Monday, July 30, 2012

Electrolysis and Pakistani Media

Almost every other day, a story use to pop up in a Pakistani media that a technician in some part of Pakistan has developed a method to produce electricity by burning water or have developed a method to run a car using water as a fuel. Recently Hamid Mir a renowned TV anchor have broadcasted a TV show on similar conceptReally is it possible to use Water as a fuel?

Water is not a fuel and it doesn’t burn but hydrogen is. Water is a combination of Hydrogen and oxygen.  Unfortunately hydrogen is not freely available. To use hydrogen as a fuel, water molecules have to be broken down. Most common method of breaking the water molecule is renowned as electrolysis. Electricity is used in this method to separate Hydrogen and oxygen molecules. Every matric/FSC student tests this method in their school labs. Now these people are using electrolysis to generate hydrogen which is then provided to the engines via air intake pipe just like CNG to burn hydrogen and run the engine.

But wait a minute, what is the actual source of energy which is running the engine? It’s the electricity.  Without electricity, water molecule will not be broken down; hydrogen will not be produced and will not be burned in the engine. From where this free electricity comes from and at what cost? You are using electricity to run engine or generate electricity.

Pakistani media is extremely strange and it is evident that instead of doing the cost analysis of the electrolysis process, TV anchor Hammid Mir tested the system by driving the car and do you expect what he said

“Ye to bilkul normal gari ki tarah chal rahi hay”
(It is running like a normal car)

What do you have expected, should car have to fly with water or hydrogen fuel. As it was running normal so you have declared it the cheapest method. You and those technicians should be given Noble Prize.

According to Hammid Mir, Oil industry is not allowing to use water as alternative fuel. In my view it is not correct. Its the over all cost (including maintenance cost) of cars running on electrolysis which is not allowing them to be used as alternative.

The inventor Agha Waqar, challenged Dr Atta ur Rehman in another show, hosted by TV anchor Talat Hussain,

“Ager battery dead bi ho, app Dhaka laga k gari start ker lain to battery to charge ho jati ha“

So, according to him, battery will never be consumed and it’s a complete cycle where more energy will be produced with less energy consumption. But this is not true, we have to look at the complete cycle in this case to understand what is happening behind it.

Car will run on gasoline to run the car’s motor. Energy will be lost due to heat and friction and its alternator will be operated due to the motion of the motor which result in creating electricity and that will be stored in battery. But again energy will be lost during this process due to friction and electrical resistance. Electricity from the battery will be used to separate hydrogen using electrolysis. Energy will be again lost in the form of heat and other chemical reactions if water will not be pure. Hydrogen will be then used to run the engine instead of gasoline.

In each cycle, lot of energy will be wasted. Each time, battery will be charged less due to losses and as a result, less hydrogen will be produced. After some time, battery will have to be charged again via gasoline or some external method.

On an average 5x electricity is consumed to generate 1x electricity via this method.

1000 m3 of H2 will generate 1MWh of electricity and 1MWh of heat.

In the last but not least, making water distilled also consume energy mostly in the form of electricity or burning of oil.

Agha Waqar misconceptions:
1. Sound system in cars also consume battery power, so what's a big deal ? Bahi, sound system is only the consumer of energy, in your system battery power is the starting point, without electricity whole system will not work. Both of them are two separate things altogether.

2. It will save millions of rupees as import of oil will be reduced. How, than who will charge the batteries. For charging the batteries, you have to burn oil or any other method. Oil will still be required and at the same time, due to heavy usage of batteries, their prices will also shoot at the same time.

3. Very little battery power is being utilized. Ok, but how much. Have you calculated that?

4. Car is moving so the method is the best. Sorry unless you will not show that overall cost of using kit is less than the cost of oil saved by this method, this can not be said that it is a cheap method.

Missing points:
As the discussion is getting long I will not explain the other missing points which are not being addressed in the media about this method. Like, cost of electricity for electrolysis, life time of electrodes being used in electrolysis process and their cost, cost of distilled water, effect of hydrogen burring on engine efficiency etc etc. At the same time Hydrogen is odorless gas, so it is very hard to detect incase of leakage which brings the safety expects in concern as well.  If you bring all this into account than one can assume that this is not cheap method at all.

To summarize all of the above I would say, media should study before presenting something as free energy source. It is good that many technicians and scientists are working for alternate source of energy but electrolysis or water is not a free source of energy or alternative fuel unless you prove theoretically as well that overall cost of this kit is less than the cost of oil saved in this method.

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