There it was this morning on CNN: a glowing report on a cutting-edge hydrogen-injection system for your car or truck. The camera zoomed in on the system, and it looked pretty cool: lots of chrome with coiled wires snaking here and there. The inventor claimed injecting a small amount of hydrogen into an engine’s combustion cycle will boost its fuel economy by 50 percent!* The system costs $2,000, and the reporter noted the manufacturer already had “hundreds” of orders on hand.
So… That means I can spend two grand, bolt this thing onto my pickup, and go from 16 mpg in the city to 32 mpg literally overnight. Why, at current gasoline prices, this hydrogen system would pay for itself in about six months! It sounds too good to be true!
That’s because it is.
I know that $4-a-gallon fuel prices have all of us going a little crazy, but take a deep breath and listen: Fuel economy enhancement systems – be they additives, “air swirl” turbos, magnets that align fuel molecules, latches that hold pickup tailgates halfway open or hydrogen injection systems – do not work, have never worked and never will work.
As Dr. Joel Hiltner with Hiltner Combustion Systems recently told me, “Manufacturers spend millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours trying to gain a 0.5-percent increase in fuel economy and it’s a huge accomplishment if they do so. If somebody invented a system that could reliably deliver a 15-percent economy boost, every car company and engine manufacturer in the world would be fighting tooth and nail to acquire that technology.”
The truth is you can have a far greater affect on your trucks’ fuel economy figures simply by following good maintenance procedures and coaching your crews to drive in proven fuel-saving ways.
For more information, Zack Ellison, director of customer technical support for Cummins, suggests checking out a study done by the Federal Trade Commission on these systems, which can be found at www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/autos/aut10.pdf.
* I’d bet anything the ad for this product notes that the “results are not typical” immediately following that claim of 50-percent better fuel economy.