• Jan 3, 2011
The lure of extracting hydrogen from water in a somewhat real-time fashion in sufficient quantities to power an automobile has so far been a complete dead-end pursuit. One of the biggest problems is that it takes more energy to release the hydrogen from its water-tight bonds than is actually returned by the resulting hydrogen.

But those basic laws of physics haven't stopped scientists with well-funded checkbooks from trying. The latest endeavor comes from Daniel Nocera of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is being funded by Indian businessman Ratan Tata, who, among other things, heads the global automaker that bears his name. At this time, the total grant comes in at $15 million.

As intriguing as all of this sounds, it bears mentioning that water-powered cars have repeatedly failed in their missions (see here) of offering nearly free fuel for all.

Take the story of the MDI's air car. In 2007, Tata signed a deal with MDI to bring the air-powered car to market and the companies said in early 2008 that the car would require nearly two years of work. We have heard little about it since then except a name change to FlowAir and a lot of skepticism that it would ever see the light of day at all. Will Tata's hydrogen bet fare any better? Thanks to Matteo and Roy B. for the tips!

[Sources: Sify News, ANSA.IT | Image: AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 43 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      NOT ONE POST ADDRESSES THE USE OF METHANE OR NATURAL GAS AS AN ALTERNATIVE FOR GASOLINE.
      • 4 Years Ago
      USING WATER TO OPERATE A CAR VRS FUEL DOES WORK. 2 YEARS AGO AFTER VIEWING A YOU TUBE PRESENTATION ON THIS A FRIEND (MECHANIC) OF MINE BUILT A UNIT VERY EASILY AND HIS GAS MILEAGE WENT FROM 23MPG TO 45MPG. HES BEEN LETTING HIS WIFE DRIVE THE CAR SINCE SHE HAS FURTHER TO DRIVE TO WORK THAN HIMSELF. DOESN'T SEEM TO BE A BIG DEAL TO HIM BUT THE OIL COMPANIES WILL NEVER LET THIS HAPPEN BECAUSE THEY STAND TO LOSE TO MUCH MONEY.
      mark
      • 4 Years Ago
      If It could work, they would never let it be so. There is to much money tied up in Oil. they will SHUT IT DOWN. It would CRUSH The world econimey
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hydrogen fuel is not new. Building a fuel cell is no big deal . The problem is how car engines are built. They use air ,water and gas to cool them . The computer on board will call for more fuel when the engine starts to run hot. Both the computers and the fuel systems will need to be changed. The other problem is controlling the amount of hydrogen producted by the cell and brown water. At this time fuel cells for cars require more maintenance then most are willing to do. The problem will be big oil. They will do what ever it takes to stand in the way.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Let's not forget, these things will give off water vapor through the tailpipe. And, water vapor is a greenhouse gas. A few cars, OK, but with millions of cars, that would be just as bad as the carbon dioxide we now get.
      • 4 Years Ago
      When using electrolysis to separate the H2 and O (or Browns Gas) a gallon of water will last an incredible amount of time before having to be replenished. It wouldn't be like a gallon of water to go 20 miles. A gallon of water can produce many thousands of liters of H2 and O. The problem is as mentioned above that with the current technology it takes more energy to separate the water than the energy derived from the separated oxygen and hydrogen. I have experimented for years with this and built many hydrogen cells. A lot of heat is produced as a byproduct and could actually be used to heat homes and businesses thus offsetting the expense to separate the water. Hydrogen however is extremely explosive and very dangerous in large quantities just look at the Hindenburg. I still believe it will happen one day but not with the current technology.
      • 4 Years Ago
      OOPS, FORGOT SOMETHING. ALL BUT 4 MEMBERS OF CONGRESS HAVE OIL IN THEIR PORTFOLIO. I WONDER IF THAT HAS SOMETHING OT DO WITH OBAMA AND PELOSI STOPPING THE DRILLING. AND, IT WOULD TAKE LESS THAN 2 MONTHS TO EQUIP A STANDING GAS STATION WITH NATURAL GAS. IF WE HAD THE METHANE IN ABUNDANCE (LIKE ALASKA) IN THE LOWER 48, IT WOULD TAKE THE SAME AMOUNT OF TIME TO EQUIP THE STATIONS WITH METHANE PUMPS.THAT FIGURE ON HOW CLEAN BOTH NATURAL GAS AND METHANE BURN IS 53% CLEANER THAN GASOLINE. NOW DOES ANYONE FEEL LIKE WRITING OR CALLING THEIR CONGRESSMAN?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why can't they research using Ocean Water as the supply of that stuff is just unlimited. Would also help reduce our issue with rising ocean levels, an also help it rain more with all the steam going back up into the air LOL...
        • 4 Years Ago
        desalinization is extremely energy intensive ( guess where most of our energy comes from.... coal ), and the discharge of brine/salt/junk that comes out of it ends up in the ocean which has a very bad effect on the environment.

        That is why a lot of countries/areas consider desalinization to be a last resort for getting clean drinking water.

        Think of it as taking the water out of the ocean and putting the salt back in. On a large scale, the effect can be pretty bad.
      Lando J
      • 4 Years Ago
      The oil companies will just by him of for a billion dollars just the the other guy who invented a engine that runs off of water
      • 4 Years Ago
      That 15M would be better spent on building cars that AREN'T complete deathtraps.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Besides the obvious issue of the energy required to make hydrogen there is also the problem of storing it for use. Hydrogen liquefies at very low temperatures or extremely high pressures. Cryogenic liquids evaporate too quickly. Pressurized tanks are dangerous. Lower pressure tanks don’t provide enough energy for a descent range. Though hydrogen made by nuclear power make some sense there are many engineering obstacles to make it practical.
      stream
      • 1 Year Ago
      Really Mr tata is n excellent man in the field of mechanical engineering. If he had accepted Only one God running whole universe, and he is the master of day and night. and who is un seen and can feel his existence. that what islam teaches for all . and god don\'t have any association with him. and he is only worth of worship that we call as Allah.so he send several messengers, in which Prophate Muhammed is the last one.
    • Load More Comments