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Making Fire From Water

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the cue-mad-scientist-laughter-now dept.

Technology 584

LexNaturalis writes "Gizmodo has a story out about a new product that makes fire from water. Gizmodo explains how it works: 'Ordinary tap water (preferably distilled) is supplied to the fireplace through a pipe or tank, a 220 volt electrical service then separates the hydrogen and oxygen atoms through electrolysis, the Aqueon ignites the hydrogen, and ta-dah, fire! The oxygen is then added for color and brightness, while the rest is released into the room. It doesn't require venting because it doesn't produce any harmful emittents like carbon monoxide -- just water vapor.' The manufacturer's website has more information on the science behind this new product. While splitting water to get hydrogen and oxygen is not new, this product will likely make the technology more accessible to the masses and might hopefully show that hydrogen is a more attractive fuel than petroleum-based fuels."

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Fire from water? (4, Funny)

maotx (765127) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255716)

Fire from water? Thats easy! I use to do it all the time with a block of sodium. Cats didn't like it to much though...

Re:Fire from water? (1)

davidla (875720) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255737)

But that's not fire from water. That's fire from sodium and water, which creates more byproducts than just water vapor.

Re:Fire from water? (1)

KingEomer (795285) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255752)

Yeah, but NaOH can be useful... Like, if those cats get fleas or something, just bathe them in your "firewater". :P

Re:Fire from water? (3, Informative)

maotx (765127) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255777)

Well, it's more of an exothermic reaction that ends in the final balance of sodium hydroxide and hydrogen gas with a little bit of dissolved hydroxide. During the process, the sodium may become so hot that it may ignite the hydrogen gas released from the water therefore, causing fire.

Re:Fire from water? (1)

KingEomer (795285) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255788)

"Cats didn't like it to much though..." Hrm. Did you set him up the sodium block?

Firewater... (1)

TheOtherAgentM (700696) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255717)

Damn I thought this was some new drink for us.

Re:Firewater... (1)

despisethesun (880261) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255756)

Nah, that's been around forever. I had some before coming in to work today.

Re:Firewater... (1)

someguy456 (607900) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255822)

"Firewater"
Damn I thought this was some new drink for us.

nope, its the new name for the browser formerly know as Firefox!

Re:Firewater... (3, Funny)

Meagermanx (768421) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255874)

Drink? I'm thinking handheld flamethrower. You know those little Super Soakers that you pump about 25 times and they shoot 30 or 40 feet? Yeah.

Hydrogen from water (1)

ciscoguy01 (635963) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255718)

I wanna run my car on that!

Re:Hydrogen from water (1)

superyanthrax (835242) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255803)

You probably don't want to run your car on hydrogen that comes from water, because by the 1st Law of Thermodynamics a.k.a Conservation of Energy you aren't actually gaining any energy by separating water into H2 and O2 and then combusting the H2, in an ideal situation you break even. However, by the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics no perfect Carnot engine exists, so you always lose energy in the process, and thus you will lose energy and money by trying to use hydrogen created by electrolysis of water as fuel. You would be much better off trying to find a natural source of hydrogen somewhere, but such caches are few and far between on Earth.

Re:Hydrogen from water (4, Informative)

tek.net-ium (841449) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255839)

The idea is that we can use electricity to generate hydrogen, then store it. Electricity generated from a single coal power plant will produce far less pollution than gasoline from several million cars. Additionally, we're not running out of coal any time soon, and we wouldn't need to buy it from the middle east.

Before you get too excitied (5, Informative)

DosBubba (766897) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255721)

The price tag is $49,999. They only expect to sell about five this year.

Re:Before you get too excitied (2, Funny)

HermanAB (661181) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255805)

Hmm, the electricity bill will also be about $49,999 per year.

Re:Before you get too excitied (1)

RandWalker (903696) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255875)

And I bet their web server is powered by this thing!

I don't know how efficient this product is and how much energy it actually uses. You need MUCH more energy to get a car running so this thing with this price tag is really impractical besides being a nice paperweight you can brag about in your living room. Besides the design, I don't see why it's THAT expensive. You can probably put one together using some high school equipment.

Re:Before you get too excitied (2)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255907)

The price tag is $49,999. They only expect to sell about five this year.

That's okay. I feel pretty safe in saying that I think there is a world market of maybe five of the things anyway.

Oh, $49,999 is nothing... (1)

antispam_ben (591349) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255912)

compared to what running this thing will do to your electric bill!

I thought hydrogen flames were invisible? (1, Insightful)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255723)

I was under the impression that hydrogen flames were only visible in infared. Am I wrong, or are they burning something else as well here?

Re:I thought hydrogen flames were invisible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13255741)

From the summary at the top of this very page:

"The oxygen is then added for color..."

Re:I thought hydrogen flames were invisible? (2, Informative)

Quasar1999 (520073) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255746)

Dude, you don't even need to RTFA... just look at the summary... they add oxygen to adjust the color... different amounts causes the color to change...

Re:I thought hydrogen flames were invisible? (1)

apraetor (248989) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255883)

I hope you're joking.

Re:I thought hydrogen flames were invisible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13255761)

From the /. article...

[...] and ta-dah, fire! The oxygen is then added for color and brightness, while the rest is released into the room. It doesn't require venting [...]

Re:I thought hydrogen flames were invisible? (1)

superyanthrax (835242) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255813)

Not true, the 2nd series of emission from hydrogen (the Balmer Series) are in the visible spectrum.

Re:I thought hydrogen flames were invisible? (1)

ryanov (193048) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255900)

Good, 'cuz I'm not really enjoying the emissions of "Balmer" in his first series.

Re:I thought hydrogen flames were invisible? (2, Informative)

Bester (27412) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255856)

Hydrogen flames are very definitely visible. Depending on the ratio of fuel to oxidant (ie oxygen) the colour of the flame can range from a very faint blue to an intense orange.

I do a chemistry demonstration where I explode a balloon with either pure hydrogen or a stoichometric ratio of hydrogen and oxygen. The first explosion is just a puff of orange flame, the second is a bright flash of light and a tremendous explosion which has been known to shatter fluoro tubes at 10 metres.

Charles

Re:I thought hydrogen flames were invisible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13255872)

They are burning a hole is your pocket.

ROFL (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13255727)

Yeah, fire from water, and ... 220V.

That's like making wine out of water, and oh, yeah, some grapes and stuff.

Yea and where does the 220 come from? (1)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255817)

Probably fossil fuels! Especially because of the bad rep that nuclear power, a clean and effecient power system, has..

I agree, it's quite silly to claim this is a clean burning fire.

Re:ROFL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13255823)

220V @ 60 AMPs

13200 VA of electricity to generate a tiny flame.

Cool. Hot. Whatever.

How much petroleum gets consumed generating that electricity?

Re:ROFL (1)

TopSpin (753) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255846)

Yeah, fire from water, and ... 220V.

If your power comes from coal (as it does for a large fraction of all power consumers) this is nothing more than a fire delivery system...

burning coal->boiling water->generator->electrolysis of water->burning hydrogen

A profoundly inefficient way to ship fire.

Nothing to see here (1)

NIK282000 (737852) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255729)

This technology is over a century old, the only reason its being looked at is because of the "running out of oil" hype. If this had caught on when it was first discovered global warming would have been much less noticeable then it is now.

Re:Nothing to see here (4, Insightful)

Gunnery Sgt. Hartman (221748) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255755)

Real efficient use of electricity also. Most people will ogle at the fact that it doesn't produce harmful emmissions but neglect the fact the the emmissions are just further upstream.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255791)

Actually, the company's Web site addresses this:

Performing electrolysis with wind, solar and hydro power can produce hydrogen fuel that is 100% pollution-free and 100% renewable.

Plus, even if you don't use eco-friendly fuel sources, it still helps because if you concentrate energy production using "dirty" fuels in one place (e.g. a power plant), then you can clean and dispose of the dirty components of the emissions in one place before releasing much cleaner air and water back into the ecosystem.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255810)

There may not be pollution with those, but if you're concerned about ecological impact, hydroelectric plants can hardly be said to have a negligible effect.

Even wind and solar take up vast amounts of land.

They're still probably better than the alternatives, but they are far from perfect. The real solution to this is to reduce consumption.

Technical glitch in your solution as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13255837)

Reduce consumption? Well sure that would help, but it isn't a real solution. Even fairly low human tech and population numbers have considerable effects on the ecosphere of a planet. The only real way to get zero effect is to migrate everyone off the planet. That way both the ecosphere and humans can go their own way and do whatever they want.

(PS, I know this isn't going to happen any time soon, if ever)

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

loucura! (247834) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255908)

The real solution to this is to reduce consumption.

To illustrate the catastrophically stupid sentiment there, could you document how much consumption you reduce, so that I can increase my consumption correspondingly?

Re:Nothing to see here (2, Insightful)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255887)

Performing electrolysis with wind, solar and hydro power can produce hydrogen fuel that is 100% pollution-free and 100% renewable.

Wind lacks energy density

Solar PVs are negative energy efficient (yes, you need to factor in the mined platinum & palladium to the equation)

Solar thermal lacks energy density

Hydro power lacks scalability

Nuclear is limited by Uranium reserves

Re:Nothing to see here (2, Funny)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255767)

If this had caught on when it was first discovered global warming would have been much less noticeable then it is now

Why? Because of the immense amount of greenhouses released into the atmosphere by everyone's fireplaces?

"Code Orange Smog Alert: Please limit driving and fireplace-using..."

I will not living room-pool.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

daniel_mcl (77919) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255771)

Not so. Producing hydrogen by hydrolosis requires more energy than it produces (as do all processes), so the energy put into the hydrogen would have to be supplied somewhere else -- presumably by more fossil fuel.

The only advantage that hydrogen has over fossil fuels is that fossil fuels can be burned out away from population centers to produce hydrogen; fuel-cell based cars could reduce pollution in large cities at the expense of even more pollution at some factory.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

Fussen (753791) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255815)

woOt go "running out of oil" hype! I was already stoked when I learned that biodeisel fumes smelled like freshly cooked doughnuts [krispykreme.com]

If it only burned ice... (1)

Soulfarmer (607565) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255733)

We could have light in northern Finland during winters

But on the serious side, I would love to get one of those gadgets at home. Clean fire is always welcome in my home. Altho one incident with zippo gas brought me a month's worth of sickleave, this fireplace would have MUCH safer fuel... yeah, hook me up with one of these!!

Conversion wastes energy (4, Insightful)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255734)

Using electricity to convert water to hydrogen to create flame is a round-about way of making things more complicated than they have to be. There are better ways to make heat and light with electricity, after all. And there are better ways to make electricity with water. And if you need fire, burning a tree is simpler still. :)

Re:Conversion wastes energy (1)

CrowScape (659629) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255821)

Yes, but burning a tree is obviously environmentally unfriendly. We like trees, we grew up learning about how wonderful trees are and how they clean the air of all that nasty CO2 in grade school and high school natural science classes. So, setting fire to them makes us feel guilty. Thus, it is better if we use electricity, produced by the consumption of polluting and non-renewable sources of energy FAR FAR removed from our living rooms and so FAR FAR out of sight and mind, to create hydrogen gas which we can then promptly burn for asthetic purposes. This way we can feel better about our wasteful use of limited resources, and really, isn't that what environmentalism is all about?

How else to produce fire from electricity? (1)

r6144 (544027) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255825)

I know, I know, it is usually silly to try to produce a fire (I mean real flames) with electricity being the sole energy source. However, if I really want to do such a thing (possibly for decorative reasons), electrolysis seems to be a reasonably simple way to do it.

The folks at gizmodo are easily amused... (1, Insightful)

daniel_mcl (77919) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255736)

Seriously, didn't everyone see this as a demonstration in high-school chemistry? This isn't exactly that new or exciting...

Re:The folks at gizmodo are easily amused... (1)

frAme57 (145879) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255871)

That brings back fond memories. Once a year my chemistry teacher would fill a balloon with hydrogen, tie it with a string to a chair in the hall and touch it with a lighted match at the end of a yard stick. The resulting boom was accentuated by the high ceilings, plaster walls and terrazzo floor of my school. Awesome.

Man, they don't make 'em like they used to - teachers or school buildings.

What fucking use is this invention? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13255742)

What good is this, for anything?

Re:What fucking use is this invention? (1)

QuantaStarFire (902219) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255774)

It doesn't require venting because it doesn't produce any harmful emittents like carbon monoxide -- just water vapor.

I believe the use is to create fire without any harmful byproducts, but perhaps I'm interpreting it wrong.

Re:What fucking use is this invention? (1)

Shut the fuck up! (572058) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255827)

I believe the use is to create fire without any harmful byproducts, but perhaps I'm interpreting it wrong.

Yes, if you conveniently ignore the tons and tons of coal that will be burnt to generate the enormous amount of energy this consumes.

Wow (3, Funny)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255743)

I bet that's energy efficient.

Net Energy Cost? (1)

scharman (308566) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255751)

How much does it 'cost' in electricity to generate 1J of heat energy this way? Is there a net cost liability compared to using say natural gas? How cheap is electrolysis?

(I just rememeber that natural gas heaters are pretty darn cheap to run)

Cos if it takes more energy to split the water than the split water produces in heat output, ESPECIALLY if you consider the ineffeciency of generating and delivering the electricity to you (40-60%) effeciency, then better to just use natural gas heaters no?

(Isn't this the whole argument behind the hydrogen econonmy being a big farce?)

Re:Net Energy Cost? (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255798)

Cos if it takes more energy to split the water than the split water produces in heat output...

By definition, at best you'll break even. Unfortunately you will lose some energy to entropy, so there is a net loss. Remember: Every time energy changes form, there is loss. The "hydrogen economy" is bunk because you need to make at least two extaenergy conversions (Form hydrogen and burn hydrogen), but does not address where the energy comes from to begin with.

Anyway, if you want heat and light you are better off using the electricity for electric resistance heaters and lightbulbs instead of generating hydrogen with it. MUCH more efficient.
=Smidge=

Re:Net Energy Cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13255842)

If you want to heat a place what you need is a heat pump and a large source to extract he heat from. Even more efficient! Though much lower in potential thermal yield.

Re:Net Energy Cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13255853)

So, at best, you'll break less than even, you mean.

Re:Net Energy Cost? (1)

Angry Toad (314562) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255922)

The "hydrogen economy" is bunk because you need to make at least two extaenergy conversions (Form hydrogen and burn hydrogen), but does not address where the energy comes from to begin with.

There's gobs of the stuff sleeting down from the sun all the time, no?

Plus nuclear is pretty clean, antinuke paranoia aside.

Re:Net Energy Cost? (1)

frieko (855745) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255820)

I'm under the impression that all elecric heaters are equally efficient. What are they going to do, produce waste heat? No reason to assume that this doesn't hold true even in a silly setup such as this one.

All the losses (and they are considerable) are on the powerco's side, which is why electricity, and therefore electric heat, is so darned expensive.)

Re:Net Energy Cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13255855)

Yup, electric heaters are 100% efficient, its the law*. Now, the system supplying the electricity to the heater usually farts away 60-70% of the power, but thats outside of the system box (unless your thermo prof is a real knob come finals time).

*I'm a thermo geek, so I'm pretending that all you EE's with your power factors and freaky imaginary numbers have nothing to do with this (could even be true for a pure resistive load).

What about humidity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13255753)

It doesn't require venting because it doesn't produce any harmful emittents like carbon monoxide -- just water vapor.'

Doesn't that produce humidity?

Check the 220V circuit rating (4, Informative)

baptiste (256004) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255754)

60 Amps? To run a fireplace? Yes I know it takes a lot of power to split water - but my hottub doesn't draw that much power at full blast. Much as I'd love a clean burning fire in my fireplace - drawing 8-9kW to do it is nuts

Re:Check the 220V circuit rating (1)

stuffman64 (208233) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255848)

More like 13.2kW.

But considering the fact that a space heater for 500ft^2 usually uses about 5kW, it really isn't too horrible- still rediculously inefficient, but if you have enough money to buy one of these, you probably don't care.

When it's cheap there are other uses. (1)

Bruha (412869) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255758)

Water Heater
Stove.

Cant justify a space heater or house heating due to the amount of water vapor that would be released..

Down already (1)

akeyes (720106) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255759)

Re:Down already (1)

waltznumber3 (899425) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255809)

Apparently they use the same technology in the fireplace to power their servers too.

My chemistry teacher was on crack damnit (1)

LiquidRaptor (125282) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255760)

I remeber back in highschool chemisty I came up with a smaller version of this, basically about the size of a large candle. Showed it my chem and shop teachers to see how feasible it would be to make it. They both said it would never work and it was a stupid idea. I coulda been rich damnit!

Dude!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13255762)

That is so going in the "sex room" of my legion of evil!! 4 of them all around my hot tub.

Oh, snap, I'll have all kinds of water right there too!

Show the attractiveness of hydrogen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13255765)

It seems that just using electricity directly would be the most efficient.

Re:Show the attractiveness of hydrogen? (1)

Gabrill (556503) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255802)

Using electricity directly would fun for those S&M sessions. I mean some people get hot from that . . .

This should inspire some confidence... (1, Informative)

taxevader (612422) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255770)

MINNEAPOLIS (April 06, 2005)Hearth & Home Technologies wants to inform consumers of possible safety risks associated with the continued use of 7,815 Heat & Glo(TM) brand GEM 36 and GEM 42 gas fireplaces sold since July 2002. The fireplaces can, under certain circumstances, accumulate gas prior to burner ignition, causing the glass window to shatter and presenting the risk of burns or cuts from broken glass.

"The safety and welfare of our customers is of the utmost importance to us," said Brad Determan, president of Hearth & Home Technologies. "We are asking customers who own one of these products to turn off the gas flow to the fireplace and stop using it until we can send someone to their home and correct the problem at no expense to them."

Determan explained that company representatives are notifying customers as quickly as possible, either directly and/or through dealers and distributors who sold the fireplaces. Heat & Glo gas fireplace owners can determine if they own a GEM 36 or GEM 42 by checking the rating plate in the bottom of the unit located on the base pan in front of the gas control or by calling Heat & Glo Customer Care at 1-800-215-5152, between the hours of 8AM to 5PM CST. If an owner has not yet been contacted, they can call Heat & Glo Customer Care at the number above or go to www.gem3642.com for more information. This safety alert also includes Gem 36 fireplace owners that recently received a replacement burner assembly.

"We very much regret the concern and inconvenience this may cause our customers, dealers and distributors and will do all we can to make this repair process as easy as possible for them," said Determan.

Hearth & Home Technologies is a leading provider of hearth products for the home.

Small fragments of glass in your face, anyone?

TFA wrong! (1)

Sooner Boomer (96864) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255772)

Combustion in air, of almost any fuel, produces nitrous oxides (NOx). Air contains mostly nitrogen, which although nonreactive at room temps, will react at elevated temperatures. It is responsible for elemrnts in photochemical smog. One reason for catalytic converters on modern cars.

Re:TFA wrong! (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255913)

NOx can be avoided but there is another issue.. You can not split pure water into hydrogen on Oxygen. Pure water is not a conductor.

Finally (1)

davidla (875720) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255773)

I had this idea back in 6th grade. Too bad they beat me to making it into a sellable product. I was taking it a step further and trying to figure out a way to make a generator out of it, though.

And the occupants have to swim in the moisture (1)

mwc28 (622947) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255775)

"...It doesn't require venting because it doesn't produce any harmful emittents like carbon monoxide -- just water vapor..."
So the occupants of the house only have to ventilate their house to get rid of all the entrained moisture. Sounds like this will take off big!

Hmmmm... Misunderstood? (5, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255778)

I think the poster misunderstood the benefit of this... this is nothing more than a fancy electric room heater!

This is NOT an alternative energy source, it's a wasteful energy consumer...

Re:Hmmmm... Misunderstood? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13255892)

Obviously it would be for decoration only...

Nice, except for the humidity (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255779)

I'll pass on something that makes my house humid and uncomfortable.

This might be its single good feature (1)

antispam_ben (591349) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255828)

Except for the inefficiency that almost every other post is pointing out, increasing indoor humidity might be useful in winter in addition to conventional heaters which just heat the air without adding moisture, effectively lowering humidity to an uncomfortably low level.

That'll burn a lot of oil... (1)

bourne (539955) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255781)

...and coal, and atoms, and hydro.

"might hopefully show that hydrogen is a more attractive fuel than petroleum-based fuels."

With 220v input, that's a lot of electricity being generated (most of it using fossil fuels), transmitted long distances (which, of course, wastes electricity) and then being used to... split water so it can burn. Great. You'd actually be incurring a lower energy load with a natural gas fireplace.

Hydrogen doesn't grow on trees - it takes power to make hydrogen. Hydrogen as a fuel is a boondoggle brought to you by the unlikely bedmates of ultra-environmentalists and big energy business - the latter who consider water the only acceptable emissions, and the latter who realize that pinning everyone's hopes on the ultra-shiny-modern "Hydrogen" genie is a good way to keep making money in the meantime.

Re:That'll burn a lot of oil... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13255929)

Hydrogen is SO a fuel! It's just not a net source of energy. Having your cars run on hydrogen is a TERRIFIC way to get pollution OFF THE ROADS. Pollution isn't only about how much you make, it's also about where. Cars spread a lot of pollution far and wide around our cities. Hydrogen cleans things up.

The big question is this. Does the added cost of the waste of energy in converting energy into hydrogen for use in vehicles MORE than the cost of cleaning up or preventing the pollution, or is it cheaper to clean up other fuels... somehow. Or, if it's just not possible to clean up the other fuels, is the cost of the waste more or less than WHAT WE ARE WILLING TO SPEND TO DO IT.

If you think it's a boondoggle, you're not analyzing it right. Energy source- never gonna happen. Clean fuel for cars - definately possible.

This is not a fuel source! (4, Funny)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255789)

It takes MORE energy to get the hydrogen-oxygen bonds to release than you get back when you recombine them through burning.

GEEZ. You might as well take a solar powered light and shine it on itself.

Re:This is not a fuel source! (1)

Garridan (597129) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255920)

At the age of 5 or so, I figured out a GREAT way to power a car. Hook the front wheels to the back via a driveshaft, with some gearing so the front and rear wheels turn at a 1:2 ratio. That way, when you start the car, it accelerates by itself! Took me a while to figure out why I could never get my self-powered lego car to start. Now see, my idea makes sense. You get more out than you put in. It'd destroy the gears, or in the case of the legos, just rip the car apart... but I was 5 for cryin' out loud. What are these people's excuses?

releases oxygen? (1)

Doppler00 (534739) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255792)

The oxygen is then added for color and brightness, while the rest is released into the room.

The rest of the oxygen is released in the room? Granted, that going above 20% oxygen in a room won't harm you, but it does make combustible things more so. How much oxygen is this device creating? It might not be a good idea to smoke near this thing?

Re:releases oxygen? (1)

shanen (462549) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255841)

Duh. It's consuming basically the same amount of oxygen from air.

However, the entire idea is remarkably inefficient. It would only make sense in some situation where you had lots of cheap electricity, lousy water, and only needed a small amount of pure water. (If you actually need lots of pure water, you set up an actual water purification plant.)

Yeah right (2, Interesting)

nuntius (92696) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255794)

"This product ... might hopefully show that hydrogen is a more attractive fuel".

A *fuel* eh? Just like my lead-acid car battery is a fuel.

Wake up folks; water is the most stable chemical form of hydrogen and oxygen. Breaking water to form hydrogen is an inefficient (wasteful) process.

The only potentially viable way to generate hydrogen is to "burn" biomass or mined gasses/oils. Biomass has to be grown, thus putting a strain on farmland and possibly promoting world hunger (we'll burn their food for energy). There are cleaner, more efficient ways of extracting energy from petroleum than converting it to hydrogen.

Hydrogen is merely a "cool" idea for porkbelly projects. As a non-naturally ocurring fuel, it is a non-starter.

Right...yeah (5, Insightful)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255880)

Well well, we can tell who's a right winger.

There are a billion and two ways to get atomic hydrogen, and this is just one of them. Sure, it's ineffecient, but so is burning carbon fuels.

Besides, electricity can be derived from anything these days. Put a few solar panels on your roof, and you've got a self contained hydrogen producer. Step it up another notch with rain water collection and filtration and it's competely autonomous.

But oh, I guess you'll argue that photovatalics are terrible and that silicon hurts the environment and that oil's the best fuel we got.

Next up, Biofuel. It's cheap! It's effecient! And if you were truly worried about the world farmlands, you'd be *advocating* this. The more biofuel that goes into production, the more the need for farmlands, and farmlands will grow in size. Thus, overall food output will increase and we will be able to transport that same food further, for cheaper than oil.

I know, I know, it's rough I don't wanna give up my old beater jeep either, but the fact is that oil is unsustainable and the sun IS sustainable. Well, unless you want to get pedantic on me and say the sun will go away in 5 billion years.

Hydrogen's a great idea as long as it's implemented correctly, which is where the research is currently going on. Oil was a terrible idea; just look at the middle east today!

Re:Yeah right (2, Insightful)

dukerobillard (582741) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255924)

Breaking water to form hydrogen is an inefficient (wasteful) process.

I dunno, plants do a pretty good job of it.

Let me clarify a little bit here.. (4, Interesting)

ChiralSoftware (743411) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255795)

From the post: While splitting water to get hydrogen and oxygen is not new, this product will likely make the technology more accessible to the masses and might hopefully show that hydrogen is a more attractive fuel than petroleum-based fuels.

No, what this shows is that hydrogen is simply a derivative of fossil fuels, and is in fact an extremely expensive, inefficient and almost useless way to store and transport energy.

Let's see, we start with huge lumps of coal, convert them to steam, convert the steam to electricity, and then use the electricity to make hydrogen which (in a fuel cell) we can convert back to electricity. Energy is lost at every step along the way. In particular, compressing the hydrogen from atmospheric pressure to storage tank pressure loses about HALF the total energy, so even if the fuel cell is 100% efficient, you've still lost HALF the energy you started with.

But commercial hydrogen is not produced by electrolysis. It's produced from natural gas and steam. So let's see, we start with natural gas, a product which has the following properties:

  • Cheap
  • Easy to store and transport with widely available equipment
  • Can run through cheap, widely available engines
  • Fairly clean burning (compared to diesel)
  • High energy density in compressed tanks
and we convert that to hydrogen which has the following properties:
  • Very very expensive
  • Very difficult to store. The only real-world proven way to store it at a high density is to liquify it. That will never be a practical option outside of aerospace industry
  • Can be burned in regular engines, with regular engine efficiency, or can be burned in extremely expensive fuel cells. There is no realistic possibility of fuel cells becoming cost competitive in the foreseeable future.
  • Low energy-density for real-world storage (compressed tanks, etc). Fuel cell cars have a range of less than 200 miles usually.
  • Oh, and it's clean burning! Finally after all the bad things about H2 we come to one good thing!
  • It makes the whole global warming and oil dependency problems worse becomes it takes so much energy is wasted in the process of converting fossil fuels into hydrogen.
The one thing that could help is that you can make hydrogen from clean nuclear energy and from clean solar energy, but given that hydrogen electrolysis is not cost-competitive with even cheap fossil fuel electricity, why should it be cost competitive with much more expensive solar electricity?

I regret that our government is involved in subsidizing this whole boondoggle, but I have no worries that it will continue in the long-term. Some small improvements in lithium batteries, and some reasonable production economy in lithium batteries will make electric cars competitive with plain old ICE cars, and the hydrogen fuel research pork programs will shrivel up and die.

----------------
mobile search [mwtj.com]

The problem is not solved... (1)

hashfunction (861726) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255797)

The electrolysis requires energy in the form of electricity and that electricity is produced by fossil fuels...

Its funny seeing all these 'new' and 'exciting' products which pop up every now and then and which are aimed at reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. All this, when the simplest way to reduce our dependence is to consume less. Not only will we live a healthier lifestyle, but we will give our children something other than smoke and ruins to live in when we pass away.

As a fuel? WRONG! (1)

mr.mighty (162506) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255799)

his product will likely make the technology more accessible to the masses and might hopefully show that hydrogen is a more attractive fuel than petroleum-based fuels.


Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Hydrogen is not a replacement fuel. The best you can do with it is store some of the energy you used to extract it. You still need some source of energy to produce the hydrogen in the first place, and currently it's likely that source is fossil fuels.

It also sounds like it takes godawful amounts of power to generate enough hydrogen to produce a useful flame. Better to use that directly to heat your house, light your house, charge your electric car, etc..

What about nitrogen oxides? (3, Insightful)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255818)

If you burn something in air, if you get the air hot enough then you combine some of the nitrogen in the air with oxygen.

Hydrogen burns pretty hot.

I wonder what steps these folks have taken to prevent or minimize emission of nitrogen oxides.

I also wonder how they're getting color in the flame, since the usual cheerful yellow comes from incandescent soot particles.

Maybe when they designed it they were under the influence of firewater.

Scoring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13255844)

My score to whoever assigns scores: 1.

I checked the date (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13255862)

It didn't seem to be April 1. Surely they're pulling our legs. I can think of no good reason for this thing. Just using the electricity to produce heat is way more efficient. I've seen electric fireplaces that give an amazingly good simulation of flames. How about a natural gas fireplace. They heat the room up well and add useful heat and do a reasonable imitation of a wood fire.

It's a long time since I've seen such a pointless waste of money.

Yeah, okay. (1)

FLAGGR (800770) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255864)

might hopefully show that hydrogen is a more attractive fuel than petroleum-based fuels.

Given how much energy electrolisis takes, I don't be thinking so, not in this case.

I wonder how they are making the water conductive? (2, Informative)

Hal9000_sn3 (707590) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255885)

Generally, it is quite difficult to pass current through distilled (and especially deionized) water. In fact, pure water is such a good insulator that it is used in the high voltage switches (for example at electric generating plants) to suppress arcing while contacts are being opened or closed.

Everyone's complaining... (1)

Announcer (816755) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255888)

about the excess moisture. Who said you had to run the thing at full output, 24/7? It's a *decorative* heater/fireplace. If I had one, I would use it for that purpose... Light it when guests come over, or when we're alone, snuggle with the wife on some cold winter evenings.

I'm doing my part to solve the fossil fuel problem (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255897)

I am using as much as I damn well please, to help get us to the point where it is gone, and we can get on to the next thing. Just to stop the whining about how we are running out!

Wow (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255902)

That sounds like an incredibly energy efficient system. Not. Let's burn fuel at the power plant to make electricity, so that we can put electrical energy into the inefficient reaction to break chemical bonds to make hydrogen and oxygen which we then combine again to make a pretty flame. Not to mention the wear and tear on electrodes.

      I'll just stick to burning the fuel directly to make my flames.

Sheer geekiness aside, how much does this thing cost to run?

Water? (1)

Rementis (656260) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255925)

Don't we use up enough fresh water in this country, now we want to burn it? Imbeciles.

Uses 4,000 Watts? (2, Informative)

jsimon12 (207119) | more than 9 years ago | (#13255928)

Sure it makes hydrogen but it uses something on the order of 4kw. Lets all remember you don't get something for nothing people.
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