Water Power


Run your car or bakkie on water with a HHO or HHOO generator.

Home Up Contents Information Archive A Basic Cell

January 2010

You may e-mail me at john@hydroxypower.co.za with questions, suggestions or if you can help in any way.

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14 January 2010                                            

I have been testing many, many designs and plate configurations since my last update. I have re-visited old designs and generally experimented, experimented and then some more.

In between I have also investigated how to get around the MAP sensor. In this regard I have found a very informative article (http://www.go.jeep-xj.info/HowtoMAPsensor.htm). I still need to get these components and try this remedy. Because I don't have access to any analytical machines to test CO emissions I am reluctant to just jump in!

I think that once my HHOO generator is installed I will probably first try to run my new setup for as long as possible to give the MAP sensor time to (hopefully) adjust itself.

With my recent bench tests there are 2 aspects that I have been concentrating on as far as design is concerned:

Some designs produce reasonable amounts of gas, but then they also generate reasonable amounts of gunk which not only foul the electrolyte but it coats the plates! Eventually this diminishes the ability of the plates to generate gas.

Other designs result in clean, clear electrolyte and no gunk on the plates - but with little gas being produced.

I have been concentrating on 2 design configurations for the last while, neither of which do not produce gunk. Keeping in mind that I am mixing the KOH in ordinary tap water!

The first one is an 8 plate setup:

The second one is 12 plates arranged a la Bryan Martin but according to Eddie Batista's HHOO principle.

My present pc power supply which I use for bench testing only pushes 9,4 volts to the cell. When I previously connected other cells to the car battery I got 2 different voltages depending on whether the engine was running or not. I have not run this last cell from the car's power system yet. I am keen to see how it performs at higher (20 - 30) amps.

I am still looking for a dc to dc converter, where I can select a voltage from 5v up to 12v, and where I can also select the amperage (up to 30amps or more). The boys in the USA are doing it in their living rooms -  why can't we do it in SA? There cannot be any rocket science to it if ordinary common-garden tinkerers overseas are getting it right! Ditto for PWM controllers. I get cross when our "fundis" say that it cannot be done, all the while when it is being successfully done by unqualified persons in other backyards.

Nou ja...

Here is the intercooler which I have been testing with many of the designs. It works very well. Inside the fibreglass case is 10m of the yellow-striped black tubing you see here. It is coiled (about 24 coils) to neatly fit inside. The tubing is 5mm id, they didn't have anything else at the time (I would have preferred 6mm). The capacity is 6,8 litres, but with the tubing inside it probably only holds about 6,5 litres of coolant (tap water) - which is still enough to do the job.

I have incorporated a second port at the base of the container to facilitate quick draining and refilling on the road. The idea is that at a stop along the road, if the coolant (ordinary tap water) is hot, then it can easily be drained and the container refilled with cold water. Oulik n?

I found that with the electrolyte staying cool (through the intercooler) the gas production is curbed. At a similar amperage I have found that the electrolyte at 45 - 50c results in more gas. The intercooler keeps the temperature (when running at 5 - 7amps for over 3 hours) below 40c. It eventually moves up to 40c plus. However, when running at 20 - 30 amps I expect that the temperature will increase quickly. 

I have resigned myself to the fact that the whole system will have to be installed in the boot. I have a plastic tray that it all stands in, but I think I will get one of those plastic storage boxes rather than use a shallow tray. The biggest schlep will be to run the gas line and the positive cable from the boot, under the car, to the front into the engine compartment. Nou ja...

Here is the website of someone else who is following Eddie Batista's HHOO design: http://rebels-roost.blogspot.com/. Good for you Rebel!

Over the festive season we went to visit the grandchildren in Jozi. I decided not to run any hho or hhoo system as I wanted to "get away" completely. I regret the fuel that I could have saved, and also the filthy emissions from the exhaust, but I need to have my full concentration on the job when I do it.

I prepared to connect the whole system up to the car's battery to run some numbers and this is my first observation with everything the same (including the concentration of electrolyte):

                                    off the pc power supply         car battery            car battery with engine running

Amperage                                    9,5a                        19,5a                                       26,8a

Voltage                                        9,4v                        12,3v                                       13,8v

It is apparent that bench testing with my present power supply is not giving me a proper indication of the efficiency of the cells. I need to acquire a second hand alternator and connect it up to a 220v electric motor (to drive the alternator) in order to have a properly controlled setup.

Anyway, I hooked the electrolyser etc. up to the car battery and started the engine. In between taking readings I fed the HHOO into the intake manifold, where I previously had already installed the necessary fitting for the HHOO tube.

Here are the readings:

Time                Litres Per Minute    Amp Draw        Temperature of Electrolyte

16h15                         750ml                   22,4a                                35c

16h45                         800ml                   23,7a                                41c

17h00                         900ml                   23,9a                                42c

17h15                         950ml                   24,4a                                44c  

17h30                         960ml                   24,7a                                46c

18h00                         1litre                     25,1a                                47c

18h15                         1,150liter              26,2a                                48c

At this point I switched the system off, drained the water out the intercooler and refilled it with fresh tap water. I also drained 100ml electrolyte out of the electrolyser because towards the end of the previous run I observed electrolyte starting to bubble out of the HHOO gas-out tube. I have an anti-splash guard in place, so this tells me that the rising temperature caused a lot of electrolyte vapour to be generated, which then tried to vent out through the gas-out tube. Maybe the extra space above the electrolyte level will now help contain the vapour...anghasi...

I then ran the system for a while longer:

Time                Litres Per Minute    Amp Draw        Temperature of Electrolyte

18h30                         1,050litre                  25,9a                                42c

19h00                         1,1litre                      23,5a                                42c

I am quite happy with these results, but the proof is in the pudding. In the boot the temperature will probably rise more quickly due to the lack of airflow.         

In any event, the next step is now to install the system and see how the MAP sensor adjusts.

I am not looking forward to fitting the gas line and positive cable under the car...

15 January 2010                                                                                                 

I did it! The electrolyser is now installed in my car!

The main problem was access with regard to the gas pipe and the positive cable out of the boot and into the engine compartment.

I looked for a spot where the gas tube and positive cable could be routed out of the boot to run under the car to the engine compartment. I couldn't find any suitable place for the exit so I then explored the idea of running the lines through the passenger compartment and this looked to be the better option. I eventually found a plastic plug on the firewall, on the passenger side, which covered a hole which gave access through to the passenger compartment from the engine compartment.

From the boot I ran the tube and cable under the corner of the passenger seat backrest (that side can flip forward) and under the seat. As a matter of interest the cable is 4mm. The other (power) connections are with 3mm cable which is apparently good for 50A, so this one should be more than ample. The tubing is reinforced so it won't kink easily.

The tube and cable then run down the side to the front.

The tube and cable then run under the dash to the passenger side, where they both exit through the firewall.

Here is the scrubber installed in the engine compartment and all the wiring done (as you can see I finished the job in the rain!).

A close-up of the trip switch which I mounted directly onto the battery positive terminal clamp.

Here is the electrolyser and the intercooler mounted in a cardboard box in the boot. I will look out for a suitable plastic container to replace the cardboard one.

I then added another scrubber for extra protection against any electrolyte making its way into the engine. So there is now one scrubber in the boot and one in the engine compartment.

After I connected everything up I turned on the ignition and started the engine. I switched the electrolyser on and...nothing! I quickly checked for a short circuit (the professional way - look for smoke and sniff for burning smells!). I then revisited all my connections: from the on/off switch mounted on the dash, the ammeter which I had re-mounted in the cab, the relay connections and I checked to see whether the trip switch had perhaps tripped - everything looked good.

I then checked the connection from the negative terminal on the electrolyser to where I had bolted the other end of the cable to earth. I used my multi meter and proved that there was no connectivity to the negative, i.e. it was not earthing at all. Much relieved I started to look for another earth point. I eventually found a suitable one: the bolt which holds the safety belt stalks for the passengers in the rear. I was able to make the connection here without any compromise to safety.

Ignition on, engine on, electrolyser switch on and...happiness!! I was a bit nervous that the 2 scrubbers and the length of pipe (about 10 meters) from the electrolyser to the intake manifold might place too much pressure on the system, but when I checked the end which feeds the HHOO to the manifold it was clear that there was no restriction in the gas flow (dankie tog!).

Next problem: to be able to afford putting some petrol in the tank and to run it long enough for the MAP sensor to settle. I came across a site recently in which the author suggests disconnecting the negative cable from the battery for about half an hour to reset the brain box. Here is an extract from the article:

"Have you tried to reset your cars computer? 

Your vehicles' On Board Computer (OBD) or Electronic Control Unit (ECU) has a mind of its' own, and sometimes it helps to completely wipe out the information it has accumulated. If you have installed an hho generator you have installed a major appliance, your computer may not have adjusted well to this new fuel saving devise and is still running off the data stored before the new installation. It's real simple to reset the OBD, just remove the negative cable on your battery, leave it off for a half hour then reconnect. Hopefully this will fix your problem."

While I was busy with the installation of the electrolyser I disconnected the negative cable for about an hour. Hopefully this will help.

Perhaps of interest...

Something that I must mention, and I also noticed this phenomenon before under the same circumstances:

Yesterday when I was running the electrolyser hooked up to the car to get the numbers, I found that afterwards (when the electrolyser was no longer feeding HHOO into the engine) when I started the car to go to town - the engine revved on its own! As if I was hoofing the accelerator and the backing off in quick succession. It did this for about five minutes before settling - with me also hoofing the accelerator in between to try and get it to settle! I put this down to the MAP sensor having a thrombie now being starved of all that extra oxygen. This tells me 2 things: 1 the MAP sensor is working and 2 the addition of HHOO does throw it into a spin!

The cell I am running now is the 12 plate HHOO configuration as in the sketch above. It does not generate any gunk at all. I am glad to say that all the problems that I previously experienced as far as overheating trip switches and electrolyser terminals is now a thing of the past!

I cannot wait to see what the response is now going to be when I hit the road!

17 January 2010                                                                                         

Went to Church twice today and on neither occasion did the engine go through the revving procedure as I experienced before, which seems to support the idea that the resetting of the brain box does the trick.

Although I've altered nothing since the installation, on startup the electrolyser is only pulling 17A, presumably the temperature of the electrolyte is in the 20's (centigrade) as opposed to a startup of 35c as in the last tests. My trips were also short so the temperature would not have any time to go up and therefore the amperage did also not move at all. I have not checked yet to see what the gas output is at this amperage, but I will soon.

I forgot to mention in my previous update that I did a simple test to see whether the injection point of the HHOO by the intake manifold had any suction. I put some spit across the intake pipe and it quickly disappeared into the tube. So, with the suction and also the pressure of gas put out by the electrolyser there is certainly no need for any pumps to get the gas from the electrolyser to the engine.

25 January 2010                                                                                          

I topped the tank up today after having done 167km of mainly town driving, with a few 80km stretches: 6km to the litre!  I usually get 11,something to the litre with this kind of driving - Genugtig! This shows that the MAP sensor is vastly overcompensating for the extra oxygen flowing into the engine... of so iets!

The start-up amperage has settled at 18A and produces 600ml HHOO per minute. I have not driven long enough to give the electrolyte a chance to warm up, which would result in an increased out-put with the increased amperage which goes with the increased temperature. Even with the warm temperatures lately (most days have been in the 30's + very high humidity) the short distances have not allowed the electrolyser to heat up.

Today I decided to up the concentration of the electrolyte in order to increase the start-up amperage and HHOO output. The start-up amperage is now 23A with the production 950ml per minute. I thought of disconnecting the negative lead of the battery to reset the memory of the brain box but I decided at the end to leave the set-up as it is for now. I'll monitor it for a while and maybe reset it at a later stage.

The preliminary results have shown that a MAP sensor voltage adjuster is very necessary in order to cancel out the overcompensation of fuel. I want to build one according to the schematic which I found at http://www.go.jeep-xj.info/HowtoMAPsensor.htm.

The only problem is that the colours of the wires on my MAP sensor differ to those in this web link. My wires are  numbered:

1.    Brown (white stripe)

2.    Grey (white stripe)

3.    White (yellow stripe)

4.    Yellow (blue stripe)

If I understand it correctly then I only need to find which is the wire supplying the variable 5v signal and then this is the one which will be wired into the voltage adjuster.

 Nou ja...

30 January 2010

We made a round trip yesterday to Hillcrest, Durban, Toti and back to Oslo Beach. The day was relatively cool with rain later in the day, so I ran the aircon only sporadically and the electrolyser was on the whole time. Before we departed I checked the system out: @21A it was pushing 900ml per minute.

The first 284,9km: the first 105km of this was all town driving here at home. The next 100km was on the open road and the balance (about 80km) was town again. Consumption? A measly 11,18km/l. The next 173,6km was all open road and then the consumption rose to 11,72km/l. Still no where near what I'd hoped for! The whole journey I was so positive for at least a 18 - 20km/l result because even when the aircon was on fullball the car pulled with a lot of extra oomph - which comes from a good injection of HHOO. Up to the end of the journey the amperage had only climbed to 23A.

But this story has a sorry ending. During the trip from Hillcrest, about 30km before Toti, the ammeter suddenly showed no reading. At Toti I opened the boot and noticed that the earth cable was no longer attached to it's mounting lug on the electrolyser. Neither was the wire for the electrolyte pump. I presumed that shoddy soldering on these 2 lugs was perhaps to blame. I pinched these 2 wires under the lugs by tightening the wing nut, thinking that this should at least hold until I could effect proper repairs at home. Ja boet...

About 40km before home (on the freeway) we heard a sound like a tire deflating when the valve is suddenly removed. We were passing a lot of traffic at the time and presumed that the sound probably came from one of the other vehicles. However, my wife soon remarked that she could smell "something like plastic" burning. All my gauges looked fine and the ammeter still read 23A. But I decided to rather switch the electrolyser off and wait until we got home to investigate what the source of the smell was.

And this was it (from the outside):

There was a hole burnt through by the negative terminal bolt. The view from the inside of the lid (after removing the connecting strap to the cell).

Another view showing daylight on the other side.

The heat had melted the casing and obviously at a point when the pressure could no longer be contained it blew through the melting plastic, hence the sound we heard.

The cause? When I removed the strap holding the cell to the negative terminal, the nut was not as tight as it should have been and I also saw that there was no spring washer under the nut. The strap to the positive terminal was still nicely secure with it's spring washer.

Conclusion: The nut on the negative terminal had worked its way loose from the vibrations (remember the electrolyser pump mounted on the lid adds to this) - because I had forgotten to secure it with a spring washer! As a result of the loose contact, the resistance on this contact point increased. The resultant heat caused the solder to soften until the wires parted company with the lugs.

The lesson learnt? Soldering important joints like the power cables is good, but not good enough when something goes wrong. So, crimp also! My homemade jobs just didn't come up to muster!

The redone negative connecting lug (this is on 3mm cable).

The redone positive connecting lug (this is on 4mm cable).

I am happy that even though I am using ordinary tap water to mix the KOH in, there is absolutely no discolouration in the electrolyte nor on the plates.

Here is the cell showing the configuration that I have been running. The spacing between the plates in each set is approximately 3mm. The gap between the sets is about 8mm. I use 8mm bolts and 13mm nuts (thickness 6mm). The connecting straps are bolted onto the cell with spring washers to ensure that the assembly doesn't work loose and end up hanging skew in the container.

When I had re-assembled the whole system I ran the electrolyser and adjusted the electrolyte concentration (I had washed the container out and refilled it with fresh tap water), so that it was drawing just over 23A.

I did take close-ups of the repair but unfortunately I had already re-assembled the electrolyser when I saw that the shots were blurry!


When I tried to measure the gas output I couldn't get any results. To measure the gas flow, I removed the pipe to the intake manifold from the second scrubber and connected another longer pipe to it, which then goes into a bucket of water with the measuring bottle. Well, no bubbles were coming out of the pipe in the bucket of water. Yet there was plenty of bubbling action in the first as well as the second scrubber. If I put the end of the pipe just under the surface of the water there were bubbles, but 5cm down nothing would come out! This meant that there was a leak somewhere, and it could only be at the second scrubber. I confirmed this by removing the scrubber and submerging it under water, blocking the output and then blowing into the input side. Plenty of bubbles from around the lid!. Try as I might with silicone, I could not get it to seal.

The errant scrubber. After re-siliconing the lid I also tried fastening the tabs down with wire to try to make a better seal, but to no avail.

I decided to forego the second scrubber for now, but only until I can find a better one. I believe in having 2 scrubbers to try to remove any contaminants from the gas before it goes into the engine.

I don't believe that the leak would have diminished the amount of gas going into the engine as it was only under pressure that the problem would arise. Also, the slight suction at the intake manifold would aid the gas flow, so there were essentially no restrictions from the last bubbler to the engine.

I spoke to a technician at a local Audi and VW authorised workshop. He told me that what I was told is the MAP sensor, they called the "air intake pressure sensor". He said that he would check on their computer to try and find out which of the four wires was the one which carried the variable 5v signal. I'm waiting...

Exciting news! While we were in Durbs I went to an electronics components supplier and bought what I needed to build the voltage adjuster! I'll buzz the technician on Monday and find out if he has had any luck finding the information, else I'll try each of the 4 wires until I find one in the low to 5v range. In any event I'll build the contraption in the meantime this weekend!

The increased volume of gas into the engine improved the power and consumption, but it is apparent that the sensor must be manipulated as the mileage is still far under what I got before the electrolyser was fitted! My normal town driving (no electrolyser) gives just over 11km per litre and the open road just over 14km per litre - all with the aircon on full.

I have noticed that even though I am getting poor results at the moment, there is a very noticeable difference in the fumes coming from out of the exhaust. It was only when the engine was idling without the electrolyser and I happened to go to the boot to retrieve something when I noticed the smell! I have become accustomed to the absence of the usual noxious exhaust fumes, which are very strong if you are no longer used to them! It just shows how we become conditioned to what the car manufacturers foist upon us, this slow agonising death!

We have become the proverbial frog in a pot of water on the stove: as the water heats up we become conditioned to the situation until we boil to death - without knowing that we are dying!

I've just used all of my bandwidth for the month, so I don't have any internet connectivity at the moment. I can only upload this update tomorrow at midnight.


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