Alternative Energy


Converting a lawn mower to run on Hydrogen: Step 1

I'm restarting my past effort to get a single-cylinder engine to run purely on Hydrogen fuel. I'm starting from scratch with an old 6.75HP lawnmower engine (the engine runs beautifully). I'll be building a testing rig around the engine, modifying the engine to run stand-alone (removing the rotational inertia of the mower blades causes the engine to run differently), ripping out the old ignition system and replacing it with a brand-new microprocessor-controlled electronic ignition system, adding fuel injection for the Hydrogen, and ultimately using the engine as a test bed for collecting data and a proof-of-concept for future projects.

Here I've ripped the cover and pull-start off of the engine.

This is the magneto-driven ignition system that is currently on the engine. To adjust the ignition timing, I could try and re-position the pickup coil perfectly in the new position, but that would be way more trouble than it's worth. It's far easier in this case to add an electronic system, which will allow me to adjust the timing on the fly, extrapolate data about the current RPM of the engine, power curves, etc.

Here you can see I removed the engine from the lawnmower. The carburetor will eventually be completely replaced by a gas-metering system to precisely inject Hydrogen gas into the system.


Magnetolysis: The Theory

I've been doing Magnetolysis experiments for 7 months now, and I'm finally getting around to writing down the theory behind it so that everyone can read it and understand it. Magnetolysis works by employing Magnetic Induction and Electrolysis together - two basic concepts applied in new ways. It is essentially electrolysis on a nano-scale.

There are two major downfalls of conventional electrolysis: the amount of available surface area and gasses collecting on the electrodes (conventionally these are large metal plates). Obviously, the greater surface area available, the greater the reaction will be. However, there are also obvious physical and economical limitations as to how many stainless steel plates can be in a given system.

Hydrogen and Oxygen are not conductors, so the buildup of gas bubbles on the plates is a huge problem. These gas bubbles tend to completely coat the surface of the electrode, insulating it from the solution. One could easily “shake” the bubbles off, but the energy to do so is immense, and not worth it. So one is left with having to feed more electrical power into the unit to accomplish the same task. The necessary power will continually go up to keep production levels up. This is an extreme waste of power.

Magnetolysis provides a simple solution to both of these problems.

Let's suppose that we take a metal wire and place it in the middle of a coil that is pulsing at a high frequency (kHz range or greater). Let's make it out of platinum or nickel to eliminate corrosion problems, and for this example assume that it is a 22 awg wire, 2 inches long. What would happen to the wire? Taking a quick glance at it, nothing. However, if we look further into the physics of what is happening to each nickel atom under the pulsating magnetic field, we can begin to see how we can exploit this for our benefit. There is an induced electromotive force (EMF) in the nickel wire. However, since this wire terminates, there is nowhere for this EMF to go; the wire will not develop a voltage as the result of the moving electrons.

However, if we now connect a multimeter to both ends of this wire, we complete a circuit. The electrons from the nickel wire being "pushed" by the EMF now have someplace to go, and a voltage is registered on the multimeter. This voltage is proportional to several things: for example, what the voltage into the primary is and the shape and length of the secondary (Think of it like a transformer). The amount of power transferred is directly proportional to the frequency.

Now, say we remove the multimeter leads and submerse our nickel wire into an ionic solution. The exact ions present are not extremely important - as long as the solution is very conductive. I would suggest starting with the common electrolytes NaOH and KOH. The solution completes the circuit, the electrons have a place to flow, and electrical energy is dissipated into the solution. Electrolysis will take place on the surface of the nickel wire as electrons are exchanged with the water molecules in the solution, and bubbles will form on the surface of the wire.

You may now bring up the point that there is no obvious polarity to the wire - that is, there are no obvious + and - sections of the wire. This is because electrons are being exchanged across the entire length of the wire. Every time the magnetic field pulses, the electrons will attempt to align with the field and they will move. This process should create atomic-level "pockets" of polarity. Every time the field collapses, it will then begin to move in the opposite direction, hence reversing the polarity.

Is there any limit on the length of the wire? The short answer is no. We could make the wire 1,000 inches long or .00001 inches long. It will still receive an amount of induced energy proportional to how much of it is in a cross-section of the magnetic field. If we size the wire down to, say, a few µm or less, we now have what I will refer to as a nickel nanowire. Now let's create trillions of trillions of trillions of these nanowires in suspension in the solution, and place the coil over the solution. Each nanowire will catalyze a very very small amount of electrolysis. However, we have an uncountable number of them. This will add up very quickly, and the production would be so great that the solution would appear to be boiling. There would be no visible electrodes. This in itself solves both of the problems mentioned above. There would be an extreme amount of surface area in a very small space - something on the order of a few square meters per gram of nickel or more. Furthermore, there would be no place for gas bubbles to build up; the individual gas molecules are released into the solution to join with other gas molecules, forming very small bubbles. The electrodes are much too small for these resulting bubbles to "stick" to. Thus, this process will require a level of energy input several magnitudes lower than conventional electrolysis.

This is the basic synopsis of the concept; obviously it can get much more detailed when discussing exactly how it works. There is also another idea floating around in my head that takes this a step further and reduces the size of the electrodes down to individual Sodium atoms - a move that increases the available surface area to just over 3.43 MILLION square meters per liter of saturated solution. This delves greatly into the dusty, untouched corners of electrochemistry and physics, but I believe that it is worth a shot as well.


Magnetolyzer MK 2

This is my second version of the Magnetolyzer, made out of PVC pipe this time, with much more wire.


Magnetolysis - Transformer MK 1

This was my first shot at winding a custom air core transformer for Magnetolysis.