Fayetteville's Jim Gollins has the answer to all of America's energy needs, as well as the wallet-busting prices at the gas pumps — an  answer that flows not from an oil well, but from perhaps the most unlikely of places: a faucet.
Gollins says that he, and many other like-minded folks in America and across the globe, have learned a secret that the U.S. government and Big Oil doesn't want you to know: You can make cheap, plentiful, nonpolluting energy from water.
Actually it's what Gollins says is distilled from the water that provides the fuel: hydrogen.
    "I believe hydrogen is the fuel of the future," said Gollins. "You will eventually run your car on it; you will power your house with it; you will power your lawnmower with it. Each quart of water contains enough hydrogen gas to fill the Pittsburgh Steelers' football stadium two times."
    {mosimage}And Gollins says he can show anyone, even those not gifted in mechanics, how to build and install a hydrogen fuel converter in their vehicles that this, along with other measures, can increase gas mileage by more than 50 percent. He says he knows because he's already installed one in his own vehicles. He claims that since he installed one of the homemade devices on his Ford Ranger pickup, his gas mileage has improved from 14 miles per gallon to 26 mpg. And on July 12, he's going to hold a free seminar at the Ruritan Club on Campground Road to show how it's done.
    He says the apparatus, in addition to running on that most basic of elements, H2O, requires a small electrical current (such as provided by a car battery) and one other ingredient — a substance found in just about every family's cupboard.
    "Believe it or not, it's common baking soda," said Gollins. "The way to extract it (the hydrogen) is to disturb the molecules. You take distilled water and add baking soda — an eighth of a teaspoon per quart of water — and it allows the water molecules to be disrupted much more easily.
    "By putting a negative and positive charge in the water, you disrupt the molecules and the resulting action from that is HHO (hydrogen oxygen). That gas, siphoned off and injected into the intake of any modern vehicle, will  burn and mix in with your fossil fuels."
    He demonstrated the process by igniting hydrogen gas produced by his small, homemade fuel cell — it went off with a loud "pop — and opening the hood of his smoothly running Ranger, which indeed sported a strange looking contraption connected to his engine that contained a jar full of agitated water.
    {mosimage}Gollins says a simple fuel cell can be built for about $10, while a system for your car will be a little more, but nowhere near the $1,600 or so online merchants are asking for such devices. He also says the device will not harm your vehicle and that the emission from the exhaust system is 100 percent water vapor. He even says that after about 30 days of using HHO, your car engine will be "scrubbed clean" by the nonpolluting water vapor, which runs so hot it destroys all other emissions.
    According to Gollins, a few of your engine's parts, such as the oxygen sensor, need to be modified to make the project work, though he says it's something even the most mechanically disinclined can do with proper training. However, he says using the hydrogen cell alone will not give you all you need to get maximum gas mileage; Gollins adds that in addition to the hydrogen cell, you must do common sense maintenance on your car, such as checking the tire pressure, changing the air filter and driving correctly — no "stop and go" driving.
    Gollins says the truth about the ease with which water can be converted to hydrogen has been suppressed by the government for economic reasons.
"The government believes that if this nation converted to hydrogen fuel, all the industries related to petroleum products would go bankrupt and destroy the economy," said Gollins. "And if you think about it would destroy oil companies and put the people out of work at these refineries and at gas stations ... anyone who gets his livelihood from oil-based products, which is a lot of people."
    Converting water into hydrogen is not a new idea. The process is called electrolysis and has been known to scientists for 200 years. However, the practice of converting hydrogen on a large enough scale to power this nation's automobiles is discredited by many — particularly oil companies and government.
    Jerry Ittenbach, a physical science instructor at Fayetteville Technical Community College says "theoretically," Gollins' ideas about mixing hydrogen with petroleum as a fuel additive is possible.
    "However, I'm not an expert on engines, so I don't know how everything would react inside the engine," said Ittenbach. "What most people mean when they talk about using hydrogen as fuel is to build these huge, expensive cells that create electricity from hydrogen. Honda recently advertised  such a vehicle, but it's very expensive."
    Gollins adds that hydrogen-powered vehicles, such as Honda's FCX Clarity, are very expensive to operate and there is a lack of hydrogen fuel stations to power them — none in North Carolina and just 38 in the entire nation.
    "Also, remember, hydrogen is very volatile, it's what powered the Hindenburg," said Gollins. "If you have an accident at a hydrogen filling station, you're not going to have a fire, you're going to have a crater. That's why I don't recommend anyone attempting to modify their vehicle without getting the proper instruction."
    Gollins will provide some of that know-how on July 12, at the Ruritan Club from 8 a.m. to noon. He'll give a demonstration and answer questions.
    And the water will be free.

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