Salt Water As Fuel?



Last fall, an Erie, Pennsylvania (USA) man claimed to have used radio waves to liberate hydrogen and oxygen from saltwater. In fact that’s exactly what he did; the real question at hand is one of thermodynamics. Namely did he use more energy than he obtained from the reaction?

Understandably, it’s very easy to be excited about this new discovery; it has the potential to revolutionize the world. Of particular note to the water industry is that this device would use the waste product of desalination operations around the world – highly concentrated salt water. This waste product contains so much salt that it is environmentally irresponsible to return it to the local ocean waters over concerns that the high concentrations of salt would alter the local seawater chemistry. To be able to actually use this waste product, let alone use it to power the societies around our world, would be wonderful.

The concept is not so far removed from another recent discovery, that radio frequencies can be substituted for catalysts in chemical reactions. In fact, many who have seen Mr. Kanzius’ work postulate that what is happening is that the sodium is acting in concert with the radio frequency generator to break the hydrogen-oxygen bonds. Lending believability to these assertions is the fact that the radio frequencies used by Mr. Kanzius are near a harmonic of sodium (13.56 MHz).

The national television networks, and many other news organizations have all carried this story and all show John Kanzius, the man who discovered of this phenomenon, ‘burning’ salt water. What Mr. Kanzius demonstrates in all of these news stories is that salt water, in the presence of radio waves, liberates a combustible gas. In addition to the layman’s version, Mr. Kanzius has met with Dr. Rustum Roy, Professor Emeritus at Penn State University, who is an expert on the structure of water. Dr. Roy confirmed through the use of independent glassware and water samples that Mr. Kanzius’ claims are true. The gases that are liberated are, indeed, hydrogen and oxygen; additionally a small amount of sodium appears to be consumed in the reaction, as well.
According to Dr. Roy, “I visited Mr. Kanzius’ lab in Erie, PA and confirmed for myself the demonstrations which he is seen performing in the original video clip from the Cleveland TV Station. In addition, Mr. Kanzius brought his relatively simple equipment to our (microwave) lab in the Materials Research Lab at Penn State for the day. He explained his work, and the process was demonstrated before some dozen senior faculty and research personnel from various departments using our personnel, chemicals and glassware.”
“It is clear that Mr. Kanzius has demonstrated the ability to dissociate aqueous solutions of sodium chloride at normal sea water concentrations into hydrogen and oxygen. Of course, it is the hydrogen and oxygen (emerging from the water) which are being burned in the video, not the water or NaCl. He has not made any attempt as far as we know to obtain the data regarding the energy balance between input and output. Neither The Pennsylvania State University nor I have any contractual relationship with Mr. Kanzius as of this date”
That sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Simply amazing. Now, though, it is time to put on the skeptic’s hat and ask the question hinted in Dr. Roy’s comments and posed at the beginning of this article: does Mr. Kanzius’ device use energy or produce energy? The radio waves are not free; they require energy to be produced. How much energy they require and how much energy is being produced lie at the crux of the discovery.

According to independent observers, the radio frequency generator consumes approximately 200W while in operation. Dr. Kanzius has commented that his discovery has, at a minimum, achieved unity (that is the energy in is equal to the energy out) and the lab at which it has been tested (APV in Akron, Ohio) claims that it exceeds unity – this would mean that it is a net producer of energy. If this is the case, it could be a revolutionary time in human history.

To validate this discovery, two things must be accomplished:
1. Allow others to reproduce the system from scratch
2. Use these ‘independent’ power cells to verify that the energy balance exceeds unity.

Mr. Kanzius has already approached the US Department of Energy (DOE) with his claims and no doubt they have suggested the same path to him. The US DOE has a vested interest in pursuing alternative energy resources and marrying promising inventions with critical seed funding to get the idea on solid ground. It will be interesting to follow this story in the coming months and see how it continues to develop. Good luck to Mr. Kanzius!

Salt Water As Fuel?

Last fall, an Erie, Pennsylvania (USA) man claimed to have used radio waves to liberate hydrogen and oxygen from saltwater. In fact that’s exactly what he did; the real question at hand is one of thermodynamics. Namely did he use more energy than he obtained from the reaction?

Understandably, it’s very easy to be excited about this new discovery; it has the potential to revolutionize the world. Of particular note to the water industry is that this device would use the waste product of desalination operations around the world – highly concentrated salt water. This waste product contains so much salt that it is environmentally irresponsible to return it to the local ocean waters over concerns that the high concentrations of salt would alter the local seawater chemistry. To be able to actually use this waste product, let alone use it to power the societies around our world, would be wonderful. More…

Rain Catchers

Runoff from rainfall can cause significant problems for local communities. Runoff carries with it soil, pet waste, pesticides, oil & other pollutants. This polluted storm water often flows directly into creeks and streams contaminating them and the larger rivers that they feed, fouling the water for humans, plants and animals. There are easy ways to minimize runoff and allow more water to gradually soak into the local aquifers namely rain gardens, rain barrels and cisterns. While easy to implement when initially developing land implementing these solutions in already-developed areas can be a challenge. Recently, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) worked with one community in Ohio to address the problem in a novel manner.

Mt. Airy Rain Catchers is an EPA project that enlisted the help of Mt. Airy (Ohio) neighborhood partners to install rain gardens and rain barrels in their yards. The EPA’s goal is to evaluate how these individual, household actions can improve local water quality. To quantify the impact of these measures, the EPA is monitoring the health of the local watershed, Shepherd Creek. Data was gathered before the installation of rain barrels and rain gardens; this will be compared to the data collected in the years following the installation, allowing a complete understanding of the project’s impact. The EPA chose this community because rainwater runoff was impairing the health of Shepherd Creek.

A rain garden is essentially the opposite of a raised-bed garden. A bowl-shaped depression is dug into the ground and native plants that develop large root systems are planted in the ‘bowl’. The plants are covered with loose mulch and left to nature. By siting the rain gardens in areas that see rainfall run-off streams and puddles, much more of the rainfall can be captured. In fact, up to 30% more rainfall is captured by a lawns with rain gardens versus a traditional lawns. Rain barrels are exactly what the name implies. By placing these barrels under gutter downspouts, the roof runoff is collected; a valve at the base of the barrel allows the rainwater to be dispensed and used for gardening and household plants.

What is most interesting however is the novel approach that the EPA took in implementing these solutions within the community. The project began with the installation of a rain barrel and two demonstration rain gardens at the community arboretum. In the spring if 2007, the EPA mailed informational packets to property owners in the community. Each home was eligible to receive up to four rain barrels and a rain garden; homeowners could chose to receive either or both. Installation, planting and hardware costs were borne by the EPA. Homeowners bid the amount they wished to be paid for installation and maintenance of rain gardens and rain barrels. Lower payments (lower bids) were more likely to be selected. After the auction-winners were selected, US EPA’s contractors installed 50 rain gardens and 101 rain barrels at the selected homes in the summer of 2007. Each rain catcher owner received an owner’s manual.
This is the largest project of its kind in the country, to date. It also is a pilot program to test the auction-based method of encouraging the public to participate in reducing storm water runoff and pollution at the household level. By taking such a proactive approach to the problem, the EPA was able to engage the individual property owners and make them ‘stakeholders’ in their community’s watershed. In addition to viewing their rain gardens as points of neighborhood pride, the citizens in the community are now more educated about their own watershed resources.