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Let's think about safety

My Hydrogen Generator has been very safe to operate; mostly because I respect the power of the gas it was making from water. I learned very quickly that hydrogen - when mixed with oxygen - becomes an explosive. Pure hydrogen is not an explosive; but when mixed with oxygen, its volatility increases. If you fill a balloon with pure hydrogen it will float upwards in the air; if you set it on fire, it will pop with a loud BANG. The gases my generator makes are two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. It turns out that that is the most volatile mixture we can produce. The oxygen is the oxidizer. It does not burn by itself, but it causes everything around it to burn (pure oxygen - under pressure - will burn). If we fill a balloon with our HHO mixture, it will not rise in the air, instead it will fall. The oxygen gas is much heavier than the hydrogen; even though it is out numbered. If we set it on fire, it explodes with an ear piercing BOOM. The BOOM is many times greater than the BANG. I can tell you first hand, you do not want your fingers within 3 feet of a small exploding HHO balloon. You will get burned. You can not react fast enough to pull your hands to safety.

Watch these videos:



We laughed hard and long, but trust me, that was a small amount of HHO, and it made a BOOM strong enough to blow cabinet doors open. We used a 6 foot stick to light it. If you watch close, the explosion moved the stick to one side. If you stop the video during the height of the explosion, you will see a flash more than 4 feet across; coming from a 6 inch diameter balloon. That is power. That is what the HHO Generator is making. When hydrogen is used as a catalyst, it burns up all other fuels that are around it. That is why it only takes a very small amount to burn up all of your gasoline or diesel fuel.


How fast does HHO burn? The flash rate is more than 3,500 feet per second. That is faster than a speeding bullet; Superman speed. I have witnessed flashbacks several times; most of them were intentional experiments. Intentional or not, they happen faster than we can react. You will not witness a flash traveling through your cells tubes. What you will see - is a quick flash (if you have clear tubes). It happens in the blink of an eye.

How do we stop a flashback? Safety is no accident. Think about that. It means we have to plan for the unexpected; plan for the inevitable. In our case, we have to take some precautions.

  • Make sure all hose connections are not leaking. Hydrogen will take the least path of resistance. It is a very tiny molecule. It can escape through some metals.

  • Make sure all of your hose connections can be pulled loose by hand. That sounds strange, but it is a very good safety tip. If there is a buildup of HHO gas inside the tube and it gets ignited, the force will exit via the path of least resistance. With a little luck, you will blow a hose off.

  • Minimize the air space inside your HHO Generator. The more room you have for gases to collect in, the greater an explosion will be. We call that area - head space. In most cells, it changes while the cell is operating. As my Tube cell uses water, the head space increases as the water level drops. In Dry Cells, the head space increases while the cell is operating, and decreases when the cell is turned off.

  • Minimize the air space inside a Bubbler - if you have one. Do not rely on a Bubbler to stop a flashback. That is not its purpose. It is designed to eliminate foam from entering your engine. Foam that consists of gasses entrapped by anything dissolved in your water; including your electrolyte. You don't believe me? What is a bubble? How do you make one. If you still insist that the electrolyte in the water never gets depleted - think again. It gets carried out of the cell via the water skin/membrane around the bubbles.

  • Do not light/ignite HHO bubbles in your cell or in your bubbler. You are taking a big risk. I have witnessed flashbacks traveling from bubble to bubble through a Bubbler, and continuing on to the Generator. I have seen glass containers disintegrate - even though they were protected by bronze wool flashback arrestors, one way check valves, and bubblers; combined.

  • What is the best Flashback Arrestor? If you know, please tell me! Cigarette Filters have worked better than anything I have tried. But they are filters. They eventually get clogged up with your electrolyte. If you are using Baking Soda, Potassium Hydroxide (KOH), Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH), or any other dissolved solid you put in the water, you can expect them to turn back to solids when they dry out. If you use Cigarette Filters, replace them if they show burn marks; replace them if they are restricting gas flow. Please do not use bronze wool arrestors. They are not reliable. Bronze wool gets corroded really quick - by the electrolyte. Corrosion will stop up the hoses; stop up your arrestor; stop up your one way check valves. That will cause you to blow a hose - or a bubbler - or even blow your cell.

  • Make sure the Hydrogen Generator can only produce HHO gases while the engine is running. I installed my generator so that it would only operate when the ignition switch was turned on. Believe me when I tell you - "That was not enough". One day I left the ignition on while I was testing the cell. I walked away for 20 minutes and came back. Realizing what I had done, I activated the starter to see if my battery held a charge. KA-BOOM. It took an hour to get the motor to start again. I was very lucky it did not do engine damage. I know of a trucker that stalled his diesel motor - and left the ignition on for 5 minutes. When he started the motor back up - KA-BOOM; bent the motors valves. It had to be towed; it would not start again. I know of a lady that buckled the hood on her car. She turned the radio on while waiting for a friend to come out of a store. The ignition switch was on accessories; the HHO Generator kept producing gas. It goes to show you that no matter how smart you are, you still have stupid moments.

    Do yourself a favor, install another level of safety, provide an additional step in powering up the hydrogen generator. I did this by installing a vacuum switch. I use it to provide ignition power to my relay. When I turn on the ignition, it puts 12vdc on my vacuum switch. When the engine starts, its vacuum activates my vacuum switch - which sends that 12vdc to the Power Relay that operates my generator. The engine must be running for the cell to operate.

  • Glass Containers. Who in their right mind would build an HHO Generator out of glass? Probably a person that could not find a different container. If your glass jar explodes, I hope you are wearing goggles that will keep the glass and the electrolytes out of your eyes. Just for the record, both Potassium and Sodium Hydroxides dissolve aluminum; imagine what that would do to your eyes. One of the most successful HHO companies on the web uses glass jars for containers. If you have one, tell me about any mishaps. I would like to know.

  • Plastic Containers. Listen, temperatures can get hot enough to boil water in your container. Regular PVC is going to weaken with the heat. It will get soft and loose its shape. That is not good. I have seen electrodes get so hot they melt the PVC around them. If you are going to use PVC, use CPVC; the grade for hot water pipes. There are some good grades of plastic that will stand up to the heat.

  • Stainless Steel Containers. One can not make a better, more reliable container than by using stainless steel; but it is expensive, harder to find, and usually requires some welding. I built mine out of 304 stainless. It has very low magnetism, withstands flashbacks, and freezing. I can tell you that 316L would be a better choice because it is least likely to corrode.

Where is the best place to install an HHO Generator? The best place will not necessarily be the safest place.

  • Let's start by saying "Never put it inside the passenger compartment". Remember the balloon - KA-BOOM? Do you think you can drive with broken ear drums, flying shrapnel, and electrolyte eating away at your skin?. If you do, a lawyer will eat you alive in today's court systems. If you happen to be using Sodium Hydroxide for an electrolyte, the fumes from the vapor will take your breath away and possibly burn your lungs. Why take that chance? Believe it or not, there is a seller on ebay that makes a generator out of a plastic tool box. It contains all hookups. He recommends putting it behind the seat. In his videos, the thing is not even secured to the vehicle.

  • How about the Trunk compartment? The infamous Bob Boyce has his cell in the trunk. It is safer there, than inside the cab. You will need heavier gauge wiring because of the longer wire runs. The battery is on the other end of the vehicle. You will also need a longer output hose going from the cell to the engine; the engine is on the other end of the vehicle. If you rout the hoses through the passenger compartment, there is an increased risk to the passengers. If you rout the hoses underneath the car, there is an increased risk caused by road debris; ice, sticks, rocks, metal tailpipes, mufflers, litter, etc.. It would be a good idea to run the tube through pvc conduit.

  • Most installations use the Engine compartment; there are many good reasons. The hho gas is close to the motor. The wiring is close to the battery. The environment is air cooled. The generator is out of sight and out of mind. In the summer time, the cell will heat up quicker; but is air cooled. In the winter months it will be shielded from the elements, yet warmed by the motor. Needless to say, if a flashback occurs, you and your passengers are better protected.

  • I installed my generator outside of the vehicle; on the bumper. At the time, I did not have room in the engine compartment and did not have a trunk. As it turned out, it was a very convenient location. It is air cooled. I have easy access to it. I can see the hose come off if I have a flashback. It is a great place for demonstrating and advertising the cell operation. I have not had any problems with vandals; it is amusing how people react when they see the word "hydrogen" on a stainless steel tube :) Is it dangerous to have a cell in front of the bumper? Not at all.

How safe is it to have a hydrogen generator if my vehicle is involved in an accident? Actually, it is safer than gasoline. Gasoline is a liquid; as a liquid, it will not burn. If gasoline leaks out, it evaporates and falls to the ground - where it accumulates as fumes; this can be very dangerous.

  • If the generator/cell container gets ruptured, the hydrogen will instantly escape upwards. It is 14 times lighter than air. It will not hang around like gasoline does. If for some reason the hydrogen is entrapped in the engine compartment, consider the fact that it will be diluted considerably with the existing air. It will not be the same explosive mixture being produced in your cell.

  • If the generator/cell does not rupture, but continues to operate, is there a danger? Ok, let's say all of our safety switches and sensors failed, and for some unknown reason the cell continued to produce hydrogen gas; what could happen? Most likely, a build up of pressure will blow a hose off the cell. If not, the hydrogen is going to leak out - one way or another. As long as the motor is running, the hydrogen will continue to be consumed. If the motor stops, one or two cylinders in the motor will fill with the hydrogen, but the additional hydrogen being manufactured will escape through the exhaust valves of the other cylinders. In this case, you would not want to restart the motor. It could cause a small internal explosion that could damage the engine. I would disconnect the coil wire or the spark plug wires and crank the engine over a few times first. That would fill the cylinders with fresh air. But what if the vehicle is on fire? In that case, worry about the gasoline; you have many gallons on board. The hydrogen is not stored, it is being made on demand - in small amounts.

In the LZ 129 Hindenburg disaster, two thirds of the passengers and crew survived. The skin of the Hindenburg may have contributed to the actual blaze. Of the 62 passengers, 27 died. Of the 27 dead, 25 jumped to their deaths from the stricken airship in panic. The other 2 that died did so due to the fire spreading to the diesel powered engines. The hydrogen combustion itself was above, and mostly away from the gondola.

  Hydrogen Safety



    Copyright 2003   All rights reserved.   Revised: 04/03/22.                                             Web Author, David Biggs
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