Pulsating magnets boost fuel efficiency
An unassuming current-carrying coil wrapped around a fuel pipe can cut the amount of fuel used by up to 10% with the electromagnetic field it creates, an audience at the Nemex trade show in Birmingham heard.Using magnets to improve fuel efficiency is not a new idea - the Chinese have been strapping magnets onto the engines of fishing boats for decades to reduce the amount of petrol they burn.
"The difference here is that the magnetic field pulsates - grows and decays," Dr Michael Gell of Enersol, the renewables company behind the technology, told edie.
The effect of the magnetic field is to separate out fuel molecules, making their combustion quicker, as oxygen gains easier access to single fuel molecules. A pulsating magnetic field is even more efficient at combing out clumps of fuel molecules and preparing them for combustion than a constant one.
When applied around a pipe containing natural gas, for example, the magnetic field causes the molecular associations of methane contained in the gas to unwind, giving oxygen better access to the carbon molecules. This is how the electromagnetic coil can achieve savings of typically around 7-8% in diesel, petrol or natural gas - essentially, any hydrocarbon fuel.
The technology - known as Calorific Value Enhancement (CVE) - could also dramatically reduce emissions of harmful nitrogen oxides (NOx) by up to 40%, although research in this area is on-going.
It has so far been used in a variety of industrial applications, including the manufacture of sheet metal for ships.
The technology is fast expanding into new territory with a pilot scheme testing it on taxis. Power stations are next on the list, with Enersol hoping to install the first coils in a major power station within a year.
"Cutting industrial gas emissions by 10% is a big impact," Dr Gell said, although he acknowledged that this is inevitably one of the transition technologies that cannot be seen as the answer to climate change.
But, with energy prices shooting through the roof, money savings for large-scale energy consumers are substantial, he said - "what is going on in the boiler room is now high on the boardroom agenda," as he put it.
Although the exact prices remain undisclosed, a return on the investment can be expected within 12 months, Mr Gell said.