About a month ago, the Japanese company Genepax proposed to use water in a way it hasn't been used before: as a fuel source for a mass-produced power generator.
The company has unveiled a device that creates electricity from water without using any external energy sources. There's a lot of skepticism as to how this is possible, and the company has been very secretive about how it all works. But it's standing behind the product, which, if it lives up to its claims, means Japan could soon be inundated with water power.
Genepax website claims that the "WES can continuously and stably generate power because degradation of the electrodes is minimal in the process of extracting electricity from water…" and “WES generates high voltage using serially connected layers of single cells.” But there is little detail as to how the exact process works.
These two statements and some diagrams are the company's only response to the criticism from other experts such as professor Theodosios Korakianitis of Queen Mary University of London. In an interview with Reuters, Theodosis explained: “Because water is not fuel it is impossible to do that unless you bring water from an external source to split the water; that can be either an electricity outlet or a stored source of energy.”
But for the sake of it, let’s remain optimistic. Say the generator really requires no external source of energy to run? What are the implications? Among the benefits cited by Genepax on its website: The generator omits no greenhouse gases, uses a non-volatile, locally available fuel, is easy to transport and cheap to operate.
Advocating water as a fuel source has its issues. An estimated 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, places like Niger and southern Ethiopia experience regular drought. Even here in the U.S. drought is a problem, the city of Atlanta recently said it might run out of drinking water in as few as three months.
The WES can run on non-potable water, but whether its using water from rivers or lakes or the ocean, it will take a substantial amount of water to replace gasoline and would inevitably leave some environmental footprint.
The water-powered generator may be a great idea for an island nation like Japan, but in the Middle East, oil may remain easier and cheaper to access. For now Genepax is focusing on expanding production within Japan, where it has all the water it needs.