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News:Dateline Accuses Dennis Lee of Fraud
Page first featured April 8, 2009
MSNBC's Dateline had a Hydrogen Assist Fuel Cell (HAFC) installed on a Honda Accord -- which is supposed to be one of the best cars for seeing an improvement in mileage according to Lee's company literature. They went to Sam Burlum, an installer, trainer, and tuner, as well as Head of HAFC research and development under contract with Dennis Lee, to have the unit installed. When he was done, Sam told them the car was now getting 96 mpg.
However, Dateline had taken their vehicle to the government-approved testing facility, Compliant and Research Services (?), to document their "before" and "after" data: mileage and emissions. According to that data, their three "before" and three "after" data sets were nearly identical -- no change, staying at around 34 mpg.
The recent "victory" by Dennis Lee in the FCC case (not an ultimate victory, just more time to prepare) lists some 24 "satisfied customers." Dateline contacted as many of those customers as they could, and found that 17 of them were not at all satisfied customers, many of them wanting their money back, having spent typically around $1000 for the equipment and another $1000 for the install, but with very little change in performance. Four of those are shown on camera making statements about their experience with the HAFC.
Dateline also addresses some of the other claims of Dennis Lee.
In all, the Dateline coverage paints Dennis Lee as a charlatan preying on good people who want to see change, and who believe in a conspiracy by the government and oil and auto industries to keep these technologies from going forward.
The final segment features an interview with primary Denis Lee skeptic, Eric Krieg, who is a member of our New Energy Congress.
MSNBC Story Links
- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29899191/ - Fast money: Car device seller's scheme unravels - Dateline gives one man's claim of improving gas mileage a test-drive (MSNBC; March 29, 2009)
MSNBC Video Links
- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/30059812#30059812 - Segment opens with Dateline NBC taking a Honda Accord to have an HAFC system installed, with assurance that they would be getting at least a 50% improvement in mileage. Camera is hidden.
- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/30059812#30059873 - Dateline NBC takes the modified vehicle back to the independent lab to have the "after" mileage and emissions tested, showing no change.
- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/30059812#30060021 - Dateline NBC goes back to Sam to ask him about the dudd results. Sam said it needed to be "retuned".
- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/30059812#29914835 - Dateline NBC goes NBC to Dennis Lee to ask him about the dudd results.
- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/30059812#29914807 - Dateline NBC talks to some of the 24 "satisfied" customers listed by Dutchman in the FTC suit.
- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/30059812#29914782 - Dateline NBC interview with Eric Krieg who has been a vocal skeptic about Dennis Lee for years.
- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/30059812#29914763 - Dateline NBC attands a Dennis Lee dealership conference.
- http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/30059812#29914749 - Dateline NBC shows some of Dennis Lee's other claims.
Summary of Dateline show on Dennis Lee's HAFC mileage claims
The following are some out takes from the half hour episode to run Sunday April 5th:
Here is some best of:
Dennis Lee: There are plenty of people out there who can use some help at the gas pump.
Dateline: The device itself retails for about a thousand bucks, not including installation. But Lee says you can make real money by buying a dealership and selling the devices to thousands of eager customers. The price? $300,000. But you'd better act now!
Dennis Lee: At the end of seven days, if you haven't made any decision, then it's like $300-350,000 at that time.
Dateline: In fact, many of the people in this room have signed on and bought dealerships themselves.
Dennis Lee: It is very, very, very, very, very, very rare that anyone does not get the 50 percent increase in mileage when the car is properly installed and tuned.
Dateline: In fact, it sounded hard to resist. Sam said the car that gets the best gas mileage with the device is the Honda Accord.
So, we bought one. We also asked Mike Allen, senior automotive editor for "Popular Mechanics," to make sure the car was in good condition. He said our Honda was running fine, and he also said this hydrogen type device wasn't the first one he's seen.
Mike Allen: I have tested dozens of these devices.
Chris Hansen: Have you ever found one that significantly increased gas mileage?
Mike Allen: Never.
Dateline: Still, we wanted to give Lee's device a fair chance.
Nine days later, we returned to pick up our car.
After what he says is a scientific road test, Sam had some incredible news about our Honda's gas mileage.
Dateline: 96 miles-per-gallon?
Sam Burlum: 96 miles-per-gallon.
-- after proper test run ----
Robert DePalma: We got no significant difference in anything. Fuel economy, emissions – basically what it was last week, without the device installed.
Thirty-four miles per gallon before, 34 miles per gallon after, and no change in emissions.
Chris Hansen: What did we get for our $1,904?
Mike Allen: Taken, you got taken.
Chris Hansen: So how would you describe this device?
Mike Allen: It's a scam.
Bob Park: He's broken a lot of laws, but he hasn't broken the laws of Physics yet.
Dateline: But what about those twenty-six people Dennis Lee cited in court documents as satisfied customers?
Dr. Michelle Hemingway: I spent $1,000 for the kit itself, $2,000 for my mechanic to put it in.
Dr. Michelle Hemingway is one of them.
Dateline: She said she's been back to have Sam re-tune her car three times so far.
Dr. Michelle Hemingway: Even though I've done all that, I've had no improvement.
Nir Kronenberg's name was also supplied to the FTC by Dennis Lee as someone who's had success with the device.
Nir Kronenberg: It doesn't work. We can't get our money back. It's a rip-off basically.
Dateline: All told, we were able to talk to 19 people on his list.
Fifteen people told us the device didn't work as advertised. Some were heading back to Sam for more re-tuning. Others were asking for their money back.
Two people actually said the device worked, but they also told us their cars weren't in working condition.
Another person who told us the device was working in his car declined our offer to have his car tested.
Eric Krieg: The urban legends about the person getting 100miles to the gallon are the ones that end up getting repeated. They're kind of a friend of a friend stories. People like that are just supposed to go away and ‘Oh, it didn't work,’ you're just supposed to shut up about that.
Chris Hansen: What do you suppose will end up happening to Dennis Lee?
Eric Krieg: I've been wrong to predict his downfall in the past, he'll probably weasel out of this and have some wonderful new promise.
Dateline: And sure enough, on his Web site, Lee is already promoting a new catalytic converter for your car.
Dennis Lee: We got 180 miles per gallon under laboratory conditions. We were all shocked!!!
In the News
- Featured: Fuel Efficiency > H Injection > HAVC >
Dateline Accuses Dennis Lee of Fraud - Citing credible third-party testing of an HAFC installation on a Honda Accord, a Dateline special paints Dennis Lee as a charlatan preying on good people who want to see fuel economy improvement, and who believe that a conspiracy keeps these technologies from going forward. (PESWiki; April 8, 2009)
- Fast money: Car device seller's scheme unravels - Dateline gives one man's claim of improving gas mileage a test-drive (MSNBC; March 29, 2009)
See Discussion Page - here at PESWiki for this topic.
- http://www.steorn.com/forum/comments.php?DiscussionID=61619&page=3#Item_18 - Steorn forum -- Dennis Lee
Response from a Dealer
On April 8, 2009, New Energy Congress member, Ken Rasmussen wrote:
I posted a list of the many lies I heard in the outrageously biased and deceptively edited hit piece http://energyblog.commutefaster.com/
Anyone claiming to seek truth, better be man enough to look at ALL the details and not be persuaded by glitzy propaganda pieces like NBC is noted for. Listen carefully again to each "dissatisfied customer." All are "trying" or "thinking about" getting refunds. The fact remains, all failed units purchased from me get refunds. Any claim otherwise are lies. I cannot speak for other dealers, but I know Dennis Lee NEVER told any of them to steal money from anyone. These slipshod accusations here have to stop.
- --Penny Gruber 13:56, 13 April 2009 (PDT)
- Ken, I read that blog. Your claims to facts are all wrong. From your first alleged lie that Dennis wasn't referring to the HAFC in the video where he says they guarantee at least 50% gas mileage, to the conspiracy theory of Hearst Publications, 9/11 and big oil, to the crazy idea that Eric Krieg has so many state AG's under his control that Dennis can't sell working perpetual motion machines, to claiming Dennis was prosecuted for neglecting to file a simple form in CA, you are long on vitriol and way short on fact.
- The video NBC excerpted did have Dennis guaranteeing at least 50% mileage improvement for the HAFC multiple times. He states in that video that to get the "savings guarantee" one of Dutchman's certified tuners has to tune the installation and perform the before and after fuel economy tests.
Commentary by Eric Krieg
Lee has been selling non-working high mileage solutions for 7 years now. He sued me because the truth I post on the web hurt his ability to defraud people. I have been nicely asking to see even one car that gets the mileage for many months. I know of many people who have tried to get it to work and can't in some cases, people have damaged cars or cars that don't run – many can't get their money back. I offered $3000 to the radio station guy who claims over 100mpg – he won't respond. I hope to put together an offer to pay anyone to show me any H2 boost car getting really high mileage.
Popular science who makes a lot of money off ads for high mileage scams would have every reason to announce some work -their expert below has found them to be bunk:
A web site saying all hydrogen boost systems are scams: http://www.aardvark.co.nz/hho.shtml (I don't know if they all are bogus - for all I know maybe for some cars or trucks you can get a few mpg more if H2 can act as a catalyst)
a million dollar prize for proof of HHO boost http://aardvark.co.nz/hho_challenge.shtml
Let's Separate the Science from the Nonsense
--Penny Gruber 23:38, 12 April 2009 (PDT)
Hydrogen is demonstrated to aid ICE combustion efficiency. It also causes embrittlement of the cylinder walls, but that is for another day. Depending on whose numbers you wish to use an ICE burning only H2 and no gasoline can be up to 25% more efficient in terms of converting fuel chemical energy to mechanical energy than burning gasoline. This results primarily from the fact that the hydrogen burns faster. Now the bad news: On board electrolysis units such as Dennis Lee's HAFC all diminish efficiency. They do not improve it. This happens for two reasons:
The amount of hydrogen electrolysis units generate is tiny. All of the energy to perform the electrolysis comes by way of a very inefficient chain.
Work the Numbers: A typical electrolysis unit draws between one half and one kilowatt. For convenience let's say the we have a bigger than average 1kW electrolysis unit, a honker that draws over 80A. Highly efficient industrial electrolysis units are 80% efficient. Let's assume for now that our HHO or HAFC unit matches that efficiency, that's 800W chemical energy from H2 fuel production. A highly efficient car at cruise, such as a Honda Accord getting 34MPG consumes 132MJ / gallon gasoline / 34 miles = 4MJ / mile gasoline fuel energy content. At 55MPH cruise it takes over that mile the electrolysis unit generates 52kJ worth of H2. This is just 1.3% of the 4MJ fuel energy content used by the vehicle. Start with a less efficient vehicle and the numbers only get worse. Use efficiency of real electrolysis units on the market which are way below the 80% of industrial units and the numbers get much worse.
As if the marginal impact that the HHO or HAFC units could have was not bad enough, the other problem is the source of the H2 gas: engine output by way of the alternator. A really, really good automobile alternator is 70% efficient. A bleeding edge automobile engine running at its optimum power level is 43% efficient, and the best electrolysis money can buy is 80%. This closed cycle is 24% efficient. For every kJ of hydrogen that the electrolysis unit generates and burns, the engine consumes more than three additional kJ gasoline. And this is with ideal components, not what are found in typical cars and not what is found in the various HHO units, including Dennis Lee's HAFC.
For people who don't know Dennis Lee's history: he's a convicted felon in California, who has been banned from doing business in several states. The old advice: "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." is sound advice.
Thanks Mary Yugo for providing these links. "To be fair and complete, you may want to consider including links to these very clear and objective videos. In summary, Dateline arranged to have HAFC installed by a certified installer on a Honda Accord 4 cylinder (one of Lee's most successful choices according to his web site). When the car was returned to them, they were told it was doing 96 miles per gallon highway. When they tested the car using objective methods and a dynamometer, they found it got 34 miles per gallon just as it did before it was converted. Turning the converter off actually improved the mileage slightly. Lee's only explanation during a brief interview was that "it doesn't always work".
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