HHO (also Browns Gas, Browngas, Brown's Gas, Braun Gas, Green Gas, Rhode's Gas, Dirty Hydrogen or Watergas) is a gaseous explosive mix of hydrogen and oxygen, which is also called oxyhydrogen or Knallgas. Pseudoscientific circles claim that the mixture has special properties and avoid the name oxyhydrogen in favor of names like Browns Gas or HHO. Browns Gas traces back to the Australian electro engineer and inventor Yull Brown(born 1922 as Ilya Velbov, Bulgaria - 1998) who constructed several devices for electrolysis and welding with oxyhydrogen in the 1960s. Yull Brown is often credited wrongly with a doctor of professorial title.
Oxyhydrogen can be won through electrolysis of water with electrical energy. In principle, electricity is just conducted through water, whose conductivity has been increased by adding some acid or a base. Oxyhydrogen can also develop at very high temperatures directly from water.
Oxyhydrogen is explosive. At ignition water(and some hydrogen peroxide) is again created from hydrogen and oxygen. To ignite under atmospheric pressure the ratio of hydrogen has to be between 4 and 77%. The fiercest reaction happens at a ratio of 2 hydrogen to 1 oxygen.
Claimed wonder characteristics
In some pseudoscientific circles the oxygen/hydrogen mix, called Browns Gas or HHO, is said to have peculiar properties. It is often claimed that it holds more energy than normal oxyhydrogen. No serious explanation is given for that.
HHO is also a topic for supporters of free energy. They hold the false opinion that combustion of oxyhydrogen creates more energy as necessary for its creation. They reason that a combination of electrolysis and subsequent combustion may be used as an energy source. Research done in USA showed that such an onboard water electrolysis doesn't make sense since fuel consumption increases and does not decrease as claimed. 
Several fraudulent Water-fuelled car concepts are based on this principle. The offered devices don't allow to retool a car to operate just with water, but it is claimed that a considerable amount of fuel can be saved. Several companies, mostly in USA, offer electrolysis sets under labels like HHO Fuel Saver or Hydroxy Booster powered by current from the car battery. The created oxyhydrogen is then used as extra fuel for the engine. A German vendor of such products is the Jülicher Clean World Energies GmbH.
Supporters of Browns Gas and Brown himself also claim that it is especially useful for welding. They talk about the well known technique of hydrogen-welding which has almost no practical appliance because oxyacetylene and electrogas or electroslag welding have various advantages.
Browns Gas is claimed to enable a hypothetical transmutation of atoms that may be used to decontaminate radioactive waste. With a Browns-Gas-flame radioactive substances are to be fused with metals, which would decrease radioactivity by 95%.
In connection with alleged special properties of HHO it is also often claimed that the combination of electrolysis and combustion is so simple and brilliant that everybody just overlooked the idea to use oxyhydrogen to solve worldwide energy needs. It is claimed that the principle is too simple to be of commercial interest. Usage of HHO has not been implemented because it is inefficient but due to the resistance of powerful corporations which repress its use through a conspiracy. Inventors and researchers of HHO have to do their work in secrecy.
Economy and energy balance
It is currently(2011) economically better to win hydrogen from petroleum or petroleum gas and oxygen than using electrolysis.
- The degree of efficiency of electrolysis of water to create hydrogen and oxygen is currently at 57%, some energy is lost as heat. Special electrolysis units may reach efficiencies of 70% or 80% at high temperatures with addition of potassium hydroxide. Research is done with high temperature steam electrolysis (at 800–1000°C) on solid electrolytes. To create 1 m3 hydrogen in modern facilities needs about 4,3–4,9 kWh electrical energy.
- Efficiency of oxyhydrogen-reactions is also not 100% but just about 70%.
- Transforming oxyhydrogen explosions to kinetic energy in an engine has an efficiency of about 30%. Other than that, further problems are caused by a higher combustion temperature of oxyhydrogen compared to normal fuel and higher emission of nitrogen oxides.
- The retooling kits to "save energy" for cars decrease efficiency yet another time, since electrical energy is drawn lossy from the alternator and in turn from the engine and regular fuel. Noteworthy amounts of HHO cannot be created this way due to the limitation of the electrical energy. Saving it in pressure tanks to have more gas available when needed would cause a further decrease in efficiency.
Versions of this article in other languages
- Deutsch: HHO
- U.S. Patent 4,014,777. Mar 29, 1977
- Citation HHO-Forum: The needed amount of energy to create hydrogen is much less than the energy that is freed at reaction. It is just necessary to initiate the right reaction and use it appropriately.
- Popular Mechanics, article Water-Powered Cars: Hydrogen Electrolyzer Mod Can't Up MPGs
- Greenville News Looking Out 4 You: Water 4 Gas Fails to Boost Mileage
- Hydrogen conversion claims put to the test
- http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2008/07/water4gas.html Consumer Affairs Water4gas
- Marco Bischof, Thorsten Ludwig, Andreas Manthey (2005): Zukunftstechnologien für nachhaltige Entwicklung: Unkonventionelle Ansätze zur Energiegewinnung und Aktivierung biologischer Prozesse. Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung BMZ, Forschungsbericht E 5001-15, Berlin. See also: Deutsche Vereinigung für Raumenergie