Sorry Fellow Valley Futurers for the long post but this is annoying.
There should be a Special Place in Hell for Multi-Level Marketers and Those Who Falsely Paint Themselves Green
By Bob Ferris
It is a sad fact of life that charlatans prey on those that need to believe most and are least able to protect themselves. In times past it was the unwashed and rural, but on today’s landscape it is those who turn an open eye and unprepared brain to infomercials and the most bold of the internet advertisers. So our economically and intellectually challenged are further burdened by ozone air cleaners that pollute more than they clean, atmospheric water generators that are nothing more than repackaged dehumidifiers, and now in the shadow of high priced gas and diesel a veritable plethora of HHO generators and Brown’s gas boondoggles.
While all of them make my blood boil a little, I suspect the later water for gas schemes insult my scientific sensibilities the most. Perhaps it is because I finally realize why every child should take physics and higher math. And that reason manifests itself best in the $1200 Hydro-4000 electrolysis machine marketed by some geniuses in Jupiter, Florida calling themselves Green Machine Solutions (http://www.hydro4000.com/aboutus.htm). Green Machine is a business unit of Diversified Energy Group (http://www.degoil.com) which is a company run by David Havanich Jr. and Carmine Dellasala Jr. who seem to launch and then abandon businesses as a hobby (check out their various listings in http://www.sunbiz.org/corioff.html).
This machine justifies its significant price tag by claiming that the hydrogen gas captured as a result of excess energy produced by your underworked car alternator will displace 20-60% of your gasoline or diesel. Spectacular! I want one. But is this possible? The answer is: a resounding No.
What we are talking about here is a device that takes distilled water and passes electricity through it to break it into its constituent parts—hydrogen and oxygen—through a process known as hydrolysis. (Is this ringing a bell from high school chemistry or biology?) This is wonderful and logical as far as we have gone. Hydrogen is a zippy fuel with more power per pound than gasoline or diesel. But here is where it gets tricky and to keep this easier we are going to convert everything to British Thermal Units (BTUs).
So let’s start with the alternator. Car alternators generally operate in the range of 14 or so volts and 50 amperes or amps. These simple units when multiplied give you watts; in this case 700 watts in an hour’s time. Since one watt yields 3.41 BTUs each hour our little alternator is producing the equivalent of 2387 BTUs. While all of this is not really available to make hydrogen because the alternator is also charging the battery, providing juice to the sparkplugs or glow plugs, and generally running all the fans, lights, and the radio for your car—we will be generous and assume that all of it is available to the whiz-bang Hydro-4000.
Hydrolysis is not 100% efficient and we see conversions efficiencies—electricity into hydrogen power—of between 40 to 60%. But since the Jupiter folks say their unit beats everyone and has efficiencies in the 80-94% range, we again will give them the benefit of the doubt. So the potential energy drawn off the now-gainfully employed alternator in the form of hydrogen represents 80% of 2387 BTUs or 1910 BTUs. Pretty darn good. No one says the machine does not produce hydrogen.
Now let’s go to the car end of this equation. Here again for ease of analysis we will go with a simple vehicle and a simple situation: A car that gets 30 miles to the gallon driving 60 miles an hour for 60 minutes. During this hour our fairly efficient car will burn two gallons of gasoline. Gasoline contains 125,000 BTUs so the energy budget for this trip is 250,000 BTUs. So if we are looking to save 20 to 60% of that—as the Sunshine State boys claim—our car would be looking through its fuel resources for 50,000 to 150,000 BTUs to make up the difference. It gets 1910 from the Hydo-4000, on a good day.
Debates about this device are flying around the internet, but has anyone conclusively tested this device and others? The answer to that is: Yes and no. There was a TV station in Florida that installed the device on one of their news vans. They claimed in a broadcast news story that their rig went from getting 9 miles to the gallon to getting 23 miles to the gallon—more than a 200% increase in mileage. While many in the world were incredulous, sister stations around the country rebroadcast this story and it became gospel. This story wrote large on the air and on the internet—It Works—while the follow-up story of a retest by an engineering professor and his students that basically greatly scaled down the findings of the first was released with a whimper. Interesting.
One who watched the original broadcast was Sheriff Ken Mascara in St. Lucie, Florida. So he dug into confiscated drug funds and installed one of the devices on a patrol car and one on a test car owned by an undisclosed person. Here again, the announcement that they were going to do that test and that taxpayer dollars were not used in the purchase of the devices was aired widely (Note to Ken: Confiscated drug monies are taxpayer dollars). But when the testing was complete and the sheriff’s department basically said the Hydro-4000 didn’t do anything and might have decreased performance, this news did not hit the TV screen or YouTube, it was covered by a few paragraphs on the St. Lucie Sheriff’s website:
Why wasn’t the “news” here about a gullible sheriff who used public funds to buy a fraudulent device for the department and a private party?
What did hit YouTube was a video of a straight test of the hydrogen making potential of the device (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBVbKXE7NWE). This industrious fellow attached the Hydro-4000 to a battery to simulate what would happen in a car. In his test he ran 11 volts at basically 7 amps and it took him eight minutes to generate one liter of Brown’s gases (hydrogen and oxygen). Doing the math on this fellow’s experiment indicates that while the battery pumped roughly 35 BTUs into the apparatus, the single liter produced during that time period contained only 9.54 BTUs. That means that the conversion efficiency of the Hydro-4000 in this experiment was not 80-94% as claimed but rather 27%.
In spite of the fact that the process cannot physically offset 20-60% of your gas or diesel use and the device does not perform as claimed, this contraption is becoming an internet phenomenon. Part of this is that dealerships are being sold to the gullible around the continent and each dealer has a website with more and more outlandish claims about this dubious product. I visited one site from Alaska called Alaskan Green Machines LLC (of course it is an LLC because these folks want to walk away with the money and not get nailed when some regulatory hammer drops). Here is a quote from the FAQ section (http://www.alaskagreenmachines.com/FAQ’s.htm):
Why buy from Alaska Green Machines?
We have the best hydrogen generators available. The GMS HYDRO-4000 contains an all stainless steel apparatus which creates far more hydrogen and oxygen than products that appear to be similar. The output is 2.3 liters per minute of hydrogen at 12v and 7 amps with 0 vacuum. Other units may look like ours, but theirs are just two rods in a plastic container that put a charge through the water, like a kid’s science experiment. They require using distilled water and an electrolyte solution such as lye to create electrolysis. With these products energy in must equal energy out, so they just don’t work! Don’t be fooled into buying a cheaper product. You get what you pay for! The GMS HYDRO -4000 are built to the highest standards.
OK. Let’s look at this statement. (I know, again with the math). Twelve volts at 7amps produces 84 watts. And since each watt produces 3.41 BTUs, we know that in one hour we are going to get 286.44 BTUs out of the alternator. Doing the same sort of math for the hydrogen claimed to be produced, we get 138 liters (these are not pressurized so this is lighter than the same volume of air). Since each liter contains 9.54 BTUs, we are looking at total of 1362.52 BTUs. So they are telling us not to be fooled and at the same time fooling us by telling us that while everyone else’s hydrolysis machines work at roughly 40-60% percent efficiency, theirs is cranking away at nearly 500%. Let’s bring on the Nobel Prize folks.
The above said, since we know that gas has about 125,000 BTUs per gallon, their greatly exaggerated generator is only displacing about half an ounce of gasoline per hour of use. This is a far cry from the 20-60% gas savings that they are claiming. But it is right in line with what we have come to expect from multi-level marketing schemes: pseudo-science to fool the uninitiated and lies stacked upon lies.
As many of us are working tirelessly to solve our environmental and energy issues for little or no pay, I get really steamed when folks inappropriately paint themselves green and try to make big bucks out of the misery of their fellow citizens. My blood pressure rose so high that I felt like giving these Alaskans a piece of my mind. So I went to the contact section of their website and found this:
Address: PO Box 872331, Wasilla, AK 99687
Perfect. Although I felt like picking up the phone and screaming “thanks, but no thanks” to these folks, I thought that I’d write this piece instead and make these three points:
Point One: The fact that these types of devices exist and their purveyors prosper means that we need a better educated populace that will be able to do these simple types of analyses for themselves. Education is key to our surviving our current crises. Clearly, millions have been left behind and we need to invest in fixing our education gap.
Point Two: Somewhere, through some agency or entity, we have to do a better job of vetting these devices and warning the public to be wary of these sorts of claims and about the predatory tactics of those who make them.
Point Three: We all have to speak up and help those who are most vulnerable to these predatory marketing practices. Pass this piece around and help others to understand.
Let’s put our efforts and our monies towards legitimate endeavors. There are certainly plenty out there to choose from! Shred On my friends (www.carbonshredders.org)