Charlatans, quacks and scammers in Pakistan are not a new phenomenon. Witch doctors, black magic practitioners, and herbal healers have long been a part of society, offering ways to cure a disease, get revenge on your mother-in-law or to improve sexual prowess.
These days, however, classical physics is being brutally murdered on television in Pakistan, in front of millions, even if only a few of them care about Science. The laws of conservation of energy, the laws of thermodynamics, basic human intelligence and rationality have been brought to the guillotine. The sentence was carried out by a team of ‘engineers’ from Khairpur, talk show hosts, their production teams and unscientifically leaning ‘renowned scientists’ brought as expert commentators.
‘Engineer’ Agha Waqar and his team have invented the magic pill which will solve all the world’s – but first Pakistan’s energy problems. Lo, and behold, the ‘water kit’! It has already got the nod of approval from a few ministers, a ‘report’ of some sort is due in two weeks on it and the heads of the Pakistan Council of Scientific; and Industrial Research and Pakistan Science Foundation are believers too.
The ‘Engineer’ behind the revolution has already told us that like any patriot, he has refused huge monetary ‘offers’ from various countries (names thrown in for greater effect at times), that he has come to the public without securing any patent because he wants to use it for public good, that he surely feels threatened by the global oil and gas lobby, that he can modify that ‘water kit’ for use on all things (yes, railway engines included) and that revolution is ready to be commercialised. No peer reviewed journals, no scientific method – it works.
The ‘Engineer’ claimed the following about his revolutionary ‘water kit’: ? An ordinary car cover a distance of 40km on a single liter of water ? An ordinary motorcycle cover a distance of 150km on a single liter of water ? A 1kVA generator can be run for upto 2 hours using a single liter of water (thereby producing, at ordinary power factors, ~1.5kW-h of energy)
Various conflicting claims made in between on three TV shows ranged from:
? The ‘water kit’ can be used on any kind of water ? Distilled or bottled water should be used ? Electrolysis is done using the car battery ? Electrolysis is done using a separate battery that can be recharged by the car’s alternator ? Electrolysis takes up anywhere between 1 per cent to very little of the battery’s peak amperage and does not drain the battery ? Electrolysis takes half the power that an ordinary car stereo takes ? Electrodes used are capacitors separated by a dielectric ? The ‘bubbler’ controls flow of gases ? The modified ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) burns ‘HHO’ ? The hydrogen produced from electrolysis can be stored and is produced at a rate good enough that constant production is not necessary and hence battery drain not an issue ? The gas mixture used in the engine is called ‘HHO’ and is more efficient as a fuel than anything known to mankind ? The combustion of hydrogen is twice as heat efficient as high octane gasoline and the car can reach a top speed twice that it would on gasoline ? The car can reach it’s top speed on ‘water kit’ and is not held back like CNG
The cost of this revolution: Around Rs. 40,000 for a passenger car. He did not forget to mention that he had to take loans of around Rs 15 million to ‘develop’ the ‘water kit’.
As much as the ‘Engineer’ believed in his device, I believe most certainly that visible stupidity and the quackest of quack science do not necessitate rebuttals. If anyone were to suggest that he or she had found a radical cure to cancer or AIDS: the use of four strong punches on the affected portion with knuckles covered in rice paper, it would not require a scientific rebuttal. The Law of Conservation of Energy really cannot be challenged by a water filter with electrodes attached to a rubber tube. But since the ‘magar gaari toh chalti hai’ argument was being made again and again on TV, it seems like this does require some form of rebuttal.
Here are some quick comments on some of the claims made:
? Can you run an internal combustion engine on hydrogen? Yes, you can modify an existing one to do so. ? Can you run a car on hydrogen? Yes, you can. Hydrogen powered cars are even commercially produced now. But they are mostly hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and not hydrogen ICE vehicles. ? Can you run a car on hydrogen produced from electrolysis? Yes, you can. You can produce hydrogen from electrolysis and you can use it in an ICE to power a vehicle. ? Is it efficient? Hell, no. Electrolysis is an extremely energy intensive process. Numerous efforts have been to radically improve the efficiency, but huge barriers remain.
As should be known to anyone with secondary school knowledge of chemistry, distilled water is not really conductive. Distilled water in fact has a conductivity of 1,000 to 10,000 times less than tap water. Also, electrodes are supposed to be good conductors, highly conductive metals. I have no idea where capacitors came from. Moreover, you will not find the term ‘HHO’ being used for a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen gases, or the term ‘brown gas’ being used for it outside quack circles. It is used exclusively by the water-fuel, HHO mileage enhancer crowd. Just google the terms and you’ll see hundreds of ‘water kit’ likes and mileage enhancement attachments being sold by quacks all across the globe.