Fuel Saving Device: What Works, What Doesn’t, What is Anyone’s Guess

Determining whether a fuel saving device will perform as advertised is a challenge for consumers. Determining the value of any product can be difficult, but it is particularly hard to come to a certain conclusion with respect to fuel saving devices. There are a number of reasons evaluating fuel saving devices is a chore.

Not only is the science behind most fuel saving devices relatively complex — which makes it inherently open to skepticism, — many fuel saving devices fail to produce the results marketers promise. That has a two-fold effect.

Consumers lose confidence in the manufacturers who promise results when a product cannot deliver. And, when one device fails to produce the fuel savings advertised, all fuel saving devices manufacturers become suspect.

Hoax fuel saving devices cause people to question the science behind all fuel saving devices, even lab and field tested and proven devices that are legitimate. That is because the pseudo-science behind hoax devices can sound remarkably similar to that which makes a legitimate fuel saving device increase fuel economy.

Further adding to the cynicism, in the fuel saving device industry, there is an obvious and abundant lack of moderation. Some fuel saving devices marketing promises products will change the energy sector forever with guarantees of 300% fuel savings.

But, not only are there false promises, there are also over enthusiastic skeptics who claim all fuel saving devices are “malarkey.” Just as common as snake oil salesmen peddling cheap and useless devices that do not increase fuel economy are the “experts” who gain financially by “debunking” legitimate fuel saving devices.

The opposite ends of the same spectrum, both fuel saving device promoters and cynics use extreme claims and language to make their cases. Neither do anything to further the use of legitimate fuel saving devices nor reduce the sale of devices that don’t save fuel. Both extremes do little more than cause confusion.

An objective look at 10 different fuel-saving products — and the language used to both market and disparage them — can help determine whether a fuel saving device or chemical compound is legitimate.

Hydrogen Generators

Of all the products available, few incite quite the same promotion enthusiasm coupled with negative responses as hydrogen generators. Some of the companies who promote hydrogen generators claim the government and big business are in on a conspiracy to prevent, “breakthroughs in fuel saving methods,” from seeing the light of day. According to some hydrogen generator distributors, anyone who tries to take on big oil interests with an innovative new idea for saving fuel are convincingly dissuaded to stop.

According to one selling a hydrogen generator device on eBay if a person so much as invents a fuel saving device or any significant value:

“Men in black approach the inventor with a thick file containing all they know of him, his family and his experiments and offer bribes or threaten his wellbeing if he refuses to cease and desist. He is firmly instructed to destroy his invention and never share the related information ever again. If he’s lucky, they’ll pay him off and/or leave him alone. If he’s unlucky he’ll vanish without a trace… just Google “Stan Meyer’s Water Powered Dune Buggy” and learn of how in 1978 he was poisoned and dropped dead in a restaurant parking lot one week after a local news channel aired his story of a water-fueled car that went from California to New York on 22 gallons of WATER! His workshop was destroyed and all traces of his invention vanished. Sad but true.”

Those claiming hydrogen generators do not save fuel are equally colorful with their language. Popular Mechanics senior automotive editor Mike Allen decorated an article “debunking” hydrogen generators with the following nouns and adjectives: gadgets, chutzpah, Rubbish,  malarkey. Those are just the colorful words in the first four paragraphs.

Refuting what some hydrogen generator device manufacturers claim about government conspiracy, Allen argues to those people, “who [accuse] me of being in the employ of the auto and petroleum companies, suppressing this breakthrough technology and keeping the American public enslaved,” that if indeed this were true, “I’d be living in a much nicer house.”

Putting aside conspiracy theories and accusations of people living in worlds of fantasy, skeptics may have a point with respect to hydrogen generators. If Allen is correct — regardless of the science behind hydrogen generators is legitimate or not — onboard hydrogen generators are simply not large enough to produce a sum of hydrogen significant to change the fuel economy of a vehicle.

The alternator of a vehicle, truck, or piece of heavy equipment must power a hydrogen generator. Subtract the energy required to power a hydrogen generator and, “The hydrogen “boost” couldn’t even compensate for its own losses.”

Intake Vortex Devices

Another device with staunch critics, intake vortex devices are based on the principle the combustion of all fossil fuels has one common element: oxygen. The ratio between a fossil fuel and oxygen is called the stoichiometric ratio.

An intake cortex device is a mechanism designed to change the stoichiometric ratio of a fuel to a cleaner burn by increasing the sum of oxygen in the mix. The industry standard for gasoline is 14.7 parts oxygen to 1 part fuel. For diesel, the stoichiometric ratio is 14.5:1.

There was a time when intake vortex devices did have an effect on fuel economy. However, running a lean fuel mixture has its disadvantages as well. For one, an engine runs hot on a lean mixture. That can lead to problems like gasket failure, metal stress and fatigue, and a general shortening of the life of an engine.

A lean mixture also means low octane. The combustion of low octane fuels can lead to engine pings and knocking if not bigger issues. Even if an intake vortex device were to work as advertised, it would mean taking a chance of damaging an engine by running too lean a fuel.

But, intake vortex devices no longer work as advertised because the fuel to air mixture is controlled by a computerized sensor in the electronic fuel injection (EFI) of modern vehicles, trucks, and heavy equipment. If the air to fuel mixture is lean, an onboard computer changes the mixture to a richer ratio.

And, there is a question as to what agitating air — prior to it mixing with fuel — actually does. The distance from the intake to the piston cylinder is choked valves and corners and constricting hoses that work against any notion creating a “mini-tornado’ in the combustion chamber.

Fuel Ionizers

Debunking the fuel savings claims made by the manufacturers of intake vortex devices and hydrogen generators require a scientific explanation if they are — in fact — a hoax. It is more difficult to debunk fuel ionizers because some manufacturers provide no scientific explanation as to why an ionizer increases fuel economy.

The following is an example of a fuel ionizer advertisement:

“The atoms of the crystal materials within the fuel ionizer have been altered by a unique and special process. The fuel ionizer is in high resonance or in tune with higher energies that create a field of “positive energy” that can pass through any type of material. When attached to the fuel line of an engine, the ionizer begins immediately to ionize the fuel, causing the fuel to become more volatile. The result is a fuel that burns more completely, resulting in better fuel mileage, better performance, and helps to reduce emissions.”

Whether fuel ionizers are a legitimate fuel saving device or not, the marketing is not particularly convincing.

Fuel-line Magnets

There seems to be a greater amount of convincing and experimentally backed support for magnetic fuel ionization methods. According to the Washington Post, in the 1980s, “Cow Magnets in Cars [were the] New Rage for Gas-Conscious Westerners.” Some farmers and ranchers in 1980s rural America were claiming to get between 1 ½ and 8 extra miles per gallon.

According to a 2014 research report in the Journal of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics Research, “Experiments have been done on a four-stroke diesel engine with the incorporation of magnetic fuel ionization method. The results yielded from the experiments show that thermal efficiency increases by 2% and emissions reduced to 5%.”

Another experiment conducted in 2012 by Energy Procedia showed similar results on a four-stroke engine. Using a 6,000 Gauss magnet, researchers saw a 14% increase in fuel efficiency and, “It was found that the percentages of exhaust gas components (CO, HC) were decreased by 30%, 40% respectively, but CO2 percentage increased up to 10%.”

New Scientist also claims, “Magnetic fields raise fuel efficiency.” In a 1991 article by Kieth Howard, it was reported that the British Internal Combustion Engine Research Institute found that on diesel engines a magnetic field, “reduced the diesel’s specific fuel consumption by 7.5 percent at an engine speed and load corresponding to a steady 90 kilometres per hour, and also halved the Bosch smoke level. At the same engine speed but minimum load, hydrocarbon emissions were reduced by 10 percent.”

But, in a field experiment conducted by the Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters crew, it was found that “the magnets didn’t make waves with the fuel particles.” Even back in the 1980s, scientists were very skeptical. According to the Washington Post:

“In St. Paul, at the University of Minnesota College of Agriculture, a combustion expert, Professor Ed Fletcher said: ‘There’s no conceivable thing that the magnets could do that would improve gasoline mileage.’ He speculated that magnet fans were subconsciously improving their driving habits.

The professor’s skepticism was echoed in Ann Arbor, Mich., at the EPA Motor Vehicle Fuel Emission Laboratory. There an expert, Peter Hitchins, said, ‘We are not aware of any technical basis to associate fuel economy with a magnetic field.’”

While there are people who believe they have evidence that magnets improve fuel efficiency, the prevailing sentiment is that a magnetic field around a fuel line next to the carburetor does absolutely nothing to increase the fuel economy of a vehicle.

Fuel and Oil Additives

It would be extremely convenient if fuel and oil additives and treatments improved the fuel efficiency of a vehicle. However, they most certainly don’t. For one — irrespective of the marketing label given to an additive or treatment, they are not catalysts. Unlike noble metals and magnets and natures other true catalysts, fuel additives are simply solvent that burns up with the fuel with which they are mixed.

Another reason fuel additives and treatments cannot improve the fuel efficiency of a vehicle is because they cannot break the laws of physics. To improve the fuel economy of a fuel — which is what some dishonest manufacturers of additives and treatments claim they do — additives and treatments must do one of two things.

An additive or treatment must either boost the energy density of a fuel as a supplement or catalyze a change in the fuel that increases its energy density. Additives and treatments do neither.

The purpose of fuel additives and treatments is to accomplish one of four things or a combination. Fuel additives can clean the internal combustion components of an engine as a detergent. They can increase the cetane/octane of a fuel. Fuel can lubricate the internal components of an engine. Or, an additive can increase fuel flow rates in cold temperature conditions.

What additives and treatments do not do is increase fuel efficiency, aka, fuel economy or “gas” mileage.

Fuel Catalysts

Made of noble and precious metals, fuel catalysts are akin to catalytic converters in that they use true catalysts to both increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. Fuel catalysts are in-line, pre-combustion mechanisms — cylinders — that affect the physical makeup of fuels.

All fossil fuels are heterogeneous mixtures made of clumps of fuel clusters. Fuel clusters are the reason catalytic converters are necessary. The molecules inside a fuel cluster do not have exposure to air. As a result of the lack of exposed surface area, some of the fuel molecules inside a cluster do not combust and, instead, escape out the exhaust unburned.

Fuel molecules cluster as the result of polarization. The inherent charge in molecules causes them to attract one another and cluster together. The noble metals in a fuel catalyst neutralize the charge of fuel molecules which leads to those in a cluster drifting apart. Once separated, fuel molecules can oxygenize, then combust.

What separates fuel catalysts from other fuel saving devices — regardless of whether they work or not — is science and cost. The cost of producing fuel catalysts is exponentially higher than that of other fuel saving devices. With the amount of money necessary to manufacture fuel catalysts, most fuel catalyst manufacturers invest large sums of money in research, design, development, and testing.

While it is difficult to determine which fuel saving devices are legitimate and which are merely cow magnets, a little research begins to make it clear which are backed by scientific research and data and which can be made, “from an old peanut-butter jar and some leftover copper pipe or roof flashing.”


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