Green Operations

City of Beloit, Univ. of Wisconsin Partner on Fuel Experiment

December 21, 2009

BELOIT, WI - The City of Beloit and the University of Wisconsin (UW) are experimenting with technology that allows motor scooters, cars, and trucks to use a combination of gasoline and water as fuel, according to the Journal Sentinel.

Dan Lutz, fleet supervisor of Beloit's Department of Public Works, and Marc Anderson, a UW-Madison engineering professor, are testing hydrogen-based fuel systems for use in a variety of vehicles. The system uses voltage from a vehicle's battery and alternator to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Those molecules are then burned as supplemental fuel - reducing the amount of gasoline needed and resulting in a cleaner-running engine, reported the Sentinel.

Vehicles using the new technology are expected to achieve a 20-percent or better increase in fuel mileage and produce fewer greenhouse gases.

The system has been used to power a Vespa scooter with distilled water. A hydrogen booster also has been used to reduce gasoline consumption in a Beloit police car, a garbage-collection truck, and municipal pickup trucks, the Sentinel reported.

"We are getting some positive results. Eventually it would be nice to run a vehicle completely on water," said Lutz.

Anderson's freshman engineering class has been involved in the work that uses distilled water and a device called an electrolyzer to create hydrogen that's fed into the combustion chamber of a vehicle's engine. They have helped build a fuel cell and coated it with a material that improves its performance and efficiency. A patent is pending on the coating through the University of Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.


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