science, technology and a curious mind
reducing carbon emissions with via-aqua
Last year I was desperately trying to find a WW2 costume for the Victory Show and that led to a chance conversation with Rob Pearson (who was then the MD of Golden Cage), about sustainability and the environment.
Rob was in the process of closing his shop to pursue his ambition to reduce emissions to the environment, by increasing fuel economy in cars using this Via-Aqua fuel injection system. I was really intrigued and caught up with Rob earlier this year to discuss how the project was progressing.
Rob started Via-Aqua in 2006, but his interest in automated engineering started at the tender age of 7, when he would work in garages during the school holidays. Since then Rob has had a varied career spending time in the car restoration, computer and engineering industry - including robotic technology. His extensive knowledge of vehicle electrical testing when vehicles are being manufactured has helped shape the Via-Aqua system to be robust and conform with the strictest of automation standards. However Rob is just one half of Via-Aqua, the second half is Frank Staples. Frank contributes a wealth of experience to the Via-Aqua project, starting his career as an electrician. He went onto specialise as an electrical design and development engineer, with the additional skill as a trained bespoke fabrications welder. He became involved in the motor industry in the 1970’s, starting his own business specialising in car servicing, repairs and Taxi rental.
With soaring fuel prices back in 2007, Rob and Frank became interested in reducing fuel costs by initially buying a system from America, a system which proved to be totally unsafe! Whilst the technology proved to be promising, a lot of work was required to make it viable. This was where the Via- Aqua project started, to produce a fully automatic system that manages itself. During their development they also found Via-Aqua reduced emissions of greenhouse gasses that contribute to the ‘greenhouse effect’ and ‘global warming’.
The greenhouse effect is well documented, where the burning of fossil fuels, result in the release of gasses into the atmosphere, which effectively form a barrier around the world. The Sun’s rays pass through this layer, reflect off the Earth’s surface, but cannot escape back through the greenhouse gas layer and into space. The result is known as ‘global warming’ or ‘climate change’. Climate change has contributed to erratic and extreme weather events, loss of habitat and species extinction, decreased productivity of agricultural land, not to mention the 250,000 additional deaths predicted by the World Health Organisation between 2030 and 2050.
The most abundant greenhouse gasses are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N20) and are created when fossil fuels like petrol or diesel are burned. In 2014, BP predicted that there was only around 53 years of oil left in the world, so any attempts to extend the life of ore finite resources would be welcomed.
How it works
It is a simple concept that uses deionised water, electrolyte and the process of electrolysis using a titanium. This involves passing an electric current through the water and electrolyte mixture, to break down the water into simple components. These simple components are hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen created by the Via-Aqua system is called orthohydrogen (HHO), a harmless gas. Orthohydrogen when burnt with either petrol or diesel makes the burning process more efficient, thus reducing fuel consumption and emissions.
A simplified diagram of how the Via-Aqua system works
An advanced box of electronics sits in the boot of adapted vehicles. When the engine is started, the control electronics first checks that there is sufficient deionised water in the reservoir, before commencing the electrolysis process. The orthohydrogen fuel is not stored, but injected straight into the engine air intake, under control of its management system (similar to a turbo system) and mixed with the petrol or diesel.
The Engine’s Management System and fuel sensors automatically detect the presence of orthohydrogen, producing a corresponding reduction in the flow of petrol or diesel into the engine. This reduces fuel consumption and polluting emissions from the exhaust. Typically fuel emissions have been found to reduce by 20-50% (depending upon the engine). The only bi-product of the Via-Aqua system is water vapour.
Dynamometer tests were undertaken to verify the efficiencies. The graphs below illustrate the output from a dynamometer test and compares the efficiencies of a 3.5 litre petrol engine, with and without the Via-Aqua system. The green line in the graphs show that at approx. 6400 RPM (revolutions per minute) without Via-Aqua the power output is around 253 bhp (brake horse power). When the Via-Aqua system is added, the power output at 6400 RPM increases to nearly 258 bhp. This means that the engine performs more efficiently and produces more power with the Via-Aqua system.
Engine without a Via-Aqua system
Engine operating with Via-Aqua system
The following graph also illustrates the reduction in nitrous oxides within a Vauxhall 1.7 litre turbo charged engine. You can see a 50% reduction from around 250 ppb (part per billion) to 120 ppb in NO (Nitric Oxide) and from around 500 to 250 ppb for NO2 (Nitrogen Dioxide) when the system in plugged in.
What I find exciting about this system is its portability. It can be fitted to any vehicle including boats, agricultural vehicles, trucks and haulage vehicles, buses, earth moving machines, generators, large pumps for moving sludge and water and even oil fired cooking and heating systems. Not only are you improving the environment, but just think of the savings to household bills as well!
The picture below show the Via-Aqua unit prototype (bottom) and smaller resized unit (top).
The pictures below show the Via-Aqua fuel pipe (containing orthohydrogen) entering into the engines main fuel line in a Mercedes and Vauxhall vehicle.
In addition, the system is safe to use as orthohydrogen gas is only created when the unit is switched on and when the unit has warmed up sufficiently. The only fuel stored in your vehicle is either petrol or diesel or harmless deionised water stored in the small reservoir. The system has a series of failsafe cut out devices which will automatically shut down without user intervention. These include: when there is no water in the reservoir, fluid and ambient temperature control are not at the right level and when there is low battery voltage within the car to name but a few. The system also has all the necessary documentation to prove its safety standards, including dynamometer testing and vehicle emission analysis to prove the system works.
There have been concerns in the market that these type of products could invalidate car warranties and insurances, but Rob has looked into this and says that ‘conditions that may void a vehicle’s warranty are specified in a law called the Magnusson-Moss Act. This Act stipulates that a dealer cannot void a warranty because a vehicle is fitted with aftermarket parts. This formed the basis of the 2010 Block Exemption Regulations (BER), which were brought in to close the loopholes that the warranty companies were using to get out of paying warranties to their customers’.
Rob goes on to say that ‘Via-Aqua does not modify the engine, only the fuel type, which means there is absolutely no evidence to suggest engine or component failure on any vehicle running on Via-Aqua as an alternative fuel and should not affect the customer’s insurance premium or vehicle warranty’. However, with any vehicle modifications, you must inform insurers/warranty companies that the modifications will be taking place. For DVLA purposes this system is classed as a dual fuel like LPG. Just to be sure, Via-Aqua will issue notes to their customers for insurance and warranty companies when the system is installed, explaining the system, procedures and so on.
The Via-Aqua cost
The cost of purchasing and installing the Via Aqua system is around £1,500 for your car. There is an additional cost up to £250 for additional installations if you want to transfer this system to your boat or another vehicle. Via- Aqua’s pre-prepped deionised water costs £3.00 per litre and should last approximately 1,000 miles.
Many of us are unable to afford the latest efficient car, or may have concerns over the long term impacts from that lithium batteries pose to the environment. Although this is not a permanent solution to finding an alternative fuel, it does significantly contribute to vehicle hereefficiency. If systems such as Via-Aqua are taken up in sufficient quantities, then they could help extend reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and extend the life of our dwindling oil supplies. In addition to this, running an orthohydrogen fuel cell can also lead to further environmental benefits such as quieter cars, improvements to local air conditions and reduce our carbon loading to the atmosphere. If you would like to know more, please visit Via-Aqua’s website or contact Rob by email.