Car Misconceptions: Can You Power a Car with Water?

If you’ve had an email address for any length of time, you’ve probably deleted plenty of spam emails trying to sell you a kit that makes your car run off of water. A kit that does this means that a lot of money can be saved since water is far cheaper and more available than gasoline or diesel fuel. If what the spam emails claim is true, why hasn’t someone become a billionaire by starting a company around the concept?

The idea has been around in different forms for a long time and should have shut down by now, most of the viable energy industries such as coal, oil, nuclear, and solar power. Is there a conspiracy to suppress this technology so that the power industries can force us to pay higher energy prices? No. The truth is that, yes, you can make a car (with the right engine) run off of water but you will have to supply the energy to make it happen because it won’t come from the water itself. The idea of using water as a fuel to power a car without substantial energy input on your part is nothing but a car misconception.

Too Good to Be True

A steam-powered engine is like this. It runs off of water in the same sense that you add water to it as well as some energy in the form of burning wood or coal. But as most people easily understand, the water isn’t the fuel that powers the engine. Cars that run on water typically use electrolysis to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then burned to power the engine. What happens to hydrogen when it’s burned? It combines with oxygen and forms water which is the fuel that supposedly powers the car in the first place. That’s like a gasoline engine that puts out gasoline as a waste product after the gasoline has powered the car. It’s too good to be true.

Money Is Saved at the Gas Pump but Is Spent on Higher Electric Bills

The truth is that it takes energy to separate that hydrogen from the water (during electrolysis) before you can use it, just like it takes energy to convert water into steam before you can use it in a steam engine. Some of the energy used in electrolysis is lost in the form of heat, which means that burning the hydrogen gives you less energy than was used producing it. Using such a car will require water and a convenient electrical hookup to supply energy to power the electrolysis. So you save money by not buying gasoline but end up paying a higher electric bill each month. Like the water used in a steam engine, the water isn’t the fuel that powers the car.

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