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Author Topic: Do magnets on car fuel lines affect engine running and efficiency?  (Read 38742 times)

Offline Pumblechook

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This magnet fuel business is nonsense but I am saving loads of fuel by simply having some psychotronic crystals in the glove compartment.  I  have also subscribed to the alien abduction rescue service offered by the firm who supplied the crystals. 
 

lyner

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I can see you weren't born yesterday.
btw, I have some very promising shares in an umbrella factory you might  be interested in; they can only go up.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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"Presumably you would acknowledge that electrons have a magnetic moment?"
Yes, and I can (if I strain my brain to remember how) calculate the energy corresponding to aligning that magnetic moment wit or against the field of a magnet.
For any magnet you are going to get, the energy difference is tiny compared to the thermal energy so any magnetic polarization would be scrambled essentially imediately whne the water leaves the magnetic field. Also, the dominant ions in hard water such as calcium , magnesium, sulphate and carbonate all have even numbers of electrons so any effact on any give enectron is likely to be exacly counteracted by another the effect on electron.

I wasn't kidding about having to rewrite physics.

You say "My evidence is, however, that the scale which forms on taps and tiles is more powdery and can be wiped away much easier than it did before. "

Well I'm intrigued- how do you measure that? More importantly, how did you arange the double blind testing?

On the other hand you don't need to rewite chemistry to see how some areas have different hard water than others. Calcium sulphate and calcium bicarbonate will both form a scum with soap and form a scale in kettles.
However only calcium carbonate will fizz with acid.
If the water is hard because of gypsum it will react differently from water that's hard because it has percolated through limestone.
 

lyner

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No double blind testing, I'm afraid - just 6 years without and about 3 years since. My wipeability scale is not in SI units. I know that, before the inhibitor, you had to chip the stuff off with a knife - now you can wipe of the light film and rub off any buildup with your thumb.
As far as I can understand, the effect will have happened as the water passes through the field - the formation of small crystals (nuclei), which will possibly dissociate after a while. Crystals can take a range of shapes and it doesn't need a lot to promote one or another - usually the statistics of how they form would be dominated by the temperature but with another influence, the statistics can change.
You are right about the energy involved with Zeeman splitting but this is a different energy situation - not involving an optical transition but involving the low energy corresponding to alternative crystal formations.
All that is necessary is for a small number of the crystals floating around in the water to be a bit non-standard for the bulk structure of the scale to be quite different when it forms.
We don't need to rewrite Physics until we have eliminated all the possibilities using the Physics we have. The formation of crystals is not a trivial process and it is very dependent on subtle effects. It is very risky to affirm that these effects are the wrong order of magnitude; do you know the energy levels involved? Does this effect need to be due to the dominant ions - perhaps it is due to the effect of minority ions - like Aluminium, Potassium etc.?
I do appreciate peoples' reluctance to believe in this; if I were not aware of the effect I would be equally skeptical. But there seems to be no overarching principle which needs to be violated for this to work.
I think your broad brush classification of two sorts of hardness may be a bit over-simplified. As far as I know, the sources of water for the two supplies I referred to are aquifers beneath chalk downs yet the scale behaves differently in Viakal, which is a pretty mild agent - wouldn't you expect different reaction rate for different surface characteristics?
 

Offline Bored chemist

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"Crystals can take a range of shapes "
True, but if we are talking about, for example, calcite, it always forms the same crystals. I can look up the angles between the faces and the lattice constants. They are always the same.
"All that is necessary is for a small number of the crystals floating around in the water to be a bit non-standard for the bulk structure of the scale to be quite different when it forms."

No, it needs all of them to be identically non-standard, or a process called Ostwald ripening will dissolve the "odd" ones and reprecipitate the material on the more stable form.
"You are right about the energy involved with Zeeman splitting but this is a different energy situation "
Who said anything about the zeeman effect? This is more like ESR and the energies are just too small.

The energies involved in crystal formation are not that small. If you want to break the bonds in NaCl you need to heat it to roughly 800 degrees. The energy of an electron in a reasonable magnetic field is tiny by comparison- it isn't even comparable with the thermal energy of the water round it.
Also, almost all ions present in the water will have no unpaired electrons. The only things that do are called free radicals, which are relatively uncommon. Of those, the only plausible one is the ferric ion but it isn't soluble in hard water with lime in it.

Splitting hard water into 2 categories might be broad, but it's also common practice- they are called temporary and permenent hardness.
There may be explanations for the difference in reaction rates of the scales. A higher magnesium content would explain a slow reaction- so would slower formation leading to a different densities.
It's nothing to do with the fact that no magnetic property of any of the ions present can explain what you perceive.
You write "the effect will have happened as the water passes through the field - the formation of small crystals (nuclei), which will possibly dissociate after a while. "
Is there any evidence for this? Have these crystals been observed?
Small crystals have a larger surface area than big ones (for the same weight), this means they require more energy to make and are less stable. Where does the energy come from to make these hypothetical small crystals?
Trying to explain how these magnets might work in terms of something that's not been observed and which would breach the law of conservation of energy seems far-fetched.
 

lyner

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BC, I can see you don't want this to work so we are just going to have to disagree. I think I would feel the same in your position.
There are a couple of points, though - if, as you say, small crystals require a lot of energy but each of the big crystals started as a small one so how. .. . .?
Not sure where conservation of energy comes into this - the crystals form as the concentration goes up (drying out) or when the temperature rises (in this case, I suppose the solubility goes down, rather than up - is there a simple explanation of this?)  but the energy comes from outside the system to cause these two effects.
Is there something different about these sorts of crystals compared with ice crystals, which all look very different?
Did you look at this link - is he credible? He does not rule out electromagnetic methods in the way that he rejects all the others. You would know more than I.
http://www.chem1.com/CQ/aquacrack.html#ELYTIC
« Last Edit: 10/05/2008 22:06:20 by sophiecentaur »
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Hang on, you said "the effect will have happened as the water passes through the field "
Not during evaporation or heating so no reason for crystal formation yet this effect is "the formation of small crystals (nuclei), which will possibly dissociate after a while.".
Now, with no source of energy for the production of those crystals, you have just waved byebye to the conservation of energy.
The page you cite seems reasonable at first glance.
He also has a page about magnetic water conditioners
http://www.chem1.com/CQ/magscams.html
where he says things like this "But I see two difficulties with this explanation:

If particles are actually precipitated, it should be possible to observe them, either by direct collection in a micropore filter or indirectly by light-scattering methods (nephthelometry), but there are no apparent reports of this.
Further, once the scale-forming particles are removed, the water should still contain at least saturation levels of the hardness ions, so the water would by no means be considered "soft"; one would expect the metal ions would still form scums with soap, and they could still form scale when the water evaporates or is boiled in teakettles, etc. "

And "Most of the reports (and there have been many) of the successful use of MWT have been anecdotal and lacking in quantitative data and proper controls.
Most scientists who have looked into MWT remain very skeptical, as they tend of be of any field for which there is no obvious theoretical model and in which quantitative and reproducible results are hard to come by."
He notes that "Most water-treatment engineers who have investigated magnetic water treatment (MWT) in controlled industrial settings report negative results. "


The same page also comments on the magnetic treatment of fuels which was the original topic.- here's an excerpt.
"Typical claims peddled to incredulous motorists maintain that magnets can

break up [nonexistent] "clusters" of hydrocarbon molecules, thereby exposing the previously-shielded atoms to combustion;
convert the hydrocarbons to "positive ions" which are more strongly attracted to the "negatively charged air molecules" (purportedly created by another magnet on the air intake);
change the hydrocarbon molecule from its para [spin] state to the higher-energized ortho state.
None of these claims has any scientific basis and none has any credible experimental support. There is no scientific evidence that hydrocarbon (fuel) molecules can be modified in any way by application of a magnetic field. "
« Last Edit: 11/05/2008 14:19:06 by Bored chemist »
 

lyner

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I don't have a magnetic inhibitor; I have a electromagnetic system - LF current passed through coils around the pipes.
There is not necessarily any violation of conservation of energy because there is a power supply, producing the em signal. In any case, the water is moving which could also provide energy - it wouldn't take enough energy to slow the flow measurably.

 I have no problem with Magnetic Inhibitors being rubbish as I have no experience of a working one. I would probably go along with your views about the em type except for my (albeit mild) evidence. I really think I would have been happier if I could have said that I found it didn't work and that it was just another pseudo Science scam.
At least the other guy has not condemned it out of hand and he seems to have gone into the general field in some detail.
Perhaps I should try some scattering observations on my treated  but getting reliable equipment together is not a trivial exercise.

BTW, I was looking at a site selling solar heating panels - a novel system using 'raw' mains water rather than an indirect system - and it was recommended that one should NOT use any of these inhibitors because they had been found to clog the system with small, powdery, deposits rather than 'limescale'. But, as it was a commercial site, there may have been another agenda / other interests at work.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Interesting. If it's electrical it's easy to test. Are you prepared to be a guiniea pig?
Ask someone to toss a coin and, if it comes up heads take the fuse out of the plug for the thing. If it's tails don't bother.
Take pictures of the scale before and after. Wait a month or so (or whatever) and take another picture. Post the pics here and let us say if we can see a difference. Then ask if the fuse is in or not.
Obviously, you would need to black out any "on" light or whatever.
It's not perfect "double blind", but it's close enough if the effect is as big as you say.

I realise this might sentence you to a few months of more difficult scrubbing - but think how much electricity it might save over the years.
 

lyner

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They could just cut the coil, in fact. The lamp would still blink at me.
Perhaps I owe it to the world of Science to do the test.
 

Offline turnipsock

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Putting a magnet on the fuel line is pointless, when the petrol/air gets to the manifold, its going to get all mixed up again no matter what 'alignment' has taken place.

My magnetic front bumper has far more milage (no pun intended).
 

lyner

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Go Faster Stripes would be cheaper, I think.
 

Offline qazibasit

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maybe to hold the metal mixed impurities out of the fuel.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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"maybe to hold the metal mixed impurities out of the fuel."
Like the very first reply said?
 

Offline qazibasit

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i dont think that mythbusters are the only people doing crazy things. i think nothing happens with it. it can only remove the metals in case there are any in the fuel to go into the engine and accumulates in the piston.
 

Offline ioncube

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Found these links citing research regarding the effects of magnetism on descaling and water in general.

newbielink:http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/water/descal.html [nonactive]
newbielink:http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/water/magnetic.html [nonactive]

Magnet orientation and other variables seem to affect results so it could be pot luck with off the shelf products. Skim reading the links, electronic versions may be better.

Have yet to try magnets on the tap supply and am getting some to play with, however the plumber fitted a magnetic inhibitor to the boiler system when we re-plumbed, and despite living in London with extremely hard water, we've had no problems from the boiler due to scaling (e.g. no kettling). Doesn't prove that the magnets did anything, but I wouldn't be prepared to remove them to find out :)

I do know that without Britta'ring the tap water our kettle starts scaling immediately, and when testing 800 micron metal meshes in a lamina water jet we were designing, the holes would become clogged in under 24 hours if left with standing water. We'll try the kettle and mesh test with magnets on the supply and see what, if anything, happens.

As for improving fuel efficiency, I'd need convincing on that one before heading under the bonnet.
 

Offline Don_1

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MAGNETS>>>>>>> HUH!!!!

Just a way to con the vunerable out of more money.

If you want to improve the fuel efficiency of your old banger, keep it properly maintained & improve your driving.
 

lyner

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And don't travel everywhere in your own car.
 

Offline Volcano

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Found these links citing research regarding the effects of magnetism on descaling and water in general.

newbielink:http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/water/descal.html [nonactive]
newbielink:http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/water/magnetic.html [nonactive]


 From the first link:

  "There are many devices on the market for the magnetic treatment of water for the removal of such limescale. The sales success of these devices would seem to indicate that some work as promoted,"

  If there was ever a measure of the authenticity of a product, "sales success" isn't it or we'd all be taking astrology seriously.

 Anyhow, I'm a scorpio which means I'm passionate and intense so tend to get a bit worked up about these things...
 

Offline Don_1

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And don't travel everywhere in your own car.

Yes of course, you can always rely on the cheapest brand...... 'Freemans'.
 

Offline ioncube

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If there was ever a measure of the authenticity of a product, "sales success" isn't it or we'd all be taking astrology seriously.

LOL. Quite so, however at least they also have some research there that may explain what many people claim to be observing when they they use the magnets. Unlike the vague and fuzzy contents of the typical astrological prediction, whether magnets make any difference or not is pretty clear cut - they either do or they don't. so it's something that's easily testable. With many people using magnets claiming that they do make a difference coupled with an absence of a large body of users saying that they don't work, the onus should be on the sceptics to prove that magnets don't make any difference. Naysayers often say that "magnets can't make any difference" when what they really mean is that they cannot understand how they could make any difference. The limitations of ones knowledge and failure to do testing does not mean that something isn't true no matter how improbable.

Our magnets arrived so it's been testing time. They couldn't be applied on the incoming cold supply so there are some on the cold supplies to the kitchen and bathroom plus the hot water from the boiler. Results so far are that the metal kettle still gets scale, which matches my expectations as London water is really hard and I expected any magnetic effects to be limited, however the scale build up appears confined to above where the concealed element is and the scale is less permanent. This might prove to be less preferable than scale building up and sticking in terms of taste, and is something still being evaluated. In the bathroom, after a few days the tap is still clean with a nice blemish free satin finish, whereas previously, water splashes would start leaving white marks immediately and the sink would quickly become dull with build-up. Maybe we're seeing effects similar to sophiecentaur where the nature of the limescale changed. While there's everything to suggest that magnets do have an effect on limescale and nothing concrete to suggest that they don't, I was fully prepared to accept that they didn't work for me, but so far they do seem to make a positive difference. We'll see what happens over a month or so rather than just a few days though.
 

Offline einsteinium252

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The Mythbusters tested one of the devices on the internet that used a magnet around the gas tube.  The myth was BUSTED, showing no improvement in gas mileage.
 

Offline LoneWolf

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after listening to a podcast about this device ( newbielink:http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/news/news/1481/ [nonactive]) I was wondering if anybody had heard anymore on it? I currently drive a thirsty petrol and I'm getting tired of putting petrol in it.

Daz
 

Offline David Cooper

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If it ever works, it's most likely a placebo effect - the car thinks it's going to be more economical, so it is. Or, the driver thinks it's going to be more economical and drives less aggressively as a result, thereby making back the money spent. Experiments would need to take that into account with some drivers not knowing whether the devices are fitted or not.

If you don't know the device is there, it should make the car less economical due to the extra mass, so a better device to make the car go further on a tank of fuel would be a large bag of hydrogen inside the vehicle - not for burning, but just to get rid of the weight of some of the air.
 

Offline evan_au

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Car companies already compete towards the end-users on many factors, including purchase cost, fuel economy and they must meet government regulations on pollution and fleet fuel economy.

If you could burn your fuel more efficiently by attaching a magnet to the fuel line, every car would already have one.
  • Better burning = more power shown in the advertisements
  • Better burning = better fuel economy shown in the advertisements
  • Better burning = lower pollution
  • Better burning = less need for expensive engine control systems and fuel injectors
I recall that some years ago, a car company in Australia sold a version of their car fitted with every "extra" favoured by a certain Australian race car driver. This included a magnet on the fuel line. Maybe the pit crew accepted an ounce or two of magnet as an acceptable weight penalty given it's placebo effect on the driver?
 

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