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Hybrid lawnmower
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, May 15, 2008

Jonathan Soli, 18, a Senior at Alden-Conger High School in Alden MN got to wondering one day if he could engineer a system that uses the gases produced by the electrolysis of water to improve the performance of a single cylinder four-cycle lawnmower.

OK, formally, it was a "single cylinder, four-cycle internal combustion engine", but heck, it was his lawnmower he was going to modify.

So he built an electrolysis apparatus and attached it to the air-intake on his dad's 3.5 hp lawnmower engine, and low and behold, it ran rather well. The apparatus he'd built used 21 stainless steel plates suspended in an electrolytic solution.

Great. So now that he knew it worked, he had to figure out how well it worked. To do that, he built his own data collection system. Seriously. To include designing and etching the circuit board himself.

Ok. Electrolysis apparatus built and functioning. Check. Data collection system built and functioning. Check. Oh, how about software to collect and analyze the data?

No problem. Jonathan wrote his own. So other than not having the ability to weld stainless steel (he says he can do regular welding), Soli built every bit of this project himself.

The results? Well they weren't bad at all. Doing about 100 data collecting runs, Soli found the average efficiency of his system (the electrolysis apparatus) was 76+%. And, as expected, the H2 + O2 lowered the engine's fuel consumption and thereby lowered CO2 emissions. In fact, the reductions were rather startling over all those runs - an average of 22.7% improvement in fuel efficiency and a 28.6% reduction in CO2 emissions.

Imagine the savings such a system could bring with optimized fuel carburetion and system design. All from wondering what would happen if he stuck his electrolytic gizmo on pop's lawnmower.

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Previous Comments to this Post 

Better get this kid now. In 20 years, he’ll claim that he needs a $20M NSF grant to do this.
Written By: Sean
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