Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Hydrogen, smydrogen

Try saltwater

Courtesy of ET@OC

2 comments:

Jack Hipple said...

I hate to be too skeptical, but as an experienced chemical engineer and innovation and creativity trainer for major engineering societies, there are some serious questions that need to be asked here, especially by news reporters who typically do not have the technical background to assess these kinds of ideas.

Much is made of the "free" water fuel. Maybe, but what happened to the radio frequency waves that are needed and ignored for the rest of the story? These are not cheap to produce! Neither is an RF generator that would have to fit in a car. A medical researcher never considers these factors as someone else (the hospital, insurance company, the government, the patient) is paying for this equipment and all the energy used to produce RF waves. How much NET useful energy is produced from the input energy? A basic principle of energy conversion (the second law of thermodynamics) says that energy is always lost in the conversion of one form to another. There are no exceptions to this law of science that's been around for 300 years. The only question is what is the least costly way of converting one form of energy (oil, coal, solar) to another form (gasoline, RF waves, steam)and then finally to the desirable form (car movement). Until an energy balance is calculated, there is no way to know whether this concept is anywhere close to being cost competitive with our current technologies. News reporters and technical people have an obligation to the public to do some homework and these basic calculations before getting the public all excited. We could choose to use this kind of technology and generate the required electricity to make the RF waves from US based coal, but my guess is that it would be hugely expensive. (Let's calculate it!)That's not a problem if our sole goal is to stop using middle eastern oil, but it's most likely much more expensive. Are we willing to pay this cost? I don't know, but let's figure that out before we lead people to believe they can run their cars on water.

The showing of water "burning" is a neat PR thing and that are lots of other things that will burn when subjected to high energy fields of one sort or another. But these fields cost money! And until we know what the cost of these are, it is unfair to get the public excited about something for nothing. There is no mention in this piece about the "salt" in the saltwater. Where does it go? Does it magically disappear? Or does it coat and corrode the engine?Does it have to be filtered out? How? How much does that cost? What kind of new engine might be needed? What does it cost? We in the technical and news community have a moral responsibility when we report "news" to make some effort to think through, technically, what we are reporting in cases like this. If the news station does not have this expertise, it needs to find it!

Tom Strange said...

This video has all the value of a Paris Hilton report. About a third of the blogs got some or all of the analysis right. It takes much more electricity to make this work than you can get out of it, and electricity comes from burning fossil fules or Nuclear. There is no story here. Media fluff.