It is estimated that as much as 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water. We have a gigantic, almost infinite supply of this resource at our disposal. Taking into account that we are likely to exhaust our fossil fuel reserves later this century, wouldn’t it be worth looking at water as a potential energy source? If only water could be used as a fuel, we would gain energy security. Some people even claim to already have such technology and own a water-powered car. So why aren’t water-powered vehicles in mass production? Inventors claim that their efforts are being bombarded by energy corporations that do not want to lose their monopoly on supplying humanity with fuel. The truth, unfortunately, is quite different.
Water-powered cars are a pipe dream. Of course, this is not nonsense completely made up, as energy can be obtained from water and used to propel a vehicle. Unfortunately, there is a long way from theory to practice.
Electrolysis of water
A water molecule contains one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms, connected to each other by chemical bonds. Of course, water alone cannot be “burned” in any way, but it can be separated into oxygen and hydrogen. Yet accomplishing this is surprisingly simple. To build a car powered by water it is enough to install a simple electrolytic cell under the hood of the vehicle. Our car only needs to supply electricity to the system, which will initiate the electrolysis of water into a gaseous mixture of hydrogen and oxygen, often referred to as HHO or oxyhydrogen. This will produce a fuel that can be used to power a car. As you can see, it is simple to perform water electrolysis from the video below.
Thus, powering a car with water is extremely simple. So why hasn’t the world been dominated by water-powered cars? The answer is very simple – in order to convert water into fuel, we need to use as much energy as we get from electrolysis. And this is under ideal conditions. You still have to deduct heat losses in the engine, alternator and electrolyzer. To sum up, by converting water into fuel, we lose more energy than we gain.
As of now, there is no method to obtain more energy from electrolysis of water, and it doesn’t look like it will happen in the future. However, it is surprising to see cars on the road that operate on the exact opposite principle. Instead of breaking water into molecules, hydrogen cars use a reaction to bind hydrogen and oxygen into water molecules, during which electricity is generated. This process is much more energy efficient and could be the automotive future. Such cars are relatively expensive for the moment and have some drawbacks, but in the future the technology should make it possible to reduce the cost of producing them.