[Update - The ASA has upheld a complaint by CNG Services which basically says that H2GoGo do not have the robust scientific evidence from Millbroke that they claim to have and therefore they are lying on their website when they claim to achieve a 40% reduction in emissions and when they claim "h2gogo has submitted its hydrogen generators to the full scrutiny of the world- renowned and respected Millbrook Vehicle Emissions Laboratory, with resounding success". BULLSHIT!! Good work ASA!!]
The latest HHO, run-your-car-on-water, style product to be drawn to my attention is H2gogo.com – It is interesting because the makers do not quite make the same goofy claims that makers of other products of its type; instead of claiming it will save fuel and increase performance they claim it will decrease your vehicle’s nasty exhaust emissions and may possibly save fuel and may possibly increase performance.
Now normal HHO does not work, it does not save any fuel, the people selling it either are in denial that it does not work or they are simply con men. They will show you anecdote after anecdote to back up their claims but they never show you any real scientifically controlled evidence. On the very rare occasions that their products are tested in a lab they are always found to not do what the maker claimed they did.
For an example of this look up the case of Oil Drum and their Fuel Saver on this site. On that occasion the BBC paid for Oil Drum’s Fuel Saver to be tested by Millbrook Proving Grounds in the UK. It failed to make the 10% decrease in fuel consumption that the makers claimed it would, in fact it caused the vehicle to perform between 3% and 9% worse. You can see the results of the test carried out on Oil Drum’s machine here.
The reason Oil Drum’s machine performed worse is because the technology does not save any fuel and yet it is consuming electrical energy, which means that more energy is taken from the engine, which ultimately means that more fuel is burned.
But I have been shown to be just a teeny bit wrong about HHO before, see here for more on that.
Now of course H2gogo are not claiming that the vehicle will get better MPG, just that they “fully expect that you can reduce your fuel consumption to a measurable degree”. They are claiming that your emissions will improve though. The Oil Drum results from Millbrook do appear to show a decrease in emissions (it also says that the reduction is not statistically significant, but I am mostly going to ignore this).
Hypothetically, if the H2gogo machine does improve emissions but they were mistaken and, like the Oil Drum unit, it also increased fuel consumption then would these together be worse or better overall than not using the H2gogo unit at all? It is a very real question but we don’t know the answer without the fuel consumption data, and nor do they.
Why am I comparing Millbrook results for the Oil Drum machine with H2gogo’s machine? After all, H2gogo’s machine is not OilDrum’s machine. Well H2gogo’s won’t show me the Millbrook results for their machine but the technology sounds, from H2gogo’s description, to be very similar (if not identical) technology to Oil Drum’s.
H2gogo won’t show the results to the tests carried out at Millbrook because they say that they are commercially sensitive. How they are commercially sensitive I don’t understand, if they confirm that H2gogo’s machine does what they say it does then releasing the results would be beneficial to their business. I am not asking for how they archived it, I’m asking if they archived it.
If you look at the results from the Millbrook study into Oil Drum’s machine you will see it shows (and I am being generous here) that there was a slight improvement in exhaust emissions but also a significant increase in fuel consumption. Don’t you think it is odd that when H2gogo had their very similar (if not identical) technology tested ay Milbrook that they did not measure fuel consumption, only the exhust emissions? They say that they “fully expect that you can reduce your fuel consumption to a measurable degree” so why did they not check this to be true while they were checking that the emissions claims were true?
Keeping an open mind
One should always keep an open mind, it is possible that H2gogo have discovered some as-yet-unknown-to-science-or-Oil-Drum method of electrolyzing water that consumes a lot less energy than the conventional way, in which case it is plausible that H2gogo’s machine does do what they say it does.
Who said what?
Now when I say “H2gogo told me” what I actually mean is a man [a guy in Atlanta who asked me to remove his name] told me, he was who replied to me when I contacted H2gogo and he claimed to represent them. This in itself is really weird. He has stopped replying to my emails, which is also weird. He asked me to sign an NDA before H2gogo would release the documents I asked to see. This is stupid because I’m not asking to see anything requiring a NDA, it is not commerically sensitive. If I did sign a NDA then I’d not be able to write about what I had seen – the NDA would act as a gagging order if I did not like what they showed me.
This guy also advised me to removed any “negative publicised information” from my website in order to avoid litigation… empty threats from an unqualified third party don’t scare me very much.
H2gogo & BAA
I contacted BAA for their comment on this – Colin Matthews replied saying [my comments in square brackets]:
“We have been in discussion with [H2gogo] and have secured on a trial basis two of their units which are currently being fitted [currently, on 7 May 2011] to two of our airside vehicles. One of these vehicles will be sent [will be sent, not has been sent] to the Millbrook vehicle testing facility to verify independently the claims of the manufacturers whilst the other will be [again, will be, not has been] operated on airport to assess it’s [sic] performance in a live environment. Over the coming weeks Spencer [Spencer Thomas, environment manager at BAA] and his environment colleagues will assess these and other units from alternative manufacturers. Based on the results we will decide whether to procure on a permanent basis one or more technology types to fit to the Heathrow fleet.”
On H2GoGo’s website here on May 7th 2011 it clearly stated that BAA had purchased the units, that the trial is complete, that it was a resounding success, that BAA achieved a 40% reduction in emissions. They don’t mention fuel consumption. On H2GoGo’s data sheet they quote figures from the trial showing how well it worked out for BAA.
I wonder which story is true, they can’t both be.
Bright SPARC Awards, FSE and SEEDA
H2gogo were awarded the Bright SPARC Awards in 2010 in the category “innovation in sustainable technology”. The FSE have made three awards to H2gogo since December 2009, this money come from the European Social Fund and the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), so it is tax payers’ money. SEEDA gave loads on money to Oil Drum a few years ago without checking to see if the technology even worked.
If H2gogo have the evidence to back up what they claim to have achieved then this is brilliant news; less pollution, local jobs, UK innovation… all great stuff…
Given all the thousands of very similar products that have gone before them that turned out to not work I have plenty of reasons to be skeptical.
In fact I’d go so far as to suggest that to say that their claim that their product works is an exceptional claim, and exceptional claims demand exceptional proof. So far I have been shown no proof whatsoever for the dubious reason that apparently it is commercially sensitive.
How can evidence that your product does what you claim it does be commercially sensitive?