# Burning salt water for fuel?

Mentor
Does anyone think anything will come from this?

Radio frequencies help burn salt water

ERIE, Pa. - An Erie cancer researcher has found a way to burn salt water, a novel invention that is being touted by one chemist as the "most remarkable" water science discovery in a century.

John Kanzius happened upon the discovery accidentally when he tried to desalinate seawater with a radio-frequency generator he developed to treat cancer. He discovered that as long as the salt water was exposed to the radio frequencies, it would burn.

The discovery has scientists excited by the prospect of using salt water, the most abundant resource on earth, as a fuel.

Rustum Roy, a Penn State University chemist, has held demonstrations at his State College lab to confirm his own observations.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070910/ap_on_sc/burning_seawater [Broken]

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LeonhardEuler
Gold Member
I saw this in the news and searched here to see what has been said about it:

It seems that what's happening is that the RF beam separates the water into H and O, which is then combined back into water in a flame. Of course, you wouldn't get any energy out of the process: you have to use more energy in the RF generator than is given off as heat over the flame. I'm surprised how no one mentions this in the article. It seems clear that this process can not have a net generation of useful energy.

Mentor
Thanks, nothing came up when I searched.

I saw this in the news and searched here to see what has been said about it:

It seems that what's happening is that the RF beam separates the water into H and O, which is then combined back into water in a flame. Of course, you wouldn't get any energy out of the process: you have to use more energy in the RF generator than is given off as heat over the flame. I'm surprised how no one mentions this in the article. It seems clear that this process can not have a net generation of useful energy.
Actually, it would have fantastic potential as a desalinization method. The burned H and 0 would be pure water and the heat generated could be used to help generate more radio waves.

Thanks, nothing came up when I searched.

OH NO I just filled my gas tank up with salt water and strapped an old radio to it.

Kurdt
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
I've been constantly amazed in all these water energy claims how nobody ever mentions the fact that one needs energy to split the molecule and unless your process is 100% efficient you will lose energy. There is no way you will ever gain any. The same with perpetual motion machines. Unless the process is 100% efficient it can't be perpetual and even then if you extract energy from the system it will eventually stop. So whatever is used to set the thing off may as well be used as the source of energy generation.

Mentor
Disclaimer: PF is not responsible for news articles linked to from this site.

On the positive side, you now have a musical fish tank.

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Actually, it would have fantastic potential as a desalinization method. The burned H and 0 would be pure water and the heat generated could be used to help generate more radio waves.

You may just have something there. From salt water to fresh water in a flash. And solar could also be used to generate RF.

Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Radio frequencies help burn salt water
I cringe when I see headlines like that. It's the hydrogen that burns, and the hydrogen comes from dissociated water. Electrolysis has been used to achieve the same result, so I don't see this as a necessarily new discovery.

I imagine there's probably some chlorine gas and HCl around as well, and with H gone, the water would become more alkaline.

I imagine the energy lost producing the microwaves and then lost in the dissociation process make for an inefficient process. The objective for hydrogen production is to have a fuel that can be transported or used in a tranportation process. Burning hydrogen at the source would be a wasteful use of energy. It would make more sense to collect the hydrogen in an inert carrier gas for storage or chemical synthesis.

The overall scheme might be worthwhile if solar energy is used as the top level source of energy, but converting solar energy to microwaves may not be practical.

Roy has been around a long time, and I remember his work for nuclear waste processing and waste forms from the 70's and 80's. He certainly knows how to get funding.

http://www.rustumroy.com/

Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member

The generation of microwaves is a little over 60% efficient. Then you have the coupling to the water, and dissociation. I would bet that you would never do better than 30 or 40% efficient overall.

Electrolysis is about 50% efficient in practice, so it seems very doubtful that this process would have an advanatage.

Chi Meson
Homework Helper
Roy has been around a long time, and I remember his work for nuclear waste processing and waste forms from the 70's and 80's. He certainly knows how to get funding.

http://www.rustumroy.com/

Rustum Roy appears to be a bona fide chemistry professor. Is he running a sham for funding? Or has he never stumbled upon the laws of thermodynamics? Or is it possible that there could be something there? Specifically, is there more than just the hydrogen burning?

I just find it incredible that a university professor would risk his credibility on a PPM. Or am I naive?

Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Is he interested in the energy or the process?

OK then I can see where this concept may show up on late night Television informercials..

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am I in trouble or what?
You're in trouble, it's possum urine, monkey urine just sounds more exotic.

He seems to have a number of papers concerning microwaves. Perhaps that is his interest.

He has a patent on: Method and apparatus for microwave phosphor synthesis

You're in trouble, it's possum urine, monkey urine just sounds more exotic.

You are such a good sport, I just could't resist. I'm tring to wind down from a long day.

It all appears to have started with this man.

It seems like the chlorine in the salt water might make some noxious fumes. Could it end up with some form of Hypochlorite??

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Why do you think the department of defense is interested in it? Probably because it has some obscure potential as a weapon. Bullets can't go through walls, but radio waves can right? Imagine a weapon that lights enemies on fire through walls with just the use of radio waves. After all the human body is what, 70% water?

Why do you think the department of defense is interested in it? Probably because it has some obscure potential as a weapon. Bullets can't go through walls, but radio waves can right? Imagine a weapon that lights enemies on fire through walls with just the use of radio waves. After all the human body is what, 70% water?

Yipes, and the electrolytes in the blood are comprised of salts.

Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Rustum Roy appears to be a bona fide chemistry professor. Is he running a sham for funding? Or has he never stumbled upon the laws of thermodynamics? Or is it possible that there could be something there? Specifically, is there more than just the hydrogen burning?

I just find it incredible that a university professor would risk his credibility on a PPM. Or am I naive?
Roy is a bona fide chem professor, and he is quite credible. He can also afford to stick his neck out. I am sure that he would be trying to optimize the process. One problem would be recombination, which competes with dissociation, but that could be mitigated with inert gas like Ar being pumped through the system. Then if Cl2 is produced, one has to deal with that, so the process would have to done without light present.

As edward mentioned in his post, with an acqueous salt solution, in addition to hydrogen, one will get Cl2, ClOx (x=1, hypochorite (bleach); x=2, chlorite), maybe HCl. The ClOx compounds would stay in solution. IIRC, chlorine is produced from seawater anyway.

Sea water has dissolved salts of which most is NaCl, with some Mg, K, Br.
Water has great abundance on the Earth, and of that abundance about 97% is sea water. Sea water contains about 3.5% by weight of salt (sodium chloride).
http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/chemical/seawater.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seawater

Desalination of seawater is already in place in parts of the world. Saudi Arabia probably has the biggest program and the largest plant is apparently in UAE.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desalination
http://www.coastal.ca.gov/desalrpt/dchap1.html [Broken]
http://www.dow.com/liquidseps/prod/sw.htm - Dow sells membranes for reverse osmosis systems.

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I've been constantly amazed in all these water energy claims how nobody ever mentions the fact that one needs energy to split the molecule and unless your process is 100% efficient you will lose energy. There is no way you will ever gain any.
Of course energy is conserved: you can't get more out than you put in.

Actually, that's not an accurate statement. It should be "You can't get more out than was put in." If I burn a tree, it wasn't necessary for me to physically put the energy I get out of the tree into it. The sun did most of that work. Likewise, I didn't have to physically imput the amount of joules that running my truck represents into the truck myself: the sun did most of that work.

It isn't necessarily the case, in principle, that you can't get more out of this process of dissociating water by radio waves than you expend in generating the RF. It depends on what energy has gone into the present state of the saltwater, including whatever ambient heat it has stored. If the RF is dissociating the H20 it is probably also affecting the salts and dissolved gasses:

The chemical composition of seawater
By Dr J Floor Anthoni (2000, 2006)
www.seafriends.org.nz/oceano/seawater.htm
In order to understand the sea, some of its chemical properties are important. This page details the chemical composition of sea water, salinity, density, its dissolved gases, carbon dioxide and pH as limiting factor. Chemical elements in sea water do not exist on their own but are attracted to preferential ions of opposite charge: sulphur will occur mainly as sulphate, sodium as sodium chloride, and so on.

* Detailed composition: abundance of the elements in seawater
* Salinity: the main salt ions making the sea salty
* Density: the density of sea water depends on temperature and salinity
* Dissolved gases: the two important gases to life, oxygen and carbondioxide. Limiting hydrogen ions and ocean pH.
* Bicarbonate: the life of dissolved carbon dioxide in the sea.

From: http://www.seafriends.org.nz/oceano/seawater.htm#salinity

If you go to the link and click on the various categories you'll see there is a complex soup of stuff here. How all this might be affected by RF and how it all might recombine, is beyond my level of chemical knowledge, but the first thing anyone needs to do is make some precise measurements of joules in verses joules out. There is some chance that salt water represents a rock sitting on a cliff edge whose energy can be harvested by a push from the RF. I know that seems doubtful, but it should be systematically investigated, rather than dismissing the notion based on the meme "You can't get something for nothing." We get energy from the sun for nothing all the time. In any case, it's an interesting enough phenomenon to investigate in and of itself, and figure out exactly what's going on.

Why do you think the department of defense is interested in it? Probably because it has some obscure potential as a weapon. Bullets can't go through walls, but radio waves can right? Imagine a weapon that lights enemies on fire through walls with just the use of radio waves. After all the human body is what, 70% water?
The military is already aware of the destructive properties of RF:

Exposure to RF energy of sufficient intensity at frequencies between 3 kilohertz (kHz) and 300 GHz can adversely affect personnel, ordnance, and fuel. Potential exposures of this magnitude aboard ships are primarily associated with the operation of various radars and communication systems as illustrated in the photo below.

Biological effects that result from heating of tissue by RF energy are often referred to as "thermal" effects. Exposure to very high levels of RF radiation can be harmful due to the ability of RF energy to heat biological tissue. In a healthy human body, the thermo-regulatory system will cope with the absorbed heat until it reaches the point at which it cannot maintain a stable body core temperature. Beyond this point the body may experience Flight deck aboard an aircraft carrierhyperthermia (heat exhaustion) and/or irreversible damage to human tissue if the cell temperature reaches about 43 degrees Celsius. There is a higher risk of heat damage for organs that have poor temperature control, such as the lens of the eye and the testes. The amount of absorbed energy to produce thermal stress is affected by the health of the individual (some medical conditions and medications may affect thermoregulation), environmental conditions (higher ambient temperature and relative humidity make it harder for the body to release heat), and physical activity (strenuous work can raise rectal temperature by itself).

Radiated energy can also result in high levels of induced and contact current through the body when in close proximity to high-power RF transmitting antennas. The biological hazards associated with electromagnetic radiation, established by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) C95.1 Standards Committee and adopted by the Tri-Service Electromagnetic Radiation Panel, is in DODINST 6055.11, Protection of DoD Personnel from Exposure to Radiofrequency Radiation and Military Exempt Lasers .

http://www.safetycenter.navy.mil/acquisition/RFR/default.htm

I'm sure it's potential as a weapon has already been thoroughly investigated.

baywax
Gold Member
Is this going to work as an efficent way to separate H from O in producing hydrogen for fuel cell energy production? As was mentioned, solar can provide cheap energy for the production of radio waves

..... come to think of it, you don't have to plug in a crystal radio. How about using a really big one?