by Randolph T. Holhut
Chief of AR Correspondents
December 28, 2010
TURNING WASTE INTO ENERGY IN VERMONT
BRADENTON, Fla., Dec. 18, 2010 -- A remarkable new energy source from fractional hydrogen will allow a gallon of ordinary water to become the energy equivalent of 200 barrels of oil, a team of physicists working near the onetime New Jersey laboratories of Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein is saying.
"With further optimization," Dr. K.V. Ramanujachary of Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J., says, "there is no doubt that this technology will present an economically viable and environmentally benign alternate to meet global energy needs. If advanced to commercialization, it would be one of the most profound developments ever."
The method of electricity production allows the fuel to reproduce itself by diverting part of the energy output to a catalyst that is then regenerated so fuel is only needed once. Using the process, about 10 100-watt bulbs could be lit 24 hours a day for a penny.
Hydrogen atoms of water can release an enormous amount of energy. Now BlackLight is promising an engine technology aimed at driving a car 5,000 miles on a gallon of water.
And if solar flares over the next 10 years have the power to blackout thousands of homes, as the National Oceanography and Atmospheric Administration has warned, the distributed power of the new cells could keep America lit up.
A working model is promised for 2011. Until it appears and independent laboratories confirm BlackLight's claims, most scientists will not accept such unorthodox technology, especially if it is based on classical rather than quantum physics. BlackLight's research has also been hampered in the past by its close ties to Rowan University, where several of its engineers have worked.
But the greater problem for BlackLight may be the oil companies and conventional utilities that will be displaced, if not destroyed, by hydrino technology. Even though the cells as described would collectively save homeowners and manufacturers trillions in electricity costs and generate many millions of jobs, it is also thought to be the target of a concerted foreign industrial espionage campaign.
The company, which has never tried to go public, keeps a low profile and has mounted a remarkably mundane website full of small type and dense physics with little appeal to readers. Even the weekly Cranbury Press has no mention of the company in its search database, yet there are thousands of search results on Google.
Ironically, the BlackLight Power facilities are located in Cranbury, N.J., a small town 8 miles from the Princeton University labs where Albert Einstein once toiled and 37 miles from the West Orange, N.J., laboratories of Thomas Edison.
But the proof is in the pudding, not the website.
"We have demonstrated the ability to produce electrical power using chemical systems for the direct production of electric power from the conversion of hydrogen to hydrinos, a more stable form of hydrogen," said Dr. Randell Mills, chairman, CEO and president of BlackLight Power.
Working with a team headed by Dr. Alexander Bykanov at Harvard's Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics under contract with GEN3 Partners, the device showed hydrogen spectral emissions below 80 nanometers, the previously known "ground state" of hydrogen. Scientists formerly believed there could be no parts of the hydrogen atom smaller than the atom itself.
"This is decisive evidence of the existence of hydrinos as Dr. Randell Mills theoretically predicted," the BlackLight Power press release said. Hydrinos are a fractional element of hydrogen that skeptics in the world of quantum physics previously said could not exist.
"This is smoking-gun evidence of the existence of hydrinos," Dr. Mills said. "The light signature observed is from pure hydrogen and exists at a much higher energy level than deemed possible for this element in any known form."
In a joint statement, Dr. Bykanov and Dr. Sam Kogan, chief operating officer of Boston-based GEN3 Partners, a company that evaluates new technologies and helps bring them to market, said "[BlackLight Power's] spectral results were identically [and] independently reproduced, and we could find no conventional explanation for the emission of bright light from hydrogen in this very high energy region. We believe that this confirms hydrino emission."
Acceptance of Mills' ideas is largely the product of a battle between Einstein's old-fashioned "classical" physics and the newfangled "quantum" ideas of physicists like the late Richard Feynman.
One critic has been Stephen Chu, the Chinese-American physicist who was won the Nobel Prize and later became President Obama's Secretary of Energy. Chu urged investors to avoid BlackLight Power in 1999, saying he "felt sorry" for them. As many as seven Chinese-American physicists have co-authored some of the more than 80 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles published by and about Mills and his work, however. Mills could not be reached for comment on this article. His corporate public relations firm, the giant Hill & Knowlton, has not responded to emails in the past, and a Hill & Knowlton spokesperson, Milly Coleman, had her calls forwarded to voicemail Friday.
The company published its latest findings in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Hydrogen, and issued the news release Nov. 29 about the new power source, a system they call Catalyst Induced Hydrino Transition, or CIHT, that produces electricity directly. Others seeking a more palatable name have called it "Electricity from Collapsing Hydrogen Orbits," or ECHO.
The company, funded with $70 million in investments by three large venture capital firms, says the technology allows an electric car, the size and weight of a Prius and costing about $9,000 to build, to travel more than 5,000 miles on a gallon of water. No combustion engine is required. A former chief of staff of the United States Air Force and a former CEO of Westinghouse Corp. have at various times sat on the company's board.
At least five American utilities, a Washington, D.C., energy broker and multinational firms in Italy and Holland are hoping to deploy the hydrino generators to produce an amount of electricity equivalent to that needed to run 1 million American homes - for as little as one cent per kilowatt.
An expanded team of scientists and engineers at Rowan University say they completed a thorough year-long series of additional testing of the thermal systems following the announcement and release of earlier validations, performed in October 2008 and August 2009. Using BLP's proprietary solid-fuel chemistry, which is capable of continuous regeneration, they independently formulated and tested fuels that they found could generate on-demand energy greater than that of combustion but at the far lower power levels of kilowatts.
"When using BLP's chemical process, Rowan professors reported a net energy gain of up to 6.5 times the maximum energy potential of these materials from known chemical reactions," the release said. The Rowan team included Dr. Ramanujachary, who is Rowan University Meritorious Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, assistant professor of chemistry Dr. Amos Mugweru, professor of engineering Dr. John L. Schmalzel, P.E., and Dr. Peter Jansson P.E., asssociate professor of engineering at Rowan.
"In additional independent tests conducted over the last 12 months, involving 13 solid fuel mixtures made by us from commercially-available chemicals and confirmed by multiple analyses, our team of engineering and chemistry professors, staff and students at Rowan University has independently and consistently generated energy in excesses ranging from 1.3 times to 6.5 times the maximum theoretical heat available through known chemical reactions," Dr. Ramanujachary said
Compared to thermal-based systems, Mills says, "[CIHT] produces electricity without requiring enormous thermally-driven mechanical generators." The power units would be distributed to individual homes, where they could power not just the home home but a neighborhood. The small unit in the car could even be hooked up to the house to power it.
Rather than relying on a giant utility, the units would make each home and neighborhood autonomous - "off the grid," as green energy activists like to say. That will make adoption of the units a quicker process, Mills says.
"Consequently, more rapid dissemination is expected by deploying many autonomous distributed units that circumvent the huge barriers of entry into the power markets such as developing and building massive billion-dollar power plants with their associated power distribution infrastructure," Mills said. "This is especially true in emerging markets."
BlackLight Power focuses on using CIHT units to produce power to ultimately sell directly to consumers under power purchase agreements.
"The business plan is akin to that of solar leasing, but the costs are potentially vastly cheaper, and the systems may be deployable for essentially all applications of all scales untethered to the Sun or the grid, or as in the case of fuel cells and cars, a fuel supply," Dr. Mills said.
"To realize how transformational this technology will be, imagine that an electric car can travel over 5,000 miles on the hydrogen energy from a gallon of water without any pollution whatsoever. The power source can then be lifted out and plugged into your electrical panel to power your home with enough power to spare to also power your neighborhood," Mills added.
Some of those hoping to exploit the new technology are already thinking ahead. "BLP's breakthrough CIHT technology will allow us to become a major green-power producer for the DC metro area while enabling dramatic savings and unheard of independence," said John E. Akridge III, chairman and owner of Washington, D.C.,-based Akridge Energy.
"It is ideal for our needs across the full spectrum of our applications: powering apartment complexes, commercial offices, retail outlets, and mixed-use projects." Akridge said. His firm, a BlackLight Power licensee that owns numerous buildings in Washinton, D.C., "intends to deploy distributed-scale CIHT electric power units at commercial real estate properties, sell electricity to its tenants and eventually into the local electric grid," he said.
At Rowan University, where much of the validation of the technology was done, the chairman of the college's physics department is emphatic about the process.
"The chemicals used in CIHT technology, similar to those used in thermal and chemical cells, were separately, thoroughly and diligently validated over the past three years by a team at Rowan University that included myself," Dr. K.V. Ramanujachary said. "Since the measurements on CIHT are electrical versus calorimetric, there can be no dispute over the power and the energy balance," he said.
Resources: Dr. Alexander Bykanov's paper, Validation of the Observation of Soft X-Ray Continuum Radiation from Low-Energy Pinch Discharges in the Presence of Molecular Hydrogen, concerning the formation of hydrino emissions.
For Laymen: A PowerPoint presentation is available. AR Correspondent Joe Shea can be reached at email@example.com. Mark Goldes contributed additional reporting on solar flares.