Choosing / Measuring a place for the HHO Generator System
The electrolysis system from Hydro Club USA requires a one foot drop between electrolyte and electrolysis chambers. This was not an easy task because I gave no thought to sacrificing anything under the engine hood at first. For this reason, I believe it would be wise and productive for Hydro Club USA to give out an electronic version of their installation manual, so prospective buyers CAN give deep thought to exactly where this system should go in their own vehicles.
wide shot of front before HHO Setup
In the case of this van and in deep consideration of providing myself easy accessability to the system, I chose to sacrifice the windshield wash resevoir; it happened to have bigger than one foot gap between itself and a few hoses underneath which is in a relatively cool operating place next to the radiator/fan housing.
Installing the HHO Generator System
First, I attached the chambers together as indicated in the manual using an exact one food drop of vacuum hoses. Then I had to imagine, in my mind's eye, exactly how in the world that electrolyte resevoir would attach up there.
Of course: Use plumber's tape / metal strap. There just happened to be strategically placed screws holding up the windshield wash bracket that would allow plumber's tape to be elegantly wrapped around the electrolyte resevoir, then held solidly with room for error.
Shot of front after HHO Tank Set Up
As you see, a further vacuum tube with flash arrestor is inserted at the top of the resevoir. The T-spliced clear hose with tap serves as a moisture trap. Except for the plumber's tape, all of these parts came with the kit.
The principle is simple: The electrolyte falls into the electrolysis chamber wherein the HHO gas is formed. Therein, the gas bubbles through the electrolyte from the right angled vacuum tube into the third vacuum tube at the top which leads to the air cleaner's vacuum.
The electrolysis chamber happened to sit perfectly upon the aforementioned hoses. To hold it steady, I applied a couple of plastic zip ties. The chamber has a convenient bracket wherein it can be attached a number of ways.
Shot of connected electrolysis chamber
The one foot drop of vacuum hoses fit almost perfectly.
To provide you with a clear understanding of how the system is attached, the following is a simple diagram of both chambers with tubes.
Simple diagram of electrolyte and electrolysis chambers
The down arrow from the electrolyte tank indicates flow of KOH electrolyte. The up arrow from electrolysis chamber indicates the flow of HHO gas. The larger left pointing arrows indicate the further flow of gas. The bottom side of the air intake is next in the discussion.
Here's the amount of clearance I had to channel the HHO Gas Tube to air intake
From my perspective, I actually have a world of room to lead that hose to the air cleaner. I've looked under the hood of new cars which is why I feel free when dealing with this one, no matter the amount of "spaghetti." As you see, the air cleaner is easily spotted with engine cover off (and by following the red arrow).
Spliced the HHO gas tube into a vaccuum with a T-connector
I had no choice but to splice into the small section of vacuum hose leading to the air cleaner. Any where else would have been at an obtuse angle, therefore, too easily disconnected. This vacuum goes into an air "head" inside the filter housing.
Installing the electricals / control system for HHO Gas Generator
Wiring Schematic for HHO Electrolysis with Ammeter
The above diagram was scanned from the Hydro Club Manual. I had to give even deeper thought the placement of the electronics. The ammeter and shunt were to be installed close together, but what about the relay and the fuse?
Relay and fuse are wired into circuit
Thereupon, I decided that all the electronics were going in the cabin. Although the instructions said to screw the relay into the firewall, I had no clue where a safe / spacious place would be for me to wire it in under the hood. In the cabin, the relay is now safe and insulated.
The idea of the fuse is not only to protect the circuit, but also to disconnect it when necessary at any particular moment. For this reason, the fuse is on the driver's side in the cabin - just like all the other fuses.
A convenient positive battery terminal is connected to fuse
A convenient negative / ground terminal is connected to shunt
HHO System Wires through the firewall
I found an existing aperture in the firewall and decided to drill through this aperture from the inside. This aperture was conveniently located near the accelerator pedal about five inches higher and to the right.
I drilled from inside the cabin, wired through, then used heat resistant glue to seal the hole.
Ammeter and shunt completely wired before installation
Within the cabin, just below and to the right of the steering wheel, there is a removable panel hiding a niche which looks like it was made for a further old style radio or CB. Upon reaching from underneath the dash, I found a few wires and enough space to install the ammeter with shunt.
Ammeter and shunt in panel after installation
First, I measured the ammeter to cut holes in both panel and dashboard. I applied masking tape to draw the necessary patterns in both. Using drill and jigsaw, I made the holes as perfect as possible. Of course, I wanted to make the panel perfect, so the ammeter would snap-in like it was custom made.
The wiring is not easy because there are different gauges of wire to attach: The stiff wires are resistant to movement and thin wires that are ready to break with slight pressure. I had to treat the whole thing like "putting a baby to bed."
As for pin 85 on the relay, the provided instructions say to attach it to the fuel pump relay; this is considered a safety feature to prevent the build up of HHO gas when only the ignition is on.
Unfortunately, it's too difficult for me to identify the wire that only sends current with the fuel pump on. I would have to cut into every wire I suspect might be the proper wire - and that's not safe. To top it off, the wire splicers provided with MY Hydrocell Kit don't work. I have to apply my own electrical connectors.
Since the current sent to pin 85 on the relay is merely a signal to the HHO system to turn on, I had to consider my options deeply: Other than whatever mechanic, I'm the only one who drives this van. AND what if it comes to pass that the engine stops working, but the fuel pump stays on? What about that safety feature?
After careful consideration, I put a manual switch from ignition terminal to pin 85 in a convenient location next to the ammeter. I always remember to turn it off and the ammeter always tells me when the system is on.
The following video shows the HHO system in operation.
Video: HHO Gas Alkaline Water Electrolysis GMC Van Setup
In the above video (some time in January 2017), I talked about taking the pH. Six months later, after cleaning the electrolysis chamber, I decided to take it as I discuss in the cleaning section.
Let's keep in mind that 10~ amps average during idle is nominal for this vehicle; this means the figure is ball park for optimum HHO gas output without straining the vehicle electricals.
I have yet to show you the video of the ammeter during vehicle operation, but the system is also on demand; this means the amps / HHO output goes up with RPMs / vehicle speed.
Cleaning the Electrolysis Chamber
pH measured at 12.8 after cleaning electrolysis chamber and readjusting pH to previous operating conditions
Just before cleaning at 10~ amps nominal during idle, I measured the pH of the electrolyte at 13.9. Right after cleaning and adjusting the electrolyte solution for 10~ amps nominal again, the solution was at pH 12.8. Therefore, after cleaning, the plates in the electrolysis chamber became more efficient. In practice, the plates should become more efficient after each cleaning, so I need less KOH in solution.
In June 2017, I cleaned out the electrolysis chamber with distilled water. I loosened the right angle hose at the electrolyte tank and wedged a small screw driver in the hose to allow the electrolyte to drip through. If you recall, an alkaline solution is slippery, so I just had to work the hose until it was wet from the solution and it was relatively easy to pull off. Remember to leave the cap on the tank to control the flow of solution from that right angle connector, so you have some control over capturing the spillage.
Using a turkey baster / siphon and lots of distilled water I pushed and pulled distilled water into and out of the electrolysis chamber using the HHO release tube. I'm sorry that I did not take any pictures of this, but the solution that came out of the electrolysis chamber was yellow.
I siphoned out / push / pulled the solution with distilled water until the chamber was absolutely clear. Then I checked the plates for any sign of corrosion / discoloration. The manual said to use bleach water for cleaning the electrolysis chamber. Since the plates were clean I did not see the necessity.
The HydroClub USA manual says to use potassium hydroxide flakes > 90% pure KOH as the catalyst. I'm using food grade KOH, 90% pure. Whatever that 10% is, that's what's getting burned and turning yellow in the electrolysis chamber.
I will, mostly likely, clean out the electrolysis chamber again in August or September to avoid the wet weather since Winter 2016-17 was a wash out - unless the smog check falls through; February or March would be the next cleaning six months later. I will provide an addendum to this section on cleaning with pictures.
California Smog Check Program
The question that should be burning most in everyone's mind - especially if you live in California is: "Does this system pass the California Smog Test?"
I'm in a process right now, wherein I can tell you, "No, it doesn't - not yet." Since this writing (see the date under my name). On July 13, 2017, I visited a Star Certified Station where the owner told me right off the bat that this is a modification that must be approved by the California State Referee before he can do a smog check.
Therefore, I have made an appointment next week to see a California State Referee about getting this system approved - and a smog check to boot.
Has the California State Referee ever seen an on demand, HHO System on car? I don't know. I couldn't find that info. Will the decision that referee makes set a legal precedent for the entire state of Califonia on consumer installed HHO systems? I don't know. As I understand, they work on a case by case basis.
Now, BEFORE I MADE THE PURCHASE, I asked the seller if this system would pass visual inspection at the smog check - at the Bezos' Amazon no less. The answer I received was "Yes." WRONG.
Upon telling the seller about this, all he could say is that "he was sorry. He sold systems to other people in California, but this is the first time he's hearing about this. Star Certified Stations must have tougher standards..."
HydroClub USA is the small business extension of soneone's high school science project wherein high school kids usually aren't worried about legalities. The owner didn't do all the proper legal leg work that is involved with selling this system outside of his state.
At least, this system is made in the USA. Unfortunately, it's made in a state where smog checks are not required - and I recently learned this from the seller after expressing my concern about passing the smog test.
Question: What if my vehicle"™s engine or emission control components have been modified from their original design?
Answer: In general, state and federal law prohibit modifications to your vehicle's emission control system. When repairing your vehicle, the emission-related parts used must be original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts or be replacements for the OEM parts, as specified by the part manufacturer. Modifications to your emissions controls are not acceptable unless the parts used are approved by ARB. ARB grants approvals in cases where the changes or aftermarket parts do not modify the performance of the emission controls in a way that increases emissions. ARB assigns the approved parts an "executive order" (EO) number that may be used to verify acceptability. ARB provides a listing of EO exempted parts on their Web site at www.arb.ca.gov. Minor changes that do not affect the connectivity with or operation of other emission controls are acceptable. For example, the installation of an universal replacement hose in place of a preformed hose would be allowed.
Question: Did I modify the van's emission control system at all?
July 13, 2017
Because of this HHO system, the owner of a local Star Certified Station refused to test the van without state approval - referred me to my local California State Referee. Made appointment next week with local CA State Referee for specific purpose of getting the system approved.
July 19, 2017
CA State Referee's name is Mike. He said that such systems count in California as after market add ons wherein they must be approved by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The manufacturer of any add on system for use in California is the one who is supposed to get approval. I spoke with a CARB rep by phone on that day to learn this and that it can take up to a year for approval for use in California.
Two other problems occurred as well:
The electrolyte tank's placement prevented timing diagnosis. For this reason, the windshield wash tank was designed to be easily removed. The electrolyte tank was not.
The van failed for high NOx during the smog test over 25 mph. Please see the results below:
smog test results with HHO system on 19 July 2017
That failure for high nitrogen oxides (NOx) is interesting. Except for the high NOx, the van passed the emissions test. When I asked the referee would could be causing that, he said it's usually high heat. Suddenly it made sense: The additional hydrogen and oxygen in the combustion mixture not only made the gasoline vapor burn more completely, it raised the temperature of the combustion by doing so.
Remember, the HHO is being added to regular air which is about 88% nitrogen. In this case, the engine was acting as if it had a lean fuel mixture. Here is the result of a lean fuel mixture from Smog Tips:
Lean Fuel Mixture - Lean fuel mixtures cause high NOx. A lean fuel mixture exists when less fuel then required is delivered to the combustion chambers or when more air then necessary is added to the fuel. In either case the lack of gasoline needed to cool the combustion chambers down is not present. Combustion temperatures increase causing high nitric oxide emissions. A lean fuel condition may be due to a vacuum leak/s and/or defective fuel control components, such as the Air Flow Meter, Engine Coolant Temperature Sensor, and O2 sensors.
In the case of the HHO generator, it was delivering "more air than necessary." Let's examine high temperature combustion more closely with the following citation from Toyota on combustion chemistry:
Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) Emission
High cylinder temperature and pressure which occur during the combustion process can cause nitrogen to react with oxygen to form Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx). Although there are various forms of nitrogen-based emissions that comprise Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx), nitric oxide (NO) makes up the majority, about 98% of all NOx emissions produced by the engine.
result of high temperature internal combustion engine
Generally speaking, the largest amount of NOx is produced during moderate to heavy load conditions when combustion pressures and temperatures are their highest. However, small amounts of NOx can also be produced during cruise and light load, light throttle operation. Common causes of excessive NOx include faulty EGR system operation, lean air/fuel mixture, high temperature intake air, overheated engine, excessive spark advance, etc.
BTW: The CA State Referee placed a sanction against the van until the HHO system is removed - and it has been removed since this writing. Theoretically, since the system is now gone, the combustion should be back to "normal."
Unfortunately, I don't see a way to mitigate the high temperature combustion emissions caused by the HHO system in a regular internal combustion engine. The engine would have to be far more efficient at cooling itself rather than using the gas mixture as a form of cooling - which is extremely inefficient and wasteful.
The seller of this system told me that he has sold a number of these HHO systems to people throughout California "with no trouble." Some how, I doubt that. An on demand HHO system would have to be completely integrated with the engine's design to lower NOx emissions.
The way I see it, the only way someone else in California could have passed a smog test is if they disconnected the electrolyte and electrolysis tanks before the test, so no technician is any the wiser.
In the case of this van, such a strategy is difficult and time consuming. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome in the facebook comments section below. Also see Water Fuel Secrets discussed in the related posts.
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