.
33.58 grams of water, of which 1/9th is hydrogen.
All of that combusted at 38 KWh per kg of hydrogen yields us a grand total of
0.141783197 KWh of total energy

Now in the video on the link, they talked about running at 80 km/h for approximately 1 hour.  Let's just say one hour to make it easy, which means that all that energy is spread out over the span of 1 hour.  1 KWh spread out over 1 hour means the output is 1 KW...  so in this case, we can basically say 0.14178 KW of output.

This by the way, means that we have an internal combustion engine that can put out a whopping 0.19 horsepower! You could get better performance out of the technology used in Fred Flinstone's car. Given the resistance of the whole drivetrain and the mass of a crank and the amount of torque necessary to turn the gears, you can't even move any car at all on that little power.

And considering how much power you had to use up to get there. 100 amps over 1 hour? Even if your circuit had a miraculously low 1 ohm of resistance, you had to use 10 KWh of energy to get 0.14 KWh output, and that's assuming 100% efficiency in everything.

Yeah. Totally possible.

Even if you assume that everything the guy said [in the video] about using ~1 liter of water per hour...  1 liter of water means 0.11111 kg of hydrogen...  at 38KWh per kg, that's 4.222222 KWh of total energy.  Spread out over 1 hour, that's 4.22222 KW output, or 5.66 hp.  Do you really see that working out?

There is no water car.  There never will be.  Let's put this damn pipe dream to rest, please.  And if anybody ever brings it up to you, do point them to this blog post, where they can be thoroughly blinded with science.