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Outrageous Claims

July 29th, 2009

Recently, a friend asked me about a water powered car that she had heard about through an email forwarded from another friend.  This car runs on nothing but water.  An energy generator takes hydrogen from the water, releasing electrons that power the car.  …FINALLY, all of the barriers with using hydrogen as a transportation fuel (storage, transport, etc.) have been solved!  We can just take the H2 out of the H2O!

…Gimme a break.  Yes, there’s a way to extract hydrogen from water.  It’s called hydrolysis, and it takes quite a bit of energy to break those molecular bonds.  So, when the water-car folks claim it needs no external input besides a bottle of water, it’s obvious all is not what it seems.  (What’s in that “energy generator” that gets around the whole law of conservation of energy, anyway?  …I really don’t like linking to wikipedia…)

U.S. Patent #5,920,127

U.S. Patent #5,920,127

Outrageous claims are everywhere.  I’ve had dozens of people ask me about putting a wind-turbine on top of a car, so that it spins and produces electrical energy as the car goes down the road – electrical energy that can then be used to power the wheels.  (If you were thinking of this, you’re too late – the idea has already been patented.  Really.)  I’ll leave it as an exercise for you to explain the fallacy in that one.

Another company that has made incredible (if not outrageous) claims in the past few years is EEStor, who is under contract with Zenn Motors to supply an ultracapacitor-based energy storage system that costs significantly less per kilowatt-hour than batteries, while solving the energy-density problem that has prevented ultracaps from being seriously considered as an energy storage mechanism for electric vehicles.  Much of the skepticism regarding their claims stems from the fact that they have released virtually no details about their product.  Well, that changed today when an interview with CEO Dick Weir was “leaked” on the internet (as reported by autobloggreen).  It will be interesting to see if the revealed details will quiet EEStor’s skeptics or just lead to more questions.

…In the next installment, I’ll describe the flux capacitor I’m working on, which makes time-travel possible…

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