Doubts have been cast about the claims by China Youngman Automobile Group Co. Photo:

A Chinese automobile company in Henan province claimed it has produced a vehicle fueled by water which could travel for up to 1,000 kilometers, news greeted with widespread suspicion.

China Youngman Automobile Group Co was quoted as saying that the engine can convert water into hydrogen, which in turn generates electricity to drive the vehicle, Nanyang Daily reported.

A report published on the front page of the Nanyang Daily quoted the city’s Party chief Zhang Wenshen as saying the vehicle was “very good” after taking a test ride. Pang Qingnian, the president of the company, claimed the vehicle could travel between 500 and 1,000 kilometers without refueling or charging.

The car’s engine runs on hydrogen produced by a chemical reaction caused by applying a catalyst to a mixture of aluminum powder and water, Pang said. But the “water-fueled” vehicle soon sparked confusion and disbelief online, as analysts said the hydrogen fuel engine is a gimmick.

Sun Baigang, a professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology’s School of Mechanical Engineering, said converting pure water into hydrogen as a fuel is as impossible as turning water into oil, Beijing News reported.

Song Jian, a research fellow at the Department of Automotive Engineering of Tsinghua University, said the key to the water-hydrogen fuel vehicle is the process of electrolyzing water to produce hydrogen, and then using the fuel cell to generate electricity. But there would be a lot of energy loss during the process, the Global Times reported.

Even with the most efficient platinum electrodes, energy losses can reach 50%, Song said. The automobile company had previously announced it had produced 400 hydrogen-powered vehicles and had planned to build eight hydrogen stations in Xian, adding that the first station would have been in operation in the first-half of 2018.

However, an investigation showed none of the hydrogen stations have been built in the Xian area, the National Business Daily reported. Hydrogen-powered vehicles have gained popularity in China’s new energy car market. The Chinese government expects to have 100,000 cars powered by the clean-burning cells within five to six years.

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