Debunking Hydrogen Injection Kits With Dr. Jeremy Worm
Hydrogen injection kits that claim to be able to improve your pickup’s fuel mileage just won’t seem to go away. Regardless of how implausible the advertisements for these products might be – after all, if it were really possible to boost fuel economy by 20 percent, wouldn’t hydrogen kits be standard equipment on all new cars? – the industry that builds and sells them keeps rolling along, preying on the general public’s incomplete understanding of the science behind this kind of technology.
To help settle things once and for all, Tundra Headquarters was able to arrange an interview with Dr. Jeremy Worm from the Advanced I.C. Engines Laboratory at Michigan Technological University. Dr. Worm is an engineer with extensive experience in the field of internal combustion engines, and he was gracious enough to answer all of our questions regarding hydrogen injection kits.
One of the first things we asked Dr. Worm was whether there was any theoretical validity to the claims that injecting hydrogen gas into your engine’s intake would increase its overall efficiency. Jeremy’s response was quite detailed as he walked us through the potential benefits of using hydrogen gas in an commercial automobile engine.
First, he said that due to its fast burn rate, doping gasoline with hydrogen could help bring a motor closer to its theoretical instantaneous burn rate. Hydrogen also increases knock tolerance for an engine, and can allow it to run leaner. Then he added the caveat the essentially derails the entire marketing campaign behind hydrogen injection kits: in order to take advantage of any of these theoretical benefits, a motor must be designed to incorporate hydrogen injection from the start, or have been significantly modified to take into account what hydrogen injection brings to the table.
in order to take advantage of any of these theoretical benefits, a motor must be designed to incorporate hydrogen injection from the start, or have been significantly modified to take into account what hydrogen injection brings to the table.
Dr. Worm also shot down the idea that spraying hydrogen into a vehicle’s intake would introduce a ‘cooling effect’ in the engine that would further contribute to its efficiency. He said that while there are some substances, such as methanol, that provide a cooling effect when injected, this benefit stems from the vaporization of a liquid into a gas. Given that hydrogen is already gaseous, it’s not capable of providing the same results.
Finally, Jeremy touched on the subject of how one would create the hydrogen needed to inject into the engine in the first place. Most kits use a form of electrolysis to break water down into its oxygen and hydrogen components, with the electricity used to power this process tapped from the vehicle’s own alternator.
When including all of the energy conversion losses – fuel conversion into mechanical energy, then mechanical energy to the alternator via a belt where it is turn into electrical energy, then transforming that electrical energy into chemical energy via electrolysis, and ultimately feeding the chemical energy back into the engine – a significant amount of energy loss has occurred. This is because each conversion requires paying a penalty in terms of the amount of energy being transferred. Adding up all of those penalties, in the opinion of Dr. Worm, outweighs any theoretical efficiency benefits imparted by the hydrogen injection.
So there you have it – an expert on internal combustion engines carefully deconstructs the science behind commercially-available hydrogen injection kits. We caution all of our readers not to be swayed by the mountain of internet marketing that surrounds this particular brand of automotive snake oil. Incidentally, if any hydrogen injection kit manufacturers are willing to send their product to Dr. Jeremy Worm in Michigan he would be happy to provide an impartial, third-party test of any claims associated with the technology.
Filed Under: Auto News