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Refuting the idea of water powered cars

Published Aug 05, 2012 11:49am


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A line up of cars is seen on a road.—Reuters Photo
A line-up of cars is seen on a road.—Reuters (File Photo)

Recently there has been a lot of buzz about water powered cars in the media. Understandably, it is difficult for people to make up their minds about such reports of grand technical achievements as to whether the claims are true or not, despite the common sense dictating against believing in such claims. After all such things must involve complicated technology which is not for everyone to understand. But the problem with many claims of such kind, and certainly with this particular one, is that they are in direct conflict with basic physics and chemistry. You do not need to go into details of the technology involved. The basic laws of physics and simple facts from chemistry categorically deny the possibility of using water as a fuel. Anyone who can recall their high school science correctly can refute this idea.

The reason this car cannot work is simply the law of conservation of energy, the most basic idea of physics that energy cannot be created, or destroyed, but can only change forms. You never create energy, only use some stored form of energy by converting it to your desired form (energy of motion, in case of car). This is also known to engineers as the first law of thermodynamics.

So let us look at the claim of the inventors about how this water kit works. It is a well-known fact that energy is released when you combine hydrogen and oxygen to make water. It is this energy that they claim to be using to run the car. But the problem is that you need a supply of hydrogen to make this work. The inventors claim to use water itself to get this supply of hydrogen. This is where they go absolutely head on against the law of conservation of energy.

Suppose you have a process in which some energy is released. Say some substances A change to substances B and energy is released. A simple consequence of the conservation of energy is that if you run the process backwards, tuning B back to A, you will have to supply exactly the same amount of energy. For if it were not the case, and say you needed less energy to go backwards, you could repeat the cyclic process of going from A to B and then B to A repeatedly, at each turn saving some extra energy. This way you could produce as much energy as you like. But this is against the law that you cannot create energy.

Therefore, the conclusion is that you need to supply exactly the same amount of energy to turn B back to A, as you would obtain by turning A to B. This fact is sometime stated as perpetual motion machines are impossible.

According to the inventors, the kit works by breaking water, a molecule consisting of two hydrogen and one oxygen atoms, into its parts, namely hydrogen and oxygen. When you combine thus obtained hydrogen back with oxygen to make water, energy is released which is used to run the car. Sounds simple. But the trouble is that you need to provide energy to break up the water molecule in the first place. Further, as stated above, according to the law of conservation of energy you need to provide exactly the same amount of energy to break up the water molecule as you would get when recombining hydrogen with oxygen.

This is not just a conclusion based on theory but a routinely tested fact of chemistry. So whatever energy you get out of this device, has to come from somewhere in the first place, and not from water itself. Water is not the fuel or source of energy.

The inventors claim that the water molecule is broken down using the electrical current from the battery. This process is well known and is called electrolysis.  A battery has some fixed stored amount of energy which it can release as electrical power through a current. So by breaking the water molecule and then combining it back, you are just channeling this battery power to the car. When this source battery will die out, the car will stop working. As a matter of fact you will be better off connecting the battery directly to car's motors as each additional step that you introduce wastes quite a bit of energy.

The two processes involved, electrolysis of water and recombination, in this supposed generation of energy from water are well known in chemistry and can be found in class X chemistry book. So you may wonder why no one thought of using these for power generation. The reason is simple. They knew it is impossible.

There is really no way around it. It is based on the basic fact of conservation of energy and the fact of chemistry that energy is required to split a water molecule into hydrogen and oxygen. Then how do the hydrocarbon fuels work?  The difference is that the chemical reaction involved in burning those release energy which is used to run the cars. When we run out of this fuel we replace with more supplies of the fuel that are available in nature. In other words the nature has stored supply of energy in hydrocarbons which we use. In the case of this car, it is the burning of hydrogen with oxygen which releases the energy. So the counter part of the fuel in this case is really free hydrogen and not water. We do not have a source of free hydrogen available here. In the case of hydrocarbons, we do not regenerate the by-products of hydrocarbon burning into the original fuel again. It is quite possible to do so. For example, one can make methane out of the final products of its burning i.e., water and carbon dioxide. Ever wonder why we don’t do this? Because it will cost more energy to do this than we will get back when burning again. If we could really do that without providing external power, it would constitute perpetual motion. These people are doing exactly this with water and hydrogen, regenerating the fuel, from by-product, which is water in this case, without any external source of energy.

Now then what about the hydrogen fuel cells? Don't they work, you may ask, on similar principles? Well they do work by using the recombination of hydrogen with oxygen to make water. However they have some external supply of hydrogen available as a fuel. That is why they are called hydrogen fuel cells. They do not generate hydrogen internally as they go using the self-generated energy.

So as long as we believe in the law of conservation of energy, and the basic chemistry of hydrogen burning, we can safely assume that this idea is completely bogus. Water can never be used as a fuel source either to run cars or generate electricity. Any such claims, no matter where they come from are wrong.

One also hears of opinions that may be the laws of thermodynamics are being violated. After all new discoveries are made in science every day. However, one has to keep in mind different realms of discoveries. Einstein’s theory of relativity did not change applicability of Newton’s mechanics for everyday speeds where it is tested and works perfectly fine for last four hundred years. Similarly, no new discovery will change the applicability of laws of thermodynamics to the chemistry of water molecules, where they are tested on a daily basis thousands of times in chemistry labs around the world.

Interestingly, this idea of using water as a fuel, though completely fraudulent at the most elementary level, is not new. Entrepreneurs in California have claimed in the past to have used water as a fuel for cars and taken some scientifically challenged investors, who did not have the good sense to trust a real engineer, to cleaners. Of course, the idea was shown to be fraudulent pretty soon and the same investors then ended up suing them for the invested money.


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Comments (62) Closed

Tariq Aug 05, 2012 02:52pm
And, if the first law of thermodynamics was not enough of a check on these fraudsters, the second law of thermodynamics is waiting right behind with an ever bigger stick: entropy. Simply put, the first law says that you cannot get out more energy then you have put into a system, then the scond law says that you it is impossible to so break even.
Raj Patel Aug 05, 2012 02:56pm
In India also I heard 10 years ago somebody made motor cycle run on water as a fuel then after it didn't go any where. My friend if it would be so easy then it would have been done long ago. There are much better brains available in the world would have figure out. Everybody know that there are tremendous amount of energy sun possess still man kind couldn't find efficient way to tap that energy. Yes there are research is going on and hope one day we will able to tap it and 50 % of energy of world would be tapped from SUN.
shankar Aug 06, 2012 12:51pm
Sorry to disappoint you people! Ramar Pillai from India had invented such a car long time back. He used some herbs to covert water into energy fuel. It later turned out that the water that he used was actually a coloured form of petrol itself. So best of luck! If the car really runs on water, India will demand joint patent on the car on the grounds that we share a common history and are brothers. We in India will build more dams on our rivers running into Pakistan! No sane country will let energy flow from its country into somebody else's country, brothely or otherwise! By the by, will salt water from the Idian ocean work?
Abbasi Aug 05, 2012 03:15pm
whatever this man has done something exceptionally well and we as a pakistani v should encourage him..!!!
naveed Aug 06, 2012 11:47am
read the article again, there is nothing to b proud of
Zubair Younas Aug 05, 2012 12:55pm
Very technical artical. But Dude! ..... Let the claims made by the inventor who says he can run the car on water a try. Put an independent board of thechnical guys (I will not object if you are part of it) and see if he can really do that. Simple as that. The other day I was watching a video in which UET Taxila kids run the bike on water by putting in some mechanisim.
Zero Aug 05, 2012 12:55pm
Annonymous Aug 13, 2012 11:57am
i think this guys should come out in public and demonstrate the functionality. thats the only rational way forward.
Truth hurts Aug 06, 2012 10:40am
Hey Tony, take a chill pill mate.....the Pakistani water is even limited than the oil so by the end of the day you end up doing nothing, just because the people running the show and the priorities they chose are non-sense….
Asghar Aug 05, 2012 01:46pm
Good explanation. Removed all my doubts about the possibility of this idea to be workable.
Cyrus Howell Aug 05, 2012 01:43pm
All surface vehicles can be run on hydrogen, but first we must produce the hydrogen, which amounts to WATER OUT not WATER IN at the Hydrogen Plant.. Pure Water becomes the bi product. Not the gas.
Javeed Aug 05, 2012 03:38pm
This is hogwash. The car works and has been shown several times to leading scientist of pakistan including ones involved in atomic power and they have confirmed that it works - perhaps new theory needs to be written. Pakistan Zindabad
salman Aug 06, 2012 12:35pm
it does not matter how the engine is running on water..for a common man as long as it runs his car its ok for him. who cares the thermodynamics laws than?
Engr A H Siddiqui Aug 05, 2012 05:05pm
The claimant appeared on Geo TV, got an encouraging note from Dr. A Q Khan for getting his 'process' tested by the 'fuel technology' experts at NUST or other Engineeing Univerisities, started levelling charges of corruption on a Professor Emiritus Dr. Atta ur Rehman. He was invited to NUST (National University of Science & Technology) but he failed to appear there. If he has invented the new 'perpetual motion' process or discovered the new law of thermodynamics: output energy can be more than input energy, then sure he should get two Noble Prizes, one in Chemistry and another in Physics. He has challanged the two basic subjects of science. But otherwise, in lieu of undertaking a 'fraud' with the people on national TV network, he should suffer a minumum 2 years jail under section 420 and other related section of Pakistan Penal Code. He has misused the name 'Engineer' and that too in the presence of Chairman Pakistan Engineering Council. Engr. Anwar H. Siddiqui, CEng (Mechanical)
Muqeem ul Islam Aug 05, 2012 05:42pm
The guy who claims the he runs car with water with water is wrong. Actual he uses Sodium carbide (Chona like material made in factories cost around Rs. 70 kg) with to create ethylene gas which burns and create flame/energy. The same thing which used in gas welding , every welder create this gas himself. He is using deceptive claim the he has decomposed water , he use carbide with water and residual gas create same thrust as CNG. The chemical process is clangorous and not feasible for creating gas while is is on run. Muqeem ul Islam
Hassaan Aug 05, 2012 06:50pm
But its working.We can use water to run our cars.If you don,t like to use water in our car its fine we can also use to generate electricity.
SJay Aug 07, 2012 04:24am
Wake up please. It is comments like these that add more to the misery
m.y.saleem Aug 06, 2012 12:09am
i fully agree with dr. babar qureshi,he has explained everything so clearly. there are hydrogen fuel stations in california and some cars are running on hydrogen.the pupming has an electrolysis plant and also it needs energy. this idea not to save any energy but for pollutioin controle we have pure eletric cars made by all copmanies.but again you have to recharge the battery. this is basically to reduce pollution,not to save energy.
kol Aug 06, 2012 12:56am
i have seen several video about water car. many are from pakistan , even some dont have basic knowledge about physics ...! some even cant pronounce properly science terminology ...!
S F Zeeshan Aug 06, 2012 01:47am
A nice article with the details that can be understood even by a layman. It is really a concern that deregulated electronic media in Pakistan,especially few anchors to increase the rating of their show, without counter checking the fact( @ back stage) creates a hoax which drives whole nation crazy.
Abdul Karim Aug 06, 2012 02:50am
This article consists of misleading facts. Dr. Babar Qureshi can not explain conservation of energy in a similar way regarding atomic energy i.e., energy released when a neutron is defused into neucleous of Uranium atom causing Uranium atom to split and release energy. According to Dr. Babar Qureshi we will be using same amount of energy to break an atom, do we? no we don't. Do we use same amount of energy to defuse a neutron in to the neucleous of a Uranium atom than we get after splitting of Uranium atom? Do we use more energy to fire a match stick than we get when match stick catches fire? Are we not using 1.5Watts of power to get same amount of light that we use to get by using 60Watts of power 50 years ago? So, if we use to convert 1 litre of water into hydrogen and oxygen by using 100Watts of power in 5 hours half a century ago and say for example now someone come up with an idea to convert 1 litre of water into hydrogen and oxygen by using 5Watts of power in 30 minutes. Does this not good enough to run a car on hydrogen and oxygen produced using his new technique?
Bakhtawer Bilal Aug 06, 2012 03:52am
This is Pakistan. We believe in belief. We used to have "dabba pir" this is yet another example of it.
Faisal Aug 06, 2012 03:59am
I don't know why the writer of this article made it so complicated after all. The simple idea is that their will loss of energy when converting it from water to motion or kinetic energy. Because their will be energy loss eventually one would require an external source of energy to supply the electricity to the kit rods which split hydrogen and oxygen in order for the car to run. Due to the loss of energy the car battery will dry out eventually hence creating a non-perpetual machine. The amount of electricity required to break the hydrogen molecules from oxygen in water will remain the same however the charging of car battery will not be sufficient in the end. Hence such a machine is possible for only a limited amount of kilometers but is not a perpetual machine.
Saif Aug 06, 2012 04:17am
The writer speaks of some scientifically challenged investors of about a scientifically challenged federal cabinet in Islamabad ...I wonder none of its member has any sense. This lack of sense is also matched by a member of PMLN party member who invited the 'the inventor' of the kit to Punjab....! And about the TV channel who gave this 'EXCLUSIVE'...the less said the better.
Qazi Aug 06, 2012 05:08am
At least the man is trying, instead of criticizing, why dont you lend a hand and see if you can help finish his research.
Ali Aug 06, 2012 05:17am
Very well written...thank you! My thoughts exactly and very neatly laid out...
Zalim singh Aug 06, 2012 05:55am
Water fuel cars are a rip-off I am seeing since I was a ten year old kid. There have been 100s of this type of claims here since i was a 10 year old kid. There will be frauds in every country. But falling for them hook line and stinker is atrocious.
Atif Javed Aug 06, 2012 05:58am
Fate of many previous inventors of water base energy production is well known to the world. Most of them were killed and some were jailed for ever. However,we tend to pass premature judgements by not letting the Pakistan Engineering Council and Pakistan Scientist give their verdict. In any case this article though refutes the very reason on which water based hydrogen kit functions still writer may be requested to look into flowing:- a. While making the water, Hydrogen and Oxygen are mixed with the help of energy whereas in case of water kit energy is used for separating both the gases. These gases are then burn to release energy. Process of burning these gases had not taken-place while making water. b. Octane value of Hydrogen is greater then Petrol which makes it more efficient to function with lesser consumption. c. For the time being lets suppose that the water kit can't produce Perpetual Motion Machine but it may be able to provide 40-60 % of fuel efficiency by releasing Hydrogen into the system. I would request all not to discourage the inventor and wait for scientist and Pakistan Engineering Council verdict. Otherwise it would appear as if these all anti water based energy articles are paid or oil company sponsored and fate of these new inventors of water kit would be no different from their counterparts in past. After-all world is driven by oil company mafias and they are strong enough to dictate superpower policies and kill of business in Iraq and over the globe. c.
dks Aug 06, 2012 07:28am
so if it turns out to be fraud / wrong it will speak volume about " leading scientist of pakistan including ones involved in atomic power "
ALi Aug 06, 2012 07:47am
Galileo Galelie "Father of Modern Science" was severely punished in 1642 for advancing his doctrine that Earth Revolves around the Sun by the Roman Catholic Church without investigating the basis of his theory. Just because he spoke against their centuaries old belief. Today in 21st Centuary, some people have shown the same mind set by calling Engr. Aga Waqar a FRAUD. The fact is that, Mr Waqar is not claiming that he has changed the basic Laws of Physics. He has just proved and demonstrated that a car can be run only by using Distilled water as a fuel. Now it is up to Engineers and Scientist to interrogate and study his newly invented water kit. We must appreciate him for his idea and efforts rather that humiliating him publicly. Let the time decide Whether he is right or wrong
Tony Aug 06, 2012 08:15am
A proud pakistan has invented something that no one in Europe, US or israel has been able to achieve. He has proved that we pakistanis are genious and more intelligent than Einstein and Newton. All we need is some financial support from government. People alike you want to put down any pakistani achievement. Shame on you. Within next 6 months, Pakistan will no longer have to import any oil. And as Arabs dont have enough water to produce energy, they will import water Pakistan. But we should only sell hydrogen in tankers to them, nor rawm material like water.
Javed Khan Aug 06, 2012 08:30am
A simple test to confirm the claim can be made when the car is started with hydrogen and then pull out the tube feeding the engine with hydrogen. If the engine stops, it means the claim is right (needs serious investigations, the guy perhaps will be entitled for a Noble Prize) but if the engine continues to run, it means there is another source of fuel (hidden) that is running the engine and hence it's a fraud and the guy should be arrested.
Hammad Aug 06, 2012 10:23am
We shouldn't encourage quack science. It will only waste our time.
Mustafa Razavi Aug 06, 2012 02:49pm
The only way water can produce energy is Cold Fusion, all the world's leading technological powers have been after that for the last 50 years.
Nayeem Aug 06, 2012 04:06pm
Please add that was in was right??
Farrukh Aug 06, 2012 06:11pm
This is a scientific project that Mr Aga has undertaken. He has shown some results which has captured our imagination. Scientfic community should work with him to understand the process and clarify to Mr Aga and the world at large if there are misconceptions. In this ill trodden society of ours, if there are people still working on scientific projects on their own, it should be rather encouraged, if not this one, who knows, we may discover some thing else, may be some better processes just as bi-products. Please, we should not be egoistic in our apporach. Appreciate his efforts and clarify if there are short falls and encourage him to do better.
Mahmud Aug 06, 2012 06:11pm
LOL... You have a good sense of humor !!!
Mahmud Aug 06, 2012 06:14pm
Obviously you dont know anything about science...
Dr Khan Aug 06, 2012 07:17pm
Instead of being negative, we should be really proud that a Pakistani has done something innovative! What a refreshing change!
Rashid Aug 06, 2012 07:18pm
dude you really need to study physics
sehar Aug 06, 2012 08:34pm
I really liked the artcile. The author has explained the whole physics behind it in a very simple way that a layman like me can even understand it.
Haroon Aug 06, 2012 11:40pm
People please research somethings yourself. Take some time out from your lives to learn something about the way the world/nature works. The world is watching and this is the sort of thing we run on TV and people are actually arguing for this guy. This person is not running his car on water. He is using electricity to break down the water and then burning the Hydrogen. Hydrogen cars already exist and have for a long time. The initial electricity is coming from an external source due to the battery already being charged beforehand. The reason his car stops after a certain number of kms is not because of the water running out it is because of the battery running out. It is a very simple process, you put in energy to break up the water, after which you burn the converted energy (hydrogen) in the engine from which you run the car and also recharge the battery but due to energy losses you can never get the same amount of energy back therefore the care stops as the battery runs out.
Baba Sidni Aug 07, 2012 02:01am
He knows the spelling.
Engr Baba Sidni Aug 07, 2012 02:13am
Did this article needed to be printed. As an engineer and someone who knows high school physics well, it did not add anything to my knowledge, although I read it in anticipation, that it might, and secondly this cannot change the minds of the believers of fairy tales.
bangads Aug 07, 2012 02:42am
The water fuelled car by pakistanis has only exposed the ignorance of the so called pakistani scientists, media persons, and political leaders. It just brought embarrassment to Pakistanis for not understanding a grade 10 science lesson. Even the national Pakistani hero Mr.A.Q. Khan invited doubts towards his own knowledge by endorsing the water fuelled car in one of his interviews.
Ajaya K Dutt Aug 07, 2012 03:30am
NOOOOOO. He is serious.
GPK Aug 07, 2012 04:04am
Mass can be destroyed, coverted to another form, to creat energy. It happens in nuclear fission and fusion reactions. Let this madness go on, let there be claims and counter claims. Someday, somewhere, somebody, some mad man, will think out of the box, and a simple process of fusion will be discovered along with taming and harnessing the enormous amount of fusion energy released and then energy problem will be solved.. . . . Amin!
Shakoor Aug 07, 2012 04:28am
You are absolutely right. A few years back two scientists Flieshman and Pons claimed that they had succeeded in creating a current using heavy water ( HO ) on the principle of cold fusion. They insisted that they had been successful despite the entire scientist community disagreeing with them. Several confirmation tests were conducted in labs across the world but Flieshman and Pons were left dishonoured by their peers.
Shakoor Aug 07, 2012 04:41am
You are burning phosphorus ( fuel) when you strike a match. Similarly you are burning fuel (petrol) when you start a car. Law is simple energy in - energy out. Some used and some wasted.
A sala Aug 07, 2012 04:49am
Small minds obviously think alike. A wise man once said " if you close the door to knowledge you open the door to ignorance." Gentlemen think about it , we need to get with the changing technology and times. They don't call it " fossil fuel " for nothing. A car that runs on generated fuel from water with the assistance of a little bit of electrical current to aid in the process. How about that!!
Murtaza Jamal Aug 09, 2012 02:35pm
What I find more disturbing than the "inventor" appearing on GEO TV is A.Q Khan's encouragement. I expect Dr. Khan to be well aware of the basic laws of physics and chemistry.
Azhar Aug 10, 2012 09:42pm
This article certainly needed to be printed to clear the doubts of people who are not engineers like you Mr. Sidni. This was meant to ADD to your knowledge but to explain to laymen why it is not possible to use water as a fuel. Knowledge has to be spread to those who don't know and this article is an excelent effort in that direction.
JPositive Aug 11, 2012 03:53am
What now remains is the CJ taking suo-moto action against Zardari for not encouraging this great national scientist!!
sudy Aug 11, 2012 03:54am
Who is Amin?
Kiran Khatak Aug 11, 2012 04:04am
No he doesn't need to. He is fit for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan with his existing knowledge!!
JPositive Aug 11, 2012 04:08am
The demon of ignorance is on us. Run for your life (i.e if you care enough for it)!!
charles Aug 11, 2012 07:26pm
The system works, I have built 4 cars and one truck, they dont run completely on water its used as a hybird system, the amount gained is 15-32 mpg. yes theres energy loss but also a gain in performence and its cleaned all motors, IE even more effecient. to run a car completely will take a large system with reengineered components.
charles Aug 11, 2012 07:27pm
it does work
Mano Aug 13, 2012 08:53am
Pakistani Aug 16, 2012 09:40pm
i dont get it..... if a car is running on why is it been stopped.... v should work on it... some ppl are saying tht the engine oil will lighten up, he eh eh!! thts non-sense to me.... I myself am testing this water fuel process to check that to what level it is harmful or any thing dangerous.... n if i vl found it so i myself vl show its harms n dangers on vdo shared on YOUTUBE...
Said Aug 21, 2012 11:38am
There is an absolute abudance of clean energy ready and waiting to be tapped, and we already have the technology to be able to harness it. There is no longer any need to rely on dirty carbon fuels. We must do this for our childrens sake:
Umair Ali Aug 23, 2012 06:09am
without knowing its complete process we cant claim that that guy is practical guys...