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Hydrogen Augmentation of Vehicle Fuel

 
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There is a lot of conjecture about augmenting a vehicles fuel with a hydrogen fuel cell.  I sourced the component parts and installed one in my 2013 Nissan X-Trail.  Since installing the unit it appears to me that it is effective in increasing the number of Kilometers achieved on one tank of fuel.  The gauge shows 7.8 litres/ 100 Km but with the hydrogen is shows 6.8litres/ 100 Km.  so I am effectively getting an extra 150 Km per tank.  The Fuel cell is now out to check and the consumption has increased back to 7.8.  Does it work?  For me, yes.

Has anyone else had experience with a hydrogen fuel cell? what was/ is your experience?  
 
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What you're describing isn't really a hydrogen fuel cell in the common parlance.

A hydrogen fuel cell takes hydrogen, usually separated out of water with a PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane, if I recall correctly) or electrolysis, and feeds it into a system where it is recombined with oxygen to create electricity.

What you are describing is creating a volatile stoichiometric gas mixture out of water using electrolysis and then introducing that to your engine.

It doesn't work on most modern fuel-injection, as the fuel mixture is adjusted by the car's onboard computer based on external conditions. Thus, this analog futzing with the mix registers differently, and everything is adjusted accordingly.

I do know that there are some models on which it seems to work. The downsides are, of course, increased engine wear, as the ignition temperatures locally are higher than what the individual cylinders are designed for, or so I have been told after an engine reconstruction.

Also, apparently, older models were built tougher, and so could take more punishment. The newer the engines, the less durable they tend to be to this sort of wild variation from the ranges in which they were specifically designed to operate.

I was looking at this back in the early '00s. It used a familiar sales platform popular with free-energy scams. I determined that it wasn't worthwhile finding an old enough model for it to work, considering the relatively poor fuel economy of the vehicles on which this trick "works."

I haven't encountered conjecture, only sales pitches. To have this work properly, to achieve modern fuel efficiency requirements, and to not drastically shorten the lifespan of certain vehicle components for no real benefit, a vehicle would have to be designed specifically to make use of the different combustion dynamics.

-CK
 
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Paul,

Fuel cells have long interested me.  About 20 years ago I had high hopes that fuel cells would quickly replace internal combustion engines completely, but that seems to be an ever receding dream.

But a fuel cell that could augment an ICE engine is an interesting option.  Do you have any specific information on how this works?  Is the fuel cell essentially acting like a battery in a hybrid car?  Is one required to occasionally fill up with hydrogen gas now and then.

Paul, you have my curiosity piqued and I would love to hear more if you have more information to pass along.

Nice thread,

Eric
 
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Paul Fookes wrote:There is a lot of conjecture about augmenting a vehicles fuel with a hydrogen fuel cell.  I sourced the component parts and installed one in my 2013 Nissan X-Trail.  Since installing the unit it appears to me that it is effective in increasing the number of Kilometers achieved on one tank of fuel.  The gauge shows 7.8 litres/ 100 Km but with the hydrogen is shows 6.8litres/ 100 Km.  so I am effectively getting an extra 150 Km per tank.  The Fuel cell is now out to check and the consumption has increased back to 7.8.  Does it work?  For me, yes.

Has anyone else had experience with a hydrogen fuel cell? what was/ is your experience?  


As mentioned above it's not really a fuel cell. Usually its referred to as brown gas where the hydrogen and oxygen are mixed as formed and delivered together. If you have an older engine or even some throttle body fuel injected engines you could see some improved mileage in the short run. In a newer computer controlled engine with multi port injection nothing.  If you are using your alternator to generate the brown gas you will suffer early alternator death due to overheating. If you push the amount of hydrogen too high you will suffer metal fatigue in your engine and premature death. So yes reduced fuel consumption maybe on older vehicles but increased component wear and possible catastrophic failure... No mention of the incredible possible explosion risk of delivering hydrogen and oxygen through a single line...
 
Paul Fookes
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David Baillie wrote:

Paul Fookes wrote:There is a lot of conjecture about augmenting a vehicles fuel with a hydrogen fuel cell.  I sourced the component parts and installed one in my 2013 Nissan X-Trail.  Since installing the unit it appears to me that it is effective in increasing the number of Kilometers achieved on one tank of fuel.  The gauge shows 7.8 litres/ 100 Km but with the hydrogen is shows 6.8litres/ 100 Km.  so I am effectively getting an extra 150 Km per tank.  The Fuel cell is now out to check and the consumption has increased back to 7.8.  Does it work?  For me, yes.

Has anyone else had experience with a hydrogen fuel cell? what was/ is your experience?  


As mentioned above it's not really a fuel cell. Usually its referred to as brown gas where the hydrogen and oxygen are mixed as formed and delivered together. If you have an older engine or even some throttle body fuel injected engines you could see some improved mileage in the short run. In a newer computer controlled engine with multi port injection nothing.  If you are using your alternator to generate the brown gas you will suffer early alternator death due to overheating. If you push the amount of hydrogen too high you will suffer metal fatigue in your engine and premature death. So yes reduced fuel consumption maybe on older vehicles but increased component wear and possible catastrophic failure... No mention of the incredible possible explosion risk of delivering hydrogen and oxygen through a single line...



Absolutely, Hydrogen and oxygen are a dangerous mix.  I adjusted the down line O2 sensor to take account of the potential changes though it is not strictly necessary for diesel engines.  I have a flash isolator in the form of a water filled container and between that and the engine, a valve that will release if there is an explosion/ backfire. The effect on adding hydrogen to the fuel mix from my reading is the more effective burning of the fuel.  I have not had an issue and I know two people who have been using this technology for over 20 years without a problem.... Yes you are right Dave,  Fuel cell is the wrong terminology as this is something different and not the subject of this discussion.  I am talking about as you rightly point out fuel augmentation.  As to the safety, regular servicing is paramount.  Mine is currently out for a rebuild/ cleaning.  The other thing to take into account is that it is not effective on short trips but on longer trips of over 1 hour, very effective.
 
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Paul, that's interesting. You just mentioned this is a diesel -- I suspect that changes the calculations entirely.

My concern is about how much energy goes into the fuel gas generator vs. how much is saved. When a conversion is involved, energy is lost. Curse you, laws of physics!

I have contemplated the possibility of regenerative braking feeding a fuel gas generator. This is energy that would otherwise have been dissipated as heat. There is a lot of wasted energy even in a small car. And contemplating the brakes (or jake brake) on a fully loaded semi -- that seems like a ripe opportunity.
 
Paul Fookes
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Douglas Alpenstock wrote:Paul, that's interesting. You just mentioned this is a diesel -- I suspect that changes the calculations entirely.



Doug, you have hit the nail on the head, the Laws of Physics are absolutely in play here.  There are a couple of other things, if you can break a bond, there is an energy release.  The aim therefore is to create some extra energy so the foot can come the pedal.  Hence less juice in the mix. So where does the extra energy come from to offset the losses?  My understanding and observation is that it comes from excess electricity generated from the alternator.    An alternator needs an excitation source so uses power from the battery anyway - I am not sure how much but this loss exists. The alternation gives some input into the total power system and this powers the hydrogen generator.  A hydrogen generator uses high amps and low voltage so, in my case, the end voltage is about 2 - 2.5 volts and about 4 Amps (8 - 10 watts).  Per my earlier post, we have a net positive available of energy.  It is like using breaking to generate energy rather than the heat being put into the rotors that have holes that give off loads of heat. Apparently a "Dry Cell" works better for static purposes but there is some efficiencies that cannot be gained like taking the foot further off the pedal when going down a hill a moving vehicle.

In theory, brown gas, should not work, but it does.  But in theory, I can prove black and white are the same but we all know they are not. I have not used petrol or LPG but I am told that LPG reacts best to hydrogen and petrol is better than diesel based on the amount of power/ energy (Kwh) increase.

I put the hydrogen unit in after the 1,000Km (First) service and the car is about to tick over 300,000Km (186,500 miles).
 
Eric Hanson
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Paul,

Thanks for clarifying for me that this is not a fuel cell as I had initially thought.  I was initially thinking of a fuel cell replacing a battery pack in some sort of hybrid configuration.

So as you describe, would the vehicle need periodic hydrogen refueling.  On a slightly different note, you mentioned using natural gas as a hydrogen substitute.  I recently read an article describing propane injected Diesel engines that allegedly have two main benefits.  Firstly, they are supposed to start very easily in cold weather (this does kinda make sense).  The second benefit is really two-fold.  They allegedly get both better mileage and better fuel emissions—precisely because the diesel fuel is being burned more completely.

I was curious if this was just a fantasy or even a theoretical possibility so I went looking online for propane diesel injection.  What I found was a number of kits for Diesel engines meant to be fit to semi-trucks.  Honestly, this sounds really interesting, but I am still not convinced it is just not hoccus-poccus nonsense.  I don’t suppose you could shed any light on this for me?

Eric
 
Paul Fookes
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Eric Hanson wrote:Thanks for clarifying for me that this is not a fuel cell as I had initially thought.  I was initially thinking of a fuel cell replacing a battery pack in some sort of hybrid configuration.

So as you describe, would the vehicle need periodic hydrogen refueling.  On a slightly different note, you mentioned using natural gas as a hydrogen substitute.  

Eric



Hi Eric, LPG aka liquefied petroleum gas is often confused with liquefied natural gas and associated petroleum gas.  I referred to LPG and not the other two.  I have no experience or information on the other two.
The hydrogen generated in my car is from electrolysis of water so the gas enters the air intake as H2O (gas) not H2O (Aq).  There are kits on line but they cost a fair bit.  For a truckie doing huge miles, it may be worth spending that coin and getting it professionally fitted.
The Myth busters did a segment to disprove the hydrogen fuel but in fact the opposite happened.  All was going well until they put too much hydrogen in and there was a flashback.  I dare say, there were some soiled undies on set.

Just to ensure that I was not feeding you porkies, I did a quick check and found this on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquefied_petroleum_gas

As for advice as on kits whether it is hoccus-poccus, I can categorically say my system works for my car.  I have seen other systems that are older than mine that are still going.  In 1987, I met a bloke who had made an electric car - way before the current stuff so I am never convinced that anything is not possible.  Dick Tracy had a wrist radio back in 1931.  Now every other person has an apple or some other type of web connected watch or the like.  If you get my drift,  what can be conceived it can be done.  There is a hub-less bike on the market - again, stuff of cartoons.  Getting back to your question on  whether it will work for you .....  mine works why wouldn't some one else's?  Just remember that hydrogen is explosive and oxygen is one side of the fire triangle IE, they are potentially dangerous.

There are some fabulous designs on YouTube but there are some that are clearly fake.  once you get into it you will soon spot the BS.  Would love to hear how you get on.  Looking forward to hearing about other's builds or experiences.
Cheers
 
Eric Hanson
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Paul,

My mistake on the Natural gas/LPG.  Actually since there were a lot of kits available I did not doubt that this could be done.  My real question was whether or not it significantly boosted emissions ratings (makes sense) and especially if this turns into significantly better mileage.  The article specifically stated making an un-refueled trip  from coast to coast across the United States.  That sounds like a long ways to go just using fuel onboard but even if it just improved the mileage by a few MPG, that might well be worth the money invested.  I would think that if one operated regularly in cold weather, that alone might be worth the money.

Interesting concept, and I generally like your idea “if you can conceive it, it can be built.”  I don’t suppose you know what type of battery your friend used to build his electric car back in the ‘80s do you?

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
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Also Paul,

I am asking these questions mostly out of curiosity.  I have always had a fascination with energy, even having done my history masters degree largely on the history of energy.  The subject gets quite complicated and at times perversely contradictory.  I have all gas vehicles (in the US, Diesel engines are rare and expensive on anything but larger pickups and bigger vehicles) but I do have a medium sized diesel tractor and I can certainly appreciate the physics and fuel consumption of the Diesel engine.

Eric
 
Paul Fookes
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Eric Hanson wrote:Paul,I would think that if one operated regularly in cold weather, that alone might be worth the money.

Interesting concept, and I generally like your idea “if you can conceive it, it can be built.”  I don’t suppose you know what type of battery your friend used to build his electric car back in the ‘80s do you?

Eric



The batteries used in the car were deep cycle lead acid batteries.  He pulled out the back seat to give him the space  and added some storage over them.  His motor was a 40 Amp  and I think 24 volt.  The specific batteries were second hand telecommunication storage batteries that were readily available.
You are spot on with the perverse contradiction.  One thing that I have not yet posted so now is as good time as any; the thing with the hydrogen fuel is that the converter works best when the plates and water are warmed, hence why it will not work for short trips and gets more effective the longer the trip. So in cold climates, there is a heated airflow.  Because my vehicle is fuel injected, my inlet is in the air intake beyond the turbo air return.  We were going to use the vacuum line but it did not have enough air flow.
Depending in the number of hours you use your tractor for, you could trial a unit on it?  
 
Eric Hanson
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Paul,

If my tractor were an older one I would jump at the opportunity.  However it is a fairly new one still under warranty and has almost as much electronics as it does mechanics.  It is a JD 2038R, the largest of the JD 2 series.  If I went up to a 3 series I would have gotten the same engine and frame (ironic) but even more electronics.  Actually what I got was great for my uses, but it does not lend itself to modification—I would probably have to reprogram the electronics (I have no idea how to do that) and there is almost no room under the hood as it is.  Also, this is unfortunately fitted with DEF equipment that might not like being tinkered with.Too bad because it is a really interesting idea.

BTW, I like the ingenuity your friend had to build that electric car out of essentially spare parts.

But this would be a really great project for an older tractor without electronics.

Eric
 
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