G.H. Garrett, Stanley Meyer, Genepax, Genesis World Energy, Hydrogen Technology Applications, Inc, among many others. What do all these names have in common?
All of them believed in the idea of using water as a fuel based on the simple process of electrolysis. Scientists, engineers, green planet enthusiasts, superheroes for some and charlatans for others. Their work would bring them up to euphoric heights and down to humiliating defeats. Their inventions attracted believers, investors, and eventually legal trouble. Today, there is growing interest in the possibility of turning water into fuel, but it remains unclear how much of it is true science and how much is science fiction.
The studies on the electrolytic separation of water date back to the 19th century. Today, electrolysis is used to create a small amount of hydrogen in power plants, to produce certain elements, and to produce oxygen breathed by astronauts in space. Electrolysis is taught in middle-school science labs: electricity flows through water cracking the molecules and filling test tubes with oxygen and hydrogen bubbles. A match is lighted and volatile gasses explode to prove that water was separated into its components.
But if it was all that simple, if simple electrolysis worked we would have water-powered cars already. Based on the existing laws of thermodynamics that skeptics rely on, it takes exactly the same amount of energy to separate hydrogen and oxygen atoms inside the electrolysis cell as you get back when they recombine inside a fuel cell. Hence, in order to make a car run on water one really needs to find a way to make a deal with both the Law of Conservation of Energy and the First Law of Electrolysis.
Water-fueled cars Myth or Reality?
The first water carburetor was introduced in 1935 by G.H.Garrett. On September 8, 1935, The Dallas Morning News first announced that the water concept worked, at least for few minutes. Garrett’s working model operated a four-cylinder engine for several minutes in the demonstration at varying speeds and with several starts and stops. According to Garrett, water is broken down into hydrogen and oxygen by passage of an electric current through it from electrodes immersed in water. Hydrogen collects at the negative pole and oxygen at the positive. The hydrogen is mixed with air and introduced directly into the cylinders. Garrett claimed instant start in any weather, no fire hazards, and plenty of power and speed. The car was never marketed, and no one seemed to know its ultimate destiny.
For Stanley Meyer, his interest in water as a fuel began in earnest in 1975, a year after the end of the Arab oil embargo which had triggered high gas prices. Meyer built a dune buggy that could allegedly cross the country using only 22 gallons of water that had been transformed into hydrogen fuel. He replaced the spark plugs with injectors that sprayed water as a fine mist in a resonant cavity where it was bombarded by a succession of high voltage electrical impulses.
As explained by Meyer, this converted the water into a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen that could be combusted in cylinders, moving the pistons just as in an ordinary gasoline-powered engine. Meyer insisted his invention was viable because it used much less electricity than physicists say is possible. Eventually, Meyer was sued by potential investors, his claims were determined fraudulent, and his inventions were under investigation by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Defense.
In December of 2002 Genesis World Energy (GWE), a privately funded consortium created by a group of military and space program research and development specialists, as they defined themselves, unveiled a scientific breakthrough that allows consumers to easily access the energy contained within the hydrogen and oxygen molecular structure of ordinary water. They claimed to have discovered a way to extract far more energy from water than the extraction process itself required, differentiating their new technology from any other development efforts so far. The resulting gas molecules can be burnt as a replacement for any traditional form of fuel.
Only a year later, in 2003, GWE has announced an automotive and transportation application of their breakthrough invention that creates an on-demand source of hydrogen fuel for internal combustion engine. Technology offered by GWE relied on nothing more than a source of purified water. They claimed it possible to design an internal combustion-powered vehicle that burned hydrogen gas produced on board the vehicle. At the core of this technology were the Genesis gCells which would break water down into its basic molecular structure through a series of electro-chemical processes yielding ultra pure hydrogen and oxygen gasses. In 2005, the founder of GWE, Patrick Kelly, was arrested and later charged with second-degree securities fraud. Since then the Genesis project has remained inactive.
In 2008 the Japanese company Genepax introduced their new eco car that runs on nothing but water.
Any water would do: river, rain, or sea; even tea would work. Their “Water Energy System” would generate power just by supplying water and air to the fuel and air electrodes respectively. The Japanese described the basic power generation mechanism as similar to that of a normal fuel cell, which uses hydrogen as fuel, allowing a car engine run for about an hour at a speed of 50mph. The main component of the Genepax system is the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) which contains a material capable of breaking down water into hydrogen and oxygen through a chemical reaction. The company did not reveal any further details about their revolutionary new system. During the demonstration, the 300W system was mounted in the trunk room of the compact electric vehicle “Reva” manufactured by Takeoka Mini Car Products Co Ltd, and the vehicle was successfully driven by the system. Approximately a year later after introducing their device, the company shut down. The only explanation given was the lack of monetary funds.
When it is separated into hydrogen and oxygen components and oxidized as fuel, the result is equivalent to an energy output that is 2,5 times more powerful than gasoline. The only byproduct of combustion is a pollution-free water vapor. Despite the existing skepticism, scientists and green planet aficionados all over the world have been experimenting, inventing various techniques for water splitting, protecting their discoveries with patents. In one of the interviews, Stanley Meyer once said: “When you have a free and abundant energy source like water, it’s only limited by the imagination to put it to work.” And maybe it is only a matter of time before a gas pump becomes obsolete and our cars will run on water.