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How can I Build a Hydrogen Generator?

By Brendan McGuigan
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are many reasons one would want to build a hydrogen generator, but one of the most common reasons is to use it in hydrogen fuel enhancement. In fuel enhancement, you build a hydrogen generator to attach to your existing engine, which then boosts the overall gas mileage you receive while driving. People may also build a hydrogen generator simply as a fun and easy science experiment, which can be used to demonstrate a number of different principles.

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, making up some three-quarters of the elemental mass in existence. Although it is extremely common, it is relatively rare in its pure state on Earth, and is usually found coupled to other elements. The most common combination it is found in on Earth is coupled with oxygen, to form water. The uses for hydrogen are many, but in recent years a great deal of interest has been focused on the use of hydrogen as a fuel source, especially in vehicles, as a cleaner alternative to the fossil fuels currently used.

Although progress is being made on developing a full hydrogen economy, where cars may eventually be able to run on hydrogen fuel cells exclusively, widespread adoption of such vehicles is likely to be some way off. Hydrogen enhancement offers an intermediary step, allowing consumers to build a hydrogen generator to use in their existing fossil fuel engine, to increase their efficiency. Although kits are available which can be installed, the basic principles of the generator are fairly easy, and it is not terribly difficult to simply build a hydrogen generator on your own.

A hydrogen system involves installing a plastic tank for the water which will be used as a fuel source, a reaction chamber, a few gauges, a circuit to control the system, and a high-pressure fuel injector. Although it’s not the easiest installation, once installed the system is virtually seamless, with the car being driven as normal, but with an improved efficiency.

The mechanism by which the hydrogen system works is quite straight forward. Basically, electricity run through the water and a bit of baking soda generate oxyhydrogen, also known as Brown’s gas. This gas is then injected into the engine, and the combination of gasoline and Brown’s gas then combusts, in theory more efficiently than the gasoline normally would. Gauges and a control circuit allow for a more precise handling of the production of Brown’s gas, which can further improve efficiency.

The claims made about improvements to fuel efficiency vary widely, depending on who is making them. Skeptics suggest that the amount of energy needed to create the Brown’s gas is greater than that generated, making for a net loss of fuel efficiency. Conservative supporters put fuel efficiency boosts at around 4-6%, while ardent supports suggest improvements of 50-100% fuel efficiency can be seen.

Visual diagrams showing how to build a hydrogen generator can be found for free at a number of places. These diagrams range from very simple installations, to complex installations incorporating a number of feedback and measurement devices. Because of the nature of the hydrogen boosting community, a great deal of support structures have also sprung up, with many experienced technicians offering help for people looking to build their own.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By flipflop — On Oct 25, 2012

The article I was most pleased with was used on street rods and I gave it away. It was in hot rod or street rod magazine, maybe.

By flipflop — On Oct 25, 2012

I did the research, read all I could find, played around with different cell patterns. It's really simple to do but it gets complex. It boils down to keep looking until you find the article you understand.

Stainless is used inside the tank for the two plates. The size of plates or surface are of the plates and spacing of the plates has to work directly with the amount of voltage applied to the cell in relation to the amount of baking soda and water mix.

Testing is a must. You can do this by counting the number and size of the bubbles. It has been said that you only need eight bubbles in ten seconds. The size will regulate volume of gas produced for engine size. The thing is it only takes a small amount and too many think big. It needs only to produce what you use for safety! It could be wired with oil pressure switches and only on the ignition side of the key, never a toggle switch only.

The gases are pulled into the motor only when running as outside air and never inside the filter unless pulled inside for safety! It takes only a peanut butter jar with a lid, hose, wires, switches, relay, common sense and water plus baking soda, and of course lots of testing.

It is worth the effort but water is different, brands of soda and amps vary as the charge takes place.

I have never finished one where I was pleased with the variables. It needs sensors and computer control. I'm working on out of thin air, but the weather keeps changing. Humidity is a factor.

By anon55598 — On Dec 08, 2009

The title of the article was "How Can I Build a Hydrogen Generator?" The only answer to that question in the article is found in the last paragraph, which, in essence, says "Look somewhere else".

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