Copper Top's HHO electrolyzer experiment
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Author:  G-Whiz [ Fri Jul 24, 2009 1:59 am ]
Post subject:  Copper Top's HHO electrolyzer experiment

First off, let me say up front, I have no idea how long it will take me to finish this project, but I will eventually get there.
Presently, I'm mid-stream on the installation of my HHO electrolyzer system, having completed the installation of the "plumbing" 2 days ago. Still to do are the installations of the pulse width modulator (PWM) and the oxygen sensor signal adjustment circuit.
Here are a couple shots of the plumbing which consists of an electrolyzer cell that's mounted to the metal plate behind the front bumper and the bubbler which is mounted over the passenger side wheel well:
Completed plumbing job.JPG
Completed plumbing job.JPG [ 150.63 KIB | Viewed 12016 times ]

T connection for filler line.JPG
T connection for filler line.JPG [ 88 KIB | Viewed 12002 times ]

Besides using zip-ties to mount the electrolyzer to the metal plate, I also drilled a hole for one of the posts coming out the side of the cell and used a wing nut to secure it to the grounded metal frame:
Grounding post on back side of cell.JPG
Grounding post on back side of cell.JPG [ 84.22 KIB | Viewed 12008 times ]

Now, a little bit about the my Electrolyzer cell. While researching designs on You Tube last year, I came across a video that impressed me with it's simplicity but left me wondering if I couldn't design "a better mouse trap":

Using closely wound metal strips, gas bubble formation would reduce the amount of water for electrolysis between the layers. I figured stainless steel screen mesh would improve the cell's ability to "breathe" so the bubbles could get out of the way more quickly. So, after initially experimenting with some aluminum mesh and discovering that while it produced a lot of bubbles with just vinegar and baking soda in the mix, the aluminum corroded and dissolved in no time flat.

I ordered some surplus stainless steel mesh through eBay, cut the sucker into strips, laid some plastic window screen material between the strips to insulate them, rolled the whole assembly up, and shoved it into a 2 inch PVC pipe.

I called my variation on the original concept, the G-Whiz cell, and if I can find one, I'd like to install a tiny 12V water pump to recirculate water up through the cell to push the bubbles up and out the top faster than they would otherwise be able to travel on their own.

I thought I had taken photos of the electrolyzer during assembly, but I can't find any sign of them - I did have an unfinished prototype that I built using the aluminum mesh, so I took a picture that shows the end of the cell after it was rolled up and shoved into one end of a PVC pipe...
Aluminum screen prototype.JPG
Aluminum screen prototype.JPG [ 314.76 KIB | Viewed 10303 times ]

While I was experimenting with this (and had come up with the G-Whiz name) I was also trying to figure out what went wrong with the engine rebuild that I had just installed in the car. That's when I joimed TeamSwift and started the following thread:

By the time I discovered the problem and yanked the motor for a second rebuild, I had learned of the problem of hydrogen embrittlement and the use of ceramic coatings to minimize it's effects. I got the name of an outfit in California that does coatings for a lot of the engines used at the NASCAR races, picked up the disassembled pistons, valves and head from the machine shop and shipped them off for the coatings. When they came back, there was this copper colored coating on them, and that's where the nickname, Copper Top, came from.

There's still the issue of the exposed cylinder walls being affected by hydrogen embrittlement though, and I read somewhere that truckers have experienced significant damage to that area from running HHO systems in their rigs. It will be expensive, but at least until I know if this system actually works, I'll be dumping an oil additive called ZMax in with every oil change. The manufacturer claims it fills in the porous micro-cracks in the cylinder walls, so, although this won't be used for the manufacturers original purpose, maybe, just maybe, it will minimize the cracking from hydrogen embrittlement on the cylinder walls!

Author:  G-Whiz [ Tue Jul 28, 2009 2:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper Top's HHO electrolyzer experiment

The heat wave here in the Pacific Northwest and having to work both Saturday & Sunday prevented Michael and me from having Copper Top all wired up by now. We still made progress, albeit 2 steps forward and one step back.

The cheepo-deepo outfit I bought my Pulse Width Modulator (PWM) from didn't bother to drill proper fan mounting slots in the FET cooling fins so I had to re-do their slop job and use longer screws. The fan won't be falling off anytime soon now that it's properly anchored, but now that I think about it, I should go to the computer store and buy a real fan with high quality bearings... it would be just my luck for the cooling fan that came with the PWM to fail after 6 months.

I decided I wanted the power LED and frequency adjustment control mounted in one of the black plastic... (good grief... what do you call them?) blanks located below the instrument cluster. Cell Damage kinda lived up to his moniker, getting over zealous during their removal from the electrolyzer cell's PWM circuit board, pulling out some of the copper plated through holes in the circuit board yesterday and making it impossible to solder wires to some of the through holes. I wanted to do that myself since I've been down this path before, but he pretty much took charge of the installation after I got the plumbing in.

Having 2 misbehaving soldering irons didn't help the cause, so it's not entirely his fault.

I wasn't able to get the PWM "rewired" until tonight, but at least now he's at a point where he can run wire between the LED & adjustment control and the circuit board. He decided to mount the PWM on the underside of the plastic console piece that surrounds the stick shift. There's an electrically isolated metal support strip that he can attach it to so it's up off the carpeting. Blow a fuse on the board though, and it's going to be a pain to replace!
Anyway, a bunch of pics have been added to to my album for those interested in checking it all out... just click the album button.

If nothing else, you should check out my album just to see the expended Coke can grenade that went off in Mrs G-Whiz passenger seat over the weekend. Wouldn't ya know... it was Coke classic instead of Diet Coke. :(

Author:  G-Whiz [ Fri Jul 31, 2009 2:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper Top's HHO electrolyzer experiment

Despite temperatures as high as 104F yesterday and 98F today, I managed to finish the other half of the Frequency controller & power LED wiring harness - the half that connects to the PWM circuit board.
Got the cell filled up with a solution of distilled water and baking soda, installed the PWM frequency control & power LED in the dash and then took care of all the electrical connections for the PWM, including the power supply line from the 30-amp meter, the ignition relay, PWM output signal, and power (12V and ground) lines.

Turned the key while Michael (Cell Damage) watched the LED power indicator and I watched the amp meeter.

The LED came on, the amp meter instantly pegged out and before I could turn the ignition off, the 20-amp fuse gave up the ghost with a flash of light and an audible snap.

The volt meter indicated I have a short in the cell (not the signal wire going to it) that wasn't there 6-8 months ago before I built the housing. I disconnected the PWM signal wire from the cell, and when I started turning the wing nut, I realized it was wet...
Water leak!!

My electrolyzer has Cell Damage!!! :vibe:

It's going to be a bear cutting the housing apart to extract and re-wrap the stainless steel mesh.
Latest pictures will be posted in my album...

Author:  G-Whiz [ Sat Aug 01, 2009 3:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper Top's HHO electrolyzer experiment

The cell is out of it's housing and disassembled and the pictures I took have been added to my album.

For the life of me, I can't figure out where the short was and am starting to wonder if the 1.5 tablespoons of baking soda was too "rich" for the approximately 24-30 ounces of distilled water.
I'm going to construct a slightly shorter housing and see if I can find some short stainless steel bolts with a 1/4" shoulder under the bolt head so I don't have threads passing through the PVC pipe.

I found some thicker fiberglass window screen material with larger openings than what was already being used.
Hopefully I can get everything assembled and back in the car before the weekend is out.

G-Whiz cell out of the housing.JPG
G-Whiz cell out of the housing.JPG [ 123.54 KIB | Viewed 11873 times ]

Author:  donstule [ Wed Aug 05, 2009 5:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper Top's HHO electrolyzer experiment

For us that's not an NASA scientist.....
what the ***** is this? :?

Author:  G-Whiz [ Thu Aug 06, 2009 3:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper Top's HHO electrolyzer experiment

donstule wrote:
For us that's not an NASA scientist.....
what the ***** is this? :?

I'll try to briefly answer your question on a couple levels...

Not sure how aware you are of the "open source community" efforts on You Tube to find enhancements or substitutes to gasoline/diesel fuel-powered cars, but in general terms this is just another one of the experiments that are being tried by people all over the world. The topic is huge, a lot of it is theoretical, but for starters, do a search on HHO cell, grab your favorite brew and start watching what's been going on over there.

As I explained previously, it's a variation on the G-cell. My goal here is to try to improve the efficiency of creating Brown's gas for combustion in the cylinder by trying to make it easier and faster for gas bubbles to exit the cell so more water can enter and be turned into gas. I like to think of it in terms of, how easily the cell can "breathe".

Most HHO cell designs consist of metal plates that are mounted side by side. The G-cell and G-Whiz cell consist of metal strips or screen material that is rolled up like a carpet.

As electric current passes through the water between the plates, some of the H2O water molecules are broken down into what's generally called Browns gas. From what I currently understand, the closer you can get the plates, the less resistance you have in the water between them. The less the resistance, the larger the amount of current you can pass through the cell - and the more gas you can generate.

However, the the gas bubbles being created displace water between the plates until they exit that area, and the longer it takes for them to exit, the longer it takes before more water can enter. With less water available for electrolysis, the current flow (and resulting gas production) drops off until an equilibrium is found.

In the above video, look closely at the initial surge of gas bubbles coming out of the G-cell. See how it tapers off after the initial surge? It's because there was nothing but water between the layers before the cell was powered up. The reduction in output is because of the gas bubbles being formed between the layers that then have to make their way out of the cell. My thought was that if I used screen material, the bubbles could exit the cell in all directions rather than from just the two sides - in effect, providing them with a shortcut, especially in the inner and outermost layers of the cell.

Where the G-cell uses solid strips of stainless steel rolled up like a carpet (And no... I don't know how the guy insulates the strips so they don't short out against each other), the G-Whiz cell uses strips of stainless steel screen material with a non-conductive (and hopefully, non-melting) screen mesh as an insulating layer between the two.

Author:  G-Whiz [ Thu Aug 06, 2009 3:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper Top's HHO electrolyzer experiment

The cell has been rebuilt.
It's installed and running.
No, I didn't have time to check the gas volume output...

I rebuilt it for nothing, As it turns out, It did NOT have a short (technically speaking) - it had waaaayyyyy too much baking soda (1.5 tablespoons in approximately 2.25 cups of water).

Straight distilled water only produced 3 amps of current.

I reduced the baking soda from the original 1.5 tablespoons to 2 teaspoons in 2 cups of water and promptly blew a 20-amp fuse.

I reduced it to 1/2 a teaspoon.
Initial current surge was 25 amps and then backed down to 18 without blowing another fuse. (Woo-hoo!!!)

I dumped half of the solution (one cup) and added one cup of straight distilled water to get it down to a 1/4 teaspoon.
Now it surges at about 22 amps and settles in, in the 10-16 amp range.

The kid backed off the timing from what he said was about 20 BTDC to 6 degrees before top dead center and I took it for a 1/2 mile spin. Hmmm... idles a little smoother...
We'll see how it does tomorrow for the commute.
For now, here are some pics of the reconstruction. Hopefully the file names make them self explanatory...

old vs new screen material.jpg
old vs new screen material.jpg [ 359.16 KIB | Viewed 11781 times ]
Folding old window screen over end of SS screen.jpg
Folding old window screen over end of SS screen.jpg [ 612.44 KIB | Viewed 11778 times ]
stainless steel sandwiched between new screen material.JPG
stainless steel sandwiched between new screen material.JPG [ 169.06 KIB | Viewed 11769 times ]
zip-tie clips used as a seat for bottom of G-Whiz cell.JPG
zip-tie clips used as a seat for bottom of G-Whiz cell.JPG [ 230.51 KIB | Viewed 11770 times ]
Hopefully Zip-tie ribs will help exterior layers of G-Whiz cell breathe better.JPG
Hopefully Zip-tie ribs will help exterior layers of G-Whiz cell breathe better.JPG [ 252.98 KIB | Viewed 11770 times ]
G-Whiz cell power post internal assembly.JPG
G-Whiz cell power post internal assembly.JPG [ 179.6 KIB | Viewed 11772 times ]
Light shining through gap between the cell and PVC pipe wall.JPG
Light shining through gap between the cell and PVC pipe wall.JPG [ 166.68 KIB | Viewed 11762 times ]
Rebuilt G-Whiz cell ready to install.JPG
Rebuilt G-Whiz cell ready to install.JPG [ 80.89 KIB | Viewed 11757 times ]
Running amps on high side - quarter teaspoon baking soda.JPG
Running amps on high side - quarter teaspoon baking soda.JPG [ 149.27 KIB | Viewed 11758 times ]
G-Whiz cell stainless steel mesh core.JPG
G-Whiz cell stainless steel mesh core.JPG [ 146.16 KIB | Viewed 11749 times ]

Author:  G-Whiz [ Fri Aug 07, 2009 3:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper Top's HHO electrolyzer experiment

The cell got so hot that the threads on the top cap became loose as the plastic expanded, causing the cell to leak around the plumber's Teflon thread tape. I put more tape on, drained another half of the solution and refilled with more distilled water after discovering steam rising then I removed the cap. It's now running 11 amps with the equivalent of a 8th of a teaspoon of baking soda.
I took this following video before discovering the leak and diluting the solution. The motor is not purring as smoothly as it was at a 1/4 teaspoon mixture, even though Michael & I fiddled around with the timing. We'll see how it runs tomorrow.

Red gunk deposits on return tube.JPG
Red gunk deposits on return tube.JPG [ 89.59 KIB | Viewed 11708 times ]

Author:  G-Whiz [ Wed Aug 12, 2009 3:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper Top's HHO electrolyzer experiment

Dang it... the PWM isn't "singing" at any tuned frequency like it did earlier this year before I connected the battery terminals backwards.
As seen in the video above, it is working, but short of checking the signal with an oscilloscope, I can only assume th cell is getting a constant (not pulsed) 12 volts.

I replaced both the IC and the MOSFET (several times now) and the MOSFET still refuses to sing. I'm showing a frequency signal at the input gate of the MOSFET, but the frequency counter shows nothing on the output line to the cell...

I went through EBay and ordered another, fancier, Pulse With Modulator with a separate computer control unit (not their HHO cells though!)

On the up-side, I just filled the tank and recorded 46.8 MPG in mixed, and sometimes overly aggressive driving.
With all the fiddling with the baking soda concentrate, combined with retarding the timing for a while, I was expecting closer to the high-20 to low-30 miles per gallon range.

So, now I wait and see how it does under normal driving conditions with a 6-11 amp draw that I can't regulate like I was able to do before I fried the circuit. :(

Author:  G-Whiz [ Sat Aug 15, 2009 4:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper Top's HHO electrolyzer experiment

Whipped out the volt meter after work and determined exactly why the cell was functioning as if it was hooked directly to the positive terminal of the battery and ground...
The way I wired it to the PWM, it turns out that's exactly what I had done.
The PWM has 2 terminals labeled C+ and C-. I had assumed C- was the equivalent of the negative (ground) terminal on the battery, so I grounded it to the body and ran the C+ to the G-Whiz cell terminal using the green wire. In effect, the cell wiring bypassed the MOSFET entirely and both the source and drain pins of the MOSFET were grounded.
I assumed the MOSFET sat between the positive battery terminal and the positive post (C+) on the cell, but it was the other way around. Ignoring the on-board ignition relay in the circuit, the positive battery terminal goes the C+ terminal, on to one post on the cell and then the other cell post is wired back to the PWM where it connects to the C- terminal, which goes to the positive side of the MOSFET (with the other pin completing the circuit by being connected to ground).
I have stuff to take care of but hopefully I can complete the cell rewiring by tomorrow afternoon.

Author:  TomInOregon [ Sat Aug 15, 2009 11:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper Top's HHO electrolyzer experiment

Not to derail the thread, but has anyone ever supplied Hydrogen to their car from a compressed tank just to see if the Hydrogen improves fuel mileage and by what amount? It seems like this would be a good first step, to see A) if it actually improves mileage, B) by how much and C) what ratio of H2:air:fuel works most efficiently. Following that step you would know what kind of output you would need to achieve from your HHO generator. Just my 2 cents.

Author:  Pres [ Sat Aug 15, 2009 2:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper Top's HHO electrolyzer experiment

Hi Tom,
yes, that's the logical way to see the effect hydrogen has on
engine operation.
However, the HHO mixture, from electrolyzing H2O, is
very explosive and cannot be compressed much without
autoignition occurring.
It's rate of burn is almost an order of magnitude faster
than gasoline.
Burning HHO does create some heat but it quickly recombines back
into H2O at a volume about 1/1800 of what it was in gaseous state.

Perhaps it can enhance hydrocarbon burning somewhat but it then
has to more than compensate for its own contraction back to liquid.

Otherwise, it does not seem to be a good fuel for an engine that
runs on expanded gas pressure. i.e. a normal auto engine.


Author:  TomInOregon [ Sat Aug 15, 2009 2:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper Top's HHO electrolyzer experiment

Okay, thanks! I am still learning about the theory behind HHO and have been wondering this for a while.


Author:  G-Whiz [ Sat Aug 15, 2009 6:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper Top's HHO electrolyzer experiment

Yep, you can run a 3-banger on straight HHO and nothing else. Check out the other videos made by this guy at It sounds like they may be planning to mount a DC generator in the back of this rig to generate the needed 5-plus liters per minute of HHO needed to drive it around town on a 135 pound 12X24 tankless cell he made. (Funny thing is, I wonder where he plans to mount the cell and what are they planning to run the DC generator on... HHO?)
Anyway, this guy's efforts make me look totally lame by comparison. :wink:

Couple vids on using compressed hydrogen to supplement other fuels:

Author:  G-Whiz [ Sat Aug 15, 2009 10:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper Top's HHO electrolyzer experiment

Finished the rewiring of the cell. I now have control over the amp draw.
As I like to say, "works great when you know what you're doing!" :wink:
However, at maximum output it's drawing only 9 amps and as for the gas output from the cell?
Well, it's looking pretty anemic at best.
Lots of brown gunky water. I put in some fresh solution with a 1/2 teaspoon worth of baking soda now that I can control the amperage draw. The knob on the PWM isn't exactly precise... I wanted to dial in 15 amps but it jumps from 14 to 16 and back. Oh well, it varies with time anyway, and besides, I've got a computer controlled replacement on the way!

Author:  G-Whiz [ Sun Aug 23, 2009 3:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper Top's HHO electrolyzer experiment

Copper Top has left town temporarily, on loan to our youngest son, who had his Honda Accord stolen on Friday. So, he's now without wheels.

After my last post, I decided to keep the amp draw at 11 and run the entire tank down rather than refill it when when I finally got the cell wired in properly. I filled up the tank before handing over the keys today and the car managed 44.9 mpg.

The needle was centered evenly on the Empty mark and as I recall, the tank took just shy of 8.5 gallons, on what I believe is a 10.5 gallon tank.

Don't think the baking soda is working all that well... time to investigate other electrolytes, but in the meantime, I have to shop for another car for the kid since I'd be surprised if we ever see the Accord again. :(

Author:  G-Whiz [ Sun Aug 30, 2009 5:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper Top's HHO electrolyzer experiment

Kid get his car back (woo-hoo!!), minus the radio, but Copper Top is finally back home.

In an interesting turn of events, I bought a "parts car" for Copper Top. It's a '93 Metro 5 speed with air conditioning, mud flaps and...
cruise control!

It's suffering from the same smoke screen problem that I encountered with Copper Top. A simple swap of the head gasket (reaming out the drain back holes) should solve the problem. We'll take a look at the cylinder walls to see if it looks like they were honed, and if so, I'll assume the pistons were re-ringed.

The heater fan handle appears to be broke though. Also, the handle for the cruise control is hanging down and I don't know at this point if the shaft is broken or if maybe a screw came loose inside.

We'll see what I'm up against when I move it over to Copper Top! =)

Author:  G-Whiz [ Tue Sep 15, 2009 1:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper Top's HHO electrolyzer experiment

It's been about 2 and a half tanks since installation and the cell gradually stopped functioning last week. As originally installed, testing it on straight distilled water, it drew 2-3 amps as I recall.
Now it draws 0.
After draining the solution I concluded the baking soda in the cell made not only Brown's gas, but it also made a whole lot of Brown's water... :wink:
I loaded it up with vinegar and distilled water tonight but it still refused to draw any amperage. So, I figure I either lost contact between the stainless steel screens and the binding posts on the inside of the housing, or the cells are coated with the brown gunk in the water to the point that they have a non-conductive insulating coating that will have to somehow be stripped off.
Time to take measurements with the volt meter to verify the PWM signals are still getting to the cell. If they are, then something in the cell has failed.
Sigh... like I don't have enough things on my plate at the moment! :(

Author:  stevieh6 [ Thu Jan 26, 2012 5:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper Top's HHO electrolyzer experiment

im also experimenting with the HHO cell, although not as advanced as yours. When driving economically and not going over 55mph i get 55mpg, with the HHO cell installed im getting 57mpg, i see this as no improvement as there are so many variables to take into account.

Im running mine straight from the battery via a switch with no PWM. Ive been told told that adding frequency helps the hydrogen creation process. But im finding it very hard to find solid evidence of this. I assume you done your homework before the install, hence your running a PWM from the get go. How much difference does it make to the hydrogen volume?

So far I haven't seen any great results, if this was doing what it is supposed to we should be see 60+ mpg easy.

Author:  MarkZ28 [ Thu Jan 14, 2016 10:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Copper Top's HHO electrolyzer experiment

I understand how electrolysis works making oxygen and hydrogen gas, but, it takes a lot of electricity to make enough gasses to run a car engine. What are using to power the process? Electrolysis is not the great thing that it's made up to be as far as fuel. It takes a lot of energy to make it, no such thing as free energy. Something has to work to make it, which in the end is inefficient. Energy is lost or used up by heat, friction, reduced effectiveness of how it's made, etc.. You're going to have to run the energy source that provides the electricity to make the HHO. Only source of power that's abundant and available is sunlight, which is only present half the day. I suppose batteries hooked to a solar charger would go a ways but that adds weight, risk, and they don't last forever either. Until Mr. Fusion is a reality, gasoline/deisal will be the best to use for convenience and availability, until it runs out.

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