Wouldn’t it be great to run our cars, airplanes, trains, trucks, and industry on a fuel source that is cheap, plentiful, clean, and renewable? That appears to be the claim made in this video clip, which comes from a broadcast earlier this month by Fox News’ Houston affiliate. You have probably already seen the clip, as it has proliferated via the email circuit.
The clip features Denny Klein and his company, Hydrogen Technology Applications, Inc. Klein is shown with his 1994 Ford Escort that runs either on gasoline or something he calls “HHO gas,” which is derived from common water. Part of the segment has Klein saying, “On a 100 mile trip, we use about four ounces of water.”
The report gives the impression that Klein can perform miracles, by pouring common tap water into a car to make its engine run. But if you watch the clip carefully, you will discover that this is not actually what is being said. The news people have pulled a little stage magic, making you think one thing while actually saying something else.
If you go to Klein’s website, you will discover that he is not marketing a car that runs on water, nor a conversion kit to make your car run on water (a scam that pops up every few years like clockwork). He is marketing an electrolysis device that he claims turns water (H2O) into a hydrogenised gas that he calls HHO, or Klein’s gas. Other promoters have called it Brown’s gas or brown gas. The claim is that the process “…separates the water into hydrogen and oxygen and then recombines them into a new mixture of stoichometric (or perfect) proportion,” which does not explode, but implodes. Another promoter claims to be able to do something similar with waste liquids here. (There are more links than you’d care to look at PESWiki.)
The news segment does not actually claim that Klein’s car runs on water any more than your car runs on crude oil. It claims that Klein’s car is a duel-fuel vehicle that runs on either gasoline or HHO gas, much as duel-fuel propane-gasoline cars have been around for decades. Nor does it claim that Klein is actually converting water to HHO gas in the vehicle itself. They conveniently gloss over that what Klein is claiming is that he puts HHO gas that has been converted from water into an onboard tank (I guess it’s something like a propane cylinder) that feeds to the engine. So there’s already less magic here than you thought at first blanch.
So the question is whether this hydrogenation process actually creates a stable gas that burns clean. It is deucedly difficult to find any real scientific information about this process. Apparently jeweler and welding torches that work on this basis have been available for years (see here). Many commentators are saying that this HHO gas thing is nothing new, but that it’s not viable as an alternative fuel for most applications, including vehicles.
WND News quotes several individuals here that claim, among other things, that gasses of this nature are difficult to store and compress, that they cannot be temporarily stored efficiently, and that the water-to-HHO conversion process consumes massive amounts of energy in relation to the energy produced. Meanwhile, some promoters claim that the process can generate “2,000 liters of gas using about 8 kwh of electricity.”
Clearly, there are many skeptics and the onus is on Klein and his company to demonstrate that they have overcome the problems of stability, storage, safety, and efficiency. One commentator said that if the process were efficient (that it produces at least as much energy as it consumes), “you could plug [the conversion machine] into itself and have yourself a perpetual motion machine.” He makes a point. And even if this works for one car, what will it take to achieve broad-based implementation?
Over the weekend, some of my kids were watching Disney’s Pete’s Dragon. A character named Doc Terminus is a colorful traditional snake oil salesman. (Incidentally, wonderfully played by Jim Dale who narrates the audio versions of the Harry Potter books.) I sensed a lot of similarities between Doc Terminus' sales show and the Fox News segment on Denny Klein. Call me one of the skeptics.