Sceptic Phil Taylor has been pumping petrol since he was eight-years-old and does not believe cars can run on water.
Sceptic Phil Taylor has been pumping petrol since he was eight-years-old and does not believe cars can run on water. Tweed Daily News

Water the solution for fuel woes

TWEED motorists, fed up with rising petrol prices, are desperately trying new ways to cut their fuel bills - even attempting to run their cars on water.

Some residents with big fuel bills due to living at the back of the Tweed Valley are already testing one system which uses battery-powered electrolysis to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, feeding the gases into the engine to cut petrol use.

A local version of the so-called 'hydrogen car' is set to go on display on Sunday week at the Chillingham markets.

Even though it is 30 years since headlines were created when former Queensland Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen was convinced by supposed scientist Stephen Horvath that a car could run on water, some are holding to the dream.

The Chillingham Community Association hopes streams of potential 'hydrogen car' enthusiasts will head to the six month markets to check out the vehicle, even though association spokesperson Brian Harmon himself admits to being a sceptic.

“The guy who is manufacturing these things is going to be there with the car,” Mr Harmon said.

However, Mr Harmon added: “He didn't want to have people contacting him before the markets.

“There are a couple of local people who have got them (the devices) on. It's just that we are looking into these things.”

“It's not new technology. And there's been stranger things that have happened.”

One Chillingham resident trying out the electrolysis unit, James Townley, said he did not want to comment too much before collecting more data on his trial.

“I've only done one tank of fuel so far,” he said. “But it feels smooth and it idles better than it used to.

“It's just a simple device. I'm still doing my trials and I haven't got any data yet.”

Murwillumbah car dealer and car hire operator Phil Taylor lines himself up with the sceptics, saying he will stick with petrol, which he has been pumping into cars since age eight when he worked at the Taylors Corner garage owned by his parents.

“People over the years have come up with some different ideas where you use water or whatever,” he said.

“I don't know how good any of them are but I've pumped more petrol than most people in Murwillumbah. I started out at Taylors Corner when I was eight then moved to Mooball and had my own service station till I was 32.”

NRMA technical adviser Jack Haley said various devices, some costing hundreds of dollars and claiming to save petrol, “came back with the increase in the fuel price last year.”

He warned consumers they should insist the equipment be submitted to Australian Standards tests - but only one fuel-saving device had been and it was “shown to have no effect”.

“With any of these devices ... the promoter of them has to test the device to the relevant Australian Standard,” Mr Haley said.

“Then we are happy to look at the results.”

Mr Haley said he was aware some motorists claimed benefits from such devices but added: “there are a lot of reasons you might think you get a benefit.”

The Chillingham Village Market is held on the second Sunday of each month at the Chillingham Community Centre.

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