An Illinois man has built a hydrogen hybrid car that he hopes will revolutionize the automobile industry. Cameron McElwrath, manager of information systems at Lincoln College, has spent four years developing a fuel system that cracks water molecules apart without a catalyst, sending the hydrogen into the engine to fuel the car and disposing of the oxygen out the tailpipe.
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The test car is a 2003 Mitsubishi Diamante VR-X. “It never, ever did better than 21 or 22 mpg on the highway,”McElwrath said. “We’re right now in the mid-40s on miles per gallon of gasoline.” McElwrath says a previous test vehicle that originally got 32 mpg highway was able to reach 60 mpg using the system. McElwrath said the test Diamante currently runs on about 55 percent gas and 45 percent water, but a system could be developed to use entirely water.
His ultimate goal: sell the system to automobile manufacturers. “I would love to sell the technology to manufacturers and sit back and kind of watch the fun, you know?” he said. Research and development has cost McElwrath and his father “tens of thousands of dollars,” but the parts currently fueling the car cost about $1,500, he said. “A car manufacturer could probably easily get it down to $1,000 per car or less, but they have things we don’t, like manufacturing facilities. We have a garage,” McElwrath said.
Most of the equipment for the system is in the trunk, although there are other components under the hood and a control panel under the radio. McElwrath said he has not yet pitched the system to automakers.