Friday, January 28, 2005


The prospect of a new hydrogen economy has received a fair amount of attention recently. But the idea of a new source of fuel that is both renewable and does not pollute would seem to hold to such promise as to generate headlines more often. The big carmakers have been producing hydrogen-powered prototypes such as the latest entry, the GM Sequel. But complaints have also surfaced, such as concerns about the ozone and the notion that driving a hydrogen-powered car would be mean driving a bomb on wheels.

That hydrogen combustion could harm the ozone layer would hardly seem a impregnable barrier to further development considering the alleged damage wrought by the combustion of conventional fuels. That hydrogen-powered cars would be too dangerous to drive owing to the explosive nature of hydrogen could logically hold up development. How incredible it is then that there are currently x number of patented designs for automobile engines that use hydrogen as fuel, but hold that fuel in the form of water, releasing hydrogen from the water in amounts just large enough to fire the engines pistons but not large enough to pose a danger of any kind.

Since childhood I thought this type of engine could be possible. But when I posed the idea to people who claimed to know what they were talking about the response I got was that such an engine is impossible, that it would amount to a perpetual motion machine.

“A water engine violates the second law of thermodynamics,” I was told. “Splitting the water into hydrogen and oxygen will always require more energy than you will get once it is released.”

I even read about demonstrations that “proved” this. Then on a trip to New Zealand I was told by a local about a Kiwi named Archie Blue who had built just such an engine, had achieved “over-unity” and his “violation” went unpunished. My friend explained that what most discussions on this matter leave out is that there is more than one way of splitting water and there is more than one way of utilising hydrogen as a fuel.

I asked my friend why this matter


Post a Comment

<< Home