Peddling Snake Oil - The Khaos Super Turbo Charger
Photos courtesy of Ghosthunter
If you drive or are at least into cars, no doubt you've probably heard at one time or another about the Khaos Super Turbo Charger. It's a device that is claimed to drastically reduce the fuel consumption of your gasoline driven vehicle by as much as 50%. It created such a hype when it was introduced in November 2003 after glowing reviews and endorsements from, among others, the Department of Energy (DOE), the Makati Land Transportation Office (LTO) and Taiwan’s Automotive Research and Testing Center. Even Malacañang got into the picture, and presented the inventor, Pablo Planas, with a Presidential Award Medal for Outstanding Invention. All in all, various government agencies and government officials got into the picture, singing the praises of a device that miraculously reduces fuel consumption by a significant margin. As a result, in less than a year, more than 3,500 units were sold and installed to customers who swear by the product's effectiveness.
Is it the real thing, or is it just snake oil?
Before anyone accuses me of demonstrating crab or colonial mentality, first and foremost, I would like to make it plainly clear that I would be as happy as any Filipino would be if an invention of Filipino origin would be accepted and used worldwide. Such an eventuality would be a source of pride not only for me, but for all Filipinos everywhere. But we can't uphold national pride at the expense of the truth. And what is the truth anyway?
The truth is, there is nothing truly remarkable or revolutionary about Pablo Planas' invention. It does save fuel under certain conditions, but it does not necessarily work as advertised. Actually, that's about the only thing it does if at all. And it doesn't do so without a price (other than the P6,500.00 purchase price) as you shall soon see.
I'm not an expert mechanic, or an engineer, so I don't claim to be the final authority on this issue. However, as an automobile enthusiast, a science and mechanics buff, and an experienced driver, I am more than familiar with the underlying concepts of automobile engine operation, so at the very least, my opinions should encourage you to seek the truth for yourselves.
The Khaos Super Turbo Charger (KSTC for short), despite its name, is not a turbocharger. It doesn't utilize the engine's exhaust gases to drive an impeller which in turn drives a turbine to force-feed more air in the engine. Nor is it a supercharger (same principle as a turbocharger, but instead of using exhaust gases to drive a turbine, it uses engine power via a drive belt) It's nothing like that.
The KSTC is a simple device which allows more air to flow through a calibrated and filtered hole in the intake manifold. By controlling this airflow, it ensures that that the ratio of air to fuel is stoichiometrically correct, that is, at the proper ratio of 14.7 to 1. That is the claim, at least.
Since the air is entering the intake manifold independently of the fuel induction system (fuel injector/s, carburetor) which already performs the function of mixing the gasoline with air in a stoichiometrically correct ratio (assuming of course, that the fuel injection system or carburetor is properly maintained), and add to that the fact that the air directly entering the intake manifold via the KSTC is unmeasured, in effect it induces the engine to run in a lean burn situation. The claim that it ensures the proper ratio of air to fuel at 14.7 to 1 is simply untrue.
In a nutshell, if your fuel injection system or carburetor is working properly, the air-fuel mixture coming out of it is already stoichiometrically correct, depending on driving conditions. Add more air to the equation, via the KSTC, and you're already ruining the ratio.
What effect does lean burning have? Obviously, if you're running an engine on lean burn, you're using up less fuel. That's probably the only thing correct in their marketing. While less fuel translates into better fuel economy, it does not necessarily translate to better engine performance. Running an engine with a lean mixture increases spark plug tip temperature and combustion chamber pressure, which can result in pre-ignition or pre-detonation - sometimes known as "dieseling," "knocking" or "pinging," in local parlance, "katok." This not only significantly decreases engine performance, it also increases engine temperature, and may also damage your pistons, valves and cylinder walls if it happens often enough. If the inventor or the marketers insist that it does increase power, why not prove it by running an engine on a dynanometer, with and without the KSTC? Only after such a test has been done can we say with certainty that it does increase power. So far, I haven't heard or read of any such test being done. To be honest, knowing how it works, I seriously doubt it if a dynanometer test will indeed show that the KSTC increases power.
It is also claimed that the KSTC reduces engine pollution by almost 100%. Any engine which burns fossil fuels will produce pollutants. In fact, there are cars now which meet LEV (Low Emission Vehicle) and ULEV (Ultra Low Emission Vehicle) standards. ULEV standards require achieving 0.04 grams per mile of non-methane organic compounds (NMOG) — unburned hydrocarbons (HC) produced during engine warm-up — which is 46 percent lower than the LEV standard for NMOG (0.075) and 84 percent lower than the current standard (0.25). The NOx (oxides of nitrogen) standard is 0.2, the same as the LEV requirement. They achieve this through the use of sophisticated computer controlled direct injection, exhaust gas recirculation, and three-way catalytic converter technologies. And yet, the pollution they emit is not "zero" by any means. The claims that a simple airflow device can do just that is too good, too farfetched to be true. The best way for a car to have "zero" emissions is to leave the car in the parking lot.
In fact, lean-burn engines (which is in essence what your engine becomes after being installed with a KSTC) generate excessive NOx emissions - a "greenhouse" gas, excess quantities of which can overwhelm catalytic converters. A lean burn engine's tendency to misfire also produces greater quantities of unburned hydrocarbons, further straining the catalytic converter, possibly cause it overheat, even ruining it.
Save your money, and avoid the risks involved. If your car's engine is computer controlled, the engine computer, acting in concert with the engine air flow sensor, electronic fuel injectors, and exhaust oxygen sensor, will maintain the stoichiometric ratio for most of your driving. You don't need a device like the KSTC to do that task. Seriously, do you think a shiny metal pipe with some springs and valves would do a better job of ensuring the proper air-fuel ratio than the sophisticated ECU (electronic control unit) of your car?
If your car is carbureted, have its carburetor cleaned and give your car a tune up as well. A KSTC will improve your engine's fuel economy, but you'll probably have reduced performance, increased engine operating temperatures, and possible long term damage to your engine. If you do want to run your engine lean, you can accomplish the same function as the KSTC by simply adjusting your carburetor's airscrew. And adjusting the airscrew is free.
If you're interested in a truly scientific explanation why air bleed devices of this sort do not work as advertised, check out Tony's Guide to Fuel saving gadgets - Air bleeds into the inlet manifold. It explains in greater technical detail why gas-saving devices like the KSTC do not actually work, and how they may also put your car's engine, and even your life, at risk.
All in all, if it were my car, I'd skip the KSTC entirely.
I think it's even worse than snake oil, since it can potentially harm your engine, but that's just my opinion.
Planas said that he has received offers from companies based in the United States, Germany, Singapore and China after his invention passed the emission standards set by Taiwan. There was also supposedly a multi-million dollar deal which included the migration of his family to the United States, which he said he turned down. Isn't it every inventor's dream for his or her invention to be mass produced? His reply was: "If I accept the offer, Filipinos would not be able to buy my device because only First World countries would benefit and be able to afford it." I leave the judgement of such a statement to you.
He also claims to be coming up with a version of the KSTC for diesel engines. I personally think that this is highly improbable if he is still relying on the same concept. A diesel engine, by its very nature, is already a lean-burn engine. That's why diesel engines are inherently more fuel efficient than gasoline engines, and why they run hotter. Add any more air, and it probably wouldn't start anymore.
It was also reported that a former Lockheed-Martin engineer is intent on lobbying for the use of the invention in the United States. I also find this highly doubtful. Lockheed-Martin? The company behind the F-16 Falcon, the F-117 Nighthawk, and the next generation F/A-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter? Any engineer worth his salt should be able to see the inability of the KSTC to live up to all its claims. It's just media hype, and the uncontrollable nationalistic urge in this country to support and endorse a Filipino's invention to the world. Even if that invention doesn't actually work.
There are just too many flaws and inconsistencies in the supposed scientific explanation on how it works, and hardly any objective third party test results made available to the public. It is this lack of hard objective scientific proof which makes me a skeptic. Internet research has also shown that this device is not unique, and there are other devices (Ecotek CB-26P, PowerJet USA, etc.) which make the same claims based on same "scientific" explanation. There is also evidence that the concept has been around as early as 1972 (Air-Jet Device), and probably even earlier.
If anyone is aware of any web site which objectively states that the KSTC is the real thing, let me know. I have searched long and hard, and haven't found any.
The bottomline? In my humble opinion, literally and figuratively, the Khaos Super Turbo Charger is nothing but hot air. Stay far away folks. Only wish I made this post earlier to save some of my friends the aggravation. No offense meant to anyone who takes the opposite position.
That's my take on the KSTC. If you are so inclined, conduct your own research, and decide for yourself. If you believe that the KSTC is the real deal, then by all means go right ahead and have it installed on your vehicle. That's your choice. All I ask is that you, the consumer, make an informed decision. And don't get carried away by all the hype.
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