FIELD OF INVENTION
The present invention relates to a hydrogen generation device. More particularly, the present invention relates to a hydrogen generation device for use with an internal combustion engine with the purpose to improve fuel combustion and consumption.
BACKGROUND TO THE INVENTION
Typically, internal combustion engines are powered by a hydrocarbon fuel such as petrol, diesel or liquid petroleum gas (LPG). Incomplete combustion of the fuel in the engine results in pollutants expelled through the exhaust system of the associated vehicle and also to low efficiency in the output from the engine.
It is known that the addition of hydrogen and oxygen gases into the fuel air mixture for combustion can increase efficiency of an engine and also reduce the pollutants output through the exhaust to the environment.
It is desirable to produce an improved hydrogen generator that improves efficiency and reduces pollutants produced due to the incomplete combustion of conventional fuels.
It is desirable to provide an improved hydrogen generator that is versatile in size and structure such that it can be fitted to any vehicle.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
A first aspect of the invention provides a hydrogen generator comprising a plurality of electrodes arranged in a sequence, wherein the sequence comprises a first positively or negatively chargeable electrode, followed by an isolated member of similar conductive material to the positively or negatively chargeable electrodes, wherein the isolated member is followed in the sequence by an electrode of opposite polarity to the first electrode and wherein an isolated member is located between each positively and negatively chargeable electrode of the sequence and wherein the sequence ends with an electrode of opposite polarity to that of the first electrode of the sequence.
The hydrogen generator may comprise a plurality of electrodes and a plurality of isolated members.
The sequence may comprise a plurality of positively chargeable electrodes and a plurality of negatively chargeable electrodes where each of the positively chargeable electrodes are electrically connected together and to a positive terminal of a power input source. The sequence may be arranged such that all negatively chargeable electrodes are electrically connected together and to a negative terminal of a power input source.
The power input source may be provided by a connection to an automobile battery.
Each electrode may comprise a plurality of members joined in electrical contact. Each member may be a plate. Each positive and negative electrode may comprise four plates. Each isolated member of the sequence may comprise three plates. The plates may be substantially circular in shape. Each plate may be arranged concentrically and may be mounted on a common shaft. The shaft may be of non-conductive material. The shaft may be of nylon material. The plates providing the electrodes and isolated members may comprise stainless steel. The plates may comprise 316L type stainless steel.
Stainless steel, in particular 316L stainless steel was found to be an efficient material in the electrolysis process for producing hydrogen and oxygen and also for its resistance to corrosion and erosion. The electrodes are fully immersed during the electrolysis process. Therefore, it is advantageous to use 316L stainless steel in respect of the lifespan of the device and an increased time period between maintenance periods.
The electrodes may be enclosed in a hermetically sealed housing. The housing may further comprise a fluid reservoir attached thereto providing a permanent fluid source for the electrolysis process.
The fluid reservoir may comprise a float device operable to control the level of fluid in the fluid reservoir. The fluid reservoir may further comprise an input and an output port, wherein the input allows a predetermined level of fluid in the fluid reservoir and the output port allows the hydrogen generated to be exported to a combustion system. The fluid reservoir may further comprise a vacuum pump to control the delivery rate of the hydrogen and oxygen gases exiting the fluid reservoir via the output port.
Either or both of the fluid reservoir and the hermetically sealed housing may comprise removable caps for maintenance and cleaning of their interior. The electrodes may be removable from the housing for maintenance and repair.
The device according to the first aspect of the present invention may be used with, for example, an internal combustion engine. The device may be operable to generate, through the process of electrolysis, hydrogen and oxygen for delivery to the combustion site of the engine. The addition of hydrogen and oxygen to the combustion site of an engine may improve the efficiency of combustion of the hydrocarbon fuel and may also reduce emissions normally associated with the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbon fuels, for example carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides.
In trials with a device according to the present invention a notable change in the fuel consumption in a family car with a diesel engine was recorded. Normal fuel consumption of the vehicle was in the region of forty eight miles per gallon of fuel used. In comparison, the same engine with a device according to the invention attached, and driven under comparable conditions, produced improved fuel consumption. In the comparison test, sixty one miles per gallon of fuel used was recorded.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Exemplary embodiments of the present invention will now be described by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 shows an illustrative example of a hydrogen generator according to an embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 2 shows an illustrative example of an electrode pack of the hydrogen generator of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 shows an illustrative example showing the shape of an electrode of the electrode pack illustrated in FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 shows a schematic representation of the electrode sequence of FIG. 2; and
FIG. 5 shows an illustrative example of a hydrogen generator according to an embodiment of the present invention.
Referring to FIG. 1, a hydrogen generator 1 is illustrated which comprises a fluid reservoir 3 that in the illustrated embodiment is arranged substantially perpendicular to an electrode housing 5. The electrode housing 5 is arranged to receive fluid 9 from the reservoir 3.
In the illustrated embodiment the reservoir 3 comprises a clear tube 7 such that the level of fluid 9 contained in the reservoir 3 can be observed. The fluid 9 is an electrolyte solution comprising water; for example rainwater, a saline solution or water containing bicarbonate of soda or caustic soda. Fluid is added to the reservoir 3 through an inlet 8.
A float device 11 is included in the reservoir 3. The float device 11 is operable to measure the level of fluid 9 in the reservoir 3 and is also operable to activate a pump (not shown) such that a predetermined level of fluid 9 is maintained in the reservoir 3. The float device 11 can also be operable to indicate the condition of the fluid 9 in the device 1.
The condition of the fluid 9 will determine when maintenance is required. In this regard, the reservoir 3 comprises a cap 12 that, in use, provides a hermetically sealed unit.
Advantageously, the cap 12 is removable for maintenance. As such suitable seals, for example o-rings are arranged at the top of the reservoir 3 in sealing communication with the cap 12. The cap 12 can be further sealed with the use of a screw thread and a sealing compound such as PTFE tape.
Referring to FIG. 1 and FIG. 2, the electrode housing 5 comprises a substantially tubular casing 13 which houses a bank of electrodes 15 arranged in arrays of anodes 17, cathodes 19 and isolated members 21 (see FIG. 2). The electrodes 15 are arranged in a sequence, where each anode 17 and each cathode 19 is interposed with an isolated member 21. In the embodiment illustrated, each electrode 15 comprises a substantially circular disc 23 made of 316L stainless steel (see FIG. 3).
Each anode 17 and each cathode 19 comprises four discs 23. The isolated member 21 comprises three discs 23. The isolated members 21 separate the cathodes 19 from the anodes 17. Each disc 23 forming the anode 17 or cathode 19 is separated from another disc by a conductive material and the discs 23 forming the isolated member 21 are spaced using non-conductive nylon washers.
The bank of electrodes 15 is arranged on a non-conductive nylon shaft 25. The shaft 25 extends from an end cap 27 to a non-conductive disc 35. The non conductive disc acts as a guide and a stop when the electrodes are inserted in the tubular casing 13.
The end cap 27 seals and closes the housing 5. The end cap 27 also comprises two electrical terminals 29, 31 that provide electrical connection of the anodes 17 and the cathodes 21 to an external power source (not shown). In an example of an application of the device 1, the external power source is provided by an automobile battery.
In the illustrated embodiment, the bank of electrodes 15 comprises three anodes 17, three cathodes 19 and five isolating members 21 arranged in a sequence. The sequence comprises an anode 17, followed by an isolating member 21 , followed by a cathode 19, followed by an isolating member 21 and so on. In this example the sequence ends with a cathode 19. Alternatively, the arrangement may start with a cathode 19 and as such the sequence would end with an anode 17 having an isolating member between each cathode 19 and each anode 17 until the end of the sequence (see FIG. 3).
The electrodes 15 are arranged such that all of the anodes 17 are connected together and to the positive terminal 29. Similarly, the cathodes 19 are also connected together and to the negative terminal 31. The isolated members 21 are isolated from the anodes 17 and cathodes 19 by virtue of the isolating members 21 being mounted on a non-conductive shaft 25 and being separated by non conductive spacers 33 such as nylon washers arranged on the shaft 25. The shaft 25 terminates with the nylon disc 35.
The process of hydrogen generation occurs when electricity passes through the terminals 29, 31 and when the electrodes 15 are immersed in electrolytic fluid, for example distilled water or filtered rainwater containing a quantity of sodium bicarbonate (bicarbonate of soda) or sodium hydroxide (caustic soda).
In the example illustrated the capacity of the reservoir 3 is in the region of three litres.
In an embodiment of the invention, the fluid 9 in contact with the electrodes 15 is water containing two teaspoons (10 ml) of bicarbonate of soda or two teaspoons (10 ml) of caustic soda per litre of fluid.
The reservoir 3 comprises a filter to ensure that contaminants do not enter the housing 5 containing the electrodes 15. The reservoir 3 comprises an inlet 8 and an outlet 37, where the inlet 8 allows the reservoir to be filled with fluid 9 and the outlet 37 facilitates removal of the hydrogen and oxygen gases to the intake side of the engine.
An alternative arrangement is illustrated in FIG. 5, where the device 100 comprises two reservoirs 300, 310 to suit different vehicle types. This example operates in the same way as the device 1 illustrated by FIGS. 1 to 4, but includes increased fluid capacity.
It will be appreciated that larger capacity reservoirs 3 or a plurality of reservoirs 300, 310 may be used depending on the application.
Alternatively, or in addition, a permanent fluid source may be connected to the inlet 8 of the reservoir 3 to ensure adequate fluid supply to the casing 13 for the electrolysis process.
The reservoir 3 includes a screen or filter to remove contaminants from the fluid 9 before it passes to the electrodes 15.
The hydrogen and oxygen gases generated by the electrolysis process in the device 1 (FIG. 1) or device 100 (FIG. 5) form bubbles 39 that rise to the surface of the fluid 9 contained in the reservoir 3, 300 and exits through the outlet 37, 370 to the intake system of the engine (not shown).
A vacuum pump (not illustrated) is connected to the outlet 37, 370 of the reservoir 3, 300 to draw the hydrogen gas at a predetermined rate towards the engine intake. The vacuum pump facilitates delivery of the hydrogen and oxygen from the device 1, 100 to the intake of the engine. In an embodiment of the invention the vacuum pump is arranged to deliver hydrogen gas to the intake of the engine at a rate of eight litres per minute.
The hydrogen and oxygen gases produced from the electrolysis of the fluid 9 combine with the hydrocarbon fuel and air mixture to improve the speed of combustion and the combustion efficiency of the engine. The improved combustion also reduces the emission of carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides. Improved combustion efficiency may also result in improved fuel consumption such that the energy used per unit of fuel is improved, a device similar to that illustrated in the figures and in accordance with the claimed invention was tested in a Kia Cerada diesel car. Improvements in fuel consumption were noted. The fuel consumption of the car without the device fitted was in the region of forty eight miles per gallon of fuel used. The fuel consumption of the same car with the device fitted was in the region of sixty one miles per gallon of fuel used.
The device 1, 100 is arranged to operate when the ignition is switched on in the vehicle in which the device 1, 100 is installed. By switching on the ignition, a power supply is provided to the terminals 29, 31 of the housing 5.
Whilst specific embodiments of the present invention have been described above, it will be appreciated that departures from the described embodiments may still fall within the scope of the present invention.