Turning to water to save fuel
Franky Chahyadi's motorbike used to travel between 30 and 35 kilometers on one liter of premium fuel.
But since he started using an electrolyzer, a liter of premium fuel can keep his motorbike going for 50 to 55 kilometers.
And it's not just his motorbike; his Mercedes C18 is also performing more economically. Before, a liter of fuel was just enough to travel five kilometers, but with an electrolyzer, his Mercedes travels nine.
"Fuel prices may go up, but it doesn't matter because my vehicle is more economical now," said the 27-year-old.
The electrolyzer was invented by Joko Sutrisno. It is an piece of equipment that utilizes water that is installed in a motorbike or car. Using electrical currents, it is able to generate energy through explosions that can help the machine run and save fuel in the process.
Joko said the working of an internal combustion engine depends on fuel exploding to turn a shaft or wheel.
"An engine makes a motorbike or car run through explosions," said the 52-year-old, a junior high school dropout. The explosive power of water is found in hydrogen.
Inventing is nothing new to Joko. He began experimenting at a young age, even in first year of junior high school. His parents were not happy when things started falling apart in their home.
"I dismantled the radio transistor. I was curious as to how it was transmitting sound," Joko said.
Back in 1995, he also invented a telephone antenna for rural areas that did not have telephone lines.
His latest discovery of the explosive power of water was one of luck, he said.
Checking the water level in his car one night, he lit a match to see more clearly. Suddenly, the battery fumes created an explosion and liquid splashed in his face. In disbelief, he did it again, only to be splashed in the face again.
"The battery fumes caused an explosion, but only the water splashed in my face while the rest of the battery remained intact," said Joko.
Curious, Joko then queried chemistry experts in Yogyakarta over the matter.
"Their answers were the same -- yes the fumes from the water can explode because water contains hydrogen. But how do you separate the hydrogen found in the water? That they didn't know," said Joko.
While hunting for information on water and hydrogen, Joko ran tests and trials. One motorcycle engine he owned was sacrificed for the trial.
In 2006, after undertaking numerous tests, Joko found a simple way to separate the hydrogen and oxygen in water and channel the hydrogen to the engine. This can save between 70 and 100 percent of fuel used in motor vehicles.
The shape of the device is quite simple. A coil is wrapped around a plastic soy sauce bottle and is used to transmit an electric current beneath the bottle. The coil is connected to the battery.
A pipe is attached to the top of the bottle to connect the engine to the carburetor. "When the engine is running, it will automatically produce hydrogen and this causes an explosion in the engine," Joko said.
"The chemical formula for water is H2O. If this is subjected to an electric current, it will produce H2 and O2," Joko said.
About five seconds after the electric current, gas bubbles out of the water. After the gas has been channeled to the trial engine, it explodes and can drive the crankshaft five meters or more.
"This is just from using one piston. If we use three pistons to drive the crankshaft, it can break," Joko said.
He chose a transparent soy sauce bottle because it was cheap, easy to find and safe. "The transparency can help us check the water's condition and whether or not it is still clear," Joko said.
In order to produce good hydrogen, the water should be neutral or rainwater, and it only needs to be changed once a month. The use of tap water can cause problems because it includes other substances that inhibit the production of hydrogen.
Joko installed the electrolyzer in his car.
"My friends laughed at me and at what I'd done. Some said I was crazy," said Joko.
"I don't care. The result is economical and I only needed one tank of fuel to get to Banyuwangi (East Java)," he said.
Joko said burning hydrogen was good and its octane rating reached 130. This compares with the rating of premium fuel, which is only in the 80s, and Pertamax, with a rating of 94.
With the electrolyzer, the burning of fuel is more efficient and the power of the engine is stronger, he said.
He said the more efficient burning decreases carbon emissions. Oil use also becomes more economical. It is cleaner because it partly emits water in place of carbon.
"Consequently, water will always come out of vehicles with electrolyzers. When the engine is used for the first time in the morning, the system expels water," Joko said.
People visit Joko's house in Yogyakarta to have electrolyzers installed in their motorbikes and cars.
To replace the raw materials used for installation in a motorcycle, the customer is charged Rp 75,000 (US$8) for motorbikes and Rp 150,000 for cars.
"This is not about profit. The money being charged is only used to buy the components," said Joko, adding more than 1,000 vehicles have used his invention.
Since he has no commercial interest, Joko said he did not want to patent his invention.
He hopes people will make the device themselves since its construction is simple and the materials easy to find.
Joko is further innovating in trying to develop an engine that uses water as its fuel. He has changed the working mechanisms of a lawn mower engine so the machine can only use exploding hydrogen and not fuel.
"Using 10 soy sauce bottles each containing 0.5 liters of water, the lawn mower engine keeps running," he said. "I want to try this on my motorcycle just using water."
Joko believes the fuel crisis will be solved with the creation of a water-powered engine.
However, he said his move alone will not be enough without the support of government policy.
"I'm doing this slowly because I have limited funds. It wouldn't cost so much to create an engine that runs only on water if all parties gave it their support," said Joko.