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Develop a Car Running on Water
43 years of dedication to utilize the cleanest and cheapest resource as fuel
A car runs on water. Kenji Watanabe, CEO of an energy venture “Hydrogen
Energy Laboratory Project (H.E.L.P.)” located in Kagoshima, Japan, has
successfully completed a vehicle running on the energy of steam explosion
caused by the combustion of hydrogen. The car has been approved by the
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport of the Japanese government.
The company will collect the driving data, participating the Japan Hydrogen
& Fuel Cell Demonstration Project (JHFC) launched by the Ministry of
Economy, Trade and Industry. At the same time, they will start the distribution
system across the whole country.
Hydrogen as a trigger
“Both water and hydrogen are imperfect as fuels. The two
can be used as fuels only after they are combined together”, says Watanabe.
The engine can be basically applied to any conventional vehicle,
and H.E.L.P. retrofitted a Nissan’s ELGRAND as a test car. A 35 MPa hydrogen
tank has been fitted in place of the third seat. A gasoline tank has been
replaced with a water tank in which ordinary tap water can be put.
The hydrogen car runs on kinetic energy of vapor explosion
which is caused when water spray is jetted and instantly exploded by the
combustion heat of hydrogen that is simultaneously injected and burned
in the engine. Hydrogen is used as a trigger to prompt water explosion.
This process is more efficient than other traditional hydrogen cars which
runs directly on the combustion energy of hydrogen.
“Water is the cleanest and cheapest among all fuels in the
world. There has got to be a way of utilizing it.” After years of studying
with this innovative concept, Watanabe discovered that hydrogen was best
partnered with water.
36 m³ of hydrogen for driving distance of 150 km
Hydrogen and Water each have their own characteristics.
For example, the combustion speed of hydrogen is several times faster than
that of water. According to Watanabe, “hydrogen burns quickly, but it is
difficult to convert that combustion heat into usable energy, while water
explodes and produces a high pressure at a lower temperature. Great benefit
can be derived from the combination of their characteristics.”
The trick is to determine the proper ratio of hydrogen to
water in the engine depending on driving conditions. Watanabe guards the
way of computerizing of this balance.
He named this “H.A.W. System”. “H.A.W.” stands for Hydrogen,
Air and Water.
In July 2006, the hydrogen car has been authorized by the
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, and he is currently performing
on a test run on public roads with the vehicle. So far, it has reached
a top speed of 180 km/h and a maximum travel distance of about 150 km per
35 MPa hydrogen tank. It means that it can travel over 4 km per cubic meter
of hydrogen. It is possible to mount two tanks on the car, which calculate
to driving distance of 300 km.
Watanabe looks back and says, “It has taken 43 years to complete.”
Promotion in Tokyo Next Year
In addition, the JHFC, which is the governmental studying
project for the practical installment of Fuel Cell Vehicles and hydrogen
stations, has accepted cars with hydrogen engines as one of the research
subjects in the 2nd phase starting from the year of 2006. So H.E.L.P.’s
hydrogen car will be taken for accurate data collection on test runs. One
of the officers of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has paid
particular attention to the hydrogen car, saying “we are interested in
it even though its performance and data has been still unclear on this
At present, it costs 10 million yen to retrofit each vehicle. It
will be possible to bring down the cost as the number of manufactured vehicles
H.E.L.P. is now promoting the project to offer a Hydrogen Shuttle
Bus for the Los Angels Airport next year. Their promotion and test runs
will go into high gear in Tokyo next year, too. The designated retrofitting
factories will be franchised out, and 5 plants will be assigned in Tokyo
in the first year.
[The Environmental News, Oct. 25, 2006] (Translated by H.E.L.P.)