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Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Spot the fake hydrogen booster theories!

Call them hydrogen boosters, HHO systems, Brown's Gas, or what you will, these things seem to be on the way out. Maybe it's been all the debunkings (some of which I've blogged about before), or maybe it's been the Ozzy Freedom types have moved on to other schemes. At least, I haven't run across as many discussions of these things recently. The way it's going, in another ten years, the hydrogen booster fans will be hanging out with the vapor carburetor crowd and commiserating over a few beers about how the government / auto industry / petroleum industry / Bavarian Illuminati have conspired to kill their technology of choice.

So, while these ideas are still getting kicked around, I thought I'd try gathering all the hydrogen booster theories in one place, as well as all the claims about how to tune the system. My first plan was to put that side by side with the theory that most of the claimed improvements are the results of bad experimentation, but where's the fun in that? Instead, I'm going to try something a little different - I'll post the theories without comment, although I will attempt to fill in gaps on occasion when a theory seemed incomplete. However, three of the items on these list are fake - theories or tuning methods that I've made up out of whole cloth. All the others are genuine claims that advocates of hydrogen booster systems have used to explain why it should work or how you should tune the engine after installing it.

Theories of operation:
  1. The engine burns fuel to drive the alternator to power a hydrogen generator that makes more fuel to be burnt in the engine. Appears to be the oldest theory.
  2. The hydrogen generator doesn't create additional drag on the alternator because it is only taking up unused current that the alternator would be putting out anyway.
  3. The hydrogen isn't extra fuel so much as a combustion enhancer that speeds up the burn rate and increases knock resistance.
  4. It's not really the hydrogen that makes a difference, as much as that the generator also collects a mysterious sort of energy known as "orgone" that it feeds into the engine.
  5. The hydrogen generator produces monoatomic hydrogen - that is, the hydrogen atoms are all separate, instead of stuck together in pairs as in normal hydrogen. This is much more reactive, although somewhat tricky to keep it from reacting with other things (aluminum, plastic, oxygen, or even itself).
  6. The hydrogen and oxygen react with decane in the fuel, causing it to split into ethanol and iso-octane.
  7. The hydrogen doesn't burn or react with the gasoline, but instead reacts with a different gas in the air to produce a chemical that has an effect on combustion. What gas it reacts with was not specified, but presumably it would be reacting with nitrogen to form ammonia.
  8. There is an extra electron on each hydrogen molecule, forming an electric current from the hydrogen generator to the combustion chamber.
  9. Adding hydrogen to the air / fuel mixture causes it to implode instead of explode.
Tuning theories:
  1. A steady flow rate of 1 liter of hydrogen and oxygen per minute is best.
  2. A steady flow rate of 100 liters of hydrogen and oxygen per minute is best.
  3. The flow rate should be proportional to the engine size and RPM. To find the best flow rate in liters per minute, take the engine size, multiply by the RPM, and divide by 2.
  4. Because hydrogen speeds up the burn rate dramatically, timing should be retarded to a fixed timing rate in the vicinity of 10 to 12 degrees after top dead center.
  5. Because hydrogen causes the air / fuel mixture to implode, timing should be advanced to somewhere around 70 to 90 degrees before top dead center.
  6. Because hydrogen increase knock resistance, timing should be advanced 5 to 10 degrees ahead of the standard timing curve.
  7. The air/fuel mixture should be leaned out to somewhere between 16:1 and 20:1.
  8. Because hydrogen causes the air / fuel mixture to implode, the engine needs very different valve timing. The cam should be replaced by one with a much longer intake opening and a far shorter exhaust opening, and overlap absolutely must be cut to zero.
Now... can you spot the fake entries? This can be something of a challenge, as I'm not asking you to figure out which of these theories is false or which of these tuning approaches does not work. Instead, you'll need to figure out which three of the entries are not actual theories or tuning approaches used by somebody advocating hydrogen booster systems. I'll post answers after New Year's Day, or sooner if somebody correctly identifies all three.


hopefully the comments about imploding are the fakes.
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