Study: Microscopic Combustion from Electrolysis

Thanks to Alan Smith for letting me know about this interesting study by engineers from in which splitting and re-combining water in a microscopic system has the effect of creating a combustion engine on a tiny scale.

A description from the MIT Technology Review:

The new micro-combustion engine is simple in principle. It consists of a tiny chamber filled with water and containing a pair of electrodes attached to a circuit. Passing a current through the circuit causes the water to dissociate into oxygen and hydrogen, which then form nanobubbles.

Although these bubbles are too small to see, the volume of gas dramatically increases the pressure in the chamber, causing a membrane at one end to deform. This is what generates force.

When the current stops, the pressure drops rapidly. So quickly, in fact, that the researchers aren’t entriely sure why. It’s certainly too fast for conventional processes such as the gas diffusing out of the chamber or dissolving back into the liquid.

But Svetovoy and think they know what’s going on. Their idea is that when the current is switched off, the hydrogen and oxygen in the nanobubbles spontaneously combust, forming back into water. It is this combustion and the removal of the gas that causes the pressure to drop so rapidly.

Reading this descriptions makes me think about the HHO catalysis effects we have been discussing here recently, and I wonder what the connection to the observations found here might be.

The full study has been published on, and can be read here.

  • bachcole
  • Fortyniner

    There does seem to be a high degree of convergence across a wide range of observed ‘anomolous’ effects, which might indicate that only a very few new phenomena are involved in all of them. Nanospire’s ‘LeClair Effect’ seems to be yet another expression of the Patterson cell observations, and could perhaps also tie into this latest experiment.

  • Bernie777

    Good find Admin, I think you might be right

  • Andreas Moraitis

    If you had a bunker, you could perform some ‘Kamikaze’ experiment: Electrolysis in a closed container. Wait until enough pressure has built up and then switch off the voltage. Perhaps also possible in the F&P setup, with heavy water and a palladium cathode.

    Note: I strongly advise non-professional experimenters NOT to do this!

    • Andreas Moraitis

      In the second case one would have to use DC instead of AC. I have reread the paper and found that the effect doesn’t appear in single polarity electrolysis. So it seems likely that combustion is indeed the reason for the pressure decrease. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to know what would happen in a larger device, especially concerning the release of heat.

  • Alan DeAngelis

    Could it be due to the following reactions?

    H(1) + O(17) > He(4) + N(14) 1.19 MeV

    H(1) + O(18) > He(4) + N(15) 3.98 MeV

    H(2) + O(16) > He(4) + N(14) 3.11 MeV

    H(2) + O(17) > He(4) + N(15) 9.80 MeV

    H(2) + O(18) > He(4) + N(16) 4.80 MeV

    H(2) + O(16) > H(1) + O(17) 1.92 MeV

    H(2) + O(17) > H(1) + O(18) 5.82 MeV

    H(2) + O(18) > H(1) + O(19) 1.73 MeV

    D2O and Oxygen 18 & 17 water, heavy water are commercially available.

  • Allan Shura

    It continues to amaze me how little we know about these processes that were taken for granted so long. The arc, LENR
    and the electrolysis of water are more inter-related than presumed. It is true that by not looking we are less likely to find.
    For example the Papp engine uses a mixture of noble gasses but the only visible research in noble gas ionization force
    and rates of expansion was related to aeronautic propulsion which with skimming over seems to indicate that ionized
    expansion is increased in a squared relation to linear voltage increases in momentary arcs. Russ Gries of RWG Research
    was about to test various gasses such as argon and nitrogen but has posted some results for hydrogen and helium.
    He would not have to do this very basic research independently if information of the basic properties of ionized expansion
    was readily available and charted as it should be.

    • Iggy Dalrymple

      And like the Papp engine, the cylinder shouldn’t require inlet & exhaust valves.

    • AstralProjectee

      I’m still following this pap or should i say PlasmERG, noble gas engine. I think something could still come of it. Last I heard the distributors were going to be selling the noble gas, PlasmERG engines in April, but dates can change a lot since there are a lot of unknowns. I am sure if that works out that everyone here will find out about it. it’s a shame what happened with the inventor John Rohner. We’ll see, what comes of this story yet.

  • Fortyniner

    Shades of the Papp engine….! The question left open is what could trigger the spontaneous combustion of hydrogen and oxygen in the absence of any catalyst?

    • Andreas Moraitis

      Pressure could make the difference, since the chamber is (almost) a closed system. Inside the collapsing bubbles the temperature should increase, similar as in cavitation bubbles.

      • Fortyniner

        But the membrane sealing the chamber is able to distort outwards, which would limit any pressure rise by increasing the volume occupied. Also, as combustion took place you might expect the heat given off to result in a momentary *increase* in pressure as the nanobubbles expanded before being reabsorbed – something that isn’t reported.

        In any case, how could maintaining the electrolysis current prevent this collapse until it is switched off? This seems to indicate some kind of field effect arising from the RF current flow between the electrodes. I think it is pretty clear that something new is taking place.

        • Andreas Moraitis

          I guess that the electrolysis helps to maintain some counterpressure against the surrounding liquid. As soon as the continuous supply of gas is stopped, the equilibrium between the bubbles and the water might be disturbed, and the bubbles would start to collapse. Perhaps surface tension plays a certain role in this process. One might expect a rise in pressure when the gas ignites, but that could be compensated immediately by the drastic volume reduction if hydrogen and oxygen recombine.