Is the solution to America’s energy needs as simple as a trip to the beach?
The idea is a fascinating one as a Florida man searching for a cancer cure may have stumbled onto a virtually limitless source of energy: salt water.
John Kanzius of Sanibel Island, Fla., demonstrates how salt water burns after bombarded with radio waves from a machine he invented. (courtesy WPBF-TV)
John Kanzius, 63, is a broadcast engineer who formerly owned several TV and radio stations, before retiring in Sanibel Island, Fla.
Five years ago, he was diagnosed with a severe form of leukemia, and began a quest to find a kinder, gentler way to treat the disease compared to harsh chemotherapy.
In October 2003, he had an epiphany: kill cancer with radio waves. He then devised a machine that emits radio waves in an attempt to slay cancerous cells, while leaving healthy cells unharmed.
His experiments in fighting cancer have become so successful, one physician was quoted as saying, “We could be getting close to grabbing the Holy Grail.”
But in the midst of his experiments as he was trying to take salt out of water, Kanzius discovered his machine could do what some may have thought was impossible: turning water into fuel.
“On our way to try to do desalinization, we came up with something that burns, and it looks in this case that salt water perhaps could be used as a fuel to replace the carbon footsteps that we’ve been using all these years, i.e., fossil fuels,” Kanzius said.
If it’s for real, the possible ramifications of the discovery are almost mind-boggling, as cars could be fueled by salt water instead of gasoline, hydroelectric plants could be built along the shore, and homes could be heated without worrying about supplies of oil.
“It doesn’t have to be ocean salt water,” Kanzius said. “It burns just as well when we add salt to tap water.”
Kanzius has partnered with Charles Rutkowski, general manager of Industrial Sales and Manufacturing, a Millcreek, Pa., company that builds the radio-wave generators.
“I’ve done this [burning experiment] countless times and it still amazes me,” Rutkowski told the Erie Times-News. “Here we are paying $3 a gallon for gas, and this is a device that seems to turn salt water into an alternative fuel.”
Kanzius has been told it’s actually hydrogen that’s burning, as his machine generates enough heat to break down the chemical bond between hydrogen and oxygen that makes up water.
“I have never heard of such a thing,” Alice Deckert, Ph.D., chairwoman of Allegheny College’s chemistry department, told the Times-News. “There doesn’t seem to be enough energy in radio waves to break the chemical bonds and cause that kind of reaction.”
Thus far, Kanzius’ work has not received extensive national publicity, but has been featured on several local television news programs, including WPBF-TV in West Palm Beach, Fla., WSEE-TV in Erie, Pa., and WKYC-TV in Cleveland.
“We discovered that if you use a piece of paper towel as a wick, it lights every single time and you can start it and stop it at will by turning the radio waves on and off,” Kanzius told the Times-News as he watched a test tube of salt water burn.
“And look, the paper itself doesn’t burn,” he added. “Well, it burns but the paper is not consumed.”
Kanzius said he hasn’t decided whether to share his fuel discovery with government or private business, though he’d prefer a federal grant to develop it.
“I’m afraid that if I join up with some big energy company, they will say it doesn’t work and shelve it, even if it does work,” Kanzius told the paper.
Online skeptics are throwing cold water on the idea, saying the laws of science pose some problems:
“It takes more electricity to split the water into hydrogen and oxygen than you get back in energy by burning the hydrogen and oxygen to recreate water and get the heat. So there is no new ‘source’ of power, since you are just converting electricity into a lesser amount of energy. You could get more heat energy out of electricity by running it through a blow dryer and THAT is not considered a ‘new’ energy source.”
“Basic chemistry: the amount of energy required to free the hydrogen from the oxygen in H2O is more than the energy released when the hydrogen and oxygen recombine and burn. The flame is clearly the color of ionized sodium from the salt. Whatever the actual specific explanation, which they don’t bother to approach in the video, water and salt don’t burn without puting more energy into the reaction than you get out. Turning a lot of radio energy into a little heat and light is no breakthrough.”
“Using RF energy, or any other energy to first break down the hydrogen and oxygen water molecule into its constituent H2 and O2 molecules, and then burning the products is old technology. … However, if the RF H2O cracking method can be developed such that it is a superior way over current methods used to produce H2, which can subsequently be used in H2 fuel-cell automobiles for example, then THAT might be of value as well.”
Video of TV news reports of water burning can be seen from these affiliates: