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Truckers Choose Hydrogen Power

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the now-to-make-it-bite-sized dept.

Technology 511

hipernoico writes to tell us Wired News is reporting that hundreds of semi trucks now on the roads are being partially powered by hydrogen. From the article: "These 18-wheelers make hydrogen as they go, eliminating the need for high-pressure, cryogenic storage tanks or hydrogen filling stations, which, by the way, don't yet exist. These truckers aren't just do-gooders. They like Canadian Hydrogen Energy's Hydrogen Fuel Injection, or HFI, system because it lets them save fuel, get more horsepower and, as a bonus, cause less pollution."

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Hydrogen Wells? (-1)

geomon (78680) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040527)

They like Canadian Hydrogen Energy's Hydrogen Fuel Injection, or HFI, system because it lets them save fuel, get more horsepower and, as a bonus, cause less pollution.

How are they getting the hydrogen again?

"But the HFI system uses electricity from an engine's alternator to power the electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen as needed from small amounts of distilled water."

Are we talking about perpetual motion? How much water do they have to take with them to produce the hydrogen (8 pounds per gallon)? How do they start the vehicle moving down the road? I assume that their hydrogen source is probably mostly produced from electricity from coal burning plants.

No doubt that the particulate levels are lower using hydrogen over diesel, but considering where the hydrogen is produced, this fuel source may not be exactly the "less" polluting alternative as one may think.

Re:Hydrogen Wells? (5, Informative)

Skyfire (43587) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040552)

The trucks aren't using hydrogen as their main source of fuel. They are using hydrogen to enhance the combustion of the diesel.

Re:Hydrogen Wells? (2, Informative)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040554)

How are they getting the hydrogen again?

Electrolysis powered by the alternator.

How do they start the vehicle moving down the road?

It's still a diesel-fueled vehicle. Adding hydrogen to the mix is supposed to improve milage somehow.

Re:Hydrogen Wells? (1)

geomon (78680) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040573)

It's still a diesel-fueled vehicle. Adding hydrogen to the mix is supposed to improve milage somehow.

Right. It is the details I'm having problems with.

Re:Hydrogen Wells? (2, Interesting)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040586)

I assume it starts like any diesel vehicle. You heat up the glow-plugs, and turn the engine over. Compression ignites the diesel fuel.

Removing the hydrogen shouldn't make the engine any more difficult to start.

Re:Hydrogen Wells? (1)

geomon (78680) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040605)

I assume it starts like any diesel vehicle. You heat up the glow-plugs, and turn the engine over. Compression ignites the diesel fuel.

I thought the combustion had to be modified for hydrogen. Unlike gasoline engines, diesel engines use extemely high compression.

Re:Hydrogen Wells? (1)

shawb (16347) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040639)

This isn't replacing the diesel fuel at all. Somehow the injection of Hydrogen into the intake air improves the efficiency or burning of the diesel, resulting in a more complete burn. It seems like this is a very small amoung of Hydrogen that's being added. I have a feeling that has nothing to do with the concept of an actual Hydrogen powered car that people are going on and on about. You know, the cars that won't actually do anything to help the environment because you have to MAKE the Hydrogen in the first place, which uses electricity, which is mostly made from fossil fuels including coal which is far less clean burning than gasoline or diesel.

Re:Hydrogen Wells? (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040726)

Much like why speed records are often set at the GatorNationals- the weather here in N Fla in the spring can be *perfect* for engine performance at times, with that just right combination of humidity and temperature.

Re:Hydrogen Wells? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14040790)

This isn't replacing the diesel fuel at all. Somehow the injection of Hydrogen into the intake air improves the efficiency or burning of the diesel, resulting in a more complete burn.

From the article, and from the CHEC HFI page, I'm assuming that what they're doing is allowing the fuel to burn more efficiently at points such as going uphill, flooring the gas, shifting and so on, which are generally weak points for diesel engines. The engines can't burn all the fuel fed, and as a result create the familiar black-clouds-of-crap. If you could burn more of that, you would directly increase horsepower/torque and decrease emissions. By adding the hydrogen, the engine will run a bit hotter, and probably burn the diesel a bit more efficiently.

So it's basically energy recollection. Generate electricity when the engine's doing fine, and re-use that energy when the engine runs poorly. Sorta like regenerative breaks on a hybrid, except not as obvious.

All in all, however, I have a hunch that a well designed computerized fuel injection system could probably result in just as much polution reduction and energy consumption. Although it may not give as much horsepower as the hydrogen method does. (Mind you, it's not really the hydrogen giving the power.)

Re:Hydrogen Wells? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14040582)

It's called a catalyst.

Re:Hydrogen Wells? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14040557)

From what I can tell, it doesn't actually provide much fuel, it just promotes a cleaner and more efficient combustion.

Re:Hydrogen Wells? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14040566)

Read the Article, they only add the Hydrogen, meaning they still use desiel. Thats how they start. None from Coal plants. Jesus, get informed, then make a comment.

Re:Hydrogen Wells? (1)

njfuzzy (734116) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040576)

Er, no. From just the summary, this sounds more like a hybrid using internal combustion -> electricity -> electrolysis -> hydrogen -> energy than anything like what you described. As I didn't RTFA myself, I can't complain there-- but at least RTFSummary. kkthxbye.

Re:Hydrogen Wells? (4, Informative)

pin_gween (870994) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040590)

I assume that their hydrogen source is probably mostly produced from electricity from coal burning plants.

Umm, No...read your own quote: Electricity (from the alternator in the engine) is used to split the water into hydrogen and oxygen.

The fact that water weighs in at over 8lbs is fairly moot -- gasoline weighs in closely, so adding a tank that holds a few gallons of water is not a major addition to trucking weight. Additionally, FEWER emissions. All in all, a good idea, if it is all that it's cracked up to be.

Re:Hydrogen Wells? (1)

Bullfish (858648) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040647)

Further, even if the electricity came from a plant (which it doesn't) the vast majority of Canadian plants are hydro-electric.

Re:Hydrogen Wells? (1)

i41Overlord (829913) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040675)

Umm, No...read your own quote: Electricity (from the alternator in the engine) is used to split the water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Ok, so the hydrogen is extracted from water with the energy produced by burning diesel fuel.

Re:Hydrogen Wells? (5, Insightful)

radicalnerd (930674) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040627)

Are we talking about perpetual motion?
No, the trucks still run mainly on diesel augmented with hydrogen.

...this fuel source may not be exactly the "less" polluting alternative as one may think.
It's less polluting because the hydrogen boosts the performance of the engine over burning diesel alone, lowers particulates, and all that good stuff. So it does pollute less, by burning the fuel more efficiently.

Re:Hydrogen Wells? (5, Informative)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040636)

The trucks are NOT "partially powered by hydrogen" except in a meaningless technical sense. The trucks are generating small amounts of hydrogen that they have generated (somewhat inefficiently) from water and alternator electricity, using energy derived from diesel fuel as usual. They then inject some of that hydrogen back into the engine for a cleaner burn.

Diesel engines produce soot (dirty filthy polycyclic aromatic compounds) which represents wasted energy and this is merely a way to cut down on the inefficiency represented by the unextracted energy leaving the exhaust. The mechanism by which adding hydrogen to the air-fuel mixture actually accomplishes this involves some complicated physical chemistry beyond the scope of the article- which goes into a misleading nonsequitur about how trucks might use hydrogen-powered fuel cells someday.

Re:Hydrogen Wells? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14040680)

Aromatic compounds can certainly be hydrogenated (usually at very high H2 partial pressures and high temperatures, so the conditions inside the engine might do the trick), but such hydrogenation is carried out over a transition metal catalyst, typically platinum. What is the catalyst here?

Energy is derived from the hydrogenation, and the hydrogenated products can then be combusted, but I seriously have to wonder if this actually yields a net benefit energetically. The Second Law of Thermodynamics ensures that all energy transformations are inefficient (specifically, cannot exceed the Carnot efficiency if I recall correctly), and electrolysis is one heck of an inefficient transformation. I am quite surprised that less energy is lost to the surroundings as part of H2 generation than is converted to mechanical energy in combustion.

(Yes, I am a chemist.)

Re:Hydrogen Wells? (3, Insightful)

TuballoyThunder (534063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040681)

Conservation of energy and thermodynamics tells us that this system has to operate with a net loss in efficiency for the *same* operating conditions. Perhaps the enhanced combustion improves the thermodynamic efficiency of the engine enough to offset energy required to produce the hydrogen and yield a 10% reduction in fuel consumption.

Re:Hydrogen Wells? (2, Insightful)

letxa2000 (215841) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040759)

Conservation of energy and thermodynamics tells us that this system has to operate with a net loss in efficiency for the *same* operating conditions.

The alternator is being driven regardless of whether you use some of the electricity to split water into hydrogen or not. This isn't a matter of getting something for nothing... it's a matter of not throwing away electricity that's already being generated by the alternator.

Re:Hydrogen Wells? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14040715)

Hey, how can I attach this to the 100MPG carburetor I just ordered for my '69 Caddy? With a little help from the split-fire spark plugs, I'll have to carry around a jerry can to siphon out the gas tank before it overflows!

trucker hats (-1, Troll)

cococpdalbert (915996) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040532)

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what the hell? (0, Offtopic)

dirtsurfer (595452) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040572)

160-0023 Japan Tokyo-to Shinjuku-ku Nishi-Shinjuku 3-20-2

^^^ this is right next to where I live. Seriously about 1 block away from my house.

Zuh?

Re:what the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14040615)

Thanks for sharing.. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Additional supplement to the hydrogen? (4, Funny)

nizo (81281) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040536)

Perhaps we should investigate additionally using methane as a source of fuel for these trucks. Not only could we keep these guys [tacobell.com] in business, but in some cases (such as trucks that haul cattle) they might actually produce more energy than they burn.

In this house... (4, Funny)

headkase (533448) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040779)

...they might actually produce more energy than they burn...

[HOMER]
In this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics!
[/HOMER]
;)

first post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14040537)

first post!

hello, sir (-1, Offtopic)

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What?? (5, Funny)

rscoggin (845029) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040538)

That doesn't fit the rugged stereotypical trucker at all! "Goshdernit, we're gonna pollute all we need to get this convoy to San Antonio by Saturday!"

they're Canadian truckers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14040621)

they're Canadian truckers

"let's save the environment, eh?"

Re:What?? (4, Insightful)

BobPaul (710574) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040653)

Wha? I always thought the stereotypical trucker was pissed about how much gas prices were cutting into their income (or the corporation was if the trucker didn't own his rig).

In either case the diesel is cutting into someones proffits and someone is eager to cut costs. Maybe the ends isn't a decrease in pollution, but it's a natural by product in using less fuel, which is a major goal for any semi-truck owner.

Re:What?? (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040711)

That doesn't fit the rugged stereotypical trucker at all! "Goshdernit, we're gonna pollute all we need to get this convoy to San Antonio by Saturday!"

Don't be too quick to dismiss bad stereotypical behaviour [niu.edu] . The Daily Show devoted an extended segment to the subject, so it must be true.

What, is the Hydrogen a catalyst? (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040543)

The article is light on details, and there's no Wikipedia article on HFI.

Burning the hydrogen in the engine can't produce the same amount of work that went into producing it. So if there's a milage benefit, where does it come from? Does it raise the temperature of the fuel enough to cause greater combustion?

Re:What, is the Hydrogen a catalyst? (4, Informative)

nizo (81281) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040577)

This [etvcanada.com] pdf file might be helpful (or search for it on google to see the html version).

Re:What, is the Hydrogen a catalyst? (2)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040655)

> This pdf file might be helpful (or search for it on google to see the html version).

Yes, very helpful. Note that the test appears to have been made WITHOUT the alternator being loaded with the hydrogen extraction. When something sounds too good to be true, always look for what they skate around. In this case the report discusses where the manufacturer claims to obtain their hydrogen but by implication that means they didn't actually have one on hand, so they didn't have one connected to the electrical system.

So I'd say snake oil barring a more honest test. Yes it might provide some green benefits, but as for fuel savings, bull. And anyway, even if we take them at their word it isn't anything to write home about. Run the numbers people. Up to $14,000 for the initial investment for at best a 10% fuel savings? And I suspect there is some installation expenses as well. So lets round the numbers and say $15,000 to save 10%. Assume diesel averages $2.75 (It is back down to levels way under that here) for the next couple of years. That means until you save 5,454 gallons you aren't ahead. Even for a big rig that translates to a LOT of hours of operation. And that assumes no additional expenses to maintain either the device or additional wear on the engine from running it hotter.

Re:What, is the Hydrogen a catalyst? (2, Interesting)

nizo (81281) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040598)

Oh and don't forget the company's website [chechfi.com] . Under the technology tab they have some info as well.

Re:What, is the Hydrogen a catalyst? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14040614)

Way to not RTFA...

"Fuel efficiency and horsepower are improved because hydrogen burns faster and hotter than diesel, dramatically boosting combustion efficiency."

Re:What, is the Hydrogen a catalyst? (4, Informative)

David Frankenstein (21337) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040628)

quote...

Through electrolysis, the Hydrogen Fuel Injection (HFI) kit generates hydrogen and oxygen, which are injected directly into the intake manifold. Published data show that hydrogen burns nearly one order of magnitude faster than petroleum fuels, thus approaching ideal thermodynamic cycle; and hydrogen has a shorter flame quench distance, allowing flames to travel closer to the cold zones, thus improving combustion. These hydrogen properties improve engine performance and emissions.

Re:What, is the Hydrogen a catalyst? (1)

Superfarstucker (621775) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040630)

It seems that that is the only likely explanation, unless they used super capacitors to charge batteries on braking to power the electrolysis, the system does cost *quite* a bit to install (14k USD or CAD?). Trucks have a shitload of energy to convert to thermal energy when braking so it certainly seems feasible, (also converted into mechanical energy normally via 'compression brake, which raises pressure inside of cylinders by cycling valves at the 'wrong' times, which makes the engine do more work to get the same w (or it slows down)).

It is hard to believe, though I have little knowledge of chemistry or the mechanics of combustion, that a synergistic reaction would be efficient enough to make up for the terrible inefficiency of electrolysis, or so i'm told,

Re:What, is the Hydrogen a catalyst? (1)

Superfarstucker (621775) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040661)

here is more information on it [chechfi.ca]

It seems my initial analysis is way off and rather than adding energy to the reaction the hydrogen is used to get the most out of the diesel fuel (i.e., burn it completely). It says it only uses ~15 amps of electricity which is the equivalent of the headlights drain on the truck, so certainly it is a rather insignificant amount of hydrogen being added to the combustion chamber.

Re:What, is the Hydrogen a catalyst? (2, Insightful)

yabos (719499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040786)

You get more energy back than it took to produce the hydrogen because you are burning the deisel fuel more efficiently. So instead of unburnt deisel fuel being pumped out the smoke stack that causes all the black smoke, you are burning it. You will get more energy out of the now burnt deisel fuel than it takes to make the hydrogen. So, you have more energy doing work in the engine. Thus it is more efficient, and cuts down on fuel costs. You don't have to mash your foot on the floor and waste fuel.

Maybe a problem (5, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040556)

They like Canadian Hydrogen Energy's Hydrogen Fuel Injection, or HFI, system because it lets them save fuel, get more horsepower and, as a bonus, cause less pollution."

Could our root problem be that we consider less pollution a bonus instead of a motivating factor?

Re:Maybe a problem (5, Insightful)

Sarisar (842030) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040593)

As always money first, pollution second.

Although IMHO this is the only way to actually make people stop polluting - make it cheaper for them not to. Of course I'm sure the power that be would just tax polluters as they can make a LOAD of cash that way (oh wait...)

Re:Maybe a problem (3, Funny)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040596)

Yes, the root problem is finding a way to obtain $sys$pollution.

Re:Maybe a problem (1)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040623)

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm... undetectable pollution...

Re:Maybe a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14040801)

In a word, no.

Awsome (4, Insightful)

JoeShmoe950 (605274) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040568)

The faster and farther we get away from oil the better IMHO. I think the bonus should be the extra MPG, and the environmental impact should be the reason. We can spare a few $$$ for environmentally friendlier vehicles. I guess the real problem is, if the government does not intervene, companies will only do what will profit them, and if it does, we end up with violations of rights. Will we ever make the switch in consumer end vehicles in the long run?

Re:Awsome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14040651)

Away from oil?
How will we ever lubricate our bearings, chains, gears, and other metal parts?

Re:Awsome (1)

iceanfire (900753) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040718)

Why is it environmentally friendly? You're still burning fossil fuels to get electricity to get the hydrogen from the water. The only difference is the location of the pollution has changed from the car to whereever they produce the hydrogen.

Re:Awsome (1)

slashkitty (21637) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040797)

Did either of you read the article?

This device is not "getting farther from fossil fuels" as all the input fuel on the truck is still diesel. In fact, I'd say it rather confuses the whole matter. just because hydrogen is in the mix, it doesn't make a fully hydrogen powered car any closer.

The device IS environmentally friendly because it uses less fuel and produces less polution.

yea (-1, Flamebait)

UprlghtCitizen (926734) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040581)

If we start using hydrogen fuel then How We Gonna Keep Bombing Iraq?!?!?! GG

Re:yea (0, Flamebait)

UprlghtCitizen (926734) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040652)

Hahaha "-1 Flamebait" What a bunch of sheep you are.

Re:yea (0, Offtopic)

CasmirRadon (865714) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040674)

Your Iraq comment is nonsensical, but worth bringing up. I guess.

Why does the U.S. need to secure vast amounts of oil? Because adequate sources of energy are critical to preserving and expanding the power, wealth, and influence of the U.S.

Why does this energy have to come from oil? Because if we switched to something else, although we might maintain or expand our current wealth, it might be other people (read: not oil companies and those that profit specifically from oil) who will be wealthy.

There is a lot of interconnections between those who profit from oil, and those who run our politics (usually completely overt connections). This need not be an observation strictly about any one politician, or any particular party.

OK, so is it starting to become clear why it might be more expensive to pollute less? In this case, I am simplistically tying "polluting less" to "not using oil for energy" but I'm sure you get the idea.

If anyone is going to use the argument that economic forces shape our environmental policies. Therefore, people will only do what is profitable (the assumption being that right now, using oil-alternatives is not as profitable). Then I wonder if you truly believe that this is a "free market" issue, and that the U.S. Government is not actively assisting the profits of the most egregious polluters.

Re:yea (2)

UprlghtCitizen (926734) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040738)

Why does the USA even need to "expand it's power wealth and influence"? When is enough enough? USA should be finding ways to MAKE THE WORLD BETTER, as in educating people, curbing poverty. Why is it always, plunder pillage destroy? Just plain Satanic.

How does this help? (2, Insightful)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040583)

But the HFI system uses electricity from an engine's alternator to power the electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen as needed from small amounts of distilled water.
R Given that diesel engines are not 100% efficient, and even assuming that water->hydrogen is. How is it this produces a net gain in energy? The burning hydrogen should only produce as much energy as is used to seperate the oxygen and hydrogen. Disconecting the alternator (which many cars do right now to increase fuel efficiency) should save more gasoline than seperating the water to hydrogen/oxygen.

Re:How does this help? (3, Insightful)

LSD-OBS (183415) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040625)

You mean some cars physically disconnect the stator wheel from the crankshaft? I'm probably a bit rusty on my car mechanics, but as long as that thing is spinning you're generating electricty. That electricity has to be enough to cover the maximum current draw of the electrics system plus some headroom, so you're always generating more power than you need.

Surely it's a No Brainer that putting the excess power back into the engine (electrolysis, hydrogen, blah blah) is Good Thing.

Re:How does this help? (2, Informative)

renehollan (138013) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040646)

Surely it's a No Brainer that putting the excess power back into the engine (electrolysis, hydrogen, blah blah) is Good Thing.

Yes, but the more current you draw, the more the alternator serves as a brake on the engine. You know all those "regenerative braking" hybrid systems? Same principle: they brake by dumping electricity from motors now running as generators back into the batteries.

Re:How does this help? (1)

LSD-OBS (183415) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040688)

Yeah, I wasn't going to get into that, but it would seem their idea allows them to obtain a higher overall efficiency, more than compensating for the added resistance on the engine.

I'd think of it as distance 2nd cousing of the turbocharger and the nitrous injection, if you look at the common principles (though instead of burning more fuel per stroke, it burns cleaner fuel)

Re:How does this help? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14040748)

Erm, meant to say "distant 2nd cousin". It's past 3am here, oops :)

Re:How does this help? (2, Informative)

i41Overlord (829913) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040758)

I'm probably a bit rusty on my car mechanics, but as long as that thing is spinning you're generating electricty

Not necessarily. If you turned a generator and the poles weren't hooked up to any circuit, it's not moving any electrons through that circuit.

Take a motor sometime and turn it with the leads disconnected. Then short the leads and try to turn it.

Re:How does this help? (1)

LSD-OBS (183415) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040777)

You're right, I know. I've done that before :)

Re:How does this help? (1)

willisbueller (856041) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040650)

You are correct, it does not produce more energy. However, hydrogen allows for much better combustion and operation of the engine which improves the efficiency of the next cycle to allow the total energy to be above the break even point.

Re:How does this help? (1)

shawb (16347) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040673)

The addition of hydrogen causes the air/fuel mixture to combust a little hotter at a little faster rate. This allows for a more efficient burning of the fuel. An added bonus is that currently the "infefficiency" is being released through the tailpipe as black soot. The compounds that made the soot are now being burned, which is where the extra energy comes from. Well, that and the fuel being burned quicker means the mechanical energy released is able to be captured more efficicntly.

Re:How does this help? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14040679)

in case you really do not understand...

injecting a small amount of hydrogen with fuel (step that costs some energy) allows for a faster ignition, higher flash temperature, and thus more complete combustion of your fuel (giving off more energy than spent on actually producing hydrogen). Overal efficiency gain comes not from the hydrogen, but from a more complete gasoline combustion; think of hydrogen as a catalyst of some sort!

Think of this as running after the school bus: Costs you more energy to catch up to the leaving bus, but will ultimately save you from walking those 5 miles to school!

Re:How does this help? (2, Informative)

cytoman (792326) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040708)

Why does everybody keep calling hydrogen a "catalyst"? Come on, people, high-school chemistry tells us that a catalyst is a substance that does not itself get used up in a reaction...it just lowers the transistion state energy. So, quit calling hydrogen a catalyst. It is a reactant. The product is, again, water. Geez!

Re:How does this help? (1)

cytoman (792326) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040695)

IANAME (Mech Engineer), but I guess that the alternator recharges the batteries normally, and once the batteries are recharged, the work done by the alternator is not really being harnessed. So, instead of letting that energy go to waste (heat), it is channeled to split water...small amount of energy conservation but a little bit is better than none.

Re:How does this help? (1)

i41Overlord (829913) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040729)

IANAME (Mech Engineer), but I guess that the alternator recharges the batteries normally, and once the batteries are recharged, the work done by the alternator is not really being harnessed. So, instead of letting that energy go to waste (heat), it is channeled to split water...small amount of energy conservation but a little bit is better than none.

You seem to be operating off the assumption that the alternator always takes the same amount of effort to turn, and that after it's done charging the batteries it's just wasting energy.

It doesn't work that way, though. If no electrical load is on the alternator, it's basically freewheeling without much resistance. However, if you put an electrical load on it, it becomes harder to turn. If alternators were 100% efficient, they'd sap 1 hp from the engine's crankshaft to generate 746 watts. But they're not 100% efficient. Doing what you suggest would just waste energy.

Re:How does this help? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040717)

I don't know but you're hurting my eyes!

Not Alone (5, Informative)

Altec at LM (591619) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040589)

This is not the first marketable apparatus using this technology. H2N-Gen has their very own unit that will cost about 4 grand, will fit under your car's hood, and will be on the market by March. There's been several articles on this (and a recent one in Popular Science, December issue). Here's one http://www.engadget.com/entry/1234000373059415/ [engadget.com]

Three Rule Monte (1)

Errandboy of Doom (917941) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040663)

We're all still wondering where the extra energy comes from. The Engadget article [engadget.com] helps:

"[The system] uses current fed from the car's battery to generate the hydrogen and oxygen from a distilled water and chemical mixture."

Ah ha! So the battery generates the hydrogen and oxygen, which are used to create energy, thereby saving some extra gas, gas which you can then use to recharge your battery.

To quote the Guinness gentlemen:

BRILLIANT!

sounds familiar (1)

Keruo (771880) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040619)

this article [theage.com.au] mentions something similar

Not Quite (4, Informative)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040631)

"hydrogen filling stations, which, by the way, don't yet exist. "

Not quite. BMW has been researching and promoting hydrogen cars [bmwworld.com] for some time now. They installed a hydrogen refilling station in Munich in '99(IIRC) and more are on the way, some in the US. [businessweek.com] The interesting thing about the BMW hydrogen car is that it can burn either hydrogen or gasoline so you can burn hydrogen when its available but not be hampered by the current dearth of hydrogen stations. As for the source of the hydrogen, Electricity generated from solar power is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. [bmwworld.com] . The range on the 750H is only 400 km right now. The other trade-off of course is that there is still combustion so it's not as clean as fuel cell cars. Nonetheless, it's a start and not a bad way to transition us into a hydrogen economy.

Re:Not Quite (1)

BigDumbAnimal (532071) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040747)

The other trade-off of course is that there is still combustion so it's not as clean as fuel cell cars.

What pollutants do you think you get by burning hydrogen? That evil waste known as H2O?

Re:Not Quite (1)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040761)

there is still combustion so it's not as clean as fuel cell cars

Hydrogen burns to water. What is less clean? Do nitrogen oxides get formed in the high temperatures or something?

I would expect it to be less efficient than fuel cells - the maximum efficiency of internal combustion engines isn't very good.

How Do I Mod Down An Article? (-1, Offtopic)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040632)

I've got 5 mod points: how do I use them to mod down this article? This is crankery at best. The gadget does nothing but inject a bit of water.

Why are slashdot editors such suckers for pseudoscience? Do you all have CS degrees?

Mod moron down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14040672)

1st: since you responded, good luck using those mod points - as if you can mod articles.
2nd: it doesn't inject water (which, Mr. Science, is not combustible) it injects hydrogen formed by splitting water. (thanks for reading the "crank article" before you respond) Hydrogen is quite combustible and helps the diesel burn more completely. Water would be a by-product.

Re:How Do I Mod Down An Article? (1)

LSD-OBS (183415) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040707)

I think you've probably misunderstood the article, but it might interest you to know that combustion with humid air gives you a better compression/expansion ratio than with dry air.

Re:How Do I Mod Down An Article? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14040744)

Well hopefully you DON'T use them to mod anything around here, because either you're too idle to RTFA, or too thick to understand it. I do hope you don't stay at "2, Insightful" for much longer.

Does not compute (1, Interesting)

vik (17857) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040640)

So by using diesel to power the vehicle's alternator, they can generate hydrogen and squirt it back into the engine.

Why does the cynic in me think it might be more energy-efficient to not load the alternator with a hydrogen generator in the first place?

Surely, if the alternator is not placing the additional load of the electrolysis equipment on the engine, the efficiency of the engine will go up?

Personally, if hydrogen does somehow improve things I'd suspect an even cleaner burn would result by injecting the oxygen from the electrolysis plant too...

Vik :v)

Re:Does not compute (1)

RollingThunder (88952) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040709)

You're right, they must be imagining the decreased fuel costs. After all, it's easy to think that you're spending $700/mo/truck less when you actually aren't.

Re:Does not compute (4, Informative)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040723)

The trick is that the hydrogen is not there to produce energy, but by burning hotter it improves the combustion of the diesel, so the efficiency improvements of the combustion out weigh the losses in the electrolysis system which is driven off the alternator.

A very clever system, I hope whoever came up with it has a patent on it, I'm not a big fan of IP, but that sounds like a real invention.

Re:Does not compute (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040727)

What is the effect of burning the H2 on the burning of the diesel? Perhaps that is the missing part of the equation.

Re:Does not compute (2, Informative)

college_nerd08 (931396) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040746)

Based on the tests done with a Jeep Cherokee outfitted with the Canadian device, fuel economy increased by 40% and burn efficiency increased from somewhere around 30% to 97%. There were also no detectable CO emissions and the tailpipe remained cool after an hour drive. So therefore the amount of electricity required from the alternator to split the water is far outwieghed by the increase in burn efficiency.

I would assume similar results are to be found in a diesel engine.

http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/09/1 8/1638204&tid=187&tid=14 [slashdot.org]

the link inside the Slashdot article no longer works.

Re:Does not compute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14040753)

well, that would work if the load caused by the alternator was directly proportional to the current drawn from it. in fact, a desiel motor needs no electricity from the alternator to run, unlike a car, which needs a spark at the sparkplug. compression alone causes heat and combustion.

some of that parasitic power loss from the alternator now actually gets reinserted into the system. that said, the claims made here sound WAY too high for fuel savings. an OK idea with a solid dose of snakeoil marketing.

-r

Re:Does not compute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14040795)

Automotive alternators must be able to generate *much more* power than is being used by the engine's systems (spark, computers, pumps, etc) because there are many electrical subsystems the driver may be using, and the battery must be kept at full charge. Until you inven a variable-resistance/load alternator, there is an enormous amount of electrical energy going unused much of the time to ensure that enough is generated for peak periods.

This formerly wasted energy is what they use to process the water.

Duh.

Pretty sure it works (5, Insightful)

Alcimedes (398213) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040699)

For all the naysayers, keep in mind, these truckers make their LIVING hauling product long distances. If this didn't work, or made the overall process less effecient, they'd know it. We're talking about their own profits it would be eating into, not some mystery lab result.

Sorry, but doubt hundreds of truckers are going to do that just to help out a company that involved in "psuedo science".

Next time you're on the road.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14040710)

Beware of Hindenberg Trucking Lines! Oh, the humanity.

RTFA! Not hydrogen powered, but cleaner burning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14040724)

The trucks are NOT hydrogen powered. A quick read through the article reveals that they are generating their own hydrogen using energy from the engine. This, by itself, does not contribute any power and in fact it is wasting energy. HOWEVER, adding hydrogen increases the efficiency of the engine so there is a net gain; it also reduces pollution.

Repeat: NOT hydrogen powered. But hydrogen makes the engine run better.

Did nobody read up on this? (5, Insightful)

canadianunixbum (787714) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040735)

Did nobody read up on this? The hydrogen helps the engine burn more of the fuel that would have been released unused. That is why you use less fuel and have lower emissions.

bah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14040741)

I don't want artificial gas in any car I buy. I make enough natural gas in the car already.

Boo H2 ...'Termite guts can save the planet' (4, Interesting)

ScrewTivo (458228) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040752)

http://www.physorg.com/news3700.html [physorg.com]

Now that's what I'm talking 'bout

H2 is BS.

Slashdot Ignores 9/11 Story - Scooped by MSNBC (1)

Bob Gortician (246811) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040765)

Slashdot.org, a supposed news for geeks site, is blatantly ignoring the recent controvery surrounding a Brigham Young physics professor who has presented a 9000-word paper detailing how the three collapsed towers in New York on 9/11 were brought down by explosives.

Just another compromised "news" site?

Sounds like nasty nitros (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14040769)

Maybe the quickest, cheapest way to boost your car's horsepower is with nitros injection. It really improves your combustion just like tfa says hydrogen does.

Of course the down side is that you start measuring engine life in milli-seconds. OK so I exaggerate slightly. But it is really hard on the engine. Tfa didn't mention engine life. These truckers will be really steamed if they have to start replacing engines every 50000 miles instead of every million miles.

The other problem is finding drivers willing to keep their boots off the gas (diesel) pedal. I once had a lightly rodded Camaro that actually got better mileage than stock; as long as I drove like a good citizen. Fat chance.

Causing less pollution is a bonus? (3, Insightful)

macosxaddict (559557) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040782)

When will people finally figure out that causing less pollution should be a goal, not just a pretty side-effect? Unless people do, our planet is doomed.

Anyone tried this yet? (1)

MrNougat (927651) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040783)

http://www.h20car.org/ [h20car.org]

I emailed the guy a while back to find out how much the materials cost. $300US for a carbureted engine, more for injected. Injected requires some additional stuff, akin to converting a gasoline engine to natural gas.

Plans are $20. I'm broke. Someone with some spare time on their hands, please give it a try and report back kthx.

They've had such technology for years! (5, Funny)

i41Overlord (829913) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040787)

They made an engine that could run on water but the Big Oil companies bought the patents and hid it in a dark room and behind closed doors, black helicopters, Area51, republicans, Bob Lazar, tin foil hats, mind control beam, yada yada yada.

Methane Powered (1)

straight_up (921023) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040792)

I know certain people who produce a lot of their own methane. Can they get methane-powered vehicles, or at least office chairs with gas-powered motorized wheels?

not hydrogen power! (4, Insightful)

DaveBarr (35447) | more than 8 years ago | (#14040793)

This is not hydrogen power. Not even close. All it's doing is generating a small amount of hydrgen to make the diesel combustion more efficient and complete. This is not perpetual motion (taking energy out and putting a greater amount back into the system), it's just a bit of fancy chemistry to make the existing diesel burn better. This has nothing to do with the hydrogen fuel debate.

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