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Startup says hydrogen injection product reduces pollution, increases mileage Sunday, October 30, 2011 By BRADLEY J. FIKES bfikes@nctimes.com http://www.nctimes.com/business/article_66ac09bd-913e-5829-984e-9e45a326dc69.html#ixzz1cchsy3Lj

An Escondido startup says its new fuel-saving device can reduce vehicle emissions and boost mileage, not only saving money but helping meet California's tough new emission standards. Hydrogen Power Systems' device injects hydrogen into the vehicle engine, said Richard Connors, founder of the company. That boosts power and reduces emission of soot and some pollutant gases such as carbon monoxide and nitric oxide. Made in various configurations from the size of a toaster on up, the device is custom-installed wherever there's space under the hood.

Some of the patent-pending electric circuitry used in Hydrogen Power System's hydrogen modification system. BILL WECHTER | bwechter@nctimes.com

"When we introduce a small amount of hydrogen into the incoming airstream, when mixed with the gasoline or diesel, causes the existing fuel mix to burn more completely," Connors said. "When we burn more completely, we get more power per stroke and less pollution.�


To prove the claims, Hydrogen Power is performing tests to show that its HEC (Hydrogen Enhanced Combustion) device meets state regulations, Connors said. When those are completed, the company can legally begin HEC sales in California. Connors said he expects approval soon, but doesn't know when. "We've installed several of these out of state, and they're operating now in Arizona and some other places," he said. "But currently, it's not legal to sell these things in California until we get our certification.“

Hydrogen Power Systems founder and inventor Richard Connors shows an electrolyzer which turns water into hydrogen and oxygen gas. BILL WECHTER | bwechter@nctimes.com

Besides Connors, Hydrogen Power consists of two part-time employees and two consultants.

Since August, the team has been working out of 1,000 square feet in the Gateway Innovation Center, a business "incubator" at Escondido's old police headquarters. They pay about $1,000 a month in rent, or $1 a square foot. That includes utilities and services such as professional advice on growing a business, said Gary Knight, CEO of the San Diego North Economic Development Council, which runs the 44,000-squarefoot incubator under a contract with the city of Escondido.


The Gateway Innovation Center at 700 W. Grand provides not only office space but use of a garage, where Hydrogen Power can make and test its equipment. And Connors welcomes the company of four other startups in the incubator.

"It gives me an environment that I can come and go at all crazy hours of the day and night," Connors said.

From left, Hydrogen Power Systems personnel, founder and inventor Richard Connors, fabrication and design engineer James Tinney and electronics engineer Russell Ebersole. BILL WECHTER | bwechter@nctimes.com

"It gives me the space I need, the facilities that I need, and it gives me additional entrepreneurs to bounce ideas off of. So we're having a lot of fun here."

Idea-to-product Connors said he began work on the hydrogen injection idea about 3 1/2 years ago, and estimates he's put about $300,000 of his own money into the venture so far. The company is looking for more partners under a joint venture format. Connors' proposal to investors, which he says has been approved by his accountants, is that if they put in $1,000, they'll get $1,250 back in a year. And if Connors were to die in the interim, he's assigned proceeds from his life insurance to pay off investors.


Each $1,000 is dedicated to a specific HEC device, Connors said. "The moment I sell that box, you share in the profit," he said. The boxes themselves will retail for $8,000 to $10,000.

Hydrogen Power Systems electronics engineer Russell Ebersole works on a control system of a hydrogen test unit. The two metal rectangles at right are a patent-pending condensor/separator that separates hydrogen and oxygen gas produced by the system from excess water. BILL WECHTER | bwechter@nctimes.com

Connors says vehicles will experience anywhere from a 5 to 40 percent increase in fuel efficiency, with the largest improvement in large, low-mileage vehicles such as garbage trucks, delivery trucks and dump trucks that make frequent stops. For that reason, the company is focusing on commercial vehicles. Diesel vehicles with the device reduce smoke opacity by more than 60 percent, the company says. A 6.2-liter diesel truck improved its mileage by more than 14 percent.

A 2004 Mitsubishi Eclipse GTS improved its mileage by 28.6 percent on its first test. However, the state of California sets its own standards for testing, Connors said. Once the device passes those tests, it can be certified for sale. Meanwhile, the California Air Resources Board has adopted controversial mandatory standards designed to reduce the state's carbon emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020. The standards envision such steps as requiring more fuel-efficient vehicles and reducing their carbon content.


Connors says CARB's action is an opportunity to help companies with large, low-mileage vehicles comply with the standards. CARB has said it hopes to stimulate such "green jobs." Critics say the loss in traditional jobs will far outweigh growth in the green sector. Moreover, Connors said since the device will save users money, it's an economic boost in its own right.

Hydrogen Power Systems founder and inventor Richard Connors shows different sized electrolyzers which turn water into hydrogen and oxygen gas. BILL WECHTER | bwechter@nctimes.com

How it works Connors said he's been interested in the technology behind the device for years, but only recently has the business environment been favorable for commercializing it.

"I followed the technology way back about 30 years ago, when it was just a science experiment," he said. "And I noticed in 2007 when gas prices started to go up, and the emissions became much more urgent (a priority), that there might be a market to reduce pollution and increase fuel economy.“ The device separates hydrogen from water as the vehicle is operated. Electricity from the vehicle's battery flows into the device and through metal plates inside it. The plates are surrounded by an electrically conductive solution containing water.


The current flows through the plates and breaks the water apart into hydrogen and oxygen gases, a process known as electrolysis. The hydrogen is drawn off and injected into the engine.

"By using different size plates, and different numbers of plates, we can modularize for any engine from a 1-liter to a 20-liter engine," Connors said.

Hydrogen Power Systems founder and inventor Richard Connors shows how hydrogen power modifications to a conventional automobile engine are barely noticeable. BILL WECHTER | bwechter@nctimes.com

Connors said the hydrogen makes combustion more efficient, reducing the emission of partlyburned pollutants and increasing mileage at the same time. Periodically, the device must be refilled with distilled water.

Connors freely admits that the technology is no secret, and other companies make similar products. The difference is that Hydrogen Power has spent much time in engineering to get the most reliable results, and guarantees performance. "When you buy a system from us, it's warrantied just like an alternator or an air conditioner," Connors said. To contact Hydrogen Power Systems, go to http://www.hpstech.com or call 760-291-0468.


Jan 30 2011 Hydrogen Power Systems North County News