What Is HHO
A lot of people have been asking this question recently since the gas prices started soaring to ridiculous levels. HHO is the latest craze in the miracle gadgets that claim to increase your fuel mileage.
HHO is a gas that is extracted from water by using electrolysis. It is not steam but is an actual gas. HHO is made up of hydrogen and oxygen and is very flammable. Many sites are advertising their HHO systems as a hydrogen on demand system but the HHO is not actually pure hydrogen. It does contain hydrogen in it but is also mixed with oxygen.
HHO Gas Fact Or Fiction
This is an easy one for me to answer. HHO gas is a fact. When I first heard about these systems I was having problems believing that you could actually make a flammable gas from water. Yeah I know that they can extract hydrogen from water but these guys were talking about doing it yourself at home.
I wanted to find out if this was really possible so I built one of the HHO generators. It was pretty easy from there, just grabbed the cigarette lighter and I no longer have any doubts.
Can you double your gas mileage using one of these HHO systems. Well that is not as easy to answer there. Please read on and maybe I can help you get the answer you need.
How To Make HHO
This part is not hard to do. All you need to make HHO is a 12V battery, some distilled water with baking soda added in it, and some conductive plates. This isn’t going to be the science version of why it works. Just a simplified version of how to make the HHO gas
The first thing to do is get a jar or some other container that will hold water and take some heat. Then fill it about 3/4 full of distilled water and mix in a teaspoon of baking soda. (The baking soda works as a catalyst similar to the battery acid in your car battery)
Next you will need two stainless steel plates. I used some stainless wall plates from the electrical aisle in the hardware store. You will also need to attach some wires or some other conductor to these plates that will extend up out of the jar.
You need to keep these plates from touching each other. I used nylon bolts and washers from the hardware store. Bolt the plates together with the nylon bolts and use enough of the washers to have about a 1/2 inch gap between them.
Put the plates in the water and connect the battery to the conductors. It will start bubbling and the water will begin to discolor. Those bubbles are the HHO gas being made. Those bubbles are also flammable so if you start playing with it then be careful.
What Do You Use The HHO Generator For
The basic plan for these systems is that you install a HHO generator on your car and this will increase your gas mileage. Sounds pretty easy but after you start trying it out you will find that there is actually more to it than just this.
Most cars that are on the road today have electronically controlled fuel injection systems on them. (EFI) The computer for your car decides how much fuel it needs to send to the engine based on your throttle selection and several sensors.
Basically the computer will not care if you just go hook up an HHO generator to your intake. In most cases the gas mileage will remain unchanged and in some cases even get worse. This means that now you have to get more complex then just installing that generator.
Since the computer decides how much fuel you are going to burn then you will have to manipulate your computer into reducing the amount of fuel being delivered. There are several sensors that play a part in how much fuel is burned but the O2 sensor and the Map sensor are the ones most people are using to adjust the fuel to air ratio.
Tricking Your Computer
This is the part of the HHO system that is going to make it important for you to have a little understanding of how your vehicle works. Like I mentioned above the two sensors that are most commonly being used to adjust your fuel to air ratio are the Map sensor and O2 sensor.
The Map sensor is pretty easy to do because it sends a signal (usually at least) of between 1 and 5 volts to the computer. Lowering the voltage that is sent to the computer will result in the computer leaning out the fuel mixture. (Lean is less fuel – Rich is more fuel)
Since all we want to do here is decrease the voltage then you can easily acheive this by adding some resistance in the circuit between the Map sensor and the computer. The component that is being used for this is called a Map sensor enhancer and is made from potentiometers and resistors. No big deal for this and they are fairly easy to make yourself.
The O2 sensor on the other hand sends out a constantly changing signal, I beleive it is between 0.2 and 1 volt. In this case the higher voltage results in leaning out the fuel ratio. Since we need to add some voltage to this circuit it is a much more complex problem to solve.
The computer expects for the O2 sensor to send a constantly changing signal so you can’t just wire in something to send a steady 1V signal to the computer. Trying to do this will only result in the computer deciding that the O2 sensor has failed. When it decides that the O2 sensor has failed then it will automatically start running your engine rich to prevent the possibility of over heating. This means that your gas mileage would get worse – not better.
The device that they have come up with for manipulating the signal coming from the O2 sensor is known as an EFIE. (Electronic Fuel Injection Enhancer) Since there is no way to connect a small power supply in series with the signal wire from the O2 sensor and the fact that this voltage needs to be increased it is a bit harder to manipulate.
After I pulled up some drawings for an EFIE circuit I did not even bother trying to build one. You can buy them for about $60 so unless you are used to working with circuit boards already then I would not recommend building one yourself.
Now here is the part where you need to be careful. Playing with the O2 sensor and the Map sensor is going to give you some manual control over your fuel to air ratio. There are a lot of people doing this so you can do it without damaging anything but you need to be aware of the risk.
If you lean out your fuel and do not have an operating HHO generator connected then there is a very real possibility of increasing engine and exhaust temperature high enough to damage your engine. This is why I would recommend that an HHO system should only be used by someone with some mechanical knowledge.
The HHO generator seems to provide enough cooling that you can lean out your fuel a little without causing damage. There is always the possibility of the generator failing though so you will have to pay attention. A clogged line between the generator and the intake manifold could cause you some serious problems.
Will It Void My Warranty
Pretty much all of the sites promoting HHO systems seem to tap dance around this question. Instead of giving an answer they will tell you how easy the system is to install and remove and how quickly it can be done.
That is because doing this to your vehicle will absolutely void your warranty if you get caught with it in there. By using an HHO system you are introducing an unmetered amount of an unapproved fuel into your engine. If they catch you there is no way that they will honor that warranty on your engine.
So Does HHO Really Work
So does it really. Honestly I am not 100% sure. There are so many factors that can come in to play with your gas mileage. Outside air temperature, driving style, altitude above sea level, tire inflation, the condition of your sensors and engine, is your air filter clean, the list just goes on and on.
Here is what I do know. There are people using these HHO systems and increasing their gas mileage. There are people that have tried the HHO systems and it did not work at all. There are several factors involved here as well. One is the skill level of the people that got it to work versus the people that did not. Obviously the more you know about cars and how they work then the greater your chance for success will be.
Another factor is what kind of car you have and what sensors it uses. For instance some vehicles use a Maf sensor instead of a Map. That Maf sensor is going to be a little more difficult to trick. The same thing can happen if your car uses an AF sensor instead of O2.
Also for the people that did get it to work. How much did they change their driving habits after installing the HHO system. How much of their gains came from the HHO system and how much came from a shift in driving habits.