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Man credits hydrogen system with fuel savings

Posted November 24, 2008

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— If Fred Tutwiler has his way, Arm & Hammer might be the next Exxon.

Using plans he found on the Internet, he built his own hydrogen-based fuel-boosting system for his 1997 Ford Explorer.

Electricity from the alternator interacts with the baking soda, separating hydrogen and oxygen in the water. The hydrogen gas feeds into the engine, creating combustion with less gasoline.

Tutwiler said he once got 62 mpg on his Explorer, but the emissions system thought something was wrong and increased the amount of fuel it provided to the engine. That brought down his average mileage to about 30 mpg.

“We have serious issues with energy,” Tutwiler said. “I just don’t think we can wait for government and industry and all those guys to finally figure out how they’re going to pull this off.”

Rich Cregar, an alternative fuels technician with Wake Technical Community College’s automotive program, said he has doubts about Tutwiler’s plans.

“I have an open mind, but I remain quite skeptical about it,” he said.

Cregar says scientists and automakers have studied hydrogen-boosting technology over the years.

"We still don't see it in production, which tells me it has issues. It's probably not as good as it seems,” he said.

Some people buy devices to trick their emissions systems into overriding the computers and keeping their extremely high gas mileage. Tampering with an emissions system is illegal, however, Cregar said, and he doesn’t know if a hydrogen-boosted car would pass an emissions inspection.

“I think a lot of people who get an improvement are getting the improvement because they are driving the car differently, because they are trying to get better fuel economy,” Cregar said.

Tutwiler said he believes in his hydrogen plans.

"You know, we have serious issues with energy,” he said. “I just look at it like one person can do one small thing."

Cregar says hydrogen is highly explosive at almost any concentration and can be dangerous for inexperienced people to experiment with.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • senojjones Nov 27, 2008

    fred5 post is a common misconception. True Internal combustion engines are inefficient. But that inefficiency is due to friction and heat lose. Making the gas "burn better" CANNOT increase the efficiency. This stuff is like herbal cancer cures. They make ridiculous claims and then scream conspiracy. There is a ton of money being made and like magnets on gas lines, it's all a scam.
    There is NO Way that you can get 60 mph out of a car that used to get 17, no way. I just don't believe you.

    Aside from that, the level of technical knowledge among some of you is quite good, very refreshing. This scam will blow over, and like magnets on gas lines be left to late night TV ads.

    AS for Ozzie, once a crook, always a crook.

    Oh and you're not adding enough Oxygen to affect the O2 sensor, due the math. There's thousands of liters of oxygen going into an engine in an hour, how much do these guys add. The difference would be less than climbing a mountain.

  • outside_of_apex Nov 25, 2008

    I have to say, after being sceptical, this kind of tinkering shows promise.

    Back in the day, before computers, fuel injection, catalytic converters and PCV valves, there were three crucial things for an internal combustion engine to work (ignoring diesel): air, fire and fuel.

    This fellow's idea is not to replace the fuel (gas) with hydrogen, but rather affect the air by displacing mostly nitrogen with oxygen and hydrogen. Then the combustion of the gas is more efficient meaning less gas is needed for a piston stroke for the same amount of power.

    Side effects seem to be that the engine runs cooler and the exhaust is cleaner, having less oxygen, nitrogen, and CH and CO compounds. For current day cars this affects the O2 sensor that in turn affects the fuel injection computer into thinking the fuel mixture is too lean (ie not enough gas).

    Maybe there is a conspiracy theory working here.

    Hats off

  • unreconstructed1 Nov 25, 2008

    Fred5 ,
    give me a private message and I'll tell you what to do for the computer to stay at the correct settings .

  • unreconstructed1 Nov 25, 2008

    So , determined2win , how many times have you attempted to use an hho generator and failed ??? Or did you just have a friend say it doesn't work ? The only reason I commented on this story was to show that hho works . And I have proof . I really don't have time for professional skeptics , so I'll just leave it at that .

  • yabbadabbadooo Nov 25, 2008



    Add some of these along with the HHO system.

  • GetRight Nov 25, 2008

    jsanders - I agree wholeheartedly.

    American ingenuity is what made us great. Our original form of, and application of, government didn't make us great (as some would have us to believe) it simply allowed us to be creative and therefore become great. This kind of backyard tinkering by inventors was once celebrated. It's as if people think that everything that can be invented has already been invented. Sheesh! Keep working at Fred5. Thomas Edison would be proud of you FOR TRYING!

  • jsanders Nov 25, 2008

    I have no idea whether this idea is feasible, but I find it illustrative of an ongoing process of people seeking new fuel and fuel-efficiency innovations for whatever reason (because it's their job, because it's something they're interested in, because it's a hobby). That's why it is vital to keep government from "picking" the Next Big Fuel Innovation via legislation. I have much more confidence in the wisdom and innovation of guys tinkering in their own garages than I do in legislators making market choices for everyone:

  • GetRight Nov 25, 2008

    "The challenge with hydrogen boosters is not GETTING the mileage up, it's KEEPING it up."

    Have you thought about adding som Viagra to the water to solve this problem? :-D

  • fred5 Nov 25, 2008

    "You must not have watched the episode of mythbusters on this. It does not produce enough hydrogen to make any diff." Patriot1.

    Dang, what am I going to tell my car about that? Oh well, I guess it's a good thing my car doesn't watch "Mythbusters", huh?

    Okay, I'm poking fun at ya'.

    But, just as a clarification, the "Mythbusters" program you mention didn't test "boosters", it tested a conversion kit that has your car run entirely on HHO. I agreed with their assessment, the do-it-yourself version of THAT technology is still very iffy.

    But the technolgy itself is not only viable, it is already being tested by Honda, BMW, Ford and Nissan. All have prototypes that they plan to market within 2 years, and these puppies run on WATER!

    For those who want to debate if water-based hydrogen fuel technology is workable - sorry, that train left the station about 10 years ago. Unfortunately, the Big 3 didn't get on board back then... and look what's happening to them!

  • fred5 Nov 25, 2008

    GetRight - Good questions.

    Milege with no booster - 17.5 mpg.

    Now, the 62 mpg. The challenge with hydrogen boosters is not GETTING the mileage up, it's KEEPING it up. Internal combustion engines are only 25% efficient, thus wasting 75% of the energy in the gas burned. It doesn't take much hydrogen to increase that efficiency, since the HHO is simply acting as an enhancer, not a primary fuel source.

    The low-tech nature of this device relies on an electrolyte (baking soda) to catalyze the electolysis. Easy as heck, but not very precise. Too much HHO and the car's computer will start to manipulate fuel flow. The 62 mpg came from using 1.5 tsp of electrolyte in a quart of water (too much HHO). The 22.5 mpg came from using 1/2 tsp. My current concentration is 3/4 tsp per quart.

    Apparently this concentration produces a level of HHO that doesn't "alarm" the OBD into adding fuel to the combustion chamber. Like I said, low tech - but it works!