Water-Fueled Internal Combustion Engine: Urban Legend To Engineering Possibility
Vestpa scooter hydrolyzers. Image credit:UW Engineering Dept.
I know what you're thinking: urban legends about cars that 'run on water' have been around forever. Some guy invents a special carburetor in his garage, then 'sells out' the patent rights to an oil company (un-named; but which, it is claimed, then suppresses the technology).
There certainly is potential to increase the total fuel efficiency of ICE powered vehicles by injecting on-board generated hydrogen. Ideally, the hydrogen would generated by capturing waste energy - in the example presented below, by harnessing underutilized alternator output to hydrolyze water. Why do I say certainly? ICE vehicles already run on hydrogen aplenty. That exhaust vapor you see in winter results from uniting oxygen in the air with fuel-born hydrogen that has been stripped from "hydrocarbons" (Refineries currently add millions of tons of hydrogen each year to intermediate distillates in what is known as a "cracking" process.)UW engineering students have cooked up their own designs, based on existing Vespa scooters. See UW-Madison, Beloit partnership produces water-run scooter and Going green, one moped at a time for some details.
The electrodes are powered by a charge from the moped's alternator and separate the water into oxygen and hydrogen, funneling the hydrogen directly to the engine's cylinder via a stainless steel tube.
Once in the engine, the hydrogen produces a more complete combustion, according to Anderson, which means the engine more efficiently uses the fuel.
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