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Can saltwater be burned as a fuel?

Engadget – September 11, 2007

I first saw this on Engadget but that brought me to the link on YouTube which is a captured video of a TV station that appears to be in Erie, PA.

Apparently, John Kanzius was trying to use radio frequency waves to be used to treat cancer. In the process of doing some tests, he stumbled upon the realization that saltwater can be excited by the radio waves to release its hydrogen, which can then be ignited, and used as a heat source. Further testing and some chemical analysis has shown that this isn’t a hoax.

It would be great if this could be used as an inexpensive way to create hydrogen for industrial use or for use in automobiles. One of the challenges of hydrogen use as a fuel is the hazards of transporting and storing the fuel, if it could be left in water until it was needed this would solve a great many problems.

If it is not possible to do this separation “on-site” then it would have to be done in a major processing facility. At that time, the costs of using this hydrogen separation technique versus some other technique would need to be explored.

Hydrogen as a fuel would solve a lot of problems for the global warming debate. Hydrogen gives off no carbon based pollutants and its widespread use would quickly reverse the “dumping” of carbon into the atmosphere. Regardless of your position on global warming, this can only be a good thing. Also, since saltwater is so readily available to the industrialized world, using a technique such as this for fuel would help reduce the US dependence on Mideast oil.

Obviously, this lab experiment is a long way from a finished product but the possibilities are quite exciting. However, it is probably not a perfect technique since the RF generator obviously needed electricity to create the fields. Hopefully more research can be done to isolate the specific frequencies and lower the cost of the excitation to make this economically feasible.

In the video that is linked below as well as embedded, the newscaster says that Mr. Kanzius was trying to cure cancer but the explanation that is given obviously points to it being a “treatment” of cancer not a cure.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tf4gOS8aoFk

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5 Responses to “Can saltwater be burned as a fuel?”

  1. I’m afraid you’ve fallen for another scam. The simple fact is that he’ll have used more energy to get the hydrogen out of the sea water than he’ll ever get by burning the hydrogen afterwards. Are there any efficiency figures attached to this?

    The simple fact that it is glowing bright orange indicates that the Sodium atoms are being excited and thus plenty of energy is being wasted.

  2. I probably should have said that this was likely an energy losing proposal. Frankly, I thought that was obvious from the video.

    I have no doubt that more energy is put into the water than taken out. Most (all?) operations to extract hydrogen from water fall into this category. The interesting thing about the discovery is that it may (or may not) be more efficient than other processes after further refinement. I believe that the use of hydrogen in moving vehicles is incredibly important and any method of extracting it deserves large amounts of resources to develop the technique to ascertain its commercial potential.

  3. Well, I’m a little trigger happy on this because several forums I pop into, unsuspecting science illiterates have posted this very video (and others like that one on Fox News where the guy was melting metal with hydrogen produced from electrolysis) and myself and others spent several hours educating them about the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

    The thing is, I don’t see why this should be any more efficient than electrolysis anyway.
    plus the problem with hydrogen is storage. It seems battery technology is improving much more than H2 storage just now.

  4. […] on writing this. I found the entry because he comments on the “burning saltwater” story that I also commented on. His point is that it will take energy to create hydrogen from saltwater and that energy may be […]

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