Water for Gas? And a Bridge to Sell You... : Daydreaming The First Law of Thermodynamics
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Water for Gas? And a Bridge to Sell You...

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The First Law of Thermodynamics

How stupid do they think we are, anyway?

Go ahead, try it. Google "gas mileage" and you'll almost certainly see a sponsored link on in the left hand column touting a way to run your car on water. Water.

Now this scam - and yes, I am so, so sorry to bust a hole in your gas tank, but it is a scam — has been around almost since the invention of the internal combustion engine. Like many confidence plays, it relies on a shred of truth, the promise of an evil conspiracy and the endless gullibility of those who want to try and save a buck or two.

The World Wide Web is perfect platform for an old ruse that used to take place at carnivals and swap meets. Witness a site such as www.burn-water.net. A simulated post-it note, oddly attached with a simulated paperclip, promises, "A regular $700 Value! Only Today You Can Get This Technology For One Time Payment Of !!! $49 !!!"

"This Is Your Lucky Day," it adds happily. Lucky, I guess, that the laws of thermodynamics don't apply at burn-water.net. But hey, thermodynamics is a big word that only pointy-heads use. What do they know about cars?

The water-for-gas "kits" are all based on the idea that by applying electricity to water, one can extract the hydrogen and oxygen from it, which can then be burned. And this is a fact, Jack. The other, less comforting fact is that the amount of energy (in this case electricity) required release the hydrogen and oxygen exceeds the amount of energy they will produce when burned.

In fact, it's fairly easy to create a system that will electrolyze the water, and channel the resulting gases into the combustion chamber of an automobile engine. If the car in question has a fully charged battery, the thing will actually run for a while. But engine's alternator won't be able to generate enough electricity to recharge the battery. The system will fail, probably within a matter of minutes.

But that might be long enough to convince someone who has already spent their day's pay filling their gas tank to drop another fifty on an instruction manual that promises to "Triple Your Mileage."

For those still not quite convinced, these sites add the allure of the conspiracy. "The oil companies don't want you to know about this. They are doing everything they can to suppress this revolutionary technology."

I'm sure they would. If it really worked.

I really wish it did. I'd also like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony.

OK, so I'm the guy with the big can of buzzkill. But as long as people believe you can "Burn Fat While You Sleep", and "Make Big Money at Home", the water-for-gas bunco artists will have plenty of marks. Even though their "water-powered" cars sputter and stall, they can fool enough of the people enough of the time to keep their scam from running out of gas.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to finish filling out my Publisher's Sweepstakes entry.

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