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  1. #1
    Senior Member Michigander's Avatar
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    Question about hydrogen powered cars...

    Obviously it wouldn't be possible to just go out and buy one, but what fun would that be anyway?

    I was thinking earlier, I wonder if it would be possible to make my own. I've heard that you can modify engines to run on hydrogen, and I've heard that you can make hydrogen by running electricity through salt water. So it seems to me, it would probably be feasible to make such a car by modifying the engine and intake system, and of course I'd probably want a pretty hefty hydrogen tank of some sort to prevent pulling a hindenburg. Plus I'd have to make my own fuel, and it seems to me I could get DC current from solar panels, but beyond that, I don't know what a "home made hydrogen station" would consist of. I wouldn't have the money to do this for a couple years minimally, but I sure do like the idea, if its feasible.

    Anybody know enough to tell me if this idea is completely stupid? Or maybe if it isn't, a good way it could be done?
    Last edited by Michigander; 05-08-07 at 04:46 PM.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Michigander's Avatar
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    I was looking over ebay, and I found this RC car that runs on Hydrogen. I believe Danno has one like it.



    They also have books that claim to have plans for how to do a conversion yourself. <Skeptical Michigander look>
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  3. #3
    explody pup
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    I don't know if it's a stupid idea or not, and I don't know if running an existing internal combustion engine on hydrogen is operationally feasible. Fuel cells, on the other hand, are possible. Only problem is that they're effing expensive when you scale them up to anything usable. But the electrolysis of water is easy and cheap to pull off.

    Just do a google search for water electrolysis and you'll find plenty of information. You're basically producing O2 and H2. It's pretty inefficient so you're likely never going to produce H2 on a large enough scale for vehicular fuel unless you come up with an idea nobody else has.

    NASA has a "low orbiting satellite" which is essentially a gigantic flying wing with a dozen or so props. The top portion of the wing is a solar cell. During the day a portion of the solar energy powers the props and the other portion electrolyses water. During the night, the H2 produced during the day is used in a fuel cell to power the props. It'll power props on and off depending on how much is needed. I know they had it flying for a long time though I don't know if its still in service. It's a pretty cool experiment, though, and gives a lot of information regarding the limitations you run into when using solar energy to produce H2.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Michigander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by explody pup
    Just do a google search for water electrolysis and you'll find plenty of information. You're basically producing O2 and H2. It's pretty inefficient so you're likely never going to produce H2 on a large enough scale for vehicular fuel unless you come up with an idea nobody else has..
    From what I understand from a PBS program I saw many years ago, hydrogen stations would make the stuff on location. If a H2 station could fill up 500 tanks a day, I would imagine a house covered in solar panels could power one car for 80 miles of driving a day.

    Edit: Per your advice I looked into google. Found out H2 would be made from fossil fuels when made in bulk, because as of yet thats the only efficient way to do it. But still, I'd think a **** load of solar panels should probably do the trick. It doesn't even take too many to power a house.
    Last edited by Michigander; 05-08-07 at 05:18 PM.
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    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michigander
    I was looking over ebay, and I found this RC car that runs on Hydrogen. I believe Danno has one like it.



    They also have books that claim to have plans for how to do a conversion yourself. <Skeptical Michigander look>
    Yeah, I've got that one! Problem is the solar-power takes forever to generate enough H2 to power the car, on the order of 1000:1 charging vs. running times. Using batteries/AC-adaptor to drive the H2 generator is quicker, but that kinda defeats the purpose as the power you put into the system is more than what you extract out of it (the electricity->H2->power conversion isn't 100% efficient in each step).

    I'm not very optimistic on the future of H2 simply for that reason. With gasoline, you've got thousands, millions of years of the sun's rays landing on the earth and getting collected by plants and dinosaurs that died and have been compressed into crude-oil. That's conversion process has been free and time-compressed hugely for us. Not sure how we can get that kind of conversion efficiency if we have to generate H2 from scratch.

    As for converting an existing auto-engine, forget it. There's so many differences in design that you'd have to tear the engine apart and modify it from the piston-rings outwards. Due to teh extreme small size of the H2 molecules, sealing is a major issue. You'd need rings with much, much better sealing than exists at the moment commercially. One idea is oil-less ceramic motors. Without the need for cross-hatching on the cylinders to hold oil, you won't have the massive leaks around the rings.

    Then there's the issue of storage and engine-management. Stoichiometric and burn-rate on H2 is completely different from gasoline, so you'll need to re-program the entire mapping.
    Last edited by DannoXYZ; 05-08-07 at 05:36 PM.

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    If you have a sufficiently old car, and pump the correct mix of hydrogen and oxygen gas into its carburetor, the engine will in fact run without modification from engine speeds of idle to just above idle. This is not to say it is safe to do so, because it is not.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Michigander's Avatar
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    Nah, I don't have any cars with carbs. But if I did have one, it would probably be something along the lines of a bored out 350 LT1 with 2 Holley double pumpers and a twin turbo.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Michigander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannoXYZ
    As for converting an existing auto-engine, forget it. There's so many differences in design that you'd have to tear the engine apart and modify it from the piston-rings outwards. Due to teh extreme small size of the H2 molecules, sealing is a major issue. You'd need rings with much, much better sealing than exists at the moment commercially. One idea is oil-less ceramic motors. Without the need for cross-hatching on the cylinders to hold oil, you won't have the massive leaks around the rings.
    So in other words, the H2 itself could be made, but as for harnessing it, I'm ****ed, at least for the time being.

    Oh well. Maybe I'll have to go back to my idea of home made E85....
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  9. #9
    Administrator Allen's Avatar
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    You can convert a natural gas generator to burn H2. Use that to charge an electric car.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Michigander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AllenG
    You can convert a natural gas generator to burn H2. Use that to charge an electric car.
    Bearing in mind that all the major auto companies bowed down to the **** heads in saudi arabia and the white house and scrapped every electric car they made (many of which outperformed stock Mustangs within their 60-100 mile range), how would I go about doing that? Slap a bunch of prius batteries in a car and use an electric motor?

    Also, if natural gas motors can burn H2, couldn't a regular natural gas car like they have in Ann Arbor Michigan or Kali be made to burn H2?
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  11. #11
    '05 NUEser EJ123's Avatar
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    Lets make cars run off antimatter.

  12. #12
    It is what it is... Minesbroken's Avatar
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    why not just use alchohol and build a still. it would be cheaper and easier...as well as being easier to convert the vehicle. Moonshine car
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  13. #13
    Senior Member Michigander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Minesbroken
    why not just use alchohol and build a still. it would be cheaper and easier...as well as being easier to convert the vehicle. Moonshine car
    Yep, I referenced that earlier. Only thing is you gotta add gasoline before it becomes akieholic so the ATF doesn't come a knockin. Cheaper than gas for sure, but it still pollutes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Weldman
    I'll tell you what, Mich-man, compressed pressurized hydrogen is explosive as hell! We carry a very
    limited amount of it at work (welding supply and compressed industrial gas shop) and it's our most
    tightly-controlled gas. It can ignite violently by merely mixing with air ... that is, by cracking the valve
    on the tank open into the air without a regulator or closed system connected to the tank.
    Remember the Hindenburg? Yeah ... same gas. Whatever you get into, don't screw with compressed hydrogen without getting some real instruction ...
    Mentioned the Hindinberg in my first post too 1 gallon of gas has the energy equivilant to 14 sticks of dynamite. I figure moving a 2 ton vehicle any distance will always require a dangerous amount of energy. And you are right, it must be done in a very controlled manner.
    Last edited by Michigander; 05-08-07 at 07:20 PM.
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  14. #14
    Administrator Allen's Avatar
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    http://www.google.com/search?client=...UTF-8&oe=UTF-8
    There have been homebuilt electric car popping up here and there for years.
    There are several companies that will do conversions now as well.
    And not all electric cars are off the market.
    http://www.google.com/search?client=...UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

  15. #15
    Senior Member Michigander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AllenG
    http://www.google.com/search?client=...UTF-8&oe=UTF-8
    There have been homebuilt electric car popping up here and there for years.
    There are several companies that will do conversions now as well.
    And not all electric cars are off the market.
    http://www.google.com/search?client=...UTF-8&oe=UTF-8
    You know, an electric car covered with solar panels that has a H2 fired generator in the trunk does sound nice. Downright doable even with my limited skills too if its actually that easy to convert the generator. Only question is how to make and store the hydrogen.
    Last edited by Michigander; 05-08-07 at 07:30 PM.
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  16. #16
    It is what it is... Minesbroken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michigander
    Yep, I referenced that earlier. Only thing is you gotta add gasoline before it becomes akieholic so the ATF doesn't come a knockin. Cheaper than gas for sure, but it still pollutes.



    Mentioned the Hindinberg in my first post too 1 gallon of gas has the energy equivilant to 14 sticks of dynamite. I figure moving a 2 ton vehicle any distance will always require a dangerous amount of energy. And you are right, it must be done in a very controlled manner.
    they ran a test on ethynol powered cars in the late 70's and discovered that they run about 99 percent polution free. been reading up on it. whats better than an almost pollution free vehicle with a power supply that you can grow in a field. the very first cars were designed to run on alchohol and peanut oil.
    we went with gasoline because it was cheaper to refine.
    fact is...nobody in the government cares about the environment if it means losing money...they would rather see the earth die and all the people in it than part with one red cent.
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    It is what it is... Minesbroken's Avatar
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    btw...you can run all the safety features you want on that hydrogen powered car...but if you have compressed hydrogen on board and you get into an accident and the tank ruptures....goodbye...
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  18. #18
    Senior Member Michigander's Avatar
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    Minesbroken, are you sure it wouldn't still produce vast quantities of CO2? I don't see how it couldn't.
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    Administrator Allen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michigander
    You know, an electric car covered with solar panels that has a H2 fired generator in the trunk does sound nice. Downright doable even with my limited skills too if its actually that easy to convert the generator. Only question is how to make and store the hydrogen.
    http://hydrogenappliances.com/
    http://www.physorg.com/news87494382.html
    And the wheel motors on this thing: http://www.electrifyingtimes.com/kaz.html are pretty cool. 100 horse power each. Just two on the rear of a most cars would be more than enough.

  20. #20
    It is what it is... Minesbroken's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michigander
    Minesbroken, are you sure it wouldn't still produce vast quantities of CO2? I don't see how it couldn't.
    CO2 isnt the problem....Its the CO you have to watch out for

    plants breathe CO2
    gasoline produces carbon monoxide as a byproduct
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  21. #21
    It is what it is... Minesbroken's Avatar
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    EXHAUST EMISSIONS
    When gasoline is burned in an engine, it produces carbon monoxide and other poisonous fumes ... mostly because of the fact that the fuel never combusts completely, and also because it's subjected to extreme temperatures and pressures. In addition, as we mentioned before, gasoline is a complex mixture of many substances ... and some of those substances are lead, sulfur, and other noxious materials. These, too, add to the contaminative effects of the engine's exhaust fumes.

    Alcohol, on the other hand, burns much cleaner. Even though it, too, never combusts completely, the volume of noxious fumes is drastically reduced in an alcohol-burning engine ... because alcohol contains oxygen in its structure (which means more thorough combustion) but doesn't contain all the other pollutants necessary as additives in gasoline.

    For comparison purposes, MOTHER's researchers ran tests on a 1978 Chevrolet taxicab ... which, operating in New York City, was subject to some of the most stringent pollution controls in the nation. (In order for cabs to be licensed, they must undergo - and pass - four scheduled EPA tests a year for carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons emissions.) Naturally, the taxi that MOTHER's crew tested was a lot less polluting than the average American automobile, but even in perfect tune it just "squeaked by" the tests using gasoline ... registering nearly a 1-1/2% CO and a 200 parts per million HC exhaust content (both just under the legal limit).

    With alcohol fuel, however, the test results improved enormously. Even with all pollution controls removed from the engine (except for the PCV valve), the cab registered a mere 0.08% CO and only 25 PPM of HC ... the equivalent of 95% less CO and 87.5% less HC, or a total of about 92% cleaner!

    you can read about the tests they ran here
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  22. #22
    You Know!? For Kids! jsharr's Avatar
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    Hydrogen powered cars have been around for years. I remember seeing them as a kid. We were poor though and had to run ours on air.

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  23. #23
    riding once again jschen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weldman
    I'll tell you what, Mich-man, compressed pressurized hydrogen is explosive as hell! We carry a very
    limited amount of it at work (welding supply and compressed industrial gas shop) and it's our most
    tightly-controlled gas. It can ignite violently by merely mixing with air ... that is, by cracking the valve
    on the tank open into the air without a regulator or closed system connected to the tank.
    Remember the Hindenburg? Yeah ... same gas. Whatever you get into, don't screw with compressed hydrogen without getting some real instruction ...
    Any compressed gas is dangerous if you don't know what you're doing. ANY compressed gas is a suffocation risk. Well, except for compressed oxygen, which is extremely dangerous for other reasons. A highly experienced lab tech in an infectious disease lab recently died because he entered a biohazard room with a leaking liquid nitrogen tank. (Liquid is an extreme form of cryogenic compression.) The oxygen level was so low thanks to the leaking nitrogen that he is believed to have collapsed unconscious within seconds and then died of suffocation a few minutes later. Ironically, he was entering the room to post warning signs.

    Around our lab, we have compressed hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, oxygen, argon, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, ammonia, among others. Probably could find compressed silicon tetrafloride, phosgene, chlorine, hydrogen chloride, hydrogen bromide, and other nasty stuff if one looks in the right places. Slow leaks in well ventilated spaces of those nasties is the most obvious hazard, but destruction of one of the big tanks of the seemingly "safe" gasses would still potentially suffocate an entire room of people, not to mention send a high velocity missile through the building.
    If you notice this notice then you will notice that this notice is not worth noticing.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Michigander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jschen
    but destruction of one of the big tanks of the seemingly "safe" gasses would still potentially suffocate an entire room of people, not to mention send a high velocity missile through the building.
    Some years before I took the class, my HVAC instructor accidentaly dropped a dry nitrogen tank in the storage room. It took off like you described, and blew the door clear off its hinges.

    Speaking of blowing up, I do drive a mid 90s Crown Victoria. I'd go so far as to say that as far as explosions go, H2 might be a safety upgrade.
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  25. #25
    Tail End Charlie Ritehsedad's Avatar
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    Funny you should mention it. I saw this article on The Truth About Hydrogen in Popular Mechanics. Pretty good article.
    Why isn't 11 pronounced onety one?

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