ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

No, your car can't use water as fuel

Updated on March 11, 2009

No matter how you try, you can't beat the laws of the universe!

You will find people peddling a system that uses some of the electricity generated by the vehicle's alternator to electrolyse water - i.e. split it into its component elements, hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then injected into the air intake to supplement the engine's normal fuel.

The people who push this system will tell you that you are getting free fuel from the water. You aren't. Some of the engine's power is used to drive the alternator. Now the alternator, in common with machinery, is not 100% efficient. That is to say, it does not convert all of the energy it gets from its drive belt into electricity: some is lost as heat due to, for example, friction in the bearings and electrical resistance in the copper windings. That energy was provided by the motor burning fuel - so a small amount of fuel was wasted during the process of generating the electricity. Not all the electricity used to electrolyse the water actually does useful work - some of that is simply dissipated as heat due to the imperfections of the process and the resistance of the water itself. So a bit more fuel is wasted.

A molecule (the smallest unit of a compound) of water consists of two atoms of hydrogen and one of water, thus the famous formula H2O. In combination like this, the atoms are in a lower energy state (i.e. they move more slowly) than they would be if free. The process of electrolysis breaks the water into its constituents of hydrogen and oxygen by giving the atoms more energy so they can break the bonds that hold them together. The power in the electrical current is used to do this - so the gases become a kind of battery, storing energy.

It's obvious that just venting the oxygen to the atmosphere simply "throws away" that energy. The energy stored in the hydrogen is recovered by burning it as fuel but - and this is the killer - you can't get more energy out of it than you put in during the electrolysis process.

So what you've got is: you're using a little more gas to generate a little more electricity than the engine/alternator otherwise would. A large part of that energy gets diss[pated (wasted) as heat. A fraction of it is recovered by burning hydrogen in the engine. You'd have been better off using the wasted gas to drive the car in the first place!

These systems do not give you better fuel consumption/gas mileage: they make it worse. There is no way to circumvent the simple laws of physics that make this so, no matter what some people might say.

You can get better results by following some simple rules (there are others but that's not really what this hub is about):

  • accelerate and brake gently
  • make sure your tyre pressures are correct for the load you're carrying and the typical speeds you do
  • make sure the engine is serviced correctly when it needs it, especially for things like air and oil filters
  • don't carry around stuff you don't need in the vehicle - you're paying to accelerate it every time you put your foot down and you're wearing your brakes out a bit more each time you slow down.
  • change to a lighter vehicle with a smaller, more efficient engine!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • jcd302 profile image


      9 years ago from Belding, MI

      Popular Mechanics did a story on these claims last year.... it's all bunk. If there was a cheap easy way to get more mpg the automakers would have done it already. They know they would have the world beating a path to their doors.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)