Developments to Watch
FOR A SUBMARINE'S POWER PLANT, WHAT BETTER FUEL THAN H2O?
A Japanese company is working on an engine for submarines that draws on the oxygen in water molecules. Econo-Tech Corp. of Tokorozawa says it is
developing the engine as an alternative to other non-nuclear power sources. Econo-Tech says its Econoil Super Burner generates a third less carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide and almost no nitrous oxides, and costs 40% less to operate than burners fueled by heavy oil.
Econo-Tech's system puts water into a strong magnetic field and excites the molecules with ultrasound. Then, under pressure, a fuel such as kerosene is blended in, creating an emulsification of 52 parts water to 48 parts fuel. The water droplets are broken down into hydrogen and oxygen, and the oxygen feeds the fuel's combustion. Some of the oxygen also corrodes the combustion chamber, which has to be replaced twice a year. A working model burns roughly 10 gallons of fuel an hour, but Econo-Tech says it could be scaled up to a plant burning hundreds of thousands of gallons an hour.EDITED BY PETER COY