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228) Cars running on water?

Ludwik Kowalski (6/5/05)
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043

The webpage whose URL is shown below,

describes a presumably old, but never widely implemented, invention. “Dr Andrija Puharich reportedly drove his motor home for hundreds of thousands of miles around North America in the 1970s using only water as fuel. At a mountain pass in Mexico, he collected snow for water.” But our cars still don’t run on water. I do not think that a conspiracy of oil companies is responsible for this. To me it means that something is wrong with the US patent described on the above quoted webpage. This observation is also based on what I know about the first law of thermodynamics. The amount of energy needed to extract hydrogen from water (production of fuel) can not be smaller than the amount of energy one gets from turning that hydrogen back into water (burning that fuel).

But that is not totally satisfactory. Thermodynamics only tell us that “something is not right,” it does not identify errors. To i dentify errors one has to address relevant details. Unfortunately, my familiarity with chemistry is very limited. That is why I would appreciate if a qualified electrochemist, reading this short note, could either identify specific errors (in the patent description) or argue that the explanation has no errors. I would be happy to append such input to this note.

Figures 6 and 11 reminded me of superwaves described in unit #213. The fundamental frequencies were between 20 and 200 Hz; the modulating frequencies were between 200 and 100,000Hz. My first impression was that the author refers to matching of frequencies of atomic oscillations in water molecules. But, is it not true that such oscillations usually take place at much higher (infrared) frequencies? What kind of resonances can be matched with frequencies smaller than 0.1 KHz?

Short addendum #1 (6/6/06):
William C. Rostron, thinks that “the patent should never have been granted” to Puharich. William wrote:

No doubt there cannot be a violation of the first law of thermodynamics. If it works, then the energy for the breaking the hydrogen-oxygen bond comes from ambient heat; the process acts like a heat pump, ultimately extracting cracking energy from ambient air. In principle, there isn't anything wrong with this idea. Notice the heat fins on "Component III".

The schematic diagram showing the isolation transformer and "Component III" reaction nozzle won't work: there isn't a complete electrical circuit. Somehow, current has to flow to excite the circuit, and that can't happen if the upper winding of the transformer secondary isn't connected to something--even just a capacitor. This is critical, because there is sufficient description of the waveforms and theory to build the circuits designated by the functional boxes, but the output drive transformer circuit is shown explicitly, and it's broken. On that basis alone, the patent should never have been granted, in my opinion.

William emphasized that this is his own point of view, not of the power plant company that employs him at a nuclear plant.

Short addendum#2 (6/7/05):
Referring to cars fueled by water a physics teacher wrote: “There have been cars driven on water reported previously. The one's that actually perform as claimed use metallic sodium or potassium in addition to the H2O.” Here is my comment on this. As a high school student, more than five decade ago, I saw a demonstration in which a tiny bit of sodium was dropped into water and reacted violently. But I did not know that sodium can be used as an automobile fuel. Looking into a chemistry textbook now I see that hydrogen is released from water by the following reaction:

2 Na + 2 H2O --> 2 NaOH + H2

In other words, to produce one mole of H2 (2 grams) one uses two moles of Na (46 grams). The heat of combustion of H2 is 495 kJ per m
ole (247.5 kJ per gram) while the heat of combustion of gasoline is close to 50 kJ/gram. This shows that one gram of hydrogen produces about five times as much heat as one gram of gasoline. It also shows that one gram of sodium must be used to generate 5.39 kJ of heat (released when hydrogen is burned). One kilogram of gasoline (little more than one liter) will produce 500,000 kJ of heat. How much sodium is needed to produce the same amount of heat? The answer is 92.9 kilograms. (Feel free to replace the word heat by thermal energy).

Suppose the distance covered by Puharich was only 200,000 miles. A car covering 20 miles per gallon of gasoline would use 10,000 gallons of that fuel. This is equivalent to 929,000 kilograms (nearly 930 tons) of sodium. Note that NaOH is a dangerous pollutant. It is not hard to figure out that a lot of nitrogen hydroxide would be produced during the trip. How was the NaOH disposed of? How often was the vehicle "refueled” with sodium? A question I am not asking has to do with energy needed to extract 930 tons of sodium from NaCl.

Hydrogen cars of tomorrow are expected to be environmentally friendly. Production of hydrogen should also be environmentally friendly. Getting hydrogen out of water with sodium does not satisfy this condition. The iESi device for extraction of hydrogen from water, on the other hand, is said to be not only environmentally friendly but energy efficient as well. I do not think that such claim is valid. But I will be happy to be wrong. Nothing would be more convincing than long-lasting commercial success of their already existing devices, and subsequent scientific papers explaining them.

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