Developing a car to run on H2O


The new crisis brought up an old thought back in my head. 

10 years ago I was living in a different country, and me and a few friends of mine tried to "build" a concept vehicle that could run on H2O, obviously not directly and not that simple, but, to create an electrolysis chamber and install it on a car, maybe even with an extra battery.

The main thinking here is that if this car would be constructed, even if it wouldn't be as efficient as a petrol or diesel car, because of the lower H concentration. At the same time, there are lots of cars that have been converted to use LPG, that has a combustion formula 100: C3H8+5O2  - > 3CO2+4H20, witch clearly suggests that it will "burn" the H and O giving a "residue" 3xCO2 and 4 molecules of H2O.

If instead of this we will supply the engine with H and O the burn should simply give a clean H20 residue. 

Yes, the problem appears that the LPG has 8 to 10 H, and petrol has 12 to 32 H and diesel has 20 to 28 H. But also these fuels have a high concentration of carbon.

It the electrolysis scenario we would burn pure Hidrogen and the burn could be cleaner for the environment and also the water doesn't need any modification.

There might be other costs involved, like the cleaning of the hydrolysis tank and electrodes, but that would still be cheaper than the constant purchase of fuel. 

Anyway, I digress... This came back to my mind, but, unfortunately, I'm not a car mechanic. I was thinking to buy a cheap car as start working on it and see where I get, but like I said, I'm not a mechanic and I don't have all the required knowledge. I already designed the electrolysis tank, and I'm confident I can build a big enough version to fit a car for this purpose. 

I guess my questions are:

What would be the simplest car that I can/should use so I won't fail from the wrong reasons?

Did anyone worked on a problem like this before? 

Are there any issues that I'm not aware of? 

Any advice? 

  • how much energy would be required to produce the H2/O2

    In theory exactly the same amount as is produced by re-combining them (e.g. by burning or in a fuel cell). There's no such thing as a free lunch in physics.  In practice significantly more is needed, due to losses in the system. From memory  a typical system using electricity to split water into H2 O2 and recombine using a fuel cell to produce electricity is in the order of 50% efficient. Internal combustion engines are significantly less efficient again.

       - Andy.

  • Agreed, which is why I suggested doing the energy balance of the system which would need to include those losses  showing a significant portion of the input is used to overcome them. I suppose recycling the exhaust could help reduce losses?

    A closed cycle hybrid system I would think is probably the most effecient overall solution. Some time ago I started studying the use of ammonia vapor to drive a turbine generator in a closed cycle hybrid generator system. Ammonia has some useful advantages over steam as a working fluid to drive n electrical generator which could reduce the initial input power requirements. The idea was to come up with a lightweight compact generator to continuously charge a small battery pack in a vehicle whilst on the move. 

  • The problem is that the input to the system isn't a useful fuel.

    If you went to a preserved steam railway and suggested that they ought to run their locomotives on coal ash, you'd be likely to get some strange looks.  The ash is the waste product from coal that's already been burnt.  You can't get energy out by trying to burn it again.

    Water is hydrogen ash.  It's already been burnt.  Trying to turn it back into hydrogen in order to burn it again requires more energy than you're going to get out by burning it.

  • Agreed, that was really the point I was trying make to the original post and advocating they do a proper energy balance analysis to see where the energy "in" goes to.

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