Water Conversion Kits for Cars

Can You Really Power and Operate a Vehicle on H2O?

Internal combustion engines cannot, and do not, run on straight water, but certain kits exist to convert these engines into hydrogen generators to electrolyze water that’s stored in a small tank under the vehicle’s hood. Basically, electrolyzed water (H20) is transformed into its constituent elemental parts, 2 atoms of hydrogen and 1 atom of oxygen (HHO)—commonly known as Brown’s gas.

At this point, the gas is captured and piped into the engine’s intake manifold, where it mixes with the fuel (and this can be a gasoline or diesel powered engine), to help it burn more efficiently—and the end result should be improved gas mileage and reduced emissions.

An important, but glossed over point is that the engine isn't running on water, and it's not even running solely (or even predominantly) on this newly manufactured Brown's gas. It simply mixes this gas (as a small percentage) with the vehicle's main fuel source. So, you still need to buy fuel—the main fuel tank still needs to be filled with petroleum, which continues to be the main fuel source.

The electricity used to break down the water into Brown’s gas comes from your vehicle’s electrical system (battery and alternator); at the very least, the electrical system will have an additional load to power the hydrogen generator. Of course, this additional load is borne by the engine as it will actually have to work a little bit harder—and use more fuel—to drive the electricity-producing alternator.

Benefits of Hydrogen Generator Conversions

Purveyors of these conversion kits claim a 15 to 20 percent increase in fuel economy, and while that may be true, it probably varies tremendously from vehicle to vehicle and installation to installation.

Something to keep in mind is that modern engines are designed to run efficiently and cleanly on the fuel that they were engineered to burn, but new innovations in hydrogen generator conversion kits have allowed for a more streamlined conversion.

Conversion kits can range in price from $200 to $2,000, with well-made hardware that’ll perform better and last longer costing far more, but potentially worth the cost over time with the amount of money saved due to the increased gas mileage of your vehicle.

Selecting a highly-reviewed conversion kit is the best method to choosing one with the lowest likelihood of having problems, but you should also consult your local mechanic or engine expert about the specific model vehicle you wish to convert.

Hydrogen generator engines produce less carbon dioxide and potentially save up to 50 percent on gas mileage efficiency, depending on a variety of factors. The benefits of converting to this system, though, really depend on the number of miles you expect to put on your vehicle and how well you plan on maintaining this different system.

Potential Pitfalls

One of the first places we’d expect to see problems develop would be oxygen sensor misreadings. Remember that Brown’s gas has a component of oxygen in addition to the hydrogen—that additional atom of oxygen could conceivably “fool” the O2 sensor into seeing a lean fuel condition. In this scenario, the onboard computer would then direct the fuel system to increase fuel delivery to enrich the mixture, thereby potentially increasing fuel consumption and emissions. Modern engines require a very delicate balance of air and fuel, with their myriad electronic sensors and computer-controlled fuel, ignition, and emission systems.

That said, if you really want to try one of these, we would suggest you use an older, second or third car or truck (mid-90s or older) as a guinea pig—not your primary vehicle. If the system works well for you and provides results you’re happy with, you can then decide if you want to expand it to your other vehicle(s).

Deciding If Conversion Is Right for You

So, is an HHO conversion worth it? In a fleet environment, where there are many vehicles logging many miles with a dedicated service staff, this could be an effective way to save fuel. However, for the average individual (unless she or he is a handy DIYer), the potential pitfalls probably outweigh the benefits. When inevitable problems do arise, troubleshooting will fall to the individual or neighborhood mechanic, who may or may not have an understanding of how the system works.

Water conversions may not work as simply, or as well, as the claims made by the manufacturers; converting a dedicated system does compromise the integrity of the overall system. They usually don’t work as well—or efficiently—as they could (i.e. perhaps the alternator or drive belt may need frequent replacing).

Beyond simply installing the kit, there will most certainly be maintenance, repair, and troubleshooting issues that you’ll have to deal with—and the answer certainly won’t be at your car dealer—and probably won’t be down at the corner garage either. While it may be helpful to find an online community of folks, this is one trip on which you’ll likely find yourself sailing the voyage alone.

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Gable, Christine & Scott. "Water Conversion Kits for Cars." ThoughtCo, Dec. 9, 2017, thoughtco.com/can-you-run-car-on-water-85615. Gable, Christine & Scott. (2017, December 9). Water Conversion Kits for Cars. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/can-you-run-car-on-water-85615 Gable, Christine & Scott. "Water Conversion Kits for Cars." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/can-you-run-car-on-water-85615 (accessed January 22, 2018).