In 1972, I studied ecology at York University in England. I soon learned that if progress continued at its present rate, we would destroy the world. My studies left me with a lasting distaste for standard Western civilization, and a determination to make myself as independent as I could. Dropping out of the world of science, I began to learn various practical skills, with the intention of being in charge of my own life, not supporting the insidious network of big business that controls the world most of us know.
Some years later, I found myself running an organic market garden in northern California, living with solar electricity. I learned to grow most of my own food. I built my own house out of recycled wood which I scavenged here and there over a period of years, designing the house around the lumber that I had available, rather than first designing it and then getting the lumber. It was two storeys, one thousand square feet.
After many years of living in the boonies, where you couldn’t simply make a phone call and get someone to come and install something for you, I had a good grasp on various skills. I put in several solar electric systems and a couple of small water turbines, which are very like a car’s alternator, only they are turned by a flow of water instead of an engine.
As I got older and had more time on my hands, I started looking at alternative methods of travel. There isn’t a lot of public transport in the boonies. Bicycles are all very well, but you can’t carry a whole lot. Horses require a lot of care, and they don’t like cities. Electric cars are hampered by their dependence on lead-acid batteries which are extremely heavy—and they have to be charged. Solar panels can’t produce enough electricity to charge them unless you have a lot of time to wait, and some very reliable sunlight. Running generators to produce electricity generates a lot of pollution—more than most cars. Then I heard of putting an electric current through water to release hydrogen, which is an excellent fuel, since it is very explosive. That quality also makes it very difficult to transport. It must be used immediately at the point of production because it is too dangerous to store. Mixed with gasoline, it’s perfect for small-scale individual use. Another beauty of hydrogen as a fuel is how cleanly it burns. Your car’s emissions dip to zip.
I paid a hundred dollars for some plans off the Internet, and made a little hydrolyzing unit—a series of metal plates immersed in water, with an electric current from the car battery passing through it. The hydrogen (also known as HHO or Brown’s Gas) is then released as a gas which is fed into the intake manifold through a tube, entering the combustion chamber along with the air that the engine pulls in. I soon discovered that the system I’d bought hadn’t been properly tested—it had various problems, such as pulling water into the engine. So I did a little more research on the Internet and built my own system. All this took a long time, because I couldn’t find anyone reliable who had actually done it successfully. Things that could have been simple, such as where to mount the unit in the engine compartment, took a lot of experimentation. Then I had to buy something called an EFIE (electronic fuel injection enhancer) because I needed to fool my car’s computer, to prevent it putting so much gasoline into the engine. The correct adjustment on that was a matter of trial and error over time and miles, as was the adjustment of the mixture I put in the hydrolyzing unit. Various people on the internet swore by various mixes, using substances such as hydrogen peroxide, salt, and baking soda in water, to get more hydrogen. Since these home-made units are all different, no one was able to tell me exactly what percentage of what mix to use. I spent a lot of time at roadside rest stops, adding or subtracting, according to what blew a fuse or didn’t. In spite of this, I am very pleased to be at least partly in charge of my own fuel source. For an independence addict like me, that’s a delight.
I’m getting somewhere slowly—and my car has a surprising amount of power that it never used to have. My gas consumption is better, though still not as good as I want it, since I’ve heard, from some of the more reliable sources on the Internet, that you can double it.
You can’t run a regular internal combustion engine purely on hydrogen (yet) for a number of reasons. The hydrolyzing process uses a certain amount of electrical energy from the battery, so the amount of hydrogen you can produce is limited by that. Nevertheless, this is a very simple technology. You can do a great deal without paying huge bucks for an expensive car that you certainly can’t service yourself, and probably isn’t made sensibly with sensible material. Does it damage the engine? Anyone involved in a business that makes money out of standard fuels will tell you it does. As yet, my engine is showing no signs of wear. I’m prepared to take the risk, since it’s an old car, and a new engine wouldn’t be the end of the world. Obviously you have to have a few safety systems installed to make sure the hydrogen doesn’t explode before it enters the combustion chamber, and to make sure that only the hydrogen gas is pulled into the engine.
But that’s not the best of it. One of the gas-for-free forums on the Internet (http://www.fuel-saver.org) recently posted a link to an article about using urine for fuel. Using pee instead of water, you can get a lot more hydrogen for less energy expenditure. Small-scale use of hydrogen made by electrolysis of urine is being developed commercially. Houses will soon be heated by this method. Researchers are expecting that cars using urea will be available in six months, getting ninety miles to the gallon—of gasoline, that is. You won’t be peeing into the gas tank—that’s not how it works! Urine will be collected from farms and refined into urea, which will then be added direct to the hydrolyzing unit. The car probably won’t use more than a gallon of urea to fifty of gasoline, since it doesn’t take much to produce a lot of hydrogen.
As a keen gardener, I have always known that urine is the best fertilizer available. It’s been a great delight to find a good use for something that other people only want to get rid of. Now I can use it run my car? Hallelujah! Needless to say, I am building a hydrolyzing unit with this in mind. But the greatest joy for me is that Western civilization is waking up. We don’t need to go to war for oil. Sources of energy are sitting right here in front of us, in pipes running under our feet. Let’s get to using it!