Bideford business’ fuel saving future?

Joseph Bulmer

A NEW eco-friendly business launched in Bideford is hoping to satisfy two of the most pressing needs of modern motoring, while also helping the planet.

Hydrogen Cars Ltd provides and fits units to make engines more efficient by using hydrogen as well as oxygen in the fuel mix.

Not only does this provide more miles per gallon, but dramatically reduces carbon emissions, said business manager Steve Hammond.

The technology is not new, having already been developed and used on a small scale in the United States. But Hydrogen Cars Ltd believe they are ahead of the game with the development of their new compact and efficient unit with which to deliver it.

“There is already interest from India and from France,” said Steve. “Devon and Conwall Constabulary and a water company, both of whom have to reduce their carbon footprints, are interested in testing one.”

Brains behind the hydrogen generator are North Devon businessman, engineer and former VW/Audi technical manager Nigel Manners from Shebbear and electronics expert Matt Dracocodos from the Midlands, who have spent some seven years developing the unit.

They have teamed up with businessman Steve to open their first fitting and advice centre at Daddon Court on the Clovelly Road Industrial Estate.

The system can be used not only on cars, but on most engines powered by petrol, diesel or bio-fuel, including ships, said Steve.

In basic terms, the hydrogen generator unit creates hydrogen and oxygen from water by electrolysis, with the help of a chemical catalyst, using voltage from the vehicle’s alternator while the engine is running. The mixed gas is then fed into the fuel system, creating a more powerful and efficient burn in the combustion chamber than oxygen alone.

“As the gas is only produced while the engine is running, no storage of gas is required. Cars require only a small water bottle similar to that for windscreen washers and the generator unit itself,” said Steve.

“The units are particularly effective when fitted to Land Rovers and large 4x4s and efforts will focus initially on this market. Not only does the unit improve fuel consumption, but there is significantly more torque generated. A recent test on a Land Rover Defender achieved a fuel consumption of more than 40mpg on a vehicle that normally returns figures around the mid-20s.”

The business is currently specialising in Land Rover, classic car and pre-1998 vehicles, which are not fitted with engine management systems and can be more easily adapted.

But, for newer vehicles, some manufacturer dealers can re-map the ECU to run with a hydrogen generator and owners should ask their dealer for details, said Steve. In the future it was hoped this would become more commonplace.

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