I scoffed at the idea that water could be used as fuel when I first heard about it in 2007.
After all, if you want to put out a fire you throw water on it because water acts as the opposite of
a fuel. But then I looked into the science and that eliminated some of my previous ignorance.
People have been "burning water" for a long time.
Water is referred to as H2
O because water molecules are made up of two hydrogen atoms
and one oxygen atom. When hydrogen and oxygen atoms combine the reaction releases heat and
pressure. When you see a rocket blasting off into space it is because liquid hydrogen and oxygen
are being burned as rocket fuel. There is much more potential energy inside a drop of water than in
a drop of gasoline.
There are two basic questions that must be answered. The first is: how do you separate the
atoms in water so you can later recombine them as fuel? The second question is: does it take more
energy to separate the atoms than the amount of energy released when you recombine them? In order
to use water as an actual source of fuel the separation process must consume less energy than you
get from burning the gases.
There are several ways of separating water into hydrogen and oxygen, including electrolysis,
ultrasonic vibration, microwave energy and intense pressure. (The amount of pressure required is so
extreme it is impractical and won't be discussed here.)
The most common method is electrolysis. Passing a current of electrical energy through water
causes some of the atoms to break free and escape as a gas. If you place the connection end of a
9-volt battery inside a clear glass of water you will see tiny bubbles appear on the two electrodes;
hydrogen on one side and oxygen on the other. Current electrolysis methods use roughly 20% more
energy to separate the molecules in water than is produced by burning the fuel.
A water molecule, like everything else in nature, has a resonant frequency. This refers to a
particular frequency of vibration which causes an object to vibrate with the minimum amount of
energy input required. A common example is when a singer produces a note at the resonant frequency
of a wine glass, which can cause the glass to suddenly shatter. If a bridge or building is made to
vibrate at its resonant frequency for an extended period it will collapse.
It is important to be aware of how little energy is required to break an object when it vibrates
at its resonant frequency. The singer breaks a piece of glass using only her breath, and, at least
theoretically, a giant steel bridge can be brought down by striking it repeatedly with a large
hammer at the resonant frequency of the structure.
Microwave ovens operate by using radio waves to vibrate the water molecules in food at their
resonant frequency. The friction of the vibrating molecules is what causes the food to become hot,
like the friction produced by rubbing your hands together causes your hands to heat up. The radio
waves also cause some of the water molecules to separate into hydrogen and oxygen gas. I once put a
bit of water inside a microwave oven along with a lit candle, and after less than 60 seconds the
hydrogen released from the water exploded in a fireball. The experiment demonstrates how microwave
radio energy can split water molecules, but it is obviously very dangerous and could result in a
tragic disaster so don't do it.
The frequency of the radio waves used in microwave ovens is roughly 2.4 megahertz. There is
some argument regarding the actual resonant frequency of water because hydrogen atoms resonant at
one frequency and oxygen atoms resonate at a different frequency, both in the gigahertz range, and
there are issues I don't understand like rotational spin on an atomic level. Further research may
lead to more efficient frequencies, but for now I think 2.4 megahertz should do the job.
One more method of vibrating water molecules is through direct contact, or ultrasonic vibration.
An ultrasonic vibration is like a sound wave operating at a frequency beyond the range of human
hearing. It is possible to construct a device similar to an audio speaker, which uses a coil of
wire inside the field of a permanent magnet, to vibrate water directly.
The device I envision will incorporate 3 different methods of separating water molecules into
hydrogen and oxygen gas.
1) Ultrasonic vibration will physically vibrate the water.
2) Electrical energy will be pulsed through the water at the resonant frequency.
3) The magnetic field generated by the pulsing electrical current will produce microwave radio
waves which will be focused at one location in the water.
If you have ever listened carefully while a musician tunes a guitar, you will notice a series of
"beats" in the tone which slow down and finally stop when the two notes being played reach the same
frequency. The "beating" sound occurs when the frequencies momentarily match and reinforce each
other, producing a brief increase in the energy of the vibrations.
These pulses of energy are disruptive. A vibrating water molecule on the verge of coming apart
suddenly being hit by a burst of energy at the resonant frequency is more likely to separate at that
This device would, ideally, incorporate two different electrical pulse generators, each sweeping
in frequency just above and below the resonant frequency of water. Since physical, ultrasonic
vibration would already be occurring, it may prove nearly as effective if only one pulse generator
sweeps just above and below the resonant frequency. In the event that physically vibrating the
water at 2.4 million cycles per second proves unfeasible or inefficient, the ultrasonic vibration
can be applied at a lower harmonic of that frequency.
If a breath can break a piece of glass, it seems possible that a very small amount of energy
applied at the resonant frequency of a water molecule could cause the atoms to separate. Whether or
not the process can be done with enough efficiency to use water as the source of all the energy in
the system is unclear, but several people over the years have claimed success.
If this device works with enough efficiency, not only can cars be fueled by water, which produces
no pollution because the by product of burning hydrogen is water vapor, but all electrical
generation could become powered by water. Homes and businesses could be powered by small boxes
sitting outdoors connected to a garden hose. The entire world would have an inexhaustible source of
almost free, non-polluting energy.
If this device does not completely power itself, it would still provide a very efficient means
of producing hydrogen and oxygen from water.
It should be recognized that even using current methods of electrolysis it is possible to store
electrical energy from renewable sources by using that energy to produce hydrogen from water. The
hydrogen can act like a giant "battery," being burned or used in fuel cells to provide power when
solar and wind energy are not available. This means there is absolutely no justification for
nuclear or fossil fuel power plants. Even now cars can be powered directly by hydrogen or
electricity created from renewable sources. The problems of climate change and air pollution can be
eliminated, right now.
The issue is cost, but a highly efficient method of producing hydrogen, like this one, could
result in energy prices falling far below what they are now. And who knows? It might actually be
possible to power the entire world with nothing but water.