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I am doing my final year engineering project on Magnetic Field Assisted Combustion and was curious to see what people thought about it.

Companies sell rare earth magnetic arrangements to be attached to fuel lines of gas burners and they are said to improve combustion efficiency but why exactly?

I have performed a number of experiments using a standard butane/propane gas burner with some magnets manufactured by one of said companies and have had some contradicting results. With lower strength magnets, heat transfer unexpectedly slowed down but with a much stronger arrangement, heat transfer rate was increased.

Also, the burn out time of the same amount of gas took 8 minutes less with the magnets in place around the fuel line.

I have read a number of journals on similar subjects but even within these, the actual reason for the increase in heat output is still not known.

Any thoughts on the subject would be massively appreciated and possibly give me some other areas to investigate that I have not already thought of.

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If you can replicate what you report above under controlled conditions then you can retire for life next year. Really.

The overwhelming opinion by all reputable test houses or suitably competent careful and honest individuals is that for combustion improvement by treating the **fuel* with magnets you'd be just as well off rubbing on snake oil - or drinking it. Really.

Magnets are the universal cure / improver / energy source / you name it.
I am not saying that you are dishonest OR that you did not think you saw the result that you report.
But, it is overwhelmingly likely that you have missed something crucial that affects the result.
Having this happen is a part of everyday engineering testing. Spotting it is the trick.

For many months CERN (who should be as real as they come) were reporting faster than light transit speeds for some particles. They checked everything they could think of scrupulously before they reported their results. In due course a non FTL explanation was found. If CERN can manage this, so can the rest of us.

I have had factory engineers give me written reports containing data that showed processes were running at > 100% efficient when there was no suggestion or expectation that this was the case. I knew with certainty that something was wrong with their data. They didn't know.

I know this is not the answer you wanted and I also know that some people will assure you that you can treat fuel "magnetically" and improve combustion efficiently. And, it MAY be true. But "everyday Science" says that it's "extremely unlikely" and the necessary path for you is to
Replicate your results, then Have somebody else replicate your results and then, if it still seems to be working,
Arrange "double blind" testing so that there is no way to fool yourself.

Note that use of magnets to affect a combustion process in some way (rather than pretreating the fuel) is potentially more likely to be valid - still unlikely enough that very great care is needed, but ionised gases can be affected by magnetic fields so there is some basis for possible changes.

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  • $\begingroup$ I agree completely with what you are saying about the reliability of the testing. Since repeating the tests a number of times (to the extent where I am now sick of sitting watching water boil and getting my hands trapped between magnets..) the variations are definitely down to other factors. The thermocouple I am using is only accurate to 1 degree, the human error factor with timing and setting the burner is going to come into play so all of this could easily cause the slight variation I was hoping was down to the magnets. $\endgroup$ – James Dawson Apr 4 '15 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ I think the main body of my conclusions will be talking about other tests done and like you said, that the pretreating process is very unlikely to have any definitive effect. I know that ionisation of the gas using magnets alone is impossible as it would mean work had been done to the system by the magnets so looking into how the application of both electric and magnetic fields effect the gas could be interesting as I believe ionisation would then be possible? $\endgroup$ – James Dawson Apr 4 '15 at 16:09
  • $\begingroup$ Magnets can affect gases ionised in other ways - and you could conceivably use magnetic fields to interact with energy supplied in another form. (Example only - Magnetohydrodynamics - coal is burned to produce an exhaust flow which acts as the moving conductor in a generator - some day ....) $\endgroup$ – Russell McMahon Apr 4 '15 at 16:12
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your input, it has definitely given me some areas to think about. Coincidently I just received a book I ordered on Magnetohydrodynamics by George Sutton (which seemed to old to be on this, what I though to be relatively recent subject area) which should hopefully give me some other ideas to consider. $\endgroup$ – James Dawson Apr 4 '15 at 16:18

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