KILAUEA — Most people have heard the myth of the water-powered car. While some of the principles are still more science fiction than science, a Kilauea man says he has figured out a way to get significantly improved fuel efficiency from his car with the help of water, the sun and some ingenuity.
Dan Green, whose fortuitous surname graces his Web site at www.mrgreenenergy.com, believes the technology, called HHO for the molecular elements of water, could change the way we all drive and lessen our dependence on fossil fuels.
“This is free knowledge, and knowledge is power, and power should be given to the people, especially in times like these,” Green said. “It’s our God-given right to harness solar and wind power. Water falls from the sky, that’s a God-given element as well.”
Technically, Green’s modified 1985 Volkswagen Westfalia van is not “water-powered” or “solar-powered,” but hydrogen fuel-enhanced, he explains. The process works like this:
∫ Solar panels on top of the van convert the sun’s rays into electricity, “trickle-charging” a second battery Green has installed.
∫ The electricity is run through a stainless steel electrolysis cell submerged in a small four-cup tube of water in the vehicle’s trunk.
∫ The electrolysis, aided by two tablespoons of an electrolyzer like baking soda, disassociates ordinary water — tap, filtered or sea, Green says — into its baser elements of hydrogen gas and oxygen gas.
∫ The HHO mixture, also called Brown’s gas, bubbles gently, but visibly to the surface and is funneled through a one-way valve into the engine, where it is combined with regular gasoline and combusted to propel the cylinders.
∫ Hydrogen, in particular, burns powerfully, adding horsepower and fuel efficiency.
Green said four cups of water lasts up to a month and the only additional byproduct created by the process is recombined water, which cools the engine and further adds to fuel efficiency.
He said the 1985 van, among the junk cars donated by the community, no longer has a fully functioning odometer, but estimates the increase in fuel efficiency to be roughly 30 percent.
Green also claims the process is safe, saying a backfire would combust only the small amount of hydrogen stored in the short line between the generator and the engine. In fact, he said it is safer than riding around in new partially hydrogen-powered vehicles that carry compressed hydrogen in Kevlar-lined tanks.
In the short run, the systems may be impractical for individual car owners, Green concedes. However, he believes the trucking and shipping companies, who are burning fossil fuels around the clock, could benefit greatly from the technology.
“The trickle-down effect in savings at the grocery stores could be huge for all of us right off the bat,” he said. “We could be an example for the rest of the world on how to be self-sufficient on energy. A whole new energy infrastructure could take place, and we wouldn’t be dependent on a fossil fuel economy anymore.”
Green pointed to “politics as usual” when asked why the concept has not gotten off the ground.
“Why aren’t we doing it? Corporate politics that own our paid politicians,” he said. “The technology is real. The main question is, are we going to empower ourselves or keep paying Royal Dutch Shell?”
• Michael Levine, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org