Sorry to disappoint, but the BBC has made this sound a billion times more impressive than it is. What these guys have done is make their piece of plastic 100 times cheaper than their competitors - 5 quid a metre instead of 500 quid. It doesn't do anything new, it's just a cheaper membrane within a fuel cell. This piece of plastic does NOT MAKE hydrogen. Electricity makes the hydrogen by splitting up the water you pass the electricity through. The piece of plastic makes sure the hydrogen released doesn't bugger off to where it shouldn't, so you can capture it. Unfortunately, you have to get that electricity from somewhere like a power station burning, um, oil or uranium, or a bazillion windmills assuming it's a windy day... Don't hold your breath, but maybe a good investment if you dabble on AIM.
But it is being grossly exaggerated by the media to make a sensational story out of it.
You still need electricity to make the hydrogen. You need a compressor, run off electricity, to squish the hydrogen into a pressure vessel. The entire process is inefficient and only makes sense if you've got a source of cheap electricity (Hydro, solar, wave, nuclear, fusion, etc) which, in general, we haven't.
The entire process is dodgy IMHO. You've got a FOGB pressure vessel of compressed gas (which is in itself hazardous) driving around in traffic. Hydrogen is a nasty fuel gas, leaks are hard to seal (small molecules) and hard to find.
I've done a lot of looking into this, It might be worth an investment.
There are two systems being discussed one is a load of BS and says you'll fill your car with water and plug it into the wall socket and as you drive it will make the hydrogen for you the problem is the process of making hydrogen is inefficient and slow, so it will not power an engine and you'd be better using the power to drive a motor rather than make hydrogen.
The other system that is much better short term and is to basically fill a lpg car with hydrogen, its not quite that simple but not too far off. Hydrogen is also a 'better' fuel so the tank will give a bigger range for the same size. the down side is that it move pollution to power plants but a power plant is more efficient than a car motor so its still a saving also we're not taxed the same on electricity. This system also allows duel fuel hydrogen/petrol like the BMW H7.
Hydrogen could be produced at home for most light commuters, as you would be able to produce a good amount of hydrogen in a home electrolysis system, however the infrastructure would still have to be built up over time.
The West of this country has the potential for cheap but erratic electricity: wind. Wind turbines along the West coast, especially the West of Scotland which suffers from strong winds producing hydrogen which is then compressed and stored outdoors. This way the stored energy could be used when required. Leaks do not present a hazard as escaping hydrogen will immediately head towards the heavens.
I believe that they are working in this direction in Shetland as we speak.
Potentially easiest in the short term is the injection of small amounts of Hydrogen into a modified diesel engine along with the normal fuel. There are people doing this with LPG already and increases the overall efficiency.
Hydrogen is not a prime energy source, just an energy storage and transfer medium: it is only as clean as the power source used in making it.
Surplus current from the alternator is passed through a series of seven cells, each containing electrodes immersed in an electrolyte. The resultant gas (hydrogen and oxygen) is passed through a bubble flame-trap before passing into the air intake. The gas burns far more quickly than air, resulting in a fast, clean flame, more power per stroke, and fewer immisions. It doesn't replace petrol, merely enhances the process.
The issue is that the surplus current ?? although I'm quite sure you'll find the alternator only produces current to the level that is being drawn so there is no surplus, and extra draw makes the engine work harder ie. use more fuel. if there was however some surplus current if would be more efficient to connect it straight to an electric motor like a hybrid than to produce hydrogen from water. never mind the added weight of the fuel cell and the water you would have to lug about and use fuel to carry around.
cloudbuster what car do you have? i would be interested in finding out if everything i have just put is bs as all the research i have read and done say its not feasible.
1. Onetap - think you misread me - I said exactly what you said - indeed their invention is just a cheaper separation membrane for the splitting up bit.
2. IGs & CB - CB's setup is quite popular in the USA and is sold on the web, but it's a clever fraud, I'm afraid. If you electrolyse water as CB does, you get a complex mix of Hydrogen and a short lived beastie some call hydroxy and a bunch of other names. With oxygen-enriched air (produced at the other electrode and also fed into the engine) you get a higher combustion temperature. This was patented by a bloke called Brown and the mix is called Brown's gas - specifically it was invented for special welding purposes. It works. The fraud is that the web folk sell it as an energy improvement. It's not. It's net less efficient than using your engine unmodified - assuming you have a decent condition and efficient design of engine in the first place. IG is right to say the energy needed is drawn from the fuel tank, and the conversion (as per all practical small scale electrolysis) is highly inefficient. If this did work as claimed, you'd have a perpetual motion machine, and you'd have won the Nobel Physics prize for disproving the second law of thermodynamics. More importantly, you'd be richer than Bill Gates. Best, Z
I run a hydroxy cell in a 1989 BMW 520i, with a bog-standard engine, no O2 sensor in the exhaust system, and on a run from Cornwall to NE Scotland regularly see a 25% drop in fuel consumed, so it works for me. It isn't a particulary efficient cell, being cobbled together from bits acquired from work, but I like it.
Like most, I approached the claims from the States with a dose of cynisism, but it didn't cost me anything to try it.
Serious question - do you need to pay fuel duty on the hydrogen or the water it's derived from? I've seen HM Customs bods stopping cars running on chip fat demanding proof that the Road Fuel Duty had been paid.
Also, what about alcohol (no gags please)? Don't they run a lot of cars on alcohol made from sugar cane in South America? How dear would oil have to get before it became cheaper to run your car/plane/zippo lighter on alcohol?
Ancient_Mariner, AFAIK duty has to be paid on all fuels hydrogen, oil, etc. however if you make your own you get an allowance of x,000 liters of fuel per year before you have to pay duty. I dont know the exact ammounts but thats the system, also i think technically you have to declare every liter you make even if it is in your tax free allowance.
cloudbuster, 25% fuel saving is f-ing good did you download plans or something as you made it your self? i'd be interested in any info you could provide, at that saving it's worth a look into for me, also if it does work then that makes any investment in other systems slightly more risky.
i_g, I had a look at a few of the US sites, and modded the set-up to fit with what I could lay my hands on at work. The principles remain the same. The improvement in consumption took me by surprise too. On the last MOT the tester was convinced his equipment for checking emissions was faulty, until I pulled the breaker for the cells. The resulting exhaust emission level was still way below the limits.
CB - good drills - glad it works out for you, especially with today's prices. Chances are you wouldn't get that on a more modern engine. Well done - you've proven how inefficient even Beamer engines used to be!