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Improving Mini Truck Fuel Economy

Discussion in 'Performance' started by Eljordano, Aug 14, 2008.

  1. Eljordano

    Eljordano New Member

    Ok so I was going to do this on my Powerstroke diesel, but now I'm thinking it would be the perfect application for seriously improving the fuel economy of a Supercharged Sambar>> I'm talking to the moon! What I'm thinking of is a hydrogen fuel cell which is pretty much just a plexi container with a neg, a 12v pos and water. One tube on the top takes the hydrogen gas from the water chamber and simply mixes it into the intake.. Older vehicles seem to do better on these units since the computers pertaining to fuel/exhaust ratio are lacking.. thus, no trickery on the vehicles' part. Lots and lots of youtube geared at homemade scenarios (search "water for fuel" or HHO) careful though, lots of advertising crap around this subject.

    Anyone else ever considered going this route with a minitruck? The fuel savings alone would be redonkulous! Not that anyone's breaking the bank already on these mighty machines.

  2. GoFaster

    GoFaster Member

    Forget it. It's BS. Every single one of them.

    I'm serious. The laws of thermodynamics won't allow you to steal power from the electrical system (which increases load on the engine), make hydrogen out of it (a process which has considerable inefficiency if done as you describe), and burn it in the engine (which also has considerable efficiency), and come out ahead of the game. In fact, I will guarantee that you will come out *behind* due to all the thermodynamic inefficiencies.

    The hand-wavers will say "But ... but ... the hydrogen and oxygen somehow increase the combustion efficiency." Ba-loney. Figure out how much hydrogen is being generated and compare that to the amount of air drawn into the engine, and it will be in the parts-per-million range ... too small to ever possibly have any reasonable effect.

    High fuel prices draw out the scammers in droves. Don't be one of the victims.

    If you don't believe me (mechanical engineer - I have knowledge in thermodynamics) and you choose to believe the scammers instead, you are certainly free to purchase and test such a system. Just don't say you weren't warned ...
  3. thefuzz783

    thefuzz783 Member

    It's funny this post just showed up, my father-in-law was just talking about doing this to his 92 suburban. I, of course, laughed the whole time he was talking about it. He got sucked in by all these "true" testimonials on the internet, claiming they doubled their gas mileage.

    He even got suckered into buying a $97 book on how to make the device. He now has all the pieces to make the device and said he is going to be trying to build it soon:)

    I'll let you know how it goes.....:D
  4. Stuff99

    Stuff99 Moderator Staff Member

    bout the closest thing you could do is have it make hydrogen, store it and use it as a quick nos shot, cause it would use it so fast that you wouldn't ever know the difference otherwise.
  5. Mighty Milt

    Mighty Milt Active Member

  6. Eljordano

    Eljordano New Member

    Thanks for the input GoFaster, always room for multiple opinions.. Gripping stuff. I was thinking more along the lines of a tried and tested approach for obvious reasons.. This came to me mainly due to my location, where in Vancouver, numerous cars and city busses presently run comfortably on these systems.


    Although in a best case scenario, hydrogen electric is the wave of the future according to the hydrogen buffs, I'm just a guy who's interested in driving something new and different while doing my best to tackle the choke hold of raising fuel prices.. I thought this thread would spark some intrigue.

    Gorilla Developments

    You're right, the laws of thermodynamics won't allow me to steal power from the electrical system, but a wire and an alternator will.. And as far as the high fuel prices drawing out the scammers in droves, well I probably would've said the same thing to a guy 10 years ago trying to sell me a little pick-up truck with a motorcycle engine and 12" wheels.. but hey, how times change! All the best.
  7. GoFaster

    GoFaster Member

    I don't think you are grasping it. Certainly, you can steal power from the electrical system with an alternator and a wire. But, it will increase load on the engine, which will make it burn MORE fuel. The hydrogen that the device produces is fed to the engine (and unaccounted for in the normal air/fuel metering), but the extra output from the engine from that extra unmetered fuel (and take note of my previous comment - it will only be in the parts-per-million range, so negligible) will not be enough to make up the extra power that the alternator will demand from the engine in order to make that extra electricity that you are stealing.

    Laws imposed by physics and thermodynamics are different from laws imposed by bureaucrats. Laws imposed by bureaucrats can be broken, if you so desire to do so, as they are essentially arbitrary. Laws imposed by physics and thermodynamics ... *cannot* be broken.

    The only reason such systems are not showing a *large* *decrease* in engine efficiency, is that they are limited by the capacity of the alternator to produce only relatively minute amounts of hydrogen and oxygen (compared to the total airflow into the engine). If you increase the size of the alternator to make up for this ... then you will start noticing the worsened thermal efficiency (higher fuel consumption and less power - the exact opposite of what the scammers claim).

    Keep in mind a few things when you see claims being bounced around.

    - The "placebo effect" - Someone went to the effort and expense of installing this gizmo, so they want it to work, so they (subconsciously) change their driving habits in order to show an improvement.

    - Inherent statistical variability associated with driving on the road. Different day, different speed, different traffic pattern, different temperature, different tire pressure, etc.

    - Even dyno tests are not necessarily immune to this. I actually witnessed the tail end of one such dyno test years ago - and I could tell that the test procedure was flawed (presumably in order to bias the result in favor of the gizmo), but the dyno operator went along with it, presumably in the interest of getting paid by the person promoting the gizmo (and paying for the dyno test) ...

    There's nothing thermodynamically impossible about driving a little truck with a motorcycle engine. Nor is there anything thermodynamically impossible about using hydrogen as a fuel for a motor vehicle, in which the hydrogen has been generated someplace else and compressed or liquefied (it may be inadvisable, but it's not impossible). Nor is there anything thermodynamically impossible about making technical modifications to the engine that improve its thermal efficiency. But as soon as you try to do something that has an energy output greater than its input, first-law-of-thermodynamics alarm bells go off.
  8. dmerc

    dmerc Member

    I saw a story about a guy that doubled his mpg's, by passing current thru' water in a Mason jar, and plumbing it into the intake. Went from 10mpg, to 20 mpg.:rolleyes:

    This was a NEWS story!:frustration:

    I have no idea why folks get such enjoyment out of making others look stupid. If we could harness all the energy that sheisters use for get rich quick schemes, we could store it all in a cheap battery pack, and taser the hell outta' them with it!!:D
  9. spaniels1

    spaniels1 New Member

    Smack booster

    These contraptions are the real deal. A good friend of mine is running one on his 3/4 ton ext cab pickup getting 23 mpg. I thought of the same thing, although you would probably want to half-size anything geared toward a full-size car.

    Another friend of mine is running his on an 80s jeep pickup with good results. He reports increased power along with the fuel mileage increase.

    Search YouTube for Smack Booster.

    You can buy the parts for a little more than $100 at just about any hardware store. I'd be interested in hearing what others have to say or have tried with respect to the minis.

    Best wishes!

  10. GoFaster

    GoFaster Member

    I say "bunk" and will continue to do so until I see a peer reviewed technical paper concerning these things.

    How come every single time I have ever heard of anyone doing credible, proper instrumented testing on these things, they have no significant effect (or are counterproductive)?

    If there really is something to this, how come no auto manufacturer in the world, ALL of whom are interested in producing more economical vehicles (subject to conforming to emission standards), produces and installs such a thing as standard equipment?

    It is simply not plausible that a few parts per million of hydrogen and oxygen in the intake air would have ANY effect whatsoever.
  11. gbrad

    gbrad Member

    Hey dmerc,

    We might pass some current through a Mason jar with moonshine in it and see if that helps our mileage.

    Then when the cops stopped us we could say, "Don't tase me bro"
  12. dmerc

    dmerc Member

    Sorry, but I don't believe it. I thought the story, being on a media outlet, was maybe plausible, until he opened the hood of his HUGE truck, and showed a friggin' mason jar (literally)

    Ford and GM are trying to unload trucks, and are both close to bankruptcy. Maybe we should all donate Mason jars to save 'em?:D

    EDIT: I HAVE read all kinds of incredible claims tonight, maybe I'll try making one, just to see what the heck happens!
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2008
  13. Eljordano

    Eljordano New Member

    Holy crap dude... technical papers are just a google away

    http://www.tradingmarkets.com/.site/news/TOP STORY/1765801/

    I agree with you that if the alternator is over-expensing the useage of the hydrogen system then the whole thing would be redundant, but yet the basic theory still remains.. Loads of manufacturers are waiting with baited breath to unleash their hydrogen ideas to the grand market, but we're not seeing these things in our local markets for the same reason that we're importing vehicles from Japan for efficiency... our north american market is harnessed and held back by major third parties... (oil/automotive companies). I don't claim to have all the answers obviously on this subject, but around here (Vancouver and area) it's becoming a really big deal and largely on the high corporate and federal span, thus it must be working!

    Here's the link for the world leader in Hydrogen fuel cells>> Ballard Power, which is based in Vancouver..


    Perhaps you should inform them of your concerns regarding their abuse in the laws thermal dynamics... I'm sure they'd be interested in your insight.
  14. dmerc

    dmerc Member

    I gotta' admit, THIS video REALLY peaked my interest. But, if all this is possible, WHY THE HELL ARE WE WASTING TIME/MONEY, on Ethanol, batteries, oil, etc? Why are they saying that changing gas stations to dispense Hydrogen would be too costly? If this is true, we wouldn't NEED fuel stations?

    My head is about to explode! If it's real, it pisses me off that we've been screwed by big oil, and the car manufacturers for so long. If it's NOT true, I'm pissed cuz I got hornswoggled, and must continue buying gas forever!

    This video is amazing. He uses a superhot torch, yet can touch the tip of it!
    I feel like I'm in the twilight zone....

  15. GoFaster

    GoFaster Member

    fer crissake CHEAP ELECTROLYZERS DO NOT EQUAL FUEL CELLS!! caps intentional.

    Fuel cells take hydrogen (that has been made someplace else and stored) and oxygen, and turns it into water and electricity. This is thermodynamically fine - albeit currently difficult and expensive. All of the links quoted above pertain to this. Ballard is a well known company that makes fuel cells - but they are not involved whatsoever in on-board hydrogen generation and using that as a supplement to a combustion engine!

    Passing current from the alternator through water in a mason jar and sending the produced gas into the engine - THAT is the scheme I (and every other person who knows a shred about thermodynamics) am saying will not accomplish anything.
  16. Eljordano

    Eljordano New Member

    Hey man, I can fully understand that... In the beginning I wasn't meaning to focus on the mason jar idea as much as Hydrogen in general. I just think that with the prices the way they are for gas, would it not be cool to try and power one of these with Hydrogen somehow to gain on fuel economy, and if the technology is getting so good, then how could an individual work by his own means to use this fuel source somehow (even if not with a 12+ and a mason jar)...
  17. spaniels1

    spaniels1 New Member

    I think you have the wrong video...

    No mason jars - it's in PVC.

    It's not Hydrogen - it's referred to as HHO or Hydroxy Gas - two different things.

    I admit, I know nothing about thermodynamics.
    BUT - how then, can you account for a 20% or more increase in fuel mileage...?

    Really - I'm trying to get my arms around this myself.

    All I know is that two very intelligent friends of mine are running variations of SMACK booster. Both see increases in fuel mileage and power.
    Where's the loss? Neither are running new trucks, so we can leave that hype to the wayside.

    I'm not understanding how it can not be an increase. The math seems pretty simple to me. Spend $150 in parts, assemble (cost of time) and connect. Add water, turn on car, use less fuel to go same amount of miles.

    What am I missing...?

    (seriously - not trying to be a smart aleck)...


    As for the bunk - not sure... On altered driving habits sure.
    Still - if you pay $100 to put something on your car that makes you drive different - still a good end result. (laughing).
    I agree - this could very well be the case - a placebo effect.

    I'd like to test it on my wife without her knowing... She drives very calm, and responsible (unlike me).
    Maybe that's what I'll do - put it on her car first!

    Why we can't already be driving a car based on something other than oil for fuel? I wrestle with this thought daily... How can the nation that brought the first atomic weapon to the world, and a host of other life-changing inventions not be able to make a car run on anything other than oil? Money... There's no money in it.
    That's all I can figure.

    One thing is for sure - the plans are free for the booster they are using (and I am building). What's the loss?
    If I install the thing and I go from 19 mpg to 24 mpg - who is really losing here? Me? I think not. I invested a day and $100 in parts.

    I say give it a shot. I think we've all probably blown more than a day and $100 on less (strippers, beer, both).


    Just my $.02 worth...

    Have fun!

    Last edited: Aug 28, 2008
  18. GoFaster

    GoFaster Member

    If you want to go ahead and try it, I'm certainly not going to go find you and beat down your door to stop you. I'm just making sure y'all are informed and can make an informed decision. There are a lot of hucksters out there, and unfortunately PT Barnum's (I think) phrase "there's a sucker born every minute" is all too real ... actually I think he way underestimated the number of suckers. It's sad that the media pay so much attention to hucksters and scant attention to qualified engineers and scientists ... By NO means am I saying that good ideas can only come from engineers and scientists, not at all, but engineers and scientists are supposed to be capable of making informed and dispassionate judgment about technical matters within their area of expertise - even if it is somebody else's idea.

    The placebo effect is real, and it's why (for example) testing pharmaceuticals is always done double-blind ... neither the subject nor the person administering the drugs directly to the subject knows which ones are placebo and which ones are real.

    The improvement of flame speed by using hydrogen in conjunction with other fuels seems to be real, BUT, (1) much more hydrogen is required than any "mason jar" electrolyzer is ever going to be capable of generating to have any noticeable effect, and (2) higher flame speed does not necessarily translate to better engine efficiency ...

    If someone wants to put such a system to instrumented tests, by all means go ahead. You won't be the first to do it. Every one that I'm aware of that did such testing *properly* has found no improvement ...

    I have other ideas to improve fuel consumption - but mine don't violate any laws of thermodynamics, and I'm more realistic in expectations ...
  19. spaniels1

    spaniels1 New Member

    I agree on all accounts


    I agree on all accounts...

    Curious - whatcha got for ideas...? I'm not committed to building mine, but I figured if I could find a source for even some more power easily - that HHO generator might be a good fit. Beyond that - I may port and polish the intake and heads.

    All just ideas...

    Have a good one!

  20. Mighty Milt

    Mighty Milt Active Member

    when i was building engines the best improvement you could make was head work. an engine is just a pump, the more easily you can get the air in and out the more power you will get out of it.

    i spent cubic dollars having my heads worked and reworked to get them to flow with the cam in my drag car, but i've been really interested in using the "extrude hone" method for polishing heads http://www.extrudehone.com/auto/ i saw a write up on them once, pretty simple idea, it's like the play-doh fun factory, but with an abrasive in it... would be great for just taking the rough edges off an intake port, runner and valve guides, you would still have to do some hand work first.
  21. GoFaster

    GoFaster Member

    few random thoughts and things to investigate ...

    Top end is indeed where the power is. Cams, combustion chambers, port shapes, etc.

    Intake and exhaust tuning are what let the cam timing do its job. Most production engines are not particularly sophisticated in this regard, particularly the exhaust system. Often they're designed with emissions, cost, and noise reduction as priorities 1, 2, and 3. Performance is far down the list.

    A good many production 4-valve heads have ports that are too BIG for the RPM range in which the engine operates. You need inertia to get "ram induction" and you need velocity to get inertia, and for that, the cross sectional area has to be in the correct range. Too big kills mid-range and doesn't help top-end. Same thing on both intake and exhaust sides. Too big might give impressive flow bench numbers but doesn't make power in the engine.

    Air/fuel ratio and ignition timing may be set more for emissions than anything else. A wide-band air/fuel ratio gauge and a vacuum gauge are handy tools for fiddling with this.

    A lot of engines run way too rich at full load, in the interest of keeping temperature and detonation under control ... but there are other ways of accomplishing this ...
  22. Mighty Milt

    Mighty Milt Active Member

    i spent a lot of time playing with cam profiles. lift, duration, ratio rockers and lobe centers. finding what translated well from static compression to running compression. how to make power where it's needed. i ran numbers on the strip that were unheard of from an engine my size. i played with rod ratios that seemed ridiulous until you realised how it unloaded the crank at 90* and let the motor run with less friction. every little bit counts.

    a 4 valve cylinder is a great design with the swirl and all that, it's more economical than a power house. there are things you can do to get "cheap power" out of it, yet, at the same time, you are going to lose the economy that has drawn us all to the mighty mini.

    i KNOW proven methods to make HP.. but if that was my only pusuit, i would be driving an old muscle car, like my old caddy with the 472cid and and 850 carb on top... it made tons of horse power, and would pass anything on the road... except a gas station (7mpg, honestly) or i would still be stealing money from the pockets of the teenagers in thier honda v-tecs with my VW



  23. GoFaster

    GoFaster Member

    I wouldn't think it feasible or worthwhile to muck with engine internals on something like this, unless the engine has to come apart anyway for some other reason ... You can spend thousands on custom pistons to do something to the combustion chamber shape, more than you would ever recover even IF you managed to get it more efficient than the factory setup, which is unlikely.

    But set-up-related stuff, like optimizing the ignition timing or the carb jetting, usually is worthwhile, as long as you don't go blowing something up in the process.
  24. Mighty Milt

    Mighty Milt Active Member

    efficiency and performance always leans towards any multiple spark discharge system where it helps ignite fuels tboughout the stroke of the combustion stroke. If these trucks were more common to where mfg knew about them and could be more helpful through an instal I would already have an MSD 6AL in mine for the efficiency and performance. That would be the best bang for the buck without a teardown, but when I blow this motor (and it's just a matter of time) i'll put some stank on it :D
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2008
  25. misterturbo

    misterturbo Member

    I'm an electrical engineer and I have to back GoFaster on everything he said..

    To make a long story short, fundamentally the mason jar scam deal is based on truth. It does split the water into oxygen and hydrogen. I know I can't be the only one who tried this when they were a kid, put battery leads in the water, collect the hydrogen gas and light it with a match and it makes a little pop noise..

    However, the amount generated is too small to do anything.. An engine, even our 660cc engines take in at least 5L of air per second.. That contraption generates maybe 2mL of hydrogen/second. Which is probably the same fraction hydrogen is naturally present in the air. So too dilute to do anything.

    Now if you did this on a larger scale.. Say have huge tanks that take up the bed of your minitruck and stick large metal plates in these tanks and collect the hydrogen, then maybe it might do a little more.. I'm guessing that probably isn't feasible :p

    And HHO isn't a different gas its just Oxygen and Hydrogen mixed together.. ie. you use it in welding, you have one tank putting out Oxygen, and the other tank putting out hydrogen, thats all.
  26. GoFaster

    GoFaster Member

  27. Mighty Milt

    Mighty Milt Active Member

    AHA!! the truth revealed... it works!! i found this on craigslist so we can all rest our weary heads, nothing is fake on craigslist and we all know that! :rolleyes:

  28. Timetripper

    Timetripper Moderator

    Glad to hear we got that settled :D
  29. rontopia

    rontopia New Member

    I have been reading and reading on this subject. I have no idea if it works or not. what I dont understand is how the laws of thermodynamics are broken if you use 6 to 10 amps to produce hho. while its not free energy.. speaking of the alternator.. it is already spining and using energy.. no one and i mean no one is saying that you can run your car totally on hho and have enough energy to produce enough hho to sustain the engine. that is what would violate the first law of thermodynamics.. not using 6 amps off an already spining alternator.

    we can post resumes if you want.. but i assure you this concept is not in violation of any Laws.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2008
  30. GoFaster

    GoFaster Member

    Okay. Time to put some numbers to this.

    10 amps at 12 volts = 120 watts. Let's talk totally in watts from this point on.

    To get 120 watts of electrical power from an alternator whose drive mechanism and internals are about 60% efficient, you stole 200 watts from the crankshaft.

    Now you take that 120 watts of electrical power and put it into an electrolyzer. The simple ones people are proposing are not very efficient but let's be optimistic and call it 50%. So now you have 60 watts of "power" in the form of a stream of uncombined hydrogen and oxygen.

    Now you take that 60 watts and feed it into the engine air intake. The engine is probably 25% efficient under load, worse off load. So out of the 60 watts of chemical energy that you put into the engine, you get back 15 watts of mechanical power ... but you stole 200 watts of mechanical power in the first place to do all this, resulting in a net loss of 185 watts of mechanical power to accomplish NOTHING, a big loop of smoke and mirrors.

    The proponents (hand-wavers) always claim some miraculous improvement in combustion efficiency. Sorry, but the amount of hydrogen represented by that 60 watts of hydrogen and oxygen is minuscule compared to the fuel flow rate.

    Suppose you did this to a 40 hp engine (your mini truck running flat out on the motorway!). That is about 30 kW - 30,000 watts of mechanical power - but the fuel (chemical energy) input is about 120,000 watts in order to do this. Compared to 60 watts of chemical energy in the form of the hydrogen?

    The amount of hydrogen being used in this concept is about half a part in 1000 of the energy content of the fuel. Diddly squat zip zero zilch, in other words. And that's being optimistic about the efficiency of the electrolyzer. Meanwhile, you sucked 185 watts of mechanical power out - a little less than 1% of the engine's power output in this case.

    All of these HHO systems, every single one of them, is a scam and nothing but.
    Colin likes this.

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