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Review Article

Production and use of HHO gas in IC engines

Balaji Subramanian, Saleel Ismail*

School of Mechanical and Building Sciences, Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) Chennai, Chennai, 600127, India

article info abstract

Article history: HHO gas, which is obtained by the electrolysis of water, is a promising alternative fuel. This
Received 12 December 2017 paper presents a review of important features and techniques used for producing HHO gas.
Received in revised form Various aspects of the thermodynamics and chemical kinetics of electrolysis reactions are
17 February 2018 discussed. Design and operating parameters for improving the gas production rate are
Accepted 19 February 2018 identified. Widely different hypotheses regarding the structure and composition of HHO
Available online xxx gas are compared in depth. The state of the art on the use of HHO gas in Internal Com-
bustion (IC) engines is presented in the latter part of the paper. It is seen that the intro-
Keywords: duction of HHO gas increases engine torque, power and thermal efficiency, while
HHO simultaneously reducing the formation of NOx, CO, HC and CO2. The major challenges in
Electrolysis using HHO gas in engines are identified as system complexity, safety, cost and efficiency of
Kinetics electrolysis.
Over-potential © 2018 Hydrogen Energy Publications LLC. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
IC engine
Performance and emission


Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 00
Thermodynamics of water electrolysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 00
Cell efficiency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 00
Kinetics of electrolysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 00
Over-potential for hydrogen generation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 00
Over-potential for oxygen generation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 00
Properties of HHO gas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 00
Production of HHO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 00
Effect on engine performance and emissions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 00
Challenges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 00
Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 00
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 00

* Corresponding author.
E-mail addresses: (B. Subramanian), (S. Ismail).
0360-3199/© 2018 Hydrogen Energy Publications LLC. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Introduction DGo
EDG ¼ (1)
Fossil fuels are the primary source of energy for power plants, where DGo ¼ 237.2 kJ/mol. K is the change in the Gibbs free
automobiles etc. in today's world. Combustion in engines energy for electrochemical reaction, F is Faraday's constant
produces harmful gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon (96485  C/mol) and n is the number of electrons transferred in
monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, unburned hydrocarbons etc. the reaction under standard conditions. On the other hand,
Some of the ill-effects of these pollutants are global warming, the equilibrium cell voltage of a closed cell EDA is defined for
acid rain and various health issues. Several alternative fuels constant temperature operation with negligible change in
have been explored in the recent times with the intent of volume. EDA is expressed in terms of the change in Helmholtz
reducing the dependence on fossil fuels and achieving lower free energy DA as:
emissions. This paper presents the state of the art of HHO gas,
which is a renewable alternative fuel possessing several EDA ¼ (2)
benefits over fossil fuels.
HHO gas is prepared by electrolysis of water. During elec- where DАo ¼ DHo e TRDN. T, N, R, H, and S denote the absolute
trolysis process, a direct current is passed through water after temperature, number of gaseous moles, universal gas con-
addition of an electrolyte (e.g. NaOH, KOH, NaCl) which ren- stant, enthalpy and entropy of the system respectively. The
ders the solution electrically conductive. The resulting ion- standard enthalpy of reaction for the electrolysis of 1 mol of
isation reactions culminate in the decomposition of water into liquid water is DHo ¼ 285.8 kJ/mol.K and DN ¼ 1.5 for the
hydrogen and oxygen. The mixture of hydrogen and oxygen overall reaction (Eq. (R3)), DSoH2 ¼ 130.6 J/mol.K,
gas in nearly stoichiometric proportions produced in the DSoO2 ¼ 205.1 J/mol.K, DSoH2O ¼ 70 J/mol.K, DSototal ¼ 163.14 J/
electrolyser is known by various names such as HHO, hydroxy mol.K, DАo ¼ 233.1 kJ/mol.K. From the above calculations, the
gas, oxy-hydrogen and Brown's gas. The earliest use of this gas minimum voltage required for electrolysis in an open cell is
was reported by Brown [1] who investigated the welding 1.21 V, while that of a closed cell is 1.23 V.
application of the gas. The terminology used by various re- In reality, the equilibrium potential is not sufficient to
searchers is summarised in Table 1. activate the electrochemical reaction as the positive value of
DGo makes it thermodynamically unfavourable at room tem-
perature. In order to keep the electrochemical reaction active,
Thermodynamics of water electrolysis additional voltage needs to be supplied. The difference be-
tween the applied voltage and the equilibrium potential is
The electrolysis of water produces a mixture of hydrogen, known as the cell over-potential [27,28]. Electrolysis is endo-
oxygen and their ions. The potential difference to be applied thermic for low values of over-potential. At a limiting voltage,
across the electrodes depends on the amount of gas generated known as the thermo-neutral voltage, heat generation and
per unit time. The reactions taking place at the electrodes are absorption are balanced. For higher over-potentials, the elec-
given below [27e30], trolysis becomes exothermic. While equilibrium voltage re-
duces with increase in electrolyte temperature, thermo-
At cathode: 2H2 O þ 2e /H2 þ 2OH (R1) neutral voltage shows a slight increase, as shown in Fig. 1.
The thermo-neutral voltage can be expressed in terms of
At anode: 4OH /O2 þ 2H2 O þ 4e (R2) partial molar enthalpies (H)~ of components at standard con-
dition as [31]:
Overall reaction: 2H2 O/2H2 þ O2 (R3)

A minimum external voltage EDG has to be applied to

overcome the potential difference between the electrodes (i.e.
EoanodeEocathode). This is called the equilibrium or reversible
cell voltage. Under standard conditions (25  C and 1 atm), the
equilibrium cell voltage EDG for an open cell is given by:

Table 1 e Terminology used for HHO gas.

Name Author
Brown's gas [1e6]
HHO gas [2e5,7e20]
Hydroxy gas [4,7,10,12e14,16]
Oxy- hydrogen [9,10,13,17,18,21e23]
Hydroxygen [16,24]
Water electrolysis gas [15]
Water gas [4]
Oxy Hydrogen Fuel [14]
Hydroxyl gas [17] Fig. 1 e Zones of electrolysis and variation of cell potential
H2þO2 [25,26]
with temperature [28].

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1 h ~ o ~o  H
~ H2OðlÞ þ F H ~ H2OðlÞ
~ H2OðgÞ  H

free energy and enthalpy respectively) and the energy losses
Vtn ¼ HH2 þ 0:5H O2
  i of electrolysis:
þ ð1 þ FÞ H ~o
~t  H (3)
25 H2OðlÞ
hFaradic ¼ ¼ (11)
where F ¼ 1:5pw =ðp  pw Þ, p is the pressure and subscripts t, l DG þ Losses Vcell
and g represent temperature ( C), liquid and gas respectively.
Other voltage quantities which are useful in describing the DH Vtn
hthermal ¼ ¼ (12)
thermodynamics of electrolysis are discussed below: DG þ Losses Vcell
Enthalpic voltage (Vt,p) [31]: Faradic efficiency expresses the theoretical (equilibrium)
It is the voltage corresponding to the change in molar voltage required for splitting of water molecules as a fraction
enthalpy during the electrolysis of water. of the applied voltage. Thermal efficiency is defined based on
 the fact that additional energy is required to keep the elec-
~ t;p nF
Vt;p ¼ DH (4)
trolyser thermally balanced. It can be interpreted as the ratio
DH~ t;p is the negative of the enthalpy of formation of liquid of the actual energy used to the supplied energy. When the
water at t, p. electrolysis is endothermic in nature, the actual energy ex-
Higher Heating Value voltage (VHHV) [28,31,32]: ceeds the supplied energy due to absorption of heat from the
It is the voltage required to heat the reagent water from surroundings, and the thermal efficiency can exceed 100%.
25  C to toC to produce a mole of hydrogen and is expressed as: However, the Faradic efficiency always remains below 100%.
n   . Based on Eqs. (10) and (11), these efficiencies can be expressed
~ t;p þ H
VHHV ¼ DH ~ t;p  Ho nFg (5) at standard temperature as:
25 wðlÞ

(VHHV) is related to the enthalpic voltage as: 1:23 ðVÞ

hFaradic ð25o CÞ ¼ (13)
 . Vcell
VHHV ¼ Vt;p
þ H ~o
~o  H nF (6)
t 25
1:48 ðVÞ
The thermo-neutral voltage and Higher Heating Value hthermal ð25o CÞ ¼ (14)
voltage tend to be equal at high operating pressures when
Alternatively, the efficiency of water electrolysis system
temperature is maintained constant.
can be expressed by correlating the energy content of the
Thermal balance voltage (Vtb) [31]:
hydrogen produced with the electrical energy input:
The voltage that is required to keep the electrolyser at the
constant temperature (toC) is known as thermal balance
E_H2 N_ H2  2:84  105
voltage. Thermal balance voltage is the sum of thermo-neutral hH2 ¼ ¼ (15)
E_el Vi
voltage and the voltages required to meet the heat losses due
to radiation and convection: where N_ H2 is the hydrogen production rate (mol/s) and i the
current supplied. 2.84  105 J/mol is the higher heating value of
Vtb ¼ Vtn þ Vrad þ Vconv (7) hydrogen.
The heat transfer due to radiation and convection are given Efficiency can also be defined using energy terms in a
by: conventional sense as follows:

Prad ¼ Aεs T4  T4a (8) hnet effciency ¼ 1  (16)

Pconv ¼ 1:77A ðT  Ta Þ1:25 (9) where energy losses include the effects of resistance created
by external circuit, over-potential of hydrogen and oxygen,
where A is the surface area, ε is its emissivity, s is the Stefan- bubbles, ions, membranes and can be evaluated using the
Boltzmann constant and Ta is the ambient temperature. Un- method of electrical analogy [28].
like thermo-neutral, enthalpic and Higher Heating Value The foregoing discussion highlights two approaches for
voltages, the thermal balance voltage is not a state function on enhancing the efficiency of electrolysis e a) thermodynamic
account of the radiation and convection terms. means of reducing the energy input for electrolysis, e.g. by
increasing the temperature and pressure, and b) by reducing
Cell efficiency the losses, expressed in terms of the respective electrical
The efficiency of electrolysis can be described in terms of
various indices. Voltage efficiency is defined as the fraction of
the total applied voltage which is utilised for electrolysis Kinetics of electrolysis
Various construction and operating parameters determine the
ðEanode  Ecathode Þ performance of the electrolytic cell, quantified in terms of the
hVoltage ¼ (10)
Vcell hydrogen production rate and power consumption [28,30].
Faradic and thermal efficiencies are defined in terms of the The current density of the cell is directly related to the rate of
theoretical energy requirements (in terms of changes in Gibbs electrolysis, which in turn depends on the following factors:

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 Nature and pre-treatment of the electrode surfaces

 The composition of the electrolyte solution near the elec- M þ H2 þ e /MHads þ OH (R6)
trode, characterised by the ions in the inner and outer
Helmholtz layer, known as the double layer, and M þ Hþ þ e /MHads (R7)
 The electrode potential, manifested as the reaction over-
potential. The reaction ends with the release of molecular hydrogen
from the bound state via either of the following reactions:
The double layer is responsible for the potential difference Tafel reaction: MHads /2M þ H2 (R8)
between the electrode and the electrolyte. The number of
moles (N) of Hþ or O2 generated by electrolysis is given by
Heyrovsky reaction: H2 O þ MHads þ e /M þ H2 þ OH (R9)
Faraday's law:

MHads þ Hþ þ e /H2 þ M (R10)

N¼ (17) A sufficiently strong MeH bond is desirable for effective
adsorption and desorption reactions at the reaction site. The
where Q, n and F are the total charge transferred during
bond energy is therefore a critical factor guiding the selection
electrolysis (in Coulomb), the stoichiometric number of elec-
of electrode and electrolyte materials. For example, it has
trons consumed during the electrode reaction and Faraday's
been shown that for platinum electrodes, the electric current
constant respectively. The rate of electrolysis is given by dN
required is two orders of magnitude less in the case of alkaline
The rate can be correlated to the Faradic current i ¼ dQ
dt and
electrolytes, as compared to acidic solutions. This is likely due
the electrode surface area A as follows:
to the fact that the PteH bond is shorter and hence stronger in
the case of alkaline electrolytes. The kinetics of formation of
dN i j
¼ ¼ (18) hydrogen can be calculated by Volmer, Heyrovsky and Tafel
dt nFA nF
steps for the following three scenarios:
where j is the current density, expressed in A/m2. The current
can also be expressed in terms of the cell over-potential f 1) The Volmer reaction is the rate determining step for HER
using a simplified form of the Butler-Volmer equation as and the over-potential equation can be expressed as:
  RT i
i ¼ icathode  ianode ¼ io eaf f  eð1aÞf f (19) Df ¼ ln (21)
aF io
where the exchange current density io is the current in
reversible water splitting, f ¼ F/RT and a is the transfer coef-
ficient, whose value ranges from 0 to 1 and controls the rate of 2) The Tafel reaction is the rate determining step:
reaction. Equation (19) can be manipulated to obtain an
expression for the over-potential as a function of current
density. For example, for high cathodic over-potential, Df ¼ C1 þ ln i (22)
f ¼ a þ b log i (20)
where a ¼ and b ¼
ðaFÞ log io aF
3) The Heyrovesky reaction is the rate determining step:
The inter-relationships between the rate of electrolysis,
over-potential and current provide useful guidelines for ma-
terial selection and design of the electrolytic cell. For instance, RT
the rate of reaction depends on the activation energy, which in Df ¼ C2 þ ln i (23)
ð1 þ aÞF
turn is strongly influenced by the electrode material and
where i and i0 are the current density and exchange current
surface roughness.
density respectively, expressed in mA/g.

Over-potential for hydrogen generation Over-potential for oxygen generation

The electrochemical reaction at the cathode, referred to as the The anode side reaction or Oxygen Evolution Reactions (OER)
Hydrogen Evolution Reaction (HER), is represented by the are presented as [28,29].
following steps in the case of alkaline and acidic electrolytes
respectively [28e30]: 2OH / O2 þ H2 O þ 2e (R11)
2H2 O þ 2e /H2 þ 2OH (R4)
H2 O/ O2 þ 2e þ 2Hþ (R12)
2H þ 2e /H2
(R5) 2
OER involves more complex pathways as compared to HER.
The cathode side reaction starts with the binding of atomic
The following steps are widely believed to constitute the
hydrogen to the adsorption site M at the electrode, given by
overall reaction [28]:
the Volmer steps:

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they are formed in stoichiometric proportions as indicated by

ads 4OHads þ e

(R13) the chemical reactions Eqs. (R1eR3) (refer Section
Thermodynamics of water electrolysis).
OH þ OH  The production of HHO gas by electrolysis was reported by
ads 4Oads þ H2 O þ e (R14)
Brown [1], who used it for welding. Two designs of the elec-
Oads þ Oads 4O2 (R15) trolytic cell were introduced. The first type had two plate
electrodes immersed in a solution of KOH in water. The
Over-potential of anode (4anode) reaction is calculated based addition of KOH increases the electrical conductivity of water.
on Tafel reaction: KOH is preferred over NaHCO3 because of its stability and
compatibility with metallic components. However, KOH is
RT i
fanode ¼ ln (24) caustic and dangerous if not handled carefully [39]. The sec-
ð1  aÞF io
ond design comprised multiple electrodes, in effect forming a
number of cells in series [1]. This required less electric current
compared to the first design. Brown also used a flash-back
arrester to prevent the flame in the burner from traveling
Properties of HHO gas back to the electrolytic cell. He recommended the use of direct
current rather than alternating current owing to the lower
The properties of HHO gas as a fuel are similar to those of
electrical impedance in the former [1].
hydrogen [7,13], which have been described by Mazloomi and
Carmichael [40] designed an electrolytic apparatus for use
Gomes [33]. Hydrogen is a colourless and odour less gas,
in vehicles, boats and aeroplanes. Hydrogen and oxygen were
whose ionisation energy is around 13.6 eV. It has a liquid-to-
generated separately in individual upright cylinders contain-
gas expansion ratio of 1:848 under atmospheric conditions.
ing electrodes and connected by a cross pipe. A solution of
The melting and boiling point are 259.14  C and 252.87  C
sulphuric acid and water was used as the electrolyte. This
respectively. The flammability range in air is 4e75%, flash
device had a float mechanism to adjust the extent of immer-
point is 253  C and adiabatic flame temperature in air is
sion of the electrodes depending on the level of electrolyte. A
2107  C. The presence of hydrogen and oxygen in HHO gas
circuit breaker and maker were provided to stop and restart
results in its high octane number [7]. Table 2 presents a
operation in case the electrolyte fell below a set level.
comparison of the relevant properties of hydrogen with those
Hydrogen and oxygen were stored separately in a partitioned
of conventional hydrocarbon fuels.
tank and fed to the engine intake via separate lines and a
Santilli [8] presented various aspects of HHO gas which
suction-actuated valve so as to mix just before entry to the
make it a promising alternative fuel. He also proposed that
HHO gas consists of clusters of H and O atoms, their dimers
Fragale [41] constructed a simple electrolyser unit with
HeO, their molecules H2, O2 and water vapour. Santilli further
sulphuric acid in water as the electrolyte. Hydrogen and ox-
suggested that HHO contains a ‘magnecular’ bond as well as
ygen were generated separately, compressed and fed via in-
the conventional molecular bond. A number of claims made
dividual tubes to a two stroke engine. The piston and cylinder
by Santili were refuted by Calo [34], who was further critiqued
walls were slotted to remove the water formed during com-
by Cloonan [35] and Kadeisvili [36] in later articles. The
bustion. Pacheco [42] devised a setup wherein the electrodes
different views of these authors on various aspects of HHO gas
were made of magnesium and carbon. Sea water was used as
are summarised in Table 3.
the electrolyte. It was observed that the magnesium electrode
is consumed during electrolysis due to the conversion to
magnesium hydroxide. A vibrator was attached to the carbon
Production of HHO electrode to prevent collection of gas and polarisation. The
production of hydrogen was controlled using a potentiometer,
As discussed in Section Introduction, HHO gas is usually
which varies the input current. The hydrogen generated was
produced by electrolysis of a dilute solution of an electrolyte in
used to operate an IC engine. Dufour [26] used an electrolysis
water [38]. This results in the formation of hydrogen and ox-
unit with 3 cells which operate on solutions of sodium hy-
ygen gases at the cathode and anode respectively. Further,
droxide or potassium carbonate. The system had a drier unit

Table 2 e Comparison of properties of hydrogen and other fuels [7,37].

Properties/fuels Hydrogen Methane Unleaded gasoline Diesel
Molar mass (kg/kmol) 2.02 16.04 114 200
Lower heating value (MJ/kg) 120.21 47.14 43.9 42.61
Higher heating value (MJ/kg) 142.18 52.23 46.34 45.58
Laminar flame speed (cm/s) 230 42 37e43 30
Density (kg/m3) at 16  C and 1.01 bar 0.082 0.72 (g) 721e785 (l) 833e881 (l)
Stoichiometric Air-Fuel Ratio (AFR) on mass basis 34.3 17.2 14.6 14.7

Auto-ignition temperature ( C) 585 595 260e460 254e285

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Table 3 e Different views on the nature of HHO gas.

Topic Santilli [8] Calo [34] Cloonan [35] Kadeisvilli [36]
Production of HHO and efficiency HHO electrolysis is structurally Only 16% of energy input of Santilli has explained that the Santilli has not provided details of
of production different from evaporation or electrolyser used for vaporisation. method of production of HHO gas is the method of production as its
separation. Efficiency is 10 times Its vaporisation efficiency is low. different from ordinary patent is pending. This is also not
higher than conventional Comparison of electrolysers with evaporation or electrolysis of relevant to the paper; whose focus
evaporators. conventional evaporators is not water. is on the properties of HHO gas.
Specific weight The specific weight of HHO gas Specific weight of the The specific weight of HHO gas is The value of 11.3 g/mol is a
based on laboratory measurement stoichiometric mixture of H2 and 12.3 g/mol. The discrepancy in misprint which occurred during

i n t e r n a t i o n a l j o u r n a l o f h y d r o g e n e n e r g y x x x ( 2 0 1 8 ) 1 e1 5
is 12.3 g/mol and that of the O2 is 12 g/mol. The higher specific composition of hydrogen-oxygen the publication process.
stoichiometric mixture of oxygen weight of HHO is not an anomaly, mixture and calculation of the
and hydrogen is 11.3 g/mol, but is possibly due to residual specific weight as given by Santilli
indicating an anomaly. water vapour are attributed to typing and
formatting errors.
Oxygen depletion during HHO gas contains oxygen, hence The oxygen concentration in No evidence on concentration of
combustion does not cause oxygen depletion in atmosphere is fairly constant. oxygen being constant. Effect of
environment Oxygen depletion by fuel does not factors such as fossil fuel
affect environment combustion, photosynthesis,
geography, air currents etc. not
Molecular structure The structure is (H  H) e O, where The hypothesis of the Magnecules involve atoms, There can be non-molecular
‘x’ is a magnecule bond and ‘e’ is a unconventional chemical structure radicals and molecules which are species, such as Santilli
conventional molecular bond. of HHO is unsupported. Anomaly in bound together by opposing magnecules. Certain branches of
Specific weight measurement of specific weight is most likely due to magnetic polarities. mathematics, physics and
HHO showed an anomaly of the presence of water vapour. The use of the term ‘magnetic chemistry (e.g. hadronics) are
1 g/mol, indicating the presence Spectroscopic analysis has to be scans’ by Santilli implies the use of dedicated to their study. There are
of species heavier than O2. done using a mass spectrometer mass spectrometer, not gas industries investing millions of
and not a gas chromatograph as chromatograph. dollars for research on these
mentioned by Santilli. species. Presence of anomalous
species in HHO gas has been
independently confirmed by other
laboratories, such as Toxic LTD
laboratories of Los Angeles.
Santilli's paper mentions the use of
Gas Chromatographer Mass
Spectrometer (GC-MS) along with
Infra-Red Detector (IRD)
Water from HHO HHO transforms to liquid water at Humidity in atmosphere
150 psi. Liquefaction pressures of condenses to water at atmospheric
conventional gases are much pressure. Condensation cannot be
higher. This points to the treated as proof for magnecule
unconventional chemical structure of HHO
structure of HHO
Hydrogen Energy (2018),
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Adhesion HHO exhibits anomalous adhesion Objected to the use of the term The term ‘adhesion’ refers to the Adhesion of HHO to diesel has been
(adsorption) to solids, liquids and ‘adhesion’ of gases. Water vapour attraction between two different verified by Southwest Research
gases, unlike H2 and O2. The also has the tendency of adhesion/ molecules. Hence Santilli is Institute, Texas. Petroleum
adhesion of HHO to the inner walls absorption with certain solids and justified in using the term companies have shown particular
of the GC-MS caused anomalous liquids, which can explain the ‘adhesion’ of gases. interest in the research of this
blanks in the scans. anomalous behaviour reported by aspect.
Thermal content HHO gas has ‘varying thermal Santilli's claims are not supported The ability of HHO gas to provide a The ability of HHO flames to melt
content’ e the flame temperature by calculations or experimental flame temperature of 9000  C is tungsten and bricks instantly
varies from 150 to 9000  C, data. The low temperatures can be proof of its anomalous behaviour. confirms that it is different from
depending on the material to attributed to the absorption of heat This is not addressed by Calo. H2-O2 flames.

i n t e r n a t i o n a l j o u r n a l o f h y d r o g e n e n e r g y x x x ( 2 0 1 8 ) 1 e1 5
which the flame is applied. by water droplets present in the
gas. The temperature of a pure
hydrogen flame (H2 e O2) is only
3050 K.
IR spectrum at 18 amu IR scans of HHO are significantly The IR spectra of H2 and O2 are not Peak at 18 amu can also be due to Gas chromatography-Mass
different from those of H2 and O2 definite, as they are transparent to fragmentation, in which case H2O spectrometry (GC-MS) report of
owing to its asymmetric structure. IR radiation. Santilli has also not cannot exist as an isolated species. Adsorption Research Laboratory of
Also, the IR scan of HHO had no specified the preparation of Presence of water should cause Toledo states that the observations
peaks at wave numbers of 3756 and samples and test conditions. bands in the IR spectrum, which in the 15e18 amu range are
3657, which characterise water Contamination with water vapour are not seen in the case of HHO. different from those of
vapour. These facts prove that HHO can explain the peak at 18 amu in The IR spectrum is also not stoichiometric H2-O2 mixtures,
is an anomalous species. the IR spectrum of HHO. consistent with other hydrogen- indicating the presence of
oxygen compounds, such as H2O2 anomalous species.
and O3.
IR spectrum at 33 amu GC scan of HHO shows a significant Peak at 33 amu is probably due to The peak at m/z ¼ 33 is not Other laboratories have verified the
peak at 33 amu, indicating a new HOþ2 ions, formed by ionemolecule necessarily due to HOþ 2 , but can be absence of radicals (such as HOþ2 ) in
(possibly non-molecular) species. reactions occurring at high attributed to other species of macroscopic quantities in HHO.
GC-MS scans of HHO conducted by pressures in the spectrometer. The similar m/z value, e.g. H3NO. It can
Sun Labs, University of Tampa, accuracy of the mass spectra also be caused by cations, radical
Florida, also show the peak at 33 results is questionable, as they cations or magnecules, which can
amu. show negative peaks, which are originate from other structures or
unrealistic. fragmentations.

8 i n t e r n a t i o n a l j o u r n a l o f h y d r o g e n e n e r g y x x x ( 2 0 1 8 ) 1 e1 5

Fig. 2 e Arrangement of electrodes.

with filters made of steel wool, fibre glass, mica chips etc. to can be of the same material, such as titanium stainless steels
remove moisture. etc. Sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide can be used as
LeRoy et al. [31] have recommended the operating condi- electrolyte. They used separate collectors above the electrodes
tion of 70 MPa and 250  C. While reducing the distance be- to receive hydrogen and oxygen. While oxygen is fed via a
tween electrodes lowers the electrical resistance, a minimum conduit to the intake air, hydrogen is fed to a fuel injection
separation has to be maintained to inhibit void fracture. unit downstream.
Accumulation of gas bubbles in the electrolyte increases the Zoulias et al. [46] reviewed various techniques of hydrogen
electrical resistance and deteriorates efficiency. Larger surface production. They noted that either acidic or alkaline electro-
area of the electrodes reduces the electrical resistance. It is lytic solutions can be used. However, the latter is preferred
recommended to achieve this by increasing the electrode due to lower risk of corrosion, which allows the use of cheaper
width rather than the height, as the latter increases the like- construction materials. Alkaline electrolysis can be carried
lihood of void fracture. Placing the electrodes in the vertical out using either monopolar or bipolar arrangements of elec-
position is recommended as it facilitates the expulsion of trodes, wherein electrodes are arranged in parallel and series
bubbles. Expulsion of bubbles can be accelerated by intro- respectively as shown in Fig. 2. Using bipolar arrangement has
ducing an ultrasonic field or super-gravity condition. The the advantages of compactness and less material requirement
latter can be created by centrifugal action. Aluminium, Nickel, for bus bars and housing. However, this arrangement can
Raney nickel and cobalt are preferred materials for electrodes produce shunt currents in the electrolyte ducts if not designed
by virtue of high activity, electrical conductivity and corrosion properly. The authors have cited designs of alkaline electro-
resistance. Appleby et al. [43] have showed that the activity of lytic cells with operating pressures as high as 30 bar, current
woven or porous sintered electrodes can be 30 times greater density up to 10 kA/m2 and efficiency above 80%. In Proton
than that of plain ones. The choice of electrode material is also Exchange Membrane (PEM) electrolysis, a polymer membrane
dependent on the electrolyte. For example, platinum plates allows hydrated protons from the anode to pass through and
perform better than molybdenum in KOH solution. uses pure water for electrolysis. Perfluorinated sulfonic acid
Munday [44] used non-conducting tubes around the an- membranes such as Nafion 117 are preferred due to their
odes and cathodes and partitions between the arrays of elec- resistance to oxidation. PEM electrolysis has several advan-
trodes so as to avoid mixing of the produced gases, which tages viz. i) it can operate on pure water and does not require
were fed to an IC engine. The device used multiple electrodes, an electrolyte, ii) the absence of electrolyte improves safety
which were activated or deactivated using a mechanical and reliability, iii) ability to withstand high pressure, iv) high
control unit in order to vary the production rate, thus meeting current density and v) prevention of gas mixing by the
the energy requirement of the engine. Owens [39] used a fuel membrane. The anode and cathode are typically made of
cell operated in reverse for on-board generation of HHO in an porous titanium and graphite respectively with mixed metal
automobile. He used non-electrolyte water along with a oxides as electro-catalysts. Steam electrolysis works on the
polyelectrolyte membrane. The membrane separates the principle that it is more efficient to carry out electrolysis at
anode and cathode and allows only protons to pass through. high temperatures (800e1000  C) as the rate of electrolysis is
Electrolysis was carried out under low temperature and higher, electrode polarisation is reduced and part of the en-
pressure. The production is initiated by means of a vacuum ergy input is in the form of heat. Electrical efficiencies as high
switch or other sensors which detect when the engine is as 92% have been observed. A mixture of steam and hydrogen
running. Mosher et al. [45] have stated that anode and cathode is supplied to the cathode side and air at the anode side.

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i n t e r n a t i o n a l j o u r n a l o f h y d r o g e n e n e r g y x x x ( 2 0 1 8 ) 1 e1 5 9

Electricity consumption can be reduced by replacing air kept at the distance of 20e400 mm to avoid short circuiting. To
with natural gas. ZrO2 stabilised by Y2O3, MgO or CaO is used increase the efficiency of the gas production in the system it is
as electrolyte. Hydrogen can also be generated as a by-product introduced with a set of metallic or plastic blades vibrating at
of chlor-alkali production, which is primarily used to produce frequencies of 10e500 Hz. This vibration prevents the build-up
chlorine by electrolysis of NaCl solution in water (brine). of H2 and O2 at the electrodes and enhances the rate of elec-
Chlorine and hydrogen gases are generated at the anode and trolysis. Gootblatt [6] used an electrolytic device which pro-
cathode respectively. The authors have also reviewed various duces HHO gas to replace gasoline in an IC engine. The device
techniques for producing hydrogen by harvesting energy from consisted of 4 cells which supplied HHO gas to the intake
renewable sources. Photo-Voltaic (PV) electrolysis uses elec- manifold. This system also employed a bubbler unit to reduce
tric power generated from solar energy by silicon-based PV the chance of explosion due to back fire.
panels. The energy conversion efficiency of the solar panel Yilmaz et al. [7] compared various electrode designs and
depends on the silicon technology used and can be nearly chose plate electrodes made of 316L SS on account of its high
9e13% (crystalline) or 5% (amorphous). Some of the designs corrosion resistance. Aqueous NaOH was selected as the
discussed involved the use of AC-DC or DC-DC converters for electrolyte based on a comparison of solutions of NaOH, KOH
optimising the performance of the electrolytic cells. Wind and NaCl. A Plexiglass container of 8.5 L capacity was used.
electrolysis uses electric power generated by a wind turbine. Water level was controlled by a float system. The voltage-
One major drawback of this system is irregular power de- current settings at the lower (1750 rpm) and higher
livery, which affects the quality of the gas mixture produced (1750 rpm) operating speeds were 7.3 V e 5.9 A and 12 V e
in the electrolyser. Geothermal energy has been used in 10 A respectively. While gas generation increased on
several applications to preheat water to temperatures as high increasing the mass fraction of catalyst, the molarity of NaOH
as 200  C. Subsequently water is heated using the heat of was limited to 1% by mass as the electrical resistance of so-
electrolysis to 900  C, which lowers the electricity demand of lution deceases rapidly beyond this point, leading to very high
electrolysis by nearly 30% and the production cost of hydrogen current flow from the battery.
by about 19%. Photo-electrolysis generates hydrogen using Milind et al. [21] used two different design for generating
solar radiation. Apart from the conversion using PV units HHO gas. The first design consisted of a plastic container and
discussed earlier, certain types of absorbers allows conversion electrodes made of 216 grade Stainless Steel (SS) plates sepa-
of solar energy into chemical energy by virtue of one of the rated with Teflon washers. The plates were supported with a
following means of absorption: a) solution of a substrate carbon rod at the top and one at the bottom. The optimum gap
known as sensitiser, which absorbs sunlight and stimulates between the electrodes was found to be 1.6 mm. For wider
photochemical reactions, b) light absorbing semiconductors gaps, the rate of electrolysis was lower, while the risk of short-
(e.g. titanium dioxide), which are used as either a photo- circuiting increased upon reducing the gap. The second design
anode, photo-cathode or both, c) biological systems, such as had both the container and anode made of 304 grade SS. The
chloroplast or algae, whose photosynthetic mechanism is container body itself acted as the cathode. KOH was used as
altered by coupling to hydrogen-generating enzymes (e.g. the electrolyte in both designs. 304 grade SS has a higher
hydrogenase or nitrogenase), and d) a combination of the resistance to corrosion compared to 206 grade SS. This design
above, i.e. a hybrid system. had a higher rate of gas generation due to increased cathode
The authors also discussed the performance to various surface area. The risk of explosion of oxy-hydrogen was also
types of electrodes and suggested means of improvement, lower. The authors also used the first design to generate oxy-
such as: a) cathodes made of nickel tend to get deactivated hydrogen by subjecting water to resonance at its natural fre-
during alkaline electrolysis. This can be overcome by the quency (42 MHz), which breaks the oxygen-hydrogen bonds.
addition of dissolved V2O5, b) electrodes made of alloys such For this purpose, they used nine concentric tube-in-tube type
as Ni-LaNi5 and Ni-MmNi3.4Co0.8Al0.8, MmNi3.6Co0.7Mn0.4Al0.3
etc. have shown improved hydrogen evolution reaction, c)
surface modification of metal hydride electrodes by
immersing them in a hot alkaline solution containing KBH4
improves performance, d) composite electrodes, such as those
made of Ti2Ni showed low hydrogen over-potential and
operational stability, e) increasing the molybdenum content
in alloy electrodes enhances the hydrogen evolution, f)
coating/deposition of Ni-Mo, Ni-Fe, increasing the porosity
and surface roughness also reduce the hydrogen and oxygen
over-potential, g) catalytic activity and electrode lifetime of
Ni-Zn electrodes were highest when the alloy contains 50%
Zn, and h) electro-deposition of RuO2 and Ni on nickel elec-
trodes reduced the over-potential and improved durability.
Omasa [25] studied the use of porous electrodes which
allow electrolyte to flow through and possess higher surface
area. He recommended the use of lead dioxide, magnetite,
ferrite, graphite etc. for anode and rhodium, nickel, nickel
alloys and titanium alloys for cathode. The electrodes were Fig. 3 e Variation of HHO flow rate with current flow [17].

Please cite this article in press as: Subramanian B, Ismail S, Production and use of HHO gas in IC engines, International Journal of
Hydrogen Energy (2018),
Hydrogen Energy (2018),
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Table 4 e Experimental studies on the use of HHO gas in engines.

S.No Author Fuel used HHO supply method Effect on performance Effect on emissions
1 Chiriac et al. Gasoline (SI) Passed through a mixing chamber with For l ¼ 0.92e0.94: Brake thermal efficiency For l ¼ 0.92e0.94: CO2 and HC emissions drop
[54] pressure and temperature control and fed and Net Indicated Mean Effective Pressure by 30% and 40% respectively. CO and NOx are
at 2 bar to a carburettor with open loop (IMEP) increase up to 1.2% and 5.6% unaffected.
control of relative air-fuel ratio (l) at flow respectively. For l ¼ 1.18e1.2: HC, CO and CO2 drop by up to
rates up to 1200 L/hr. For l ¼ 1.18e1.2: Brake thermal efficiency and 67%, 54% and 18% respectively. NOx increases
Net IMEP increase up to 3% and 17% by almost 4 times.

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In both cases, cycle-to-cycle variations are
reduced, indicated by a reduction in
Coefficient of Variation of Net IMEP. Duration
of combustion is lowered.
2 Yilmaz et al. [7] Diesel (CI) Supplied to intake manifold after water Increases engine torque by 19% on average, Reduced the formation of CO by 13.5%, HC by
separator decreases the specific fuel consumption by 5% on average
14% on average.
3 Al-Rousan [2] Gasoline (SI) Introduced into intake manifold before Up to 6% increase in thermal efficiency, slight
carburettor drop in exhaust temperature and up to 20%
reduction in specific fuel consumption.
4 Bari and Diesel (CI) Passed through a drier unit, two flame Brake thermal efficiency increases by up to 3% NOx increases by about 70 ppm. CO2 and HC
Esmaeil [22] arrestors and introduced into inlet with 32 L/min of HHO addition. This reduces reduce by 3e4% and 100 ppm respectively. CO
manifold at flow rate up to 32 L/min, total fuel consumption (diesel equivalent) and drops to negligible levels.
(~6% total diesel equivalent). diesel consumption by up to 10% and 15%
5 Samuel and Diesel (CI) Up to 2.8 L/min of HHO gas was passed Brake specific fuel consumption decreased by CO2 drops by 5.4% at 2.2 L/min. CO drops
McCormick [23] through water bath and introduced into 5.4% at 2.8 L/min of HHO addition. Rate of linearly with HHO flow rate up to 65% at 2.8 L/
the intake manifold. pressure rise increases by 59% and min. HC increased by ~18%, but remains
combustion duration reduces by 4.4% under independent of HHO flow rate. NOx is lower by
this flow rate. Exhaust temperature is 19.9% at 1.2 L/min, but increases with HHO
unaffected. flow rate. Smoke levels increase with HHO
flow rate.
6 Birtas And Diesel (CI) Introduced into air at flow rates Brake thermal efficiency decreases slightly CO reduces from 336 ppm to 264 ppm and
Chiriac [55] corresponding to various energy fractions from 29.75% (diesel only) to 29.57% smoke from 0.1957 g/kWh to 0.1423 g/kWh.
(1.46%, 3.38% and 5.85%) of total energy (diesel þ maximum HHO). NOx increases from 345 ppm to 406 ppm.
7 Milind et al. [21] Diesel (CI) Passed through bubbler and introduced Up to 10% increase in brake thermal efficiency
into intake after air filter and volumetric efficiency.
8 Musmar and Gasoline (SI) Introduced into intake manifold before Up to 5% increase in thermal efficiency, fuel NO emissions fall below 400 ppm, CO below
Al-Rousan [3] carburettor consumption reduces by 20e30% and exhaust 1%. Small reduction in HC.
temperature drops.
9 Durairaj et al. Bio diesel (CI) Preheated and introduced into intake Increase in torque, brake power and thermal Reduced HC, NOx, CO and CO2 emissions
[20] manifold efficiency
Hydrogen Energy (2018),
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10 Zammit et al. Gasoline (SI) Passed through flame arrestor and Carburetted SI engine: Negligible effect on Carburetted SI engine: HC emissions increase
[19] and Diesel introduced into intake manifold at the engine torque and brake power at idling, but fall by up to 5% under loading.
(CI) flow rate of 1.67 L/min. Fuel injected SI engine: Brake torque and CO increases.
brake thermal efficiency increase by up to Fuel injected SI engine: HC reduces by up to
12.4% and 9.3% respectively. This requires 25.5% with AFR ¼ 16 and SA ¼ 10obTDC. CO
Spark Advance (SA) to be retarded to10 bTDC. emissions were higher.
Common rail CI engine: Negligible effect on Common rail CI engine. Except at idling, HC
brake torque and specific fuel consumption. emissions increase by up to 8%. CO is higher
at idling, but falls when the engine is loaded.
11 Kumar and Rao Petrol (2 Inducted along with air in inlet manifold Increases the brake thermal efficiency by up
[18] stroke SI) after air filter to 10% and decreases brake specific fuel

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12 Leelakrishnan Gasoline (SI) Inducted along with air-fuel mixture after Increases brake power by 5% and brake Reduces HC by 88%, CO by 94%, NOx by 58%
et al. [5] carburettor thermal efficiency by 7% at full load and smoke by 18% at full load.
13 Le Anh et al. Gasoline (SI) HHO gas stored at 3.5 bar injected in the Gasoline consumption reduces on an average NOx increases by 29.16% (case 2), 47.42% (case
[20] intake manifold after carburettor at flow by 1.74% and 2.74% in case 2 (HHO injection) 3) on average. CO increases by 4% (case 2) and
rates up to 30 L/min. Additional air and case 3(HHO þ additional air injection) decreases by 15% (case 3) on average. HC
injector also used. respectively compared to case 1 (gasoline drops by 5% (case 2) and 6% (case 3) on
operation). Brake power increases by up to average. CO2 reduces by 1% (case 2) and
4.45% (case 2) and 3.57% (case 2). increased by 5% (case 3) on average.
14 Sharma et al. Petrol SI- Passed through bubbler and introduced Increases brake power by 11.5%, brake
[12] Multi- Point along with air in intake manifold prior to thermal efficiency by 1.5% and reduces
Fuel Injection port injectors. exhaust gas temperature by 4% on an average.
15 Baltacioglu Diesel and HHO at 10 L/min from bubbler mixed with Increases brake power by 13%, brake torque Reduces CO2 and CO by 12% and 22%
et al. [14] Sunflower air in a mixing chamber placed after air by 9% and reduces Brake Specific Fuel respectively, increases NOx by 20% on average
biodiesel filter Conception (BSFC) by 10% on average compared to diesel.
blend (B10) compared to diesel.
16 Arat et al. [13] Diesel (CI) Passed through bubbler and introduced An average increase in brake torque of 2.7% CO2drops by 9% and 9.65% with modes A and
into a mixing chamber after air filterat and 4.75% in modes A and B respectively. B and NOx decreases by 11.76% and 28.4%. CO
5.14 L/min. Two modes e A (HHO þ diesel) Brake power improves by 3.18% and 6.85% reduces by 15% for mode A and increased by
and B (25%HHO þ 75%CNG þ diesel) and thermal efficiency by 3.4% and 6.28% 16% in mode B.
respectively in the two modes. Exhaust gas
temperature is lower than that of diesel for
speeds below 1800 rpm and greater for high
17 Bahng et al. [15] Gasoline HHO gas at 2.4 L/min and air passed Gasoline consumption reduced to about 35 NOx and soot are negligible; CO2 emission
vapour through bubbler unit containing gasoline. e40% of baseline SI operation. Exhaust gas reduces as less gasoline is consumed.
(4 engines Released vapour mixed with injected temperature was lower by around 100  C.
operated in gasoline in a mixing chamber. Excess air
HCCI mode) controlled via throttle.
18 El-Kassaby Gasoline Passed through a separation tank, two Increase in thermal efficiency up to10% at CO decreases by 18%, HC by 14% and NOx by
et al. [16] (SI-MPFI) flashback arrestors and introduced into various engine speeds. 15% on average.
intake manifold.
19 Masjuki et al. Diesel and HHO at a flow rate of 4  106 m3/s 2% average increase in brake power and 5% CO and HC decrease by 20% and 10
[17] 20% Palm inducted along with air. drop in injected fuel consumption. respectively on average. NO increases by
biodiesel about 25% when HHO is used with the
blend (PB20) biodiesel blend.

12 i n t e r n a t i o n a l j o u r n a l o f h y d r o g e n e n e r g y x x x ( 2 0 1 8 ) 1 e1 5

Fig. 4 e Experimental setup for using HHO gas in engines e representative diagram.

of electrodes made of 316 grade SS and with a radial gap of electrode material. They have noted that an electrolytic cell
0.6615 mm. This method requires no electrolyte and even tap with carbon steel electrodes and aqueous solution of 1-butyl-
water can be used. Resonance was produced by supplying a 3-methyleimidazolium-tetra fluoroborate (BMI.BF4) as elec-
pulsating DC voltage to the electrodes. Though this method trolyte showed an efficiency of 96%. The presence of impu-
had lower rate of oxy-hydrogen generating compared to rities such as magnesium, chloride and calcium ions in the
electrolysis, the rise in temperature inside the gas tempera- electrolyte limits the efficiency of electrolysis and can cause
ture was minimal, enhancing operability. This method also side reactions. Raising the operating temperature improves
safer compared to electrolysis. the efficiency of electrolysis on account of reduced splitting
Musmar and Al-Rousan [3] used a Plexiglass box containing potential of water and enhanced ionic potential and surface
distilled water in with electrodes made of 316L stainless steel. reactions in the electrolyte. Increasing the pressure is also
They have noted that stainless steel of 302 or 304 grades could beneficial, as it causes the gas bubbles to shrink and thus
also be used for the cathode. In addition to increasing the rate reduce the voltage drop and power dissipation. However,
of reaction, the sodium bicarbonate electrolyte also keeps the elevated temperatures and pressures can raise the risk of
heat generation in check. King [4] has reviewed various tech- formation of cracks and leaks in the system.
niques for producing what he termed ‘water gas’. He has BenSlama [50] investigated electrolysis of nine liquids at
observed that vibrating the water in an electrolytic cell im- 21  C and with a 6 V input and showed that milk of water,
proves the quality of the gas generated. Vibrations can be margines etc. possess higher efficiencies of electrolysis (16%
produced mechanically using paddles [25] or using toroidal and 14% respectively) compared to distilled water or water
coils or pumps with pulsating power supply [47]. He also noted with additives. Electrolytes such as gas liquor (NH4OH) and
that electrolysis can be carried out with less or no electrolyte urine are also viable as they are freely available. While the
by reducing the gap between electrodes to less than 1 mm. addition of 200 g/l of NaCl to each of these electrolytes causes
Conditioning of electrodes, i.e. increasing the surface rough- a significant increase in power consumption and hydrogen
ness and cleanliness, enhances the electric field strength and generation rate, efficiency and specific power consumption
the gas production rate. Conditioning techniques can be either are not affected so much. Connell and Thompson [51] used
physical (e.g. abrasion) or chemical (e.g. pickling) or a combi- concentrator solar cells to heat water and to generate DC
nation of both. Using a pulsed DC power source can improve electricity. The heated water is passed to solid oxide electro-
the gas production and reduce power consumption. Square lyser cell which operates at 1100  C. The components used in
pulses with frequencies varying from 1 to 250 kHz have been the test are i) a concave concentrator dish, ii) photovoltaic
studied. While the optimum frequency is system specific, panel placed near the focal point of the concentrator, iii) a
several researchers have recommended the use of a 40 kHz spectral spiller which reflects IR radiation while allowing
input [47,48]. Using a high voltage spike on the leading edge of visible light to reach the PV panel, iv) a light pipe to transfer
the square wave has been found to enhance the energy con- the heat energy of IR radiation and v) a Solid Oxide Electrolyser
tent of the gas produced [48]. Cell (SOEC) stack, which utilises the electricity from PV panel
Mazloomi et al. [49] reviewed various factors that influence and heat from light pipe to electrolyse water. Their cost
the electrical efficiency of electrolytic cells. Even though analysis showed that the hydrogen generation cost of this
increasing the electrolyte concentration reduces the imped- technique is comparable to those using wind and nuclear
ance of solution, it is limited by the corrosive resistance of the energy, and lower than those using conventional flat plate PV

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panels. Chennouf et al. [52] used the power developed by a PV

module comprising36 poly-crystallised silicon cells, with a
nominal current of 2.87 A and voltage of 17.39 V to carry out
electrolysis. The production rate of hydrogen more than
doubled as the electrolyte temperature was raised from 300 K
to 340 K. Increasing the concentration of NaOH electrolyte
from 2 g/l to 28 g/l enhanced the hydrogen generation rate by
about 5 times.
Langemann et al. [53] studied the use of various metals that
can be used as bipolar plates in PEM water electrolysis. They
observed the pH of the electrolytic solution falls from around
5.6 to 3.4 during normal operation. This acidic environment
has an adverse effect on the stability of the metallic elec-
trodes. Titanium is a preferred choice due to its high resis-
tance to corrosion. Coatings of Pt and Pt-Au are used on the
anode and cathode respectively to minimise contact resis- Fig. 5 e Effect of HHO gas on brake thermal efficiency [3].
tance due to oxidation and embrittlement of titanium due to
hydrogen. Stainless steel is a much cheaper alternative, but is
prone to corrosion in PEM electrolysis. Coating the stainless charged by an alternator powered by the engine. The bubbler
steel electrodes with Au or TiN can protect the substrate from unit and/or flash arrestor are used as safety devices to prevent
corrosion when using mildly acidic electrolytes. The quality of backfire and explosion in the intake. The addition of HHO or
coating is vital, as uncoated spots (referred to as ‘pin-holes’) hydrogen reduces the duration of combustion owing to the
will be susceptible to corrosion. Zammit et al. [19] used two high flame speed of hydrogen. This reduces the heat losses. As
electrolyser designs with stainless steel electrodes and NaOH combustion takes place nearly at constant volume close to
electrolyte. The first design had 4 cells, where the electrodes Top Dead Centre (TDC), peak pressure, work output and
were placed horizontally with 5 mm spacing in a weak elec- thermal efficiency increases. Musmar and Al-Rousan intro-
trolyte (0.105% wt NaOH). The second electrolyser had 5 cells duced HHO gas along with air in the intake manifold of a
with vertical arrangement of electrodes with 15 mm spacing gasoline Spark Ignition (SI) engine and observed improvement
in a stronger electrolyte solution (12.04% wt NaOH). The in the thermal efficiency as shown in Fig. 5 [3]. It is important
electrolyser had efficiencies of10.06% and 48.01% respectively to note that most of the existing works report the brake
with the supplied voltage of 13.75V. thermal efficiency of the engine without clearly stating
El-Kassaby et al. [16] used 16 stainless steel electrodes of whether the power consumption and losses in the battery,
2 mm thickness and 1 mm spacing between electrodes. A alternator and electrolyser have been accounting for in the
separation chamber made of a 3.500 PVC pipe having a capacity calculation. Very few authors have taken into consideration
of 2.2 l was used to separate HHO from condensed water, prior the power consumption of the auxiliary systems, so as to
to being fed to an engine. The effect of two electrolytes (KOH, obtain a more practical evaluation of the effect of HHO gas
NaOH) on the production of HHO gas was studied. It was addition on thermal efficiency. Bari and Esmaeil have used a
observed that a concentration of 6 g/L of KOH provided elec- parameter called ‘total fuel consumption’ e the sum of actual
trolysis efficiencies close to 40%. The optimum concentration diesel consumption, diesel equivalent flow rate of HHO added,
for NaOH was 4 g/l, with the efficiency being slightly lower and the diesel equivalent energy consumption of electrolysis
than that of KOH. Masjuki et al. [17] used stainless steel elec- e for comparing the engine performance with and without
trodes placed inside a Plexiglas container of 4 mm thickness
with capacity of 3 L and KOH solution as electrolyte. The
current flow was observed to increase upon reducing the
inter-electrode gap, number of electrodes, and the electrolyte
concentration (refer Fig. 3) [17]. The average HHO production
rate for 1% KOH solution was almost double that of 0.5% KOH
solution. The authors noted that the formation of bubbles over
the electrode surface impedes the flow of current and the
production of HHO.

Effect on engine performance and emissions

Table 4 provides a chronological summary of findings from

experimental studies on engines where HHO gas produced by
electrolysis of water is used as a supplementary fuel. A typical
experimental setup for using HHO gas produced by electrol-
ysis as a supplementary fuel in engines is shown in Fig. 4. 12 or Fig. 6 e Effect of percentage of HHO on brake thermal
24 V batteries are used in most applications. The battery is efficiency [22].

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Hydrogen Energy (2018),
14 i n t e r n a t i o n a l j o u r n a l o f h y d r o g e n e n e r g y x x x ( 2 0 1 8 ) 1 e1 5

HHO addition and observed an improvement in thermal effi- as a promising renewable alternative fuel. HHO gas, which is
ciency of a diesel Compression Ignition (CI) engine as shown prepared from electrolysis of water, is a mixture of hydrogen
in Fig. 6 [22]. Bahng et al. have studied the effect of HHO gas and oxygen. Several researchers have hypothesised the like-
addition in gasoline fuelled Homogeneous Charge Compres- lihood of a ‘magnecular’ structure of HHO, and referred to the
sion Ignition (HCCI) engines [15]. They evaluated the overall presence of traces of clusters of H and O atoms, dimers and
energy efficiency of electrolysis as ~30%. Their calculations water vapour in it. The presence of hydrogen in the HHO gas
revealed that when the power consumption in the electrolyser makes it a promising alternative fuel. The rate of production
is 400 W, the effective energy content of the gasoline-HHO of HHO gas by electrolysis depends on many factors such as
mixture is about 45% of that of liquid gasoline. However, electrode material, geometrical parameters, type and con-
owing to the improvement in energy release rate with HHO centration of electrolyte, amount of current passed etc.
addition, the gasoline consumption is lowered by almost 65% Various techniques have been proposed to enhance the rate of
and only about 10% of the energy content of HHO is sufficient electrolysis such as conditioning electrodes, increasing
to make up for the energy of the substituted gasoline, thus working temperature, reducing electrode spacing, increasing
indicating more economical operation with HHO addition. the electrode surface area, increasing electrolyte concentra-
The high octane number of hydrogen also minimises the tion, using higher current density, vibrating electrode/water,
likelihood of knock in SI engines. This in turn permits high using natural gas instead of air for steam electrolysis etc.
compression ratios to be used, further enhancing thermal ef- While HHO gas has been shown to improve engine perfor-
ficiency. In CI engines, the induction of HHO improves the mance and emissions, its use requires additional equipment
knock resistance, especially at idling and low load. This is such as water tank, electrolyser, bubbler unit, flame arrester
because of the rapid rise in pressure and temperature caused etc. as well as increased current demand on the battery.
by the fast burning of HHO. The wide flammability limit of HHO The foregoing discussion brings out the need of further
broadens the engine operating range and allows extremely investigations into the nature and properties of HHO gas.
lean operation. The absence of carbon atoms, shorter Challenges such as cost, complexity and efficiency of HHO
quenching distance and high flame speed of HHO minimise the generators as well as safety aspects have to be addressed in
formation of HC and CO emissions. Though the high temper- order to make large scale use of HHO gas practical.
ature of hydrogen flames is conductive to NOx formation, this
effect is lessened by the use of very lean mixtures.

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Hydrogen Energy (2018),
i n t e r n a t i o n a l j o u r n a l o f h y d r o g e n e n e r g y x x x ( 2 0 1 8 ) 1 e1 5 15

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Please cite this article in press as: Subramanian B, Ismail S, Production and use of HHO gas in IC engines, International Journal of
Hydrogen Energy (2018),