Better Gas Mileage With Homemade Fuel Cell

posted: 04/11/12
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As seen in "MythBusters: Exploding Trousers."

Finding: BUSTED

Explanation: In the future, cars might run on environmentally friendly hydrogen fuel, but current car tech is a long way from realizing that Jetsonian dream. However, MythBusters Adam Savage and Grant Imahara found an impatient inventor online who claims to have developed a homemade hydrogen fuel cell that can produce hydrogen gas to power an automobile. To find out whether the future is now, the MythBusters built — and busted — the homemade battery based on design plans outlined in a patent application.

The fuel cell generates flammable hydrogen by splitting apart the oxygen and hydrogen atoms in water molecules via electrolysis. Grant built an electrolysis device that applies an electric voltage to the electrodes in water, which facilitates the hydrogen-harvesting reaction. Though the fuel cell construction went off without a hitch, hooking the homemade fuel cell to the carburetor was another matter.

When the MythBusters connected the hydrogen gas-making machine to the test car, the fuel cell couldn't jump-start the slightest mechanical jolt. Even pumping concentrated hydrogen gas directly into the engine failed to power the car safely, leaving the homemade fuel cell myth on the road to nowhere.

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