In 2008 I wrote a news piece for my podcast on Genepax:
“In Osaka, Japan, Genepax showcased its new “Water Energy System”. It’s not a new concept but Genepax have managed to split the water and burn it to make electricity that powers the vehicle. The prototype was added to the Reva electric car built by Takeoka Mini Car Products.”
Over the years I’ve heard no more about this technology and thought I’d investigate to see what was going on. Two words seem to relate to the concept of “water powered” cars: fraud, jail.
There have been a number of news stories over the years about this idea, basically people have claimed that they are splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen and then burning them back into a water vapour which condenses ready to be split again. Nice idea and theoretically possible on paper, however reality sets in when you discover that the power used to split the water and the power to burn the components would negate the ability of a vehicle to move! Some say it violates the laws of chemistry. Claims of using water to power a car have been around for 80 odd years. Patents have been applied for but no one has really managed to prove they have the solution – probably due to the fact that it is difficult to change a law of chemistry!
Electrolysis does work, you can see that in a school science lesson, however to do this on a scale to power a heavy machine requires a lot of effort. The issue comes in burning the two components to produce water, this is not an easy and safe process, especially when you need large amounts to be stored even temporarily. Typically, a third input is required such as a metal or chemical compound to aid the combustion. Many have claimed to use a spark plug to ignite the hydrogen/oxygen mix. Here’s how it goes: mixed gases enter into chamber, spark ignites gas and creates water vapour, spark plug gets wet, spark plug no longer ignites, engine stops. The other important issue is that oil and water do not mix very well. Water is thinner than oil and would damage the internal construct of the cylinder causing the engine to fail.
Some recent examples of claims include:
- Stanley Meyer who claimed in 1980 that he had a beach buggy running on water. There was no independent proof of success and he was charged and found guilty of fraud. He died two years after the conviction.
- During 2002 a US company, Hydrogen Technology Applications claimed to have developed a system called “Aquygen” that allowed cars to run on water using a system they developed for welding. They now market it as a system to increase fuel efficiency – possibly a water injection system.
- Also in 2002, Genesis World Energy announced a system and took investment money. Four years later the head of the company was sentenced to a jail term and required to pay restitution to the investors.
- 2008 saw the Genepax concept from Japan, again there was no independent validation of the claims and the company shut down soon after citing high development costs – i.e. no buyers or investors willing to cover the outlay. Their web site is still running, presumably on a public server.
- Also in 2008, a Sri Lankan claimed to have driven a water powered car for hundreds of kilometres and the Government said they would provide backing as it would put Sri Lanka on the map! Strangely the man was later arrested for investment fraud!
- 2008 was a busy year for the courts. Formosa Plastics Group in Taiwan sued a Filipino inventor who they had signed a contract with in 2000 to develop a water powered car. Guess what? The “inventor” got 20 years in jail.
- Other “inventors” have announced products that use a mix of water and other fuels but claim it is the water that provides the power – clearly the combustible fuel that is mixed does nothing for the process……
Some of these claims sound like water injection into a normal petrol powered engine. I fitted one of these kits to an MGB in the mid 80s to try and get more power out of it. The theory being that engines run better in damp conditions, it sounded great but didn’t give a major boost in power.
Last year (2014) a “salt water powered” car was unveiled in Europe by Nanoflowcell AG. The problem was, the salt water didn’t power the car – electricity did! The water is the electricity generation input with the liquid passing through a membrane (as the third element) to create a useable electrical current that is temporarily stored before usage. In reality a complex process of water storage, energy creation, energy storage and finally usage. As it is early days, we will see this concept evolve in efficiencies.
What is more amusing is the theory that inventors are being murdered or jailed because the oil companies are desperate to stop them. The reality is that most oil companies have research departments looking at all possible energy sources, not just basic oil but bio-fuels, compressed hydrogen, electric hybrids etc so why would they need to “bump off” other scientists, they have deep enough pockets to buy out any technology with potential to make them more cash.
So what does this tell us about humans? It is commendable that people are looking for alternative power supplies and I’ll write posts on others that actually work, however, to try and change the laws of physics, chemistry or thermodynamics is a big push! It also shows that either inventors have missed the concepts beneath their inventions or they are out to make a fast buck and the results of the latter are those two words again: fraud, jail!