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Publication numberUS20050217991 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/053,196
Publication date6 Oct 2005
Filing date7 Feb 2005
Priority date5 Feb 2004
Also published asWO2005077058A2, WO2005077058A3
Publication number053196, 11053196, US 2005/0217991 A1, US 2005/217991 A1, US 20050217991 A1, US 20050217991A1, US 2005217991 A1, US 2005217991A1, US-A1-20050217991, US-A1-2005217991, US2005/0217991A1, US2005/217991A1, US20050217991 A1, US20050217991A1, US2005217991 A1, US2005217991A1
InventorsDavid Dahlquist
Original AssigneeDahlquist David F Jr
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Fuel system for internal combustion engine
US 20050217991 A1
Abstract
A fuel system is provided for generating hydrogen and oxygen for use in an internal combustion engine to improve combustion efficiency, horsepower, and torque and to decrease emissions. The fuel system has at least one electrolysis cell for generating hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis of an aqueous solution, a power source for providing electrical power to the electrolysis cell, and a heating and cooling system for maintaining the temperature of the electrolysis cell in a desired range to obtain the desired quantities of hydrogen and oxygen for operation of the internal combustion engine. The invention also includes an electrode array of a plurality of spaced apart electrodes for use in this fuel system and a nonconductive support connected to each of the electrodes to hold the electrodes in place, while leaving adequate room around the electrodes to allow free flow of the aqueous solution between the electrodes. High purity electrolyte and substantially non-reactive electrodes result in improved electrolysis.
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Claims(30)
1. A system for generating hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis of water, the system comprising
(a) an aqueous electrolyte solution;
(b) a plurality of spaced-apart electrodes, wherein the electrodes are comprised of substantially non-reactive materials, are at least partially submerged in the aqueous electrolyte solution, and are couplable to an electrical power source;
(c) a heat exchanger configured for exchanging heat with the aqueous electrolyte solution for maintaining the aqueous electrolyte solution in a selected temperature range, wherein the heat exchanger is couplable to a heating and cooling system; and
(d) a sealable housing for receiving the aqueous electrolyte solution, the plurality of spaced apart electrodes, and the heat exchanger, wherein the sealable housing comprises an outlet port.
2. The system of claim 1 wherein the aqueous electrolyte solution comprises an acid, a base, a salt, or mixtures thereof.
3. The system of claim 2 wherein the aqueous electrolyte solution comprises a base.
4. The system of claim 3 wherein the base comprises about 15% to about 45% by weight of a metal hydroxide.
5. The system of claim 4 wherein the base comprises about 25% to about 35% by weight of metal hydroxide.
6. The system of claim 4 wherein metal hydroxide comprises potassium hydroxide.
7. The system of claim 3 wherein the aqueous electrolyte solution further comprises about 5% to about 10% by weight of hydrogen peroxide.
8. The system of claim 1 wherein the aqueous electrolyte solution is least about 80% pure.
9. The system of claim 8 wherein the aqueous electrolyte solution is at least about 90% pure.
10. The system of claim 9 wherein the aqueous electrolyte solution is at least about 99% pure.
11. The system of claim 1 wherein the plurality of spaced-apart electrodes are comprised of stainless steel.
12. The system of claim 1 wherein the housing comprises a pressure release mechanism.
13. The system of claim 1 wherein the heating and cooling system comprises coolant from the engine.
14. The system of claim 1 wherein the heat exchanger contacts the aqueous electrolyte solution.
15. The system of claim 1 wherein the heat exchanger exchanges heat with the housing, which in turn exchanges heat with the aqueous electrolyte solution.
16. The system of claim 1 wherein the heating and cooling system comprises a manual controller.
17. The system of claim 1 wherein the heating and cooling system comprises an automatic controller.
18. The system of claim 1 further comprising a device for measuring aqueous electrolyte solution levels in the housing.
19. The system of claim 1 wherein the aqueous electrolyte solution comprises distilled water.
20. The system of claim 1 wherein the plurality of spaced-apart electrodes are configured for permitting circulation of aqueous electrolyte solution therethrough.
21. An electrode array for use in a fuel system comprising an electrolysis cell for generating hydrogen and oxygen gases from an aqueous electrolyte solution, the electrode array comprising:
(a) multiple electrodes configured in a spaced-apart relationship for permitting free circulation of the aqueous electrolyte solution between the multiple electrodes while being close enough to each other to generate hydrogen and oxygen gas by electrolysis of the aqueous electrolyte solution upon application of electrical power to the multiple electrodes; and
(b) a nonconductive support upon which the multiple electrodes are disposed for holding the multiple electrodes in place.
22. The electrode array of claim 21 wherein the multiple electrodes comprise concentric metal cylinders.
23. The electrode array of claim 21 further comprising a container in which the electrode array and the aqueous electrolyte solution are disposed.
24. The electrode array of claim 23 wherein the aqueous electrolyte solution comprises a mixture of distilled water and at least about 90% pure acid, base, salt, or mixtures thereof.
25. The electrode array of claim 24 wherein the aqueous electrolyte solution comprises a mixture of distilled water and at least about 99% pure acid, base, salt, or mixtures thereof.
26. The electrode array of claim 24 wherein the aqueous electrolyte system further comprises hydrogen peroxide.
27. The electrode array of claim 23 wherein the multiple electrodes and container comprise substantially non-reactive materials.
28. A fuel system for generating hydrogen and oxygen gases by electrolysis of water for supplement a hydrocarbon fuel of an internal combustion engine, the system comprising
(a) an aqueous electrolyte solution;
(b) a plurality of spaced-apart electrodes, wherein the electrodes are comprised of substantially non-reactive materials and are at least partially submerged in the aqueous electrolyte solution;
(c) an electrical power source coupled to the plurality of spaced-apart electrodes;
(d) a heat exchanger configured for exchanging heat with the aqueous electrolyte solution for maintaining the aqueous electrolyte solution in a selected temperature range, wherein the heat exchanger is couplable to a heating and cooling system;
(e) a sealable housing for receiving the aqueous electrolyte solution, the plurality of spaced apart electrodes, and the heat exchanger, wherein the sealable housing comprises an outlet port; and
(f) a tube coupled to the outlet port and the internal combustion engine for conducting the hydrogen and oxygen gases to the internal combustion engine for mixing with the hydrocarbon fuel.
29. A fuel system comprising an electrolysis cell for generating hydrogen and oxygen gases from an aqueous electrolyte solution, the fuel system comprising:
(a) multiple electrodes configured in a spaced-apart relationship for permitting free circulation of the aqueous electrolyte solution between the multiple electrodes while being close enough to each other to generate hydrogen and oxygen gas by electrolysis of the aqueous electrolyte solution upon application of electrical power to the multiple electrodes, wherein the multiple electrodes comprise a substantially nonreactive material and are couplable to an electrical power source;
(b) a nonconductive support upon which the multiple electrodes are disposed for holding the multiple electrodes in place;
(c) a container comprising a substantially nonreactive material for holding the multiple electrodes and support; and
(d) the aqueous electrolyte solution comprises a high purity base, acid, salt, or mixture thereof.
30. The fuel system of claim 29 wherein the container is sealable to prevent contamination from entering therein.
Description
    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/542,477, filed Feb. 5, 2004, which is hereby incorporated herein by reference.
  • STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
  • [0002]
    Not applicable.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0003]
    This invention relates to a hydrogen and oxygen generating fuel system for use with an internal combustion engine. More particularly, this invention relates to a hydrogen and oxygen fuel generating system for improving performance of an internal combustion engine.
  • [0004]
    A major effort has been made to develop fuel systems comprising electrolysis cells for producing hydrogen and oxygen from water to help solve the air pollution and fuel efficiency problems associated with the use of internal combustion engines.
  • [0005]
    Hydrogen has numerous important advantages as a fuel. The energy released per pound is high when compared to conventional fuels, and hydrogen is clean-burning. Moreover, it can be burned in a conventional spark-ignition, internal combustion engine.
  • [0006]
    There are, however, serious drawbacks to the use of hydrogen that have prevented its adoption as a common engine fuel. Among the most important of its drawbacks is its extreme volatility, creating an ever present danger of accidental ignition and explosion. In addition, hydrogen must be stored at high pressures in heavy gauge tanks, and its pressure varies widely with changes in temperature. Reducing the pressure of stored hydrogen to a level at which it can be introduced into the fuel delivery system of an internal combustion engine generally requires an elaborate arrangement of valves and heat exchangers.
  • [0007]
    Recognizing the advantages of hydrogen as a primary fuel, particularly in the case of motor vehicle power plants, there has been some experimentation to evaluate its practical utility as a fuel supplement. It has been found that when hydrogen is mixed with gasoline and air in the combustion chamber of a spark-ignition engine, it results in improved combustion. The advantages gained are believed to result from the ability of hydrogen to sustain combustion at lean mixtures, with reduced combustion temperatures. The result is substantially improved thermal efficiency, improved engine performance in horsepower and torque production, and a marked reduction of noxious emissions.
  • [0008]
    The use of hydrogen as a fuel supplement, however, presents the same difficulties as its use as a primary fuel, although on a smaller scale. It has, therefore, been proposed to generate hydrogen at the engine by electrolysis of water. Oxygen is also yielded by the electrolysis reaction to further enhance combustion. While this arrangement has confirmed certain theoretical advantages of hydrogen supplementation, it has, apparently, not yielded a practical, workable system, as the arrangement has been known for some time but has not come into common use.
  • [0009]
    One of the major problems is that the amounts of hydrogen and oxygen produced in the prior art systems are very low or inconsistent. Also, the aqueous solutions in the electrolysis cells of the prior art tend to have very short lives and the solution has to be changed often. This contamination of the solution also causes fouling of the electrodes, which causes further delays and problems to clean or replace the electrodes and auxiliary equipment.
  • [0010]
    Prior art systems also have had heating problems, which have caused numerous shutdowns or cutting back on the current to the electrolysis cell, thus causing a decrease in production of hydrogen and oxygen that can be utilized by the engine. Some prior art has taught using exhaust gases from an engine to heat the electrolysis cell. However, these teachings do not address the real problem faced by those who use vehicles in long trips where both heating and cooling are real problems that must be addressed to get consistent, high production without mechanical problems caused by lack of temperature control.
  • [0011]
    In view of the foregoing, it will be appreciated that providing a fuel system that produces consistently high levels of hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis of aqueous solutions would be a significant advancement in the art.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0012]
    It is a feature of the present invention to overcome at least some of the aforementioned problems, which have resulted in poor and inconsistent fuel production and in the fouling of equipment and solutions utilized in the electrolysis fuel systems for the production of hydrogen and oxygen from water.
  • [0013]
    A fuel system is provided for generating hydrogen and oxygen for use in an internal combustion engine to improve combustion efficiency of the engine and to decrease emissions from the engine. An illustrative embodiment of the fuel system has at least one electrolysis cell for generating hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis of an aqueous solution, a power source for providing electrical power to the electrolysis cell, and a heating and cooling system for maintaining the temperature of the electrolysis cell in a selected range to obtain selected quantities of hydrogen and oxygen for operation of the internal combustion engine. The heating and cooling system may be provided from the internal combustion engine in heat exchange relation to the fuel system of this invention.
  • [0014]
    Another illustrative embodiment of the invention includes an electrode array of a plurality of spaced-apart electrodes for use in this fuel system and a nonconductive support connected to each of the electrodes to hold the electrodes in place, while leaving adequate space around the electrodes to allow free flow of the aqueous electrolyte solution between the electrodes and thereby assist in heating and cooling the aqueous solution of the electrolysis cell of this invention.
  • [0015]
    Still another illustrative embodiment of the invention provides an electrode array positioned in a container to allow impurities to settle out and be removed from the container. Also the container may contain a sampling apparatus, which allows samples to be taken from the aqueous electrolyte solution without allowing impurities to enter the vessel.
  • [0016]
    Yet another illustrative embodiment of the invention comprises use of a high-purity electrolyte and electrodes and containers that are substantially non-reactive with the electrolyte. These improvements result in production of high flow rates of product gases with little or no sludge formation from side reactions.
  • [0017]
    Still further, an illustrative embodiment of the invention uses a sealable container for holding the electrolysis cell. Sealing of the container reduces or eliminates contaminants from outside the cell from entering the cell, thus reducing or eliminating buildup of sludge and/or particulates from unwanted side reactions. To reduce the danger of pressure buildup in the cell, pressure release mechanisms are built into such a container, such mechanisms including valves and the like.
  • [0018]
    The fuel system of this invention has shown much improved and consistent production rates as compared to the prior art.
  • [0019]
    A system for generating hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis of water comprises:
      • (a) an aqueous electrolyte solution;
      • (b) a plurality of spaced-apart electrodes, wherein the electrodes are comprised of substantially non-reactive materials, are at least partially submerged in the aqueous electrolyte solution, and are couplable to an electrical power source;
      • (c) a heat exchanger configured for exchanging heat with the aqueous electrolyte solution for maintaining the aqueous electrolyte solution in a selected temperature range, wherein the heat exchanger is couplable to a heating and cooling system; and
      • (d) a sealable housing for receiving the aqueous electrolyte solution, the plurality of spaced apart electrodes, and the heat exchanger, wherein the sealable housing comprises an outlet port. The aqueous electrolyte solution can comprise an acid, a base, a salt, or mixtures thereof. Illustrative bases include metal hydroxides, such as potassium hydroxide. Typically, the base comprises about 15% to about 45% by weight of metal hydroxide, and more typically about 25% to about 35% by weight of metal hydroxide. Further, the aqueous electrolyte solution can further comprise about 5% to about 10% by weight of hydrogen peroxide. High purity of the aqueous electrolyte solution is desirable. Illustratively, the aqueous electrolyte solution comprises distilled water and at least about 80% pure electrolyte, more typically at least about 90% pure electrolyte, and ideally at least about 99% pure electrolyte.
  • [0024]
    An electrode array for use in a fuel system comprising an electrolysis cell for generating hydrogen and oxygen gases from an aqueous electrolyte solution comprises:
      • (a) multiple electrodes configured in a spaced-apart relationship for permitting free circulation of the aqueous electrolyte solution between the multiple electrodes while being close enough to each other to generate hydrogen and oxygen gas by electrolysis of the aqueous electrolyte solution upon application of electrical power to the multiple electrodes; and
      • (b) a nonconductive support upon which the multiple electrodes are disposed for holding the multiple electrodes in place.
  • [0027]
    A fuel system for generating hydrogen and oxygen gases by electrolysis of an aqueous electrolyte solution comprises:
      • (a) an electrode array comprising (1) multiple electrodes configured in a spaced-apart relationship for permitting free circulation of the aqueous electrolyte solution between the multiple electrodes while being close enough to each other to generate hydrogen and oxygen gas by electrolysis of the aqueous electrolyte solution upon application of electrical power to the multiple electrodes, and (2) a nonconductive support upon which the multiple electrodes are disposed for holding the multiple electrodes in place;
      • (b) a container in which the electrode array and the aqueous electrolyte solution are disposed.
  • [0030]
    A fuel system for generating hydrogen and oxygen gases by electrolysis of water for supplement a hydrocarbon fuel of an internal combustion engine, the system comprising
      • (a) an aqueous electrolyte solution;
      • (b) a plurality of spaced-apart electrodes, wherein the electrodes are comprised of substantially non-reactive materials and are at least partially submerged in the aqueous electrolyte solution;
      • (c) an electrical power source coupled to the plurality of spaced-apart electrodes;
      • (d) a heat exchanger configured for exchanging heat with the aqueous electrolyte solution for maintaining the aqueous electrolyte solution in a selected temperature range, wherein the heat exchanger is couplable to a heating and cooling system;
      • (e) a sealable housing for receiving the aqueous electrolyte solution, the plurality of spaced apart electrodes, and the heat exchanger, wherein the sealable housing comprises an outlet port; and
      • (f) a tube coupled to the outlet port and the internal combustion engine for conducting the hydrogen and oxygen gases to the internal combustion engine for mixing with the hydrocarbon fuel.
  • [0037]
    A fuel system, comprising an electrolysis cell for generating hydrogen and oxygen gases from an aqueous electrolyte solution, comprises:
      • (a) multiple electrodes configured in a spaced-apart relationship for permitting free circulation of the aqueous electrolyte solution between the multiple electrodes while being close enough to each other to generate hydrogen and oxygen gas by electrolysis of the aqueous electrolyte solution upon application of electrical power to the multiple electrodes, wherein the multiple electrodes comprise a substantially nonreactive material and are couplable to an electrical power source;
      • (b) a nonconductive support upon which the multiple electrodes are disposed for holding the multiple electrodes in place;
      • (c) a container comprising a substantially nonreactive material for holding the multiple electrodes and support; and
      • (d) the aqueous electrolyte solution comprises a high purity base, acid, salt, or mixture thereof.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0042]
    FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the external container of an illustrative electrolysis cell according to the present invention.
  • [0043]
    FIG. 2 is a sectional view of a fuel system containing an illustrative electrolysis cell according to the present invention.
  • [0044]
    FIGS. 3A and 3B are, respectively, elevation (fragmented) and cross sectional views of an illustrative collection tube and collection tube nozzle of a fuel system according to the present invention.
  • [0045]
    FIGS. 4A-D are top, sectional, bottom, and perspective views of a bottom plate holder for holding an electrode array according to the present invention.
  • [0046]
    FIGS. 5A and 5B are sectional and bottom views of an upper plate holder for holding an electrode array according to the present invention.
  • [0047]
    FIG. 6 is an exploded view of an electrolysis cell according to the present invention.
  • [0048]
    FIG. 7 is an exploded, partially fragmented view of concentric cylindrical spaced-apart electrodes according to the present invention.
  • [0049]
    FIG. 8 is a schematic diagram showing engine coolant being used for heating and cooling the electrolysis cell of the present invention.
  • [0050]
    FIG. 9 is a schematic diagram showing the aqueous electrolyte solution from an electrolysis cell being circulated to an internal combustion engine and back to provide heating and cooling of the electrolysis cell of the present invention.
  • [0051]
    FIG. 10 is a schematic diagram showing the aqueous electrolyte solution from an electrolysis cell being circulated to the exhaust manifold of an internal combustion engine and back to provide a portion of the heating and cooling means for the electrolysis cell of the present invention.
  • [0052]
    FIG. 11 is a schematic diagram showing a line containing engine coolant being routed to the electrolysis cell of this invention and then wrapped around the outside of the container of the electrolysis cell to provide heating and cooling of the electrolysis cell of the present invention.
  • [0053]
    FIG. 12 is a block diagram showing a heating and cooling unit that can be other than from an internal combustion engine in heat exchange relation to an illustrative electrolysis cell according to the present invention.
  • [0054]
    FIG. 13 is a schematic diagram showing a fuel system of the present invention as part of an internal combustion engine.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0055]
    Before the present fuel system is disclosed and described, it is to be understood that this invention is not limited to the particular configurations, process steps, and materials disclosed herein as such configurations, process steps, and materials may vary somewhat. It is also to be understood that the terminology employed herein is used for the purpose of describing particular embodiments only and is not intended to be limiting since the scope of the present invention will be limited only by the appended claims and equivalents thereof. The publications and other reference materials referred to herein to describe the background of the invention and to provide additional detail regarding its practice are hereby incorporated by reference. The references discussed herein are provided solely for their disclosure prior to the filing date of the present application. Nothing herein is to be construed as an admission that the inventors are not entitled to antedate such disclosure by virtue of prior invention.
  • [0056]
    It must be noted that, as used in this specification and the appended claims, the singular forms “a,” “an,” and “the” include plural referents unless the context clearly dictates otherwise.
  • [0057]
    In describing and claiming the present invention, the following terminology will be used in accordance with the definitions set out below.
  • [0058]
    As used herein, “comprising,” “including,” “containing,” “characterized by,” and grammatical equivalents thereof are inclusive or open-ended terms that do not exclude additional, unrecited elements or method steps. “Comprising” is to be interpreted as including the more restrictive terms “consisting of” and “consisting essentially of.” As used herein, “consisting of” and grammatical equivalents thereof exclude any element, step, or ingredient not specified in the claim. As used herein, “consisting essentially of” and grammatical equivalents thereof limit the scope of a claim to the specified materials or steps and those that do not materially affect the basic and novel characteristic or characteristics of the claimed invention.
  • [0059]
    As used herein, “substantially nonreactive” means that the electrodes and container of the electrolysis cell are of sufficiently high quality materials that, when used together with high purity aqueous electrolyte solution in an electrolysis reaction, there is little or no production of particulates or sludge resulting from side reactions that would necessitate cleaning of the electrodes or replacement of the electrolyte solution within a month under ordinary operating conditions.
  • [0060]
    As used herein, “high purity” electrolyte solutions are aqueous solutions of base, acid, salt, or mixtures thereof wherein electrolysis of the solution using nonreactive electrodes at 12 V and 30 A for 24 hours results in no visually detectable particulates or sludge. Prior art electrolytic cells often use agricultural grade electrolytes, which do not meet this definition of high purity.
  • [0061]
    FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the external container 20 of an illustrative electrolysis cell according to the present invention. Base 22 and top lid 24 are attached to container wall 26 to provide a sealable container for the electrolysis cell. The container 20 includes collection tube 28, water fill cap 30, and gas product exit port 32 in container top lid 24. Bolt 34 helps to secure the integrity of the container. Aqueous electrolyte solution level indicator 36 is attached to the side of container wall 26. Label 38 is attached to wall 26 for providing information about the electrolysis cell that would be useful for an operator of the cell.
  • [0062]
    The aqueous electrolyte solution of the electrolysis cell of this invention may contain various components mixed with or dissolved in water. Distilled water is normally used because of its substantial lack of impurities that would lead to production of particulates or sludge. An illustrative electrolyte solution comprises a solution of a metal hydroxide, such as potassium hydroxide, and distilled water, having a concentration of about 15 to about 45 weight percent metal hydroxide, with a typical range of about 25 to about 35 weight percent, and most typically about 30 weight percent. Aqueous electrolyte solutions of nitric acid, sulfuric acid, and CrO3 are also suitable for use in this invention. Furthermore, it will be understood that the term “aqueous solution” for the electrolysis cell of this invention also includes plain water with a polymeric or other suitable electrolyte membrane. The heating and cooling system of this invention will work perfectly well with such membrane type cells.
  • [0063]
    FIG. 2 shows a sectional view of another illustrative embodiment of the present fuel system, which contains an electrolysis cell and a container for the cell. The fuel system 50 has concentric cylindrical spaced-apart electrodes 52, 54, 56, and 58. These are made out of a substantially nonreactive material, such as stainless steel and even more typically 22 gauge 316L stainless steel, although other materials known to the art or developed in the future for this purpose can readily be used. For example, nickel-coated stainless steel is a suitable alternative. These electrodes are held in place by upper plate holder 60 and bottom plate holder 62. These plate holders act as a support and are made of a nonconductive material and are illustratively grooved to allow the ends of the cylindrical electrodes to fit in the grooves. The bottom plate holder 62 is preferably not a solid plate, as will be described in more detail below, but rather comprises an open configuration to allow free circulation of the aqueous electrolyte solution around the electrodes to allow improved heating and cooling of the solution and to allow settling of particulates that may be formed during electrolysis. The electrodes 52, 54, 56, and 58, the upper plate holder 60, and the bottom plate holder 62 are disposed in an aqueous electrolyte solution container 64 comprising a side wall 66, a bottom 68, and a lid 70. An O-ring 72 between the side wall 66 and the lid 70 aids in keeping contaminants out of the aqueous electrolyte solution in the container 64. Container 64 is disposed in an outer housing 74 comprising an outer wall 76 and a top lid 78.
  • [0064]
    Still referring to FIG. 2, lid 70 and top lid 78 are held in place by a bolt 80, which extends to the bottom plate holder 62. Having the lid 70 and top lid 78 held securely in place with bolt 80 prevents contamination from outside the electrolytic cell from entering the cell, which reduces unwanted side reactions and build-up of particulates and sludge. The bolt 80 is secured with a nut and washer 82. An inlet 84 in the top lid 78 allows for adding water or other materials to the electrolytic cell. Collection tube 86, which extends through top lid 78 and lid 70 to a bottom collection tube nozzle 88, allows samples of the aqueous electrolyte solution and contaminants, such are particulates, to be taken from the cell without further contaminating the cell with additional contaminants from the environment. Pressure relief valve 90 provides pressure release in case of emergency build-up of pressure within the cell. Exit port 92 at the top of fuel system 50 allows the hydrogen and oxygen gases to be removed from fuel system 50 for delivery to an internal combustion engine or for other uses.
  • [0065]
    FIGS. 3A and 3B are elevation and section views of a collection tube 86 and collection tube nozzle 88, the section being taken at line 94-94. The openings 96 in the nozzle 88 connect to the collection tube 86 such that liquid can be drawn through the nozzle 88 and through the tube 88 for taking samples from the electrolysis cell.
  • [0066]
    FIGS. 4A-D show, respectively, top, sectional, bottom, and perspective views of a bottom plate holder 62 for holding cylindrical electrodes, such as are shown in FIG. 2. Grooves 98 are formed in the upper surface 100 of the bottom plate holder 62 for holding the cylindrical electrodes in a spaced-apart configuration. FIGS. 4A, 4C, and 4D show that the bottom plate holder 62 is fan-shaped for allowing free circulation of the aqueous electrolyte solution around the concentric cylindrical electrode plates. Hole 102 is formed in the bottom plate holder 62 for permitting bolt 80 to extend therethrough. Recess 104 is formed in the bottom surface 106 for receiving the head of bolt 80 (best seen in FIG. 2).
  • [0067]
    FIGS. 5A and 5B, respectively, show sectional and bottom views of an upper plate holder 60 for holding cylindrical electrodes, such as are shown in FIG. 2. Grooves 98 are formed in the lower surface 108 of the bottom plate holder 62 for holding the cylindrical electrodes in a spaced-apart configuration. Hole 110 is configured in the upper plate holder 62 for permitting a bolt (such as bolt 80 of FIG. 2) to extend therethrough. Holes 112, 114, and 115 are configured in upper plate holder 60 for receiving electrode connectors (best shown in FIG. 7).
  • [0068]
    FIG. 6 is an exploded view of an illustrative electrolysis cell 120 according to the present invention. Container wall 122 is attached to base 124 and top 126 to provide an outer container for the electrolysis cell. Top 126 contains an exit port 118 for removal of the product gases. Contained within the container wall 122, base 124, and top 126 is an aqueous electrolyte solution container 130 comprising a side wall 132, top lid 134, and bottom 136. Anode and cathode connectors 138 and 140 for connection to the electrode array are shown.
  • [0069]
    FIG. 7 is an exploded view of a concentric cylindrical spaced-apart electrode array 150 according to the present invention. The array 150 comprises a plurality of spaced-apart cylindrical electrodes. This illustrative example shows electrodes 152, 154, 156, and 158. These electrodes are disposed on a bottom plate holder 160, which contains grooves 162 in the top surface 164 thereof for holding the electrodes firmly in place in a spaced-apart configuration. A top plate holder 166 is disposed on top of the electrodes. This top plate holder 166 contains grooves (see, for example, FIG. 4A), which also assist in holding the electrodes firmly in place in a spaced-apart configuration. Electrode connectors 168 and 170 are shown attached to electrodes. The anode is typically attached to the inner electrode 158 and the cathode to the outer electrode 152 of the array, but this can be reversed if desired. Also the particular manner that the power source of this invention is connected to the electrodes of the electrolysis cell can vary, as is well known in this field. The positive connection in a multi-plate cell can be connected to every other plate, with the negative connected to the plates that the positives are not connected to. U.S. Pat. No. 5,858,185 and U.S. Pat. No. 6,524,453 teach multiple pate electrode systems with different methods of connecting the power source to the electrodes in an electrolysis cell. These methods of connection are acceptable in the present invention. The plate array of FIG. 7 is contained within the aqueous solution container with container wall 172 (shown fragmented to permit viewing of the electrodes), container base 174, and container top 166. The bottom plate holder 160 is bolted with bolt 178 and washer 180 and nut 182 to container top 166 with o-ring gasket 176 to produce a sealed container. The top plate holder 166 contains a hole 186 through which bolt 178 extends, and also contains holes 188 and 190 through which electrode connectors 168 and 170, respectively, extend. Top 184 (shown fragmented) provides a top to the outer container for the electrolysis cell.
  • [0070]
    The preferred current supplied to the electrolysis cell of this invention is between about 10 amps and about 100 amps. Generally, in vehicular applications of this invention, the power source will be provided by the battery or batteries already on the vehicle. These are generally 12- to 24-volt batteries. Electrical lines from the battery are attached to the anode and cathode of the electrolysis cell.
  • [0071]
    FIG. 8 shows engine coolant being used for heating and cooling the electrolysis cell of the present invention. The heating and cooling system 200 includes electrolysis cell 202 with a line 204 containing engine coolant going to and from the engine 206. The engine coolant travels through flow valve 208, the engine 206, and water pump 210, then through line 212 to the radiator 214 and then back through lower line 216 back to the engine 206. Thus, when the electrolysis cell temperature is cold, this system will act as for heating the electrolysis cell, but when the electrolysis cell heats up this system will act to cool the electrolysis cell. Passage of line 204 through the electrolysis cell 202 acts as a heat exchanger for heating or cooling the electrolysis cell. This cooling becomes very important since maintaining a high current through the cell is important to increase the production rate of hydrogen and oxygen from the electrolysis cell. Cutting the current will decrease the heating, but it will also reduce the production rate of the hydrogen and oxygen. Also, if the electrolysis cell gets too cold, then the gas production rate will be reduced. Excess heat, on the other hand, can damage the cell and result in a loss of aqueous electrolyte solution in the electrolysis cell.
  • [0072]
    FIG. 9 shows aqueous electrolyte solution 218 from an electrolysis cell 220 being circulated to and from an internal combustion engine 206 through line 222 and pump 224 to provide heating and cooling for the electrolysis cell of this invention. Line 222 carries the aqueous electrolyte solution past the vehicle radiator 214 to a special radiator 226 and then back to the electrolysis cell 220 through line 228.
  • [0073]
    FIG. 10 shows aqueous electrolyte solution 232 from the electrolysis cell 230 being circulated to and from the exhaust manifold 234 of an internal combustion engine 236 through line 238, pump 240, baffles 242, and flow valve 244, before returning to the electrolysis cell 230, to provide a portion of the heating and cooling means according to the present invention. While this embodiment will primarily act for heating the cell, if the cell gets hot enough this embodiment can also act for cooling. However, the heating aspect of this embodiment can easily be combined with other cooling means.
  • [0074]
    FIG. 11 shows a variation of FIG. 8 wherein engine coolant is used as heating and cooling means for the electrolysis cell of this invention, except that line 204 carrying the engine coolant is wrapped around the cell 202 instead of going through the cell as in FIG. 8.
  • [0075]
    FIGS. 8 through 11 show heating and cooling systems that use the heating and cooling capabilities of an internal combustion engine to control the temperature of the associated electrolysis cell. These figures are not, however, intended to limit the systems that can be based on the internal combustion engine for heating and cooling means to those shown. For example, the aqueous solution of the electrolysis cell can be circulated through an air conditioner associated with the internal combustion engine.
  • [0076]
    FIG. 12 is a block diagram showing an alternate heating and cooling system 250 for the fuel system of this invention, wherein the electrolysis cell 252 is heated by heating and cooling system 254. FIG. 12 is shown to indicate that heating and cooling systems, other than those directly using the heating an cooling capabilities of an internal combustion engine, which are known to the art or which are yet to be developed, can readily be utilized to control the temperature of the electrolysis cell of this invention. For example, an electronic heating and cooling means such as a Peltier cooler or that developed in the U.S. space program and which is now commonly used for small appliances like portable refrigerators can readily be adapted for use in this invention. However, even this electronic system may use electricity from the engine.
  • [0077]
    The desired temperature range to be maintained in the electrolysis cell of this invention will vary depending upon the materials used for the cell components, such as the container walls, base, top, and electrodes. For example, if the container and other major components of the cell are made of stainless steel or other metals that can withstand high temperatures, the temperature that can be maintained in the cell will be higher than if, for example plastic materials were used. Generally these higher temperatures will translate into higher hydrogen and oxygen production. Thus a preferred fuel system kit containing an electrolysis cell of this invention will be made of metal or other high temperature resistant material, such as ceramics. A preferred plastic container for the fuel system kit of this invention is made of polyvinyl chloride. This cell will generally require lower temperatures than those for a metal container.
  • [0078]
    In general, an illustrative or typical temperature of the electrolysis cell of this invention is about 10 C. to about 110 C. (i.e., about 50 F. to about 230 F.), with a more typical range being about 65.5 C. to about 79.4 C. (i.e., about 150 F. to about 175 F.). It will be recognized that the operating temperature may exceed the boiling point of pure water because of the boiling point elevation due to dissolved electrolytes in the electrolyte solution.
  • [0079]
    Also, the heating and cooling system of the fuel system of this invention can be controlled manually or can be performed automatically by means of a sensor and controller responsive to the sensor and a predetermined desired temperature for the particular fuel system being used. For example, a diesel truck driver would have in the truck cab a temperature gauge and an aqueous solution level gauge for the electrolysis cell, and the ability to turn the electrolysis cell off independent of operation of the truck engine. So, if the temperature of the cell gets too hot, then the driver can activate a cooling system. If the cell is too cold, then a heating system can be activated by the driver. But, if the engine is being used to control the temperature of the cell, then the heating and cooling system would normally be activated upon starting the truck engine. This will automatically provide temperature control to an acceptable level in the electrolysis cell. If a higher temperature is desired to increase product gas production then additional heating means can be activated.
  • [0080]
    The fuel system of the present invention for generating hydrogen and oxygen by an electrolysis cell can be utilized in many different applications where hydrogen and/or oxygen can be utilized. But one application that is particularly beneficial is where the fuel system is part of an internal combustion engine as shown in FIG. 13. The internal combustion system 260 comprises electrolysis cell 262, which generates hydrogen and oxygen gas that is carried in line 264 from electrolysis cell 262, through flow valve 266, pump 268, and turbocharger 270 to air intake 272 to the engine 274. It will be understood that the hydrogen and oxygen gases in this embodiment can be added at different locations in the engine, so long as they are combined with the fuel gases from the hydrocarbon fuel to power the engine.
  • [0081]
    An illustrative application of the fuel system of this invention is for diesel engines. But any hydrocarbon fuel, such as gasoline, ethanol, natural gas, or the like can be utilized. Hydrogen can also be utilized as a fuel by itself. The fuel cell of this invention can use multiple cells to increase the amount of hydrogen produced or can be combined with other sources of hydrogen, if desired.
  • [0082]
    The improved production rate and consistency that are possible with the inventions described herein will clearly provide for significant performance of an internal combustion engine with little change or modification to the engine itself. Also the fuel system of this invention can be easily added to existing engines and can easily be removed from one engine and added to another. The reduced fuel consumption, increased horsepower and torque output, and reduced emissions obtained with the fuel system of this invention, especially for diesel engines, make electrolysis cell hydrogen generation technology very advantageous.
  • EXAMPLE 1
  • [0083]
    A 1998 Chevrolet -ton pickup truck with a 5.7-liter gasoline engine and automatic transmission was tested prior to installation of a fuel system according to the present invention and was determined to produce a maximum of 169 horsepower and 293 ft.-lbs. of torque. An emissions test was performed on this vehicle, wherein a passing score of 33 parts per million (ppm) of hydrocarbons was obtained at 2500 revolutions per minute (rpm). The two catalytic converters were removed from the vehicle, resulting in the “check engine” light on the dashboard coming on, and then the emissions test was repeated, resulting in a failing score of 279 ppm of hydrocarbons.
  • [0084]
    Next, an electrolysis fuel system according to the present invention was installed on the vehicle and the emissions and performance tests were repeated. The “check engine” light on the dashboard did not come back on after installation of the electrolysis fuel system. The hydrocarbons level was 32 ppm, which was a passing score and lower than the score obtained with the catalytic converters in place. The horsepower rating increased to 212.7, an increase of 25.8%. The maximum torque rating was 244.7 ft-lbs, a decrease of 45.3 ft-lbs. The fuel efficiency increased from 18 miles per gallon (mpg) to 24 mpg, an increase of 33%.
  • EXAMPLE 2
  • [0085]
    A 2003 Chevrolet Duramax diesel pickup truck was tested prior to installation of an electrolysis fuel system according to the present invention. The horsepower rating was 264.0 and the torque registered 450.4 ft-lbs. Upon emissions testing, this vehicle produced a passing score of 9.2% particulates (opacity). After installation of an electrolysis fuel system according to the present invention, the horsepower rating increased to 332.4, an increase of 67.5 horsepower; the torque rating increased to 563.3 ft-lbs, an increase of 112.9 ft-lbs; and the emissions test showed 0% particulates.
  • EXAMPLE 3
  • [0086]
    A 2004 Ford F-250 Powerstroke with a diesel engine was tested prior to installation of an electrolysis fuel system according to the present invention. Without a performance chip, the tests showed 272.6 horsepower and 412.4 ft-lbs of torque. Then, an Edge performance chip was installed and the tests were repeated, resulting in 271.0 horsepower and 416.7 ft-lbs of torque. An electrolysis fuel system according to the present invention was installed and the performance chip was removed, and the tests were again repeated, resulting in 275.8 horsepower and 434.2 ft-lbs of torque. These results amounted to increases over the stock results of 3.2 horsepower and 21.8 ft-lbs of torque. Finally, the performance chip was reinstalled, and the tests showed results of 279.7 horsepower and 432.7 ft-lbs of torque. These results amounted to increases over the stock results of 7.1 horsepower and 20.3 ft-lbs of torque.
  • EXAMPLE 4
  • [0087]
    A 1994 Freightliner heavy-duty tractor with a series 60 Detroit Diesel 470-cubic inch engine had an initial fuel efficiency of 5.5 mpg. An electrolysis fuel system according to the present invention was installed, and then fuel efficiency was tested 29 days later. This test showed a fuel efficiency of 8.6 mpg, an increase of 56% from the initial fuel efficiency. Forty-two days after installation of the electrolysis fuel system the fuel efficiency was again tested and produced a result of 8.7 mpg, an increase of 58% from the initial fuel efficiency. Two-hundred-thirty-six days after installation of the electrolysis fuel system, the fuel efficiency tested at 9.0 mpg, an increase of 63.6% from the initial fuel efficiency. Moreover, no noticeable sludge formation was detected in the electrolysis cell in this period.
  • EXAMPLE 5
  • [0088]
    A 2000 Chevrolet 7.4-liter gasoline engine was tested prior to installation of an electrolysis fuel system according to the present invention and resulted in emissions levels at idle rpm of 98 ppm hydrocarbons and 0.19% carbon monoxide, both of which were below the acceptable levels of 220 ppm hydrocarbons and 1.20% carbon monoxide. At 2200 rpm the vehicle registered readings of 88 ppm hydrocarbons and 0.14% carbon monoxide.
  • [0089]
    Then, an electrolysis fuel system according to the present invention was installed, the vehicle was drive approximately one hour at freeway speeds, and the tests were repeated. At idle rpm, the results obtained were 22 ppm hydrocarbons and 0% carbon monoxide or reductions of 77.5% hydrocarbons and 100% of carbon monoxide. At 2200 rpm, the results were 25 ppm hydrocarbons and 0.05% carbon monoxide or reductions of 75% of hydrocarbons and 64% of carbon monoxide.
  • EXAMPLE 6
  • [0090]
    A 1990 Ford -ton pickup truck with a 6.9-liter diesel engine was tested prior to installation of an electrolysis fuel system according to the present invention. Test results showed a maximum power rating of 105.1 horsepower and maximum torque of 194.3 ft-lbs. After installation of an electrolysis fuel system according to the present invention, the tests were repeated and the results showed a maximum power rating of 10.6.0 horsepower and maximum torque of 215.4 ft-lbs. This was a 10.8% increase of torque.
  • EXAMPLE 7
  • [0091]
    An electrolysis fuel cell according to the present invention was tested for production of hydrogen and oxygen gases. At approximately standard temperature and pressure, production of at least about 25 to 35 liters per minute of mixed hydrogen and oxygen gases were produced. On at least one occasion, 45 liters per minute of mixed hydrogen and oxygen gases were produced. These results are significant improvements over the prior art.
  • EXAMPLE 8
  • [0092]
    An illustrative method of making concentrated aqueous electrolyte solution comprises mixing one pound of industrial grade (at least about 80% pure) potassium hydroxide per gallon of distilled water at a temperature of 180 F. or greater. Next, one-half cup of hydrogen peroxide is added per gallon of distilled water. The resulting solution is then filtered, first through cheesecloth and then through a 0.02 μm steel filter. The filtered solution is then permitted to sit for at least 12 hours, and then the solution is again filtered through a 0.02 μm steel filter to result in concentrated electrolyte solution.
  • [0093]
    The concentrated electrolyte solution is diluted and added to an electrolysis cell by heating two gallons of distilled water to about 200 F. About 350 ml of concentrated electrolyte solution is then added to the heated distilled water, and the resulting diluted electrolyte solution is poured into the electrolysis cell. Electrical power (12 V, 30 A) is applied to the electrolysis cell, and additional heated distilled water is added to the cell. When the temperature in the cell reaches about 150 F., the pH is adjusted to pH 13 by addition of additional water or diluted electrolyte.
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Classifications
U.S. Classification204/267
International ClassificationC25B1/04, C25B15/00, C25B9/00
Cooperative ClassificationC25B1/04, Y02E60/366, C25B9/00, C25B15/00
European ClassificationC25B15/00, C25B1/04, C25B9/00
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
15 Jun 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: HYDROGEN INNOVATIONS LLC, IDAHO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT;ASSIGNOR:DAHLQUIST, JR., DAVID F. DAHLQUIST, DAVE);REEL/FRAME:017802/0747
Effective date: 20040123