The Car That Runs
Pakistan’s infamous car that runs on water has run into harsh criticism from scientists and experts around the world, despite being supported by some at home.
Pakistan often finds itself battling hard against negative international perceptions. Most recently, a ground breaking scientific discovery once again brought this struggling country in to the limelight. Though national players instantly applauded the discovery, the mediocre science and fraudulent methods behind it, soon became apparent.
Some two months ago, Agha Waqar Ahmed, an engineer from Khairpur, a small town in Pakistan claimed that he could run a car on wa- ter. The news spread like wild fire and immediately caught almost everyone’s attention, locally and internationally. Waqar asserted that he had successfully developed a kit that splits the molecular composition of water into its parts: hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen and oxygen atoms are then combined again thus generating the sufficient energy required to power a car on its own. Emboldened by his invention, Waqar went onto to publicly claim that the entire country could be run on this model, providing relief to the people of Pakistan, instantly solving the prolonged energy crisis as well as creating thousands of jobs.
The claims of the professed inventor and a graduate in mechanical engineering from a small technical college in Khairpur have received a mixed reaction. Heavily criticised by intellectuals and scientists around the world, Waqar’s discovery has also been endorsed by well-established scientists, political and media figures at home. So what has caused this array of reactions and on what basis are some experts confidently claiming that the concept is flawed?
Scientific basics state that combining hydrogen and oxygen generates energy. The water-kit claims to first use the water from the car’s battery to break down the water molecules and then use another process to combine them, thus generating energy. Despite appearing as a reasonably simple process, it has never been used before or ever because it is indeed impossible. The law of conservation of energy clearly states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but can only change from one form to another. For a car to move, stored energy from fuel is converted into kinetic energy. Engineers refer to this as the first law of thermodynamics. The water kit, however, seems to be in violation of this because, as mentioned above, it claims to be creating energy rather than converting it.
To most people this theory comes across as too scientific and extremely complicated. In simple terms then, the water kit is criticised for going against the basic laws of science, which are also the basic laws of nature.
Despite the flaws outlined by national and international critics, some in Pakistan readily expressed support for this car that runs on water and hailed Waqar as a successful inventor. Notably, Minister for Religious Affairs, Syed Khurshid Ahmad Shah expressed support for Agha Waqar Ahmad on television and made him a national hero. Several other federal ministers also extended their support for the idea. Surprisingly, even some of the finest Pakistani scientists, including A.Q.Khan endorsed the ‘discovery. ‘It is appalling how men of high academic calibre can conveniently dismiss the fundamental principles that this concept is said to be violating. The field of science has witnessed major breakthroughs over the past few decades and surely the concept of water serving as a source of fuel has been put to test many times, yielding attempts that remain futile.
What is interesting is that this tiny ‘ray of hope’ emerged amidst a very delicate situation: the power riots.
People across the country were venting their frustrations over prolonged power cuts and load shedding with violent street protests erupting left right and centre. During such troubled times, a discovery that could potentially eliminate the people’s most pressing woes, served the purpose of a tiny ray of hope that was desperately needed. Is that the reason why prominent personalities went to such great lengths to endorse an almost impossible idea? It makes sense that people saw Agha Waqar Ahmad as a national hero because he seemed to be the only person who had a solution to their misery, no matter how flawed. The current government, and many others before them, have tried to find a permanent solution to the energy crisis that Pakistan faces, but no one besides the engineer from Khairpur has had any answer.
Are some scientists and leaders then simply ignoring science and the laws of nature or is embracing such a non-plausible theory the only a way of preventing further riots? Some wise academics in Pakistan, including Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, have consistently been highly sceptical of the claims made by Agha Waqar and have published articles providing evidence that falsifies this concept.
The international world has also criticised the claims laid by Waqar. Various scientists across the globe have invested their time and research in trying to use water as a source of energy and have concluded, after several failed attempts, that water alone cannot be a source of energy. The invention of hybrid electric vehicles is definitely a step forward in saving the planet but those too require a combination of gasoline and electricity. They too are not entirely pollution free but are certainly a more promising, reliable and economy friendly modes of transport.
No one has so far been successful in using water as the sole source of energy provision and if Agha Waqar is able to prove his breakthrough discovery, then hats off to him for that! Suha Jafri holds a BA Honors in Politics and International Relations from The University of Manchester. She is currently pursuing a professional journalism qualification in the UK.