Posted in Energy Conservation | Innovative Solutions by Martin Brule, Jr. (Technology) on September 10, 2010
The term “alternative energy” is nothing new in this day and age but some of the innovations are certainly novel. There is ocean thermo-electric conversion in Puerto Rico that takes advantage of the temperature differences between the surface water and deep sea water. The Coast Guard in Maine harness tidal currents to generate electricity. The Republic of Rwanda in eastern-central Africa extracts trapped gases from a lake to generate electricity. Technologies like solar and wind power have been around, but there are even innovations in these areas as well. Another technology that has not been in the spotlight as of late aims to help everyone. This is the water fuel cell, also known as the hydrogen fuel cell, an alternative form of electrolysis. It helps to understand the fuel cell by first understanding what basic electrolysis is, as shown in this short video.
The water fuel cell is a particular area of alternative energy that has kept my interest. A man by the name of Stanley Meyers has made great strides in getting his version of the water fuel cell working back in the 1980s and ’90s. His work is based on a variation of the chemical-electrical process known as electrolysis. In its most basic form, electrolysis involves two electrodes submerged in salt water and connected to a battery. The current flow excites the water to the point where it breaks the water apart into its component gases, hydrogen and oxygen. Here, the current does the work, not voltage.
The problem with conventional electrolysis is that it consumes more electricity than the gas it generates can be burned to generate more electricity. Therefore, it’s not much use as a fuel source for automobiles. Stan Meyers’ idea turns conventional electrolysis on its head. Meyers was interviewed by Action 6 News and framed up the magnitude of his work with this:
“We’ve calculated that if you take the dune buggy from Los Angeles to New York, we would roughly use 22 gallons of water.”
The dune buggy he mentions in that interview is a dune buggy style car that he retrofitted with his water fuel cell. His car runs completely off the gas his cell generates. The cell was installed in place of his gas tank. Twenty-two gallons of gas is about two tanks of gas for my car. For me to drive from New York City to Los Angeles, it would take over eight tanks of gas and cost around $250 in gas alone.
What is electrolysis? With typical electrolysis, some kind of electrolyte (table salt or baking soda) needs to be added to water. This allows the water to conduct current. Two electrodes, connected to a power source like batteries, are submerged in the salt water, and the gas begins releasing. The process itself takes a lot of electrical current to produce gas and is also very corrosive to the electrodes in the water. These factors make conventional electrolysis inefficient at generating a fuel gas to produce electricity for power and other applications thereof. The water fuel cell I aim to build doesn’t have any of these limitations. If constructed correctly, very little electricity is needed to run the cell while at the same time, generating a large amount hydroxy gas that can power an engine, a generator, a hot water heater, a kitchen stove, and oven, etc. Basically anything that can burn gas to do work can run off of hyrdoxy.
I have been working, slowly but surely, to build my own water fuel cell based on Meyers’ idea. His main application was to run automobiles off of water (the gas that comes from water, actually) instead of gasoline, thereby revolutionizing transportation. He believed that his invention would alleviate our dependence on not just foreign oil, but oil overall. I would like to take his idea a couple of steps further and run my household off of a water fuel cell. The combustible “hyrdoxy” gas can be burned in place of propane; so for example, a home gas furnace can be fed hyroxy gas from a water fuel cell instead of natural gas from the utility company. That same gas can also run a central heating system, a hot water heater, and an electric generator. The exhaust from the combustion process of hyrdoxy is nothing more than water vapor, which is effectively distilled water at this point. Once I finish gathering materials to build a completed cell, I can fine tune it to produce volumes of combustible gas to power my home and vehicles. There are several obstacles to overcome which are beyond the scope of a single posting, but I may touch back on this in the future.
Here I’ll briefly explain the theory behind Meyers’ water fuel cell. If techno-babble makes you dizzy, please skip down to the conclusion. I don’t want to make anyone sick –wink. The water fuel cell uses non-corrosive metals, no electrolytes, and consumes very little electricity. While conventional electrolysis uses current to do the work, the water fuel cell uses high voltage and not much current, making its overall power consumption quite low. There are three main components to a cell: a signal pulse generator, a transformer, and a water tank. The pulse generator in its most basic form consists of two timer IC chips in a signal chain that produces an adjustable, gated on/off signal, paired with a MOSFET switching transistor that produces a signal like –_–_–_–_____–_–_–_, which is on, off, on, off, etc. The second component, the transformer, is a voltage multiplier and step-up transformer that jumps the source voltage (usually 12 VDC) from the signal generator to hundreds of volts DC. The transformer’s primary winding receives the signal and electromagnetically couples this to the secondary winding effectively multiplying the voltage. The high voltage signal then passes through a bifilar charging choke and into the water tank’s electrodes, the third component. The transformer, called the voltage intensifier circuit, or VIC, by Meyers, creates what’s known as a resonant tank circuit. This just means that the electricity flow oscillates back and forth between the two, like a fish in a tank. To keep this tank from losing its charge, a high-voltage diode is placed in the circuit to prevent the tank from discharging like a capacitor. By the time the signal reaches the tank electrodes, the signal is in the kilo-volt range. Since the water molecule is a dipole molecule (negative on one side, positive on the other) the high voltage potential between the electrodes stretches the water to its breaking point where it is liberated as a fuel gas. That’s it in a nutshell. I could write a plethora of pages on this subject.
While Stan Meyers’ idea is profound, it has yet to be commercially available. Conspiracy theorists have their reasons (governments and Big Oil), but to me, they are moot. Others have replicated Meyers’ invention to produce an abundance of cheap fuel gas. I aim to do the same, not for profit, but to eliminate the utility bills I pay every month. When I finally develop a working system, I plan on documenting the build process in HD so the world can take advantage. Future blog posts will provide updates on my project. Tap water, river water, ocean water, water from snow, rain water, even one’s defecation, can all be used as the water source to generate fuel gas. How would you like to drive across the country on a couple of tanks of gas (hydroxy gas, that is) that costs you NOTHING?!
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