Don't Get Sucked In By The Water Powered Car Scam

The internet is awash with water powered car schemes that promote kits for you to fit to your car that will give you fuel economies of 30-100%, or even more. Run you car on water certainly sounds like an attractive proposition and the claims made by these promoters certainly make it sound really good.

And you know that old saying “if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is” - well believe that about these water powered car claims.

Let's look at one of the kits offered for sale on the major site selling these kits.

The headlines on the site should be enough to get your warning antennae twitching...

“Do You Want To Know RIGHT NOW How You Can Drive Around Using WATER as FUEL and Laugh At Rising Gas Costs, While Reducing Emissions? “


“Convert Your Car, Truck & Generator to BURN WATER with Fuel. Boost Your Mileage! Great for Diesel!”

Water is not a fuel - never has been and never will be. Water is the result of burning hydrogen. Water in itself cannot be burned.

OK it's just sales hype but it's a good indication of someone who is about to play fast and loose with the truth. Later in the site it is explained that the water needs to undergo electrolysis.

The site tries to get you to fork out $97 for two ebooks that tell you to build your own water powered car kit for fitting to your car. If you are not technically inclined the offer ready-made kits at prices ranging from $500-$875. Thy even offer you the blueprints for a 100% water powered car!!!

But let's leave that aside and look at whether or not these water car systems can do what is claimed.

I'm going to use my car as an example – it's a Renault Clio Diesel 1.5 liter sedan.

The power required for my car to cruise at 60mph (96kph) is approximately 12 HP (horsepower). Obviously this figure will vary from one car to another. The best way to work it out, if you want to, is to visit Horsepower Calculator and learn how to calculate it reasonably accurately for your own car.

1 HP equals 746 watts so converting this to electrical units it is 12*746 = 8,952 watts or nearly 9 Kw

Let's assume that you have read on the website (that is trying to sell you a water powered car kit) that you can save 40% (this is at the low end of many of the claims made on sites promoting these devices) on your fuel bill by installing this kit. The kit is designed to electrolyze water, breaking it down into hydrogen and oxygen (often referred to as Brown's Gas). This gas will combine with the fuel being burned in your car, say gasoline, and the resulting mixture will work to reduce your fuel consumption by 40%.

OK, so far so good. You want to know if this is possible – it sounds very attractive.

Well, I've got some bad news for you – don't believe it – and here's why.

Why The Water Powered Car System Doesn't Work

The First Law of Thermodynamics is the underlying factor here. The First Law says that energy can change from one form to another but cannot be created or destroyed. If you apply this law to the car and water scenario it means that the energy created by combining the hydrogen and oxygen in the combustion chamber of your car will be equal to the energy it took to create the hydrogen and and oxygen mixture through the electrolysis of the water.

So let's examine how this applies in this case...

I want my car to cruise along at 60mph and use 40% less fuel.

If it takes 9 kw of power to run the car at that speed then you will have to replace 40% of that with your hydrogen/oxygen mixture, amounting to 3.6 Kw.

This means that your installed water powered car kit will have to produce 3,600 watts.

But wait a minute – what about the efficiency of our engine – the average internal combustion engine is about 25-30% efficient. Let's say 30% which means that you will need to input 10,800 watts or 10.8 Kw in order to end up with the required 3.6 Kw.

In your car all you have is a battery and an alternator as your sources of power for your purchased kit.

The battery is 12v and the alternator will, in most cars operate at around 70 amperes.

Let's also assume 100% efficiency of the electrolytic process. (not possible really, but humor me!)

The power for the electrolysis is having to come from the 12 volt battery and the alternator and this means you would need to draw 900 amps to get 10,800 watts. A battery rated at 40 amp-hr would go flat pretty quickly! The wires in your kit might not look too healthy either!

Bear in mind that this has to be a continuous process (not once-off) because you want your car to be cruising along at a constant speed. There is no way the alternator can keep up with the demand for current, given its relatively low rating and the fact that it also has to power other parts of the vehicle's operations as well.

Do you see the problem here? It's not possible to create the amount of energy needed using only the alternator and battery of your car. Even if the hydrogen-oxygen mixture increases your engine efficiency – there is some evidence that this may be the case – it will only change the requirements by 15% at the most, but it will still remain an impossibility.

Not convinced?

Here's another reason why the water powered car kit doesn't work

Another way of looking at the issue is the amount of hydrogen/oxygen mixture that can be produced by your electrolysis kit. One of the kits they have for sale through Water4Gas uses a 1 liter reservoir which they claim will produce 800 mls/min or 4.8 liters per hour, drawing a 12 amperes current.

Yes, it will produce a small quantity of hydrogen-oxygen mixture but nowhere near enough to give you what you need to achieve 40% fuel economy.

In order to examine this more closely, we need to familiarize ourselves with Faraday's First Law of Electrolysis which is expressed as follows:

V = R* I* T* t/F*p*z


V= volume of gas produced in liters R= ideal gas constant = 0.0820577(liters*atmos/mol*K) I = current in amperes T = temperature in °Kelvin t = time in seconds F = Faraday's constant = 96485.31 p = pressure measured in atmospheres z = number of excess electrons (2 for hydrogen & 4 for oxygen)

Now let's apply it by running our electrolysis for one hour drawing 12 amperes and at 25°C (298.15°K) and sea level (1 atmosphere)

The total amount of hydrogen-oxygen mixture produced will be the sum of the hydrogen and oxygen produced.

For hydrogen the calculation is as follows

V = 0.0820577*12*298.15*3600/96485.31*2*1 = 5.01 liters

For oxygen it is:

V = 0.0820577*12*298.15*3600/96485.31*4*1 = 2.5 liters

Therefore total volume of oxygen-hydrogen mixture produced is 7.5 liters per hour.

The water powered car kit I looked at claimed to produce 4.8 liters per hour of hydrogen-oxygen mixture from 1 liter of water, drawing a current of 12 amperes. This sounds about right given that the electrolysis process is not 100% efficient. In this case it's showing up as 64% efficient.

So is this 4.8 liters per hour going to make any difference to the vehicle's fuel consumption?

Very little I'm afraid. Let me refer you to a piece of research that was done to examine the effect of hydrogen & oxygen on engine performance. The research results were presented at the FISITA WORLD AUTOMOTIVE CONGRESS, BARCELONA 2004. You can read it by visiting Barcelona Congress In summary, the research showed that for a diesel engine operating at 1500 rpm and 6.5 HP , the addition of the hydrogen-oxygen gas resulted in a 15% improvement in performance. However the required rate of flow of the gaseous mixture was 240 liters per minute.

Again, can you see the problem? The 4.8 liters per hour suddenly looks woefully inadequate. Any difference to fuel economy would be negligible.

To return to our original example of 12HP at 60 mph, my car was showing 1800 rpm. Therefore the hydrogen-oxygen mixture flow would need to be proportionately greater than 240 liters/minute. To generate that amount of flow from the battery and alternator and & 1 liter of water is impossible.

But I hear you saying – “what about all the glowing testimonials I've read on websites?”

Well, to put it bluntly, “take them with a pinch of salt!” You will find that many of them are affiliates of the original site selling the device and they are also trying to make a sale.

The other point worth noting is that those who purchase such water powered car devices and install them in their vehicles then unconsciously change their driving habits and believe that any improvement in economy is due to the device.

Furthermore, people often make all sorts of other adjustments in the process of installing the kit and testing it out and some of those adjustments may result in increased fuel economy.

The only thing you should believe is when dynamometer testing,with all the variables taken into account, reveals that the device does exactly what is claimed. If that ever happens then it will be a world-wide announcement about how the First Law of Thermodynamics has been conquered. And every car maker world-wide will be producing them as fast as they can.

If I install the water powered car system, could it do any harm?

Yes, it could.

Unfortunately, people who install these systems often adjust or disable the oxygen sensor in their engine which “fools” your car's computer system into running “lean” and if you do that for any extended period of time you will damage parts of your engine such as piston crowns and damaged valves.

Its best to follow the consumer advice from the Federal Trade Commission in relation to gas-saving devices.

FTC Consumer Advice

Is There Any Future For Such Devices?

When we look at the wider issues a number of possibilities emerge:

If you had an external energy source to power your electrolysis unit then it may be possible to develop a workable system that produces good fuel economy. For example a solar panel(s) might be an option. It might not work all the time, but is certainly worth investigating. Without an external energy source it simply isn't possible!

The use of hydrogen as a fuel is already well researched and research is continuing. Therefore it's only a matter of time before we have the widespread use of cars powered using hydrogen technologies. For further information about this visit our Hydrogen page.

Return From Water Powered Car To Home Page

Have A Question About Alternate Fuels?

It's simple - go directly to our Energy Questions page

Sign up for our FREE E-Course on alternative energy sources for your home and receive our Alternative Energy Primer - a great resource for the whole family.