Dan's Data letters #183Publication date: March 2007.
Last modified 26-Nov-2012.
You may be interested in checking out National Fuelsaver and their "Gas Saver".
I saw this in a local newspaper. The company claims the device was reviewed and approved by the USA's "Federal Consumer Protection" after a 5 year study (I can't find the reference though). What's more, the idea of platinum vapour causing more complete combustion makes a lot of sense. Why wait until unspent fuel gets to the catalytic converter?
How complete is the combustion in a normal gasoline engine? Does 20+% of fuel get wasted in the catalytic converter in the first place? Would this only be useful for certain specific models of engine that are terribly inefficient? Is it complete bunk or should I buy one?
I'm also wondering how much platinum they are actually going to be selling you. Unlike a catalytic converter, this thing is feeding your engine metallic platinum vapour through the intake manifold. Eventually that slug of (presumably heated) platinum is all going to evaporate out your tailpipe, presuming it works as advertised.
This is the first "Gas Saver" product I've seen that has passed my preliminary BS filter (that is, the theory makes logical sense to me given what facts I have available). What do you think?
Looking around the site, it would appear (see this PDF, for instance) that one Joel Robinson is the person behind this product, which he's been selling for decades. The "study" he's talking about was apparently more of a court case, which according to him concluded in 1984 with the US government admitting that all of his claims were true, they were wrong, all of the other girls should stop making fun of him, blah blah blah.
I presume all of these very satisfying events occurred after Robinson's appeal against a judgement banning sale of the device was... denied.
The fact that the government agrees with Mr Robinson would, however, appear to be news to a number of other governmental agencies, since Robinson since been ordered to cease making such claims in other states.
Oh, and right on the National Fuelsaver front page they shamelessly say "As seen on ABC's 20/20 with John Stossel"!
Indeed they were. In a piece on a variety of "gas savers" which do not work.
Joel Robinson's a cheeky bastard, isn't he?
Many other scammers have made these exact same claims. They're specifically addressed here.
If someone approached you claiming to have devised a straight replacement for standard unleaded gas that produces zero pollution, is about 80% water (with the remainder some unknown combination of off-the-shelf chemicals), costs less than a buck a gallon to make, and that he has already solicited offers of over a billion dollars to buy the formula - pending the receipt of certain documents from the EPA, etc - what would you think?
It happens that many members of my family are ready to send much of their life savings to just such a person, who is making just such a claim. The "inventor" even gave my father a small amount of the stuff, which they poured into a motorcycle - and it -did- drive around the block. (In fact, the motorcycle's owner claimed that, for the brief time his bike was being powered by the mystery fuel, it ran "100 percent" better than it did on regular gasoline.)
I'm convinced the inventor is either scamming my family, other potential investors, himself, or all three - but I don't know enough chemistry or automotive engineering to convince them to save their money. The inventor claims the reason no one else has done this is that it's "so easy, and obvious, everyone overlooked it".
Anyway, do you know of anything similar? Is it possible to mix some household chemicals with water, pour it into a regular gasoline engine, and have the car operate not only normally, but also with less pollution and greater fuel efficiency (yes, he claims fuel efficiency and horsepower increases as well as cleanliness)?
The "80% water" part is as far as the guy would get with me before I invited him to make an airborne sexual advance to a rolling doughnut.
Regarding the "no one else has done this" part: Bullshit. This scam has been run, one way or another, many times before; it's actually about as old as the automobile itself. Usually it's a pill that magically turns water into gasoline, but powders and other concoctions are also common.
These kinds of scams are a great way for a mediocre magician to make a lot of money. If you can do a water-to-wine trick, you can do water-to-gasoline just as easily. The 20%-gasoline version is the particularly lazy edition of this stunt; usually, the scammers rely on the fact that gasoline is less dense than water, so if you mix them the fuel floats to the surface and is the first thing you pour into the tank. As long as you only pour that first part of the "mixture" off, your demonstration will go without a hitch.
(You can likewise pour the whole lot into the fuel tank, as long as the pickup for the tank has been moved to the top of it.)
The usual scam artists, as opposed to unsinkable rubber ducks like Lee, generally secure funds from small investors (gullible rich people are welcome, but poor people are safer targets), then attempt to melt away into the night.
Just to repeat - this exact same scam has been tried countless hundreds of times over the last century. Your relatives should make hucksters work harder for their money than this.
Sean then replied, as follows:
I wanted to clarify a few points, to see if you still feel that the product must be fraudulent (I personally think the inventor is honestly deluded, not a con man - although the end result will probably be the same either way).
1 - The inventor (who is a special education teacher with a background in automotive repair) actually gave a jarful of the mystery fuel to my dad, who lives in another state and took it back home with him. The inventor wasn't even present at the "test" of the fuel, and had no knowledge of nor control over the vehicle used to perform the test (a small motorcycle). So that rules out the possibility that he tampered with the vehicle in order to fake the results, though the fuel, itself, could still have been gasoline with some stuff thrown in to mask the smell, etc. It's that last possibility that rings most true in my mind, but...
2 - My dad said the mystery fuel smelled sort of like paint thinner, and neither smells, nor looks, like gas - though I've repeatedly told him there are certain to be chemicals one could add to gas to disguise it in this fashion (of course I'm just guessing here). My dad disagrees, and thinks it would be pretty much impossible to hide the presence of gas in such a manner.
3 - The test itself, as I say, was performed by my dad and a family friend who owns a small motorcycle - the inventor was not present and didn't know what vehicle was to be used, anyway. As I understand it, the bike was drained of fuel, they poured in the mystery goop, and drove it around the block an unknown number of times before it ran dry. Unless the bike ran for that duration on the ordinary fuel lingering at the bottom of the tank or already in the engine, etc, then it almost certainly was running on the mystery fuel for a at least a few minutes. Which means...
4 - Either the mystery fuel is simply gas and water with some really strong chemicals poured in to disguise the smell (and which don't interfere with its combustibility) - OR - it's actually some off-the-shelf concoction composed of water and a handful of off-the-shelf chemicals, as the inventor claims. Are there possibilities I'm missing here?
5 - The reason I'm convinced the guy is deluded rather than duplicitous is that he actually gave up a sample of the stuff and let my dad take it home with him to test on his own. He's not promising to deliver his magic fuel at some future date - he actually did deliver it, and let it out of his control. If it's just gas with some other gunk poured on top, he's either the world's stupidest conman or he's nutty as a fruitcake.
6 - Given all the above, do you know of any combination of water and off-the-shelf chemicals that could account for the apparent success of the test so described? Is there anything that you know of that one could pour in to an existing gas engine (other than gas) that it would actually run on, if only for a short time?
Thanks again for your earlier response. I share your skepticism, but don't have the chemistry or engineering knowledge to articulate specifically why a fuel such as the one being pitched by this man, simply isn't possible (at least not without redesigning engines, etc), or economically feasible, or safe, etc. I'd appreciate any further comments or advice you can give me, and will relay it to all concerned.
Unmodified gasoline engines will run well enough on various concoctions. Pretty much any light flammable liquid mixed half-and-half with gasoline, for a start; that includes paint thinner, acetone, various other funky-smelling ketones and esters - the list goes on.
Doing this may be bad for your hoses and seals, wash crap off surfaces into your oil, reduce power and/or economy, and/or increase engine wear, susceptibility to knock, exhaust emissions and so on. But yes, you can ride your motorcycle around the block on all kinds of weird fuels, and even convince yourself that now it runs better. Pick said weird fuel mix correctly and it need not include any gasoline at all.
(A reader's now chimed in to mention that xylene and toluene work just great as high-octane racing fuel, if your hoses and seals can handle them. They can be cheap, too, if you buy in bulk and don't pay fuel tax on them...)
Given these basic facts, it seems likely that the hoofbeats you hear are a horse, or at the outside a zebra, and not the unicorn upon whose imminent arrival your relatives are betting their retirement fund.
I absolutely double-dog-dare GUARANTEE you that the liquid given to your relatives was not in any way "made from water". The guy who provided it, therefore, most certainly does appear to be a scam artist; it's just that he's even lazier than the guys who run the water-to-wine variety of this scam in front of an audience.
It sounds to me as if the guy's just mixing up some fuel in his garage at his leisure and handing it out to the rubes, telling them the time-worn water-to-gas story.
I mean, if nobody even saw him starting with water, why on earth would you think that he did? Am I missing something here? This is making my head hurt.
Remember that the basic problem here is that water is a combustion product. Burn hydrogen with oxygen and you get water. H2O is, you could say, the completely combusted "ash" of hydrogen and oxygen.
No more combustion energy can be extracted from substances that have been completely combusted already. A mystic powder that turned water into a workable fuel for engines would have to be bringing all of that energy with it, and transforming the water via some technique unknown to science.
It's not as if you're adding the powder to the water and then putting it on a hotplate for a week, after all. Where's the energy coming from?
Since "science" has given the world computers, supersonic aircraft and magnetic resonance imaging, while "fuel pill" guys have given the world nothing but a lot of ripped-off investors, I know where I'd be putting my trust.
What do you think of Microlon? It's supposedly a "metal treatment" for engines that increases power, decreases friction, and does Other Awesome Things.
Unlike many scams, they propose a mechanism that passes the sniff test - a high-temperature resin that is somehow absorbed into the porous surface of metal parts, replacing metal-metal contact with resin-resin contact. However, there's always the remaining question... If this stuff is so great, why don't the manufacturers use it?
Since I'm currently putting a Jabiru 2200 engine in a small aircraft, I'm obviously interested in any little extra boost of power. But I'm just not convinced.
There's a lot less actual metal to metal contact in most engines than you'd think; the oil's there to stop that from happening. Magic oil/fuel additives in general also have a terrible reputation. Generally speaking, no "resin" or other goop meant to coat surfaces with a non-liquid ever does any good in an engine.
I can't say a whole lot more without knowing what the heck this Microlon stuff is actually supposed to be, but that's apparently a secret (a few pages say it's got PTFE, "Teflon", in it; Microlon themselves don't seem to say anything, though).
If the two downloadable PDFs Microlon have in the "Aircraft" section of this page are representative of the rest of their supporting evidence, then they've got even less of that evidence than the average automotive fuel treatment scam artist.
So there doesn't seem to be any reason to suppose that this stuff isn't Just Another Snake-Oil Additive (the canonical example of which is, of course, Slick 50).
Have you ever created a magnetically powered generator that just runs freely and creates free electricity if attached to a car battery or other storage type battery?
I have heard of using a bicycle wheel and attaching magnets to the inside of the wheel and the inner spoke wheel in opposite directions, leaving one space. This one space supposedly will enable it to just spin and spin and if attached to a generator will generate electricity.
Have you heard of this or do you have another suggestion for using magnets to create free unlimited electricity?
I am trying to build a model home using this concept, and have just begun the research.
People have come up with zillions of designs for devices such as the one you describe, and what they all have in common is the fact that they do not work. Sometimes the people who make them are sincere; often, though, they're scam artists. There is no perceptible difference between the usefulness of the sincere people's "generators" and the scam artists'.
If you want to fiddle around with this sort of thing as a hobby, go right ahead, but be aware that you are engaged in a pursuit about as likely to succeed as searching for the Holy Grail. If someone tries to sell you such a machine, or a share in a company that makes them, or the rights to be the local distributor of them, or something like that, I strongly advise you not to give them any money.
(Oh, and Dennis Lee deserves another mention.)
Note that you're seeing so many mechanical gadgets on sites about perpetual motion machines because modern "electrical generator" types have a great deal in common with the older mechanical designs. Anybody who insists that his "free electricity generator" is not a perpetual motion machine either does not understand the definitions or is, once again, trying to rip you off.
This isn't to say that magnetic perpetual motion machines are new; people have been fooling with those forever and a day, too.
(There's a small technical loophole for the kind of free energy machine that is claimed to slowly consume its own magnets, converting their mass to energy. A machine that did that would not, technically, be a perpetual motion machine. But we'll cross that bridge when someone manages to demonstrate that he's actually made such a machine. That does not seem likely to happen any time soon.)
Note, also, that it's possible to make a magnets-and-motors contraption which, when hooked up to a source of power (battery, mains, whatever) and monitored with current and voltage meters, seems to be delivering more power at its output than goes into its input. Some of these devices are, again, just scams (with extra hidden batteries, for instance), but others are quite honestly presented. They still don't actually work, though; the reason why they appear to is that they're being monitored with cheap electricity meters which don't compensate correctly for the waveform of the input and/or output alternating current (AC).
Direct current (DC) is easy to figure out, but AC can get very squirrelly, and you can't measure AC power properly without more expensive - in some cases, very expensive - metering gear. Or, of course, by just seeing whether the "over unity" device can actually charge its own battery faster than it can drain it.
This is similar to the situation where someone makes an "antigravity" device which, when put on a set of scales and turned on, seems to weigh less than it did before. This is because many scales become inaccurate when they're trying to weigh something which is vibrating. More accurate scales do not have this problem, and do not show this "antigravity" effect.
I was browsing the Internet and came across your written opinions on Jack Bybee's Purifiers. Just from reading your comments, I could tell that you never even heard or saw any of Jacks products In use.(correct me If I'm wrong) There are many audio component companies, cable companies, as well as speaker manufactures who use Jacks purifiers In their products for good reason, they work.
I Invite you, If you are ever near Sacramento California to come have a listen to a very well put together audio and video system, without any of Jacks products Installed and then with several of his products Installed. If you aren't amazed at the level of improvement, I will donate a $100.00 to your site on the first day of each year for the next five years. If you are dumbfounded by how amazing they are, I would then like you to write another article admitting that though we don't know why Jacks gadgets work, they sounded great when you heard them In blind A/B tests.
Now, to be fair, we would need a few unbiased people who have never heard of Jack or his products, to listen with us, as It would be very easy for you to just say you didn't hear any difference In order to receive the donations.
I don't expect a reply, as I have extended this offer to others who I have found had similar opinions, but also had never heard any of Jack's products.
I have no ties to Jack or his business though I did meet him at CES a couple of years ago.
I am strictly a big time believer In Jacks products through many blind A/B tests with equipment from the $600.00 price range to 8,000.00 amps and such. I am also a true music lover who likes his sytem to be as close to listening to live music as possible. At my home, you can close your eyes and reach out and touch Ella and Louis as they sing together In my listening room. Bybee's are a major part of this realness, even his little power charger that doesn't even give the whole power cord. LOL
If you are an avid music lover, I seriously recommend you try his products and then state your opinions, as It would do your readers more good to read an article about what your ears heard then an opinion based on one paragraph you read. Thanks for your time.
It is not my job to prove the claims of people who spout gibberish. It is their job. If you claim that Bybee's incoherent "quantum" rambling has somehow led to a working product, it's up to you to prove it.
Or, better yet, Bybee himself could do it. It really is not actually all that hard to do proper blinded A/B testing of audio gear, as I'm sure you know, judging by your own very plausible claims in this area. But snake-oil artists invariably loathe the very concept, because the better organised the test is, the less effect their devices (or medicines, or paranormal powers) appear to have. And, what do you know, Bybee Technologies rely entirely upon testimonial evidence to support their claims.
So Thomas's blinded tests show a night-and-day difference, but Bybee himself just can't quite find the time to do one. Right.
If anybody actually can show Bybee's audiophile voodoo to work in double blind tests, there's a good chance that they're eligible for James Randi's million dollar prize (Bybee mentioned specifically here), since the incoherent claims made for the devices, arguably, qualify as paranormal. The stuff about "quantum mechanical electron flow regulation" is simply without any connection to actual science, or even sense. It's like saying you can improve traffic flow by telling people on the footpath to flap their ears and fly.
If Bybee's "quantum" wires work, do Peter Belt's similarly "quantum" bits of stick-on foil work too? What about CD demagnetisers? Cable break-in machines? The $US485 wooden Silver Rock Signature volume knob?
Why stop there - why not get your house exorcised? Why not sacrifice animals to your stereo? Where, and why, do you draw the line?
And why are you wasting your time with audiophile tweaks, anyway? There are many other crazy claims with much higher payoffs (how about Transcendental Meditation, which has for decades been claiming to give you the ability to fly, become invisible and walk through walls?), which are clearly clamouring for your attention.
(After this, Thomas reiterated that he has "done many blind A/B tests", and so knows for a fact that I am wrong, but feels no further need to back up his opinions, and is apparently uninterested in making a million dollars by doing just one more properly blinded test. The difference, besides the money on offer, would be that Randi's testers will come to him, whereas I'm safely 7500 miles away. If I did visit the States, I'm also practically certain I'd be able to find something better to do there than audition magic quantum stereo pixies in the hope of discovering that modern electrophysics is completely wrong.)
I do feel kind of bad about this one, though, because I speed-read Thomas' first e-mail and launched into my standard this-is-why-we-need-science diatribe without noticing that he'd said he'd done blinded tests, even though he first said that we'd just listen to one thing and then the other thing and all would be obvious. Which is an accurate summing-up of the way audiophiles usually decide that weird tweaks work.
But, dammit, life's too short. Somewhere, you've got to draw a line labelled This Is Just Stupid, and consign subjects that're obviously far over it to the Things I'll Investigate Some Time In The 25th Century category. Fan death, Icelandic elves, the belief that people can subsist on sunlight, and Bybee Quantum Purifiers, are all thus suitable subjects for amusement and ridicule, until such time as their proponents actually and provably put up, or shut up.
I do agree with this reviewer, who says that it's better to spend $US320 on Quantum Purifiers than $US20,000 on cable. I'll go further, though, and say that it's better still to not spend any money on the Purifiers either.
Or, if you really want some, break into the reviewer's house and steal his when he's not looking. He'll never miss them.