Hacked Gadgets Forum

January 26, 2009

DIY Simple Hydrogen Generator

at 7:01 am. Filed under DIY Hacks, Electronic Hacks


Green Power Science has made a simple DIY Hydrogen Generator. The thought was that it would be run from the alternator in your car and the Hydrogen would be pumped into the engine for combustion. I am no expert but I think the energy used to create the gas would be much greater than the energy that would be produced when burning the gas. What would be interesting though is to have a large scale hydrogen generator in your garage running from solar energy and a means of using it in your car.

CAUTION – Before attempting this experiment please read comment 4 since it could be hazardous to your health if not performed with some precautions.


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52 Responses to “DIY Simple Hydrogen Generator”

  1. Seth Johnson Says:

    The energy needed to create the hydrogen can never be less than the energy given off by burning it. This could at best act as a sort of battery, but real-life inefficiencies would make this utterly useless. It would be far better to cut out the middle man and just run your car with an electric motor.

  2. Killbox Says:

    Its true the the laws of conservation of energy and thermal dynamics indicate you are less likely to get any sort of mileage boost, but there are people who have been doing on vehicle hydrogen generating as a form of booster, sorta like Nitrous(except for the fact nitrous is an oxidizer not a fuel, where as the hydrogen is uses as a fuel supplement

    My dad has been looking for some time for plans for a 110v hydrogen/oxygen plant that is home buildable, he has the idea that while its in-efficient, it would be cool to be able to make oxyhydrogen cutting torch that does not involve serious containment bottles (because it would be designed to generate as needed and only when plugged in.

    Unfortunately the field is full of crackpots with browns gas and hho snakeoil.

  3. Michael Kohne Says:

    You don’t have to be an expert. If creating hydrogen on board the car (using the car’s engine as a power source) could get you more power than you put into it, you’d have a perpetual motion machine (because, of course, the byproduct of hydrogen condition is just the water you started with).

    Try to remember folks: There’s no such things as perpetual motion.

  4. Killbox Says:

    Wow just finished watching and I really hope hes not drinking that water.

    the orange water contains chromates from the stainless steel, known too cause cancer!!!


  5. Alex Says:

    An over unity machine( perpetuum mobile ) requires an efficienci of over 100%, impossible because of friction, the law of energy conservation,
    poor energy storage devices.
    But if we eliminate all of theese criterias, you still couldn’t get a 110% or so machine.
    We haave more chances of stopping the sun frm blowing up in 5000 000 000 years from now than creating an over unity machine.
    Watch MYTHBUSTERS, that episode with free energy.
    I love those guys.

  6. Alex Says:

    cool stuff with the electrolisis page,
    cool link.

  7. Brian Says:

    I did this when I was a kid, and not smart enough to know the hazards of using salt to increase the conductance of the water. The sodium from the salt precipitates (plating the metal) and the chlorine combines and is released as a gas. Chlorine gas is dangerous because it is a poison and heavier than air. If you are going to use salt you should do this in a well ventilated area. A better recommendation would be to use something besides salt to ionize the water.

  8. Alan Parekh Says:

    Thanks for the comment and link Killbox. The trailer frame rust removal process was interesting http://www.antique-engines.com/trailer-electrolysis.htm

    I will send an email to the creator of the video to make sure he reads your concerns and is not putting himself at risk (or others who watch the video).

  9. Brandon Says:

    Added on to comment 4. I have not watched the video, but I’ve done experiments with hydrogen before, making some nice pops with a car battery charger, some water, and a lighter. If the video says to add salt to the mixture to make it more conductive, be careful, as the reaction WILL produce more hydrogen and oxygen due to the higher conductivity, but will also produce chlorine, which we all know, is deadly when breathed. Be sure, if using salt to increase conductivity, to always take proper precautions. (Ventilation, etc.)

  10. Berni Says:

    Yes using salt is not a good idea because just like water salt falls a part in electrolysis too and both sodium and chlorine gas are poisonous elements. And the water turns orange because of sodium

  11. Science DIY - How to Make a Simple Hydrogen Generator! | zedomax.com - The DIY, HOW TO, Hacks, Gadgets, and Tech Blog/Search Engine! Says:

    [...] via hackedgadgets [...]

  12. Dual Monitor Says:

    I experimented with something very similar recently. Several companies are using water electrolysis to make hydrogen engines now! It’s all very exciting!

  13. Kabuki Says:

    Certainly, the best way to store energy would be in batteries… But this is something that a person could build and retrofit an existing gasoline burning vehicle with. The advantages are realised when you take in to account the very positive effects of burning hydrogen on the engine emissions. Particularly for anything built prior to about 1998. There is a marked decrease in fuel use, and corresponding decrease in harmful exhaust byproducts. The other advantage is that there is generally a surplus of electrical energy being generated by an automobile’s alternator, which cannot otherwise be stored for later use. The best way to get any similar effect is to reduce actual fuel use by adding in the hydrogen.

  14. H2 researcher Says:

    Ok, whoever thinks this is an overunity device is a nutter. This can make the engine produce enough extra energy to overcome the energy lost in the production of the hydrogen without breaking the laws of thermodynamics. Why? Because all this does is make the petrol that goes into the engine anyway burn more compleatly, thus raising the effeciency of the engine slightly. More power, less fuel used, cleaner emissions, no overunity. This has been proved many times before.

    The orange/brown scum is not sodium. It’s Iron and other impurities comming out of the electrodes during the initial conditioning phase. These will clear up over time with repeated flushes of the cell.

    Yes Cl will be evolved for a time if you use NaCl as the electrolyte. But it will stop eventually. Also the Na will combine with the water to form NaOH a.k.a. caustic soda a.k.a. sodium hydroxide. This is a great electrolyte.

    Precipitating metal and plating metal is not the same thing. Sodium cannot remain in it’s mettalic state in the presence of water. It will also not precipitate either as I said above it will form NaOH which is readly absorbable in water.

    You do not use things like salt to ionise the water. You use a little thing called electricty to do that. What salt (NaCl) does is simply lower the electrical resistance of the water allowing more current to flow.

    Anyway, this cell is a rather ineffecient one. It reminds me of a Joe Cell which is just a load of pot smoking hippie crap. If you’ve ever been to Byron Bay you will know what I mean.
    The gap between the electrodes are way too big and are uneven and there is not enough of them. If anyone is going to have a crack at making a booster or any hydrogen generator, I would suggest trying to make a Smacks booster. Nice and easy and cheap.

  15. Haku Says:

    I thought I recognized that guy, I remember last year searching for DIY solar panels and saw another video of his “DIY SOLAR POWER SOLAR PANEL PV…” but the video was him just mucking about with 3 shop-bought panels bolted onto what looks to be a pre-made stand, whereas I was searching for almost fully DIY solar panels where you solder the 1/3mm thick cells together yourself and mount them in a frame (because I bought 80 2watt cells to make my own panel), and this hydrogen generator video has the same kind of vibe to it; “let’s connect a battery to two bits of metal in some water and see what happens…”
    I used to turn water into hydrogen/oxygen when I was a kid, using my 12v LEGO transformer hooked up to some big nails! had fun collecting the gas in test tubes, corking it and ignighting it when I wanted to for the POP sound.

  16. treefrogjohnson09 Says:

    “What would be interesting though is to have a large scale hydrogen generator in your garage running from solar energy and a means of using it in your car.”

    It has been done. I think I saw it on the Discovery Channel or Science Channel, possibly on the show “Beyond Tomorrow”. A guy setup a small building with a solar panel that collected the energy needed to split the water to extract hydrogen. He then had the hydrogen stored in his backyard in about 5 or 6 tanks -likely more- (the size of a typical home propane tank) lined up nice and neatly. He filled a tank/generator in the trunk of his car and ran off of home-brew hydrogen. The guy looked like he had a good bit of money and time laying around- probably from not blowing it all on gas :D haha I wish I could find that and look it up in more detail. For now it sits in my memory and reruns, unless someone else knows what I’m talking about.

  17. Mr. Maigo Says:

    Isn’t this kinda the plan for hydrogen cars? You don’t do the electrolysis in the car… you do it with lots of solar power at the gas station.

  18. Not an expert Says:

    Electrolysis isn’t the plan at all. There are more ways to produce hydrogen. Not only from renewables but also from fossil fuels. And then you won’t have to use an energy conversion with a heat based operation but a conversion based on chemical processes. This can boost efficiencies far higher, a fuel cell running on H2 can have efficiencies of 60+ percent where an internal combustion engine only manages 25-30 percent

  19. kram Says:

    This is obviously not something capable of breaking any laws of thermodynamics, and would be snake oil if not for one piece of information: once your battery is charged, your alternator puts out more power than your onboard electronics (generally) can use and is wasted. I would say this is more like harvesting that lost power into a more useable form, rather than a claim to perpetual motion.

  20. Alex Says:

    You could also use vinegar to lower the resistance of water, and it doesn’t release Chlorine gas.

  21. Alex Says:

    mix in some detergent in the H2 part and wait, you should get a big rizing coloumn of bubbles which contain hidrogen.
    Donot light it up, it burns very fast and violent, it blows up very powerfully so light it up wi an electronic rocket igniter.

  22. Elbarfo Says:

    Looks like a failed attempt at a Joe Cell to me.

  23. Ben H Says:

    Hydrogen does not have nearly the energy potential for simple burning as other fuel sources. The more useful way to gain energy from H2 + O2 reaction is to use a fuel cell. As electrons try to pass between the two elements, they must first travel through the fuel cell which takes away some of that energy.

  24. keith .h Says:

    uuum just wondering what if you attach a neon sign transformer?

  25. killbox Says:

    keith .h: waste energy.

    high voltage is really not the key to getting hydrogen, and it adds to the possibility of a spark, which is not a good thing,

    more surface area, more amperage, better electrolyte, less resistive electrodes, may all give small improvements, but upping the voltage wont!

  26. Andy Says:

    There are self generating oxy/hydrogen torches used in the jewelry manufacturing industry, required in many commercial buildings where fuel gas cylinders are otherwise prohibited.

    The chemicals used for the chlorine free electrolysis process are available separate from the machine, and using them would eliminate the chlorine gas issue, though the cost of the chemicals (they get depleted) and horsepower loss to generate more electricity (alternator has to work harder) for the electrolysis process may result in greater net operating cost per energy unit than just keeping it simple and sticking to gasoline. After all, there is heat generated and lost as part of the electrolysis process, which means energy is lost as part of the process.

    do a search on “hydroflux welder” for supplies, it is one of several “water torches” on the market.

  27. Navitas Says:

    OMFG! This guy is a hack! He needs to do far more research on chemistry and physics for starters.

  28. RaduJohn Says:

    Guys … I think you never actually used even a Browns gas generator for real. A 6 cylinder car would need 527 liters of HYDROGEN just to idle , when accelerating would need about 1500 liters. Of course it can be obtained … but you would need the back of a van for an electrolyzer to move a Civic. There is still a shitload of research to make it run instant … because BMW has already the modifications , but still hydrogen from a tank.
    WIth a hydrolizer as big as a HomeDepot bucket I barely made idle a TORO lawn mower.
    It works good as a

  29. Willy-Bill Says:

    I have heard pro’s and con’s about the Hydro booster. I can say hydrogen, when compressed (and you do have compression inside of a piston chamber) only requires 1/12 the neccessary liters just to idle. If you were using a five gallon bucket from Home Depot, and you had problems running a lawn mower (I’m assuming Briggs & Stratton), then you seriously did not put your project together correctly. Most of my friends and myself have been mowing lawns using one gallon “bucket hydrolizer” for our fuel sources. The booster idea (not like this video) will work to boost your fuel milage, but no where near the 90% this gentleman boasted.

    My two sense worth, thank you.

  30. handymechanic Says:

    To clear up a huge misconception on this subject that I’ve ran across on several several websites and forums, an alternator in a car has what’s called a regulator. This regulator controls the field coil in the alternator, if the field coil does not have voltage, the alternator does not produce voltage. The field coil takes the place of permanent magnets. Now, with this understanding of how an alternator works, understand this:: when the battery voltage is low, the field coil is turned ON, turning the alternator on, to charge the system, once the system is charged, the field coil is turned OFF, turning the alternator OFF, as to not OVERCHARGE the system, and to decrease the power needed to drive the engine accessories(take the alternator’s field off, the alternator spins more freely due to no magnetic field causing mechanical resistance). In effect, the addition of a HHO generator does not use “waisted power” at ALL, it’s just shortening the life of your alternator, and increasing the overall current needed to run the engine. The real question is this, Does the energy that the Hydrogen that’s produced from the cell when burnt in the engine, that increases the engine’s efficiency, increase the overall efficiency enough to equate the added inefficiency of running the alternator continuously? Something tells me it does not.

  31. Dennis Says:

    It works because you get much more complete combustion. Gasoline engines are only about 29% efficient. The efficiency is much higher as combustion is improved by adding the hydrogen and oxygen gas to it.

  32. mike Says:

    you can,t get somethimg for nothing in a closed system. you need an open system to borrow the energy from.

  33. Jeffrey N Cardot Says:

    i think that The pull on the alternator would cost about 10 hp. This would take more fuel to do. So, would you come out ahead with basically an electric brake on at all times. I’m skeptical.Even a bad battery can cost you fuel economy, because of the drag on the engine by the alternator.But it may be worth a try.

  34. Dennis Says:

    I own a 1997 Dodge 4X4, 318 cu engine. With a hydrogen generator installed the maximum milage I have attained is 23.996 miles per gallon. There may be other factors that could increase the mpg but I have not tried them. The main problem with using a hydrogen generator is the effect the excess O2 has on the O2 sensors. It is a huge problem. I tried many thngs to mitigate this problem but when the truck idles, it stalls. Great to use when running a long distance on the highway but no use around town.

  35. AG2 Says:

    You guys need to look up the definition of perpetual motion. If you think burning water is perpetual motion, then burning gas is perpetual motion. Water is a source of energy just like gas. Many people have been running engines on water/hydrogen for years. Based on my recent research, the effiency (hydrogen production) skyrockets when the proper frequency is applied, which is actually at a very low amperage (less then 1 amp).

  36. killbox Says:

    no matter how low or what frequency some snakeoil doctor decides this week to say works so much more efficiently, you still will never generate 1amp of power out of the hydrogen you spent the 1amp to get in the first place.

    its like trading one dollar for one peso, sure if you really need a peso you do it, but at that exchange rate collecting 12 peos to get back $1 aint a good deal.

  37. Jesse Says:

    Why everyone yells about the Conservation of Energy, Thermodynamics, etc, is confusing to me.

    This does not MAKE Hydrogen!

    If it made Hydrogen, yes, of course, it could not then run on it, and produce enough energy to continue making it, so on, so forth, perpetual motion, over-unity, blah blah.

    But this doesn’t do that!
    It’s separating hydrogen from water, that’s it.
    That in itself takes very little energy, compared to the amount of energy released by burning it!

  38. Kabuki Says:

    Oh, man… Jesse, you are an idiot. Under normal circumstances, you must apply the same amount of energy to break apart the water as would then be released by burning. THAT is the conservation of energy. Before you open your mouth, take a chemistry course in high school. Then take physics. Then you may know not to state utter nonsense in a public forum.

  39. killbox Says:

    “But this doesn’t do that!
    It’s separating hydrogen from water, that’s it.
    That in itself takes very little energy, compared to the amount of energy released by burning it!”

    quite wrong, energy is energy, it takes energy (in the form of electricity) and quite in-efficiently breaks down water int hydrogen and oxygen, taking a guess but I suspect 80% of that electricity gets wasted. Where does that electricity come from? something had to generate it, in this case a car alternator, if you draw one amp of power more, it takes more force to turn that alternator, because its physically harder, the engine has to burn more fuel to do it. and that power conversion ratio is probably also at best 50% efficient.

    So lets just say the car is just sitting there running not even trying to drive, you convert a small amount of that gasoline into a even smaller amount of electricity, then use that electricity to make an even smaller amount of hydrogen, (loosing oodles of that power, in heat and chemical/mechanical/resistance losses) and you think that putting that hydrogen back into that engine is some how going to magically create more power than was lost in all the previous conversions from gasoline? if so i have a bridge to sell you!

  40. Pipoka Says:

    Hi all,
    interesting all the chemistry brains comments. One thing you guys are missing. if you unplug the battery of a diesel engine it won’t stop. this because diesel does not need electricity to run. Its all the other gadgets and controls that use’s electricity from the Alternator. the comment about the coil is almost correct. the problem is that the battery is usually charged at 15v to maintain a charge of 13.8v because of this ht ealternator in fact is always charging the battery or at least keeping it topped up.
    I have tried to build a HHOD system but got stuck with the amount of residual product in the jar. mostly because the stell plates were very dirty. the system worked ok although I have never bothered with the mats to find out if its worth.
    I know that the system was using 10A (meter reading)as I have added a substancial amount of salt having a quite good production.
    I’m considering reactivating this little project to run in my car as soon I can find the solution for the plates. (the bit I am stuck).

    But its nevertheless a healthy argument. ;)

  41. Andy Says:

    I’m going to assume that most of you have some kind of a degree or another. However as a mechanic, the diesels at which you are referring too are fairly old 100% mechanical diesels. Once you start getting into electrical power there are more things involved. Batteries are often used as a buffer for surges in an automotive system. 99.9% automobile will not keep running without a battery. A alternator/Generator will cause a drain on an engine further lowing its efficiency. However, everyone agrees that internal combustion engine used today, is inefficient. Why is that, well because most of the energy released is actually heat… I know obviously, but hear me out. why not try to re-coop that energy. My advise would be with thermoelectric coolers used in reverse on the exhaust system. The would re-coop lost electricity in waste heat. unless you have an engine that does not has hot exhaust? either way i still don’t believe that hydrogen is not an answer, believing that I couldn’t generate enough volume of hydrogen to make a significant difference. With that said, thermoelectric coolers is the only “free” energy I could imagine you getting and that would be via the by product of the engines waste heat. They can also be purchased online for 1 buck the generates 1amp @ 1volt

  42. Kabuki Says:

    Andy, I have seen some other folks developing more mechanical methods of using up that waste heat. In particular Bruce Crower of Crower Cams, who is developing camshafts and intake systems allowing a six stroke engine. The first four strokes are the same as a normal Otto cycle engine, but the fifth and sixth involve water injection and a steam power stroke, followed by a steam exhaust stroke. Sheer genius.

  43. Kabuki Says:

    Oops, for got to post the link. http://www.popsci.com/node/9649

  44. Killbox Says:

    Indeed, one can even water mist enject along with gasoline and alcohol for for a similar effect (was a mod done by some when cars still had a carburetor) which can increase performance and lower exhaust heat and knock. but the trick always has always been the balance, water/air/fuel. The multi stroke system is better because it does not involve possibly wetting the spark and the balance is less critical since for that stroke its just water. Naysayers worry about rust and other problems, but for each gallon of gasoline burned the hydrogen and the oxygen from the air combine to make about 1 gallon of water, which you see come out as steam or dribble on cold days.

    and ethonol in gasoline can absorb water in its self and still burn at dilutions down to about 80proof.

  45. hemminex Says:

    this experiment is a cool little toy, but (pardon my french, you
    are an idiot. If you were to put this in a car and it happened to backfire you would be SERIOUSLY HURT OR EVEN DIE from the resulting explosion. you MUST run check valves on your output line. also, beside the risk of toxic gases, the hydrogen gas has a lower BTU rating than gasoline or diesel; meaning that the molecular structure is less dense.

    these are not exact but the idea is there. you can see that gasoline has more hydrogen atoms than HHO, meaning that there is more energy in the gas. the diesel has even more hydrogen atoms than the gas, thus more energy (and that’s one of the reasons that diesel is more expensive than gasoline).

    / \
    | O Chem. HHO
    \ /

    C C C C C C C C C C C C
    | | | | | | | | | | | |
    C-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-C gasoline
    | | | | | | | | | | | |
    C C C C C C C C C C C C

    C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C
    | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
    C-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-H-C Diesel
    | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
    C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C

  46. Tman Says:

    The world was flat once too, though I agree this won’t accomplish overunity. There are however other ideas around that indeed point to over unity being achievable. Think about this you play on the merry go round as a kid right. how hard was it really to keep it going fast once it was rolling? Its not at all. Bedini circuits help too!

  47. indashade669 Says:

    i have used this numerous times and on my 77 chevy from 5-8mpg to almost 25mpg is a serious help the drain from the alternator is something to be considered but is amde up as the power from you “hydroxy-gas generator” is more than increasing the available horsepower to cancle it out the bs is there but yes use a fuse and a bubbler for tiny higher pressure lines and youll be fine!

  48. Mike Encinger Says:

    Michael Kohne you might want to think that statement over again, the earth has be spinning around its axes for millions of years (perpetual motion) and of course the earth is going around the sun as well for millions of years (perpetual motion) Might be wise to think out of the circle. Never say Never.

    Mike E.

  49. Fuming Solder Says:

    When I was very young and experimented with electrolysis of water, a very small amount of hydroxy mix managed to explode with enough force to scatter the parts of my makeshift lab around the room and numb the palm of my hand (which happened to be in the path of one of the projectiles) for an hour. There was probably only 2 or 3 cubic inches of the mix but the results made me treat it with utmost respect since then. The hydrogen-oxygen mix is NOT a gas to mess with!

  50. ben Says:

    Lisa! In this house we follow the laws of thermodynamics!

  51. steve Says:

    Car alternator lets say 100 amps x 12 volts = 1200 watts 1 hp = 746 watts
    so not even 2 hp @ max output.
    not even considering the ineffeciency of the alternator.
    so you have created less than 2 hp of electricity. And used more than 2 hp worth of gasoline to turn the alternator.
    use that to create hydrogen which is gonna create more than 2 hp of heat energy.
    No way jose! (hose a)

    I would like for him to atomise a teaspoon of gasoline and light it in that rig!

  52. John Says:

    Have read everyone’s comments and got a bit of information from almost all of them the main goal of my research is free energy the big picture is our environment if the car companies really cared we are cars coming out with bigger engines and a handful of 3 cylinder hippie cars with no practical value at all exceptions do exist of course
    I have an old datsun 1982 model only uses power for coil and lights and i believe I can get the reactor to work if you use 2 ss plates rolled up like a coil efficiency must improve just need a plan to keep a gap of 1mm throughout
    my plan is to remove petrol entirely and if one reactor is not enough then 2 or 3 and since the petrol tank will be full of water it makes sense to connect it to cooling system obviously after descaling and no antifreeze and since where i live never really cold this can work for me(south africa)and extra 65 liters of water will never overheat
    feel free to comment as i don’t want to blow myself up
    or my car

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