Thursday, June 19, 2008

Do not believe everything you read

Reuters reported on the 13th of June that Japanese company Genepax presents its eco-friendly car that runs on nothing but water. The car has an energy generator that extracts hydrogen from water that is poured into the car's tank. The generator then releases electrons that produce electric power to run the car. Genepax, the company that invented the technology, aims to collaborate with Japanese manufacturers to mass produce it.

The story was released after that in Treehugger, Celsias, Gizmodo, Environmental leader, Engadget, Financial Post, Tech-On and lots of blogs and submissions to different bookmarking platforms.

I was going to write a post myself but fortunately there are also people who think before they publish stories without checking the facts.

ecogeek states the facts so simply and understandably that I am quoting them:

Water Powered Cars" generally work like this: Energy stored in a battery or generated by an on-board gasoline powered generator, splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. The two are then recombined, either in an internal combustion engine or in a fuel cell. Energy from the fuel cell or the engine then drives the car.

So, simplifying this, they're breaking water into hydrogen and oxygen and then burning hydrogen and oxygen to create water. This is, of course, possible, but you can't get more energy out of the system than you put in. Otherwise, it's simply a perpetual motion machine.

If it worked, it could sit on the driveway and make energy all day every day and power the entire world without you ever needing to put anything in it. In short, if it worked, it would break the laws of physics, and we would never need to burn another piece of coal again. This would be an extraordinarily easy thing to prove. Too bad none of these people who make these wonderful devices are too busy talking to the local news to actually build one.

I have taught physics and chemistry some years ago and one of the hardest things to understand was the law of conservation of energy which states that the total amount of energy in any isolated system remains constant but cannot be recreated, although it may change forms, e.g. friction turns kinetic energy into thermal energy. Also thermal energy is less useful than the other types of energy. It can never be changed to other forms in its full amount, but part of it gets always wasted to the environment.

Acting green is not very easy. If you use green products, you must also remember how much energy has been used to get the product to you! Also electric cars are good because they don't develop pollution but the electricity has been made somehow...


footiam said...

Does that include the holy book?

EeHai said...

Reading is to make us think. A good read is one that gathers information and process them before considering them as knowledge. Therefore I would agree with you that we need to understand the article before we believe it.