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More on the 'water car'

2004-10-21 10:06

Now that I have probably offended you, I feel I must apologise. It's just that pseudo-science, both sincere and fraudulent, really raises my hackles, especially when it is accompanied by uncritical press coverage.

Pseudo-science (in all its forms) is not harmless fun - It causes considerable financial and physical harm to those it dupes. It defrauds credulous investors, and damages the health of people desperate enough to use quack medicines.

In your reply to another antagonistic email, you state "There is in fact a groundswell of opinion to the contrary". Since when does opinion, especially the opinion of the scientifically illiterate, decide reality?

If everyone in the world was of the opinion that gravity is a myth, it would still be courting calamity to jump off the top of the Golden Gate bridge! Your choice of correspondence included in your article "Poo-pooing the water car" also seems biased.

It seems to me that you deliberately chose someone's hastily penned, poorly spelled, profanity-laden email, so as to paint all opposition to this "radical idea" as coming from closed-minded ignoramuses. (Not that I believe that the writer of that email was a closed-minded ignoramus, I just believe he should have spell-checked before hitting "send".)

Surely some chemistry or physics professor read the same article, and responded, too. (Higher-education professionals might not make enough money to buy new cars, but surely they must still wish they could, and thus read motoring sites.)

Didn't any of them send you a more compelling explanation of why the whole idea is bunk, an explanation more difficult to dismiss than the example you chose? The article you linked to was hardly any support for your argument.

It seemed to be asking "non-believers" to make some sort of "paradigm shift". Now, anyone asking for a radical shift in scientific thinking, just to explain something as simple as a new form of internal combustion, is surely blowing smoke up your, err, chimney.

What's next, pyramids, UFOs and Atlanteans? Simple chemical formulae backed by basic thermodynamic calculations would surely do!

Thank you for your time in reading this.

I include some links to web-sites debunking pseudo-science in general (although not the particular case of the "water-car"). The Skeptical Enquirer and The Museum of Unworkable Devices: Quackwatch

Thank you
- Name withheld by request

...and he adds more

Hi sorry, me again, still doing my "Offended Tannie from Boksburg" routine.

I just want to add to the comments of my previous email: I feel it's simply *wrong* to even try to compare peroxide-based propulsion with "water based propulsion".

Hydrogen peroxide and water are, in a chemical sense, fundamentally different.

Peroxide propulsion is known to work. They even power rockets with the stuff!

The "water car" is clearly junk. Peroxide is a "high-energy" material. Simple catalytic conversion releases large amounts of energy. Water is "low-energy" - It *takes* energy to separate its components (hydrogen and oxygen), *more* energy than can ever be released by re-combining these components, whether they be in H2 and O2 forms, or any other esoteric combination, such as hydroxy.

This is a fundamental physical fact - you won't get a net win regardless of how "clever" or "efficient" your seperation and re-combination efforts are.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but it seems we'll be enriching the oil barons for many years to come.

Wheels24 replies

No, I'm not offended. I found both stories interesting, and the research I did seemed to indicate the viability of the first story. Now there are other opinions. I leave it to the reader to decide.
- John Oxley, Managing Editor

And another

Hi John

Just For your interest re the above-mentioned [Hydrogen (Brown's Gas) Info]

Kind regards
- Herbert Schroder

And an academic responds

I read the letter pooh-poohing the claims of hydroxyl-gas powered cars; and did a google search of my own on Brown's Gas.

Interestingly enough the following page came up which refutes the claims about the uses of hydroxyl gas as put forward in the page you referenced.

I recommend you link this or at least qualify your original story, since it appears that the efficient running of an internal combustion (or even hybrid) engine off hydroxyl gas is at best inefficient and at worst impossible.

Yours sincerely
- Jeremy Botha

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