Article at Guardian Unlimited
Fuel's paradise? Power source that turns physics on its head
Scientist says device disproves quantum theory
Opponents claim idea is result of wrong maths
Alok Jha, science correspondent
Friday November 4, 2005
It seems too good to be true: a new source of near-limitless power that costs virtually nothing, uses tiny amounts of water as its fuel and produces next to no waste. If that does not sound radical enough, how about this: the principle behind the source turns modern physics on its head.
Randell Mills, a Harvard University medic who also studied electrical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, claims to have built a prototype power source that generates up to 1,000 times more heat than conventional fuel. Independent scientists claim to have verified the experiments and Dr Mills says that his company, Blacklight Power, has tens of millions of dollars in investment lined up to bring the idea to market. And he claims to be just months away from unveiling his creation.
The problem is that according to the rules of quantum mechanics, the physics that governs the behaviour of atoms, the idea is theoretically impossible. "Physicists are quite conservative. It's not easy to convince them to change a theory that is accepted for 50 to 60 years. I don't think [Mills's] theory should be supported," said Jan Naudts, a theoretical physicist at the University of Antwerp.
What has much of the physics world up in arms is Dr Mills's claim that he has produced a new form of hydrogen, the simplest of all the atoms, with just a single proton circled by one electron. In his "hydrino", the electron sits a little closer to the proton than normal, and the formation of the new atoms from traditional hydrogen releases huge amounts of energy.
This is scientific heresy. According to quantum mechanics, electrons can only exist in an atom in strictly defined orbits, and the shortest distance allowed between the proton and electron in hydrogen is fixed. The two particles are simply not allowed to get any closer.
According to Dr Mills, there can be only one explanation: quantum mechanics must be wrong. "We've done a lot of testing. We've got 50 independent validation reports, we've got 65 peer-reviewed journal articles," he said. "We ran into this theoretical resistance and there are some vested interests here. People are very strong and fervent protectors of this [quantum] theory that they use."
Rick Maas, a chemist at the University of North Carolina at Asheville (UNC) who specialises in sustainable energy sources, was allowed unfettered access to Blacklight's laboratories this year. "We went in with a healthy amount of scepticism. While it would certainly be nice if this were true, in my position as head of a research institution, I really wouldn't want to make a mistake. The last thing I want is to be remembered as the person who derailed a lot of sustainable energy investment into something that wasn't real."
But Prof Maas and Randy Booker, a UNC physicist, left under no doubt about Dr Mill's claims. "All of us who are not quantum physicists are looking at Dr Mills's data and we find it very compelling," said Prof Maas. "Dr Booker and I have both put our professional reputations on the line as far as that goes."
Dr Mills's idea goes against almost a century of thinking. When scientists developed the theory of quantum mechanics they described a world where measuring the exact position or energy of a particle was impossible and where the laws of classical physics had no effect. The theory has been hailed as one of the 20th century's greatest achievements.
But it is an achievement Dr Mills thinks is flawed. He turned back to earlier classical physics to develop a theory which, unlike quantum mechanics, allows an electron to move much closer to the proton at the heart of a hydrogen atom and, in doing so, release the substantial amounts of energy he seeks to exploit. Dr Mills's theory, known as classical quantum mechanics and published in the journal Physics Essays in 2003, has been criticised most publicly by Andreas Rathke of the European Space Agency. In a damning critique published recently in the New Journal of Physics, he argued that Dr Mills's theory was the result of mathematical mistakes.
Dr Mills argues that there are plenty of flaws in Dr Rathke's critique. "His paper's riddled with mistakes. We've had other physicists contact him and say this is embarrassing to the journal and [Dr Rathke] won't respond," said Dr Mills.
While the theoretical tangle is unlikely to resolve itself soon, those wanting to exploit the technology are pushing ahead. "We would like to understand it from an academic standpoint and then we would like to be able to use the implications to actually produce energy products," said Prof Maas. "The companies that are lining up behind this are household names."
Dr Mills will not go into details of who is investing in his research but rumours suggest a range of US power companies. It is well known also that Nasa's institute of advanced concepts has funded research into finding a way of using Blacklight's technology to power rockets.
According to Prof Maas, the first product built with Blacklight's technology, which will be available in as little as four years, will be a household heater. As the technology is scaled up, he says, bigger furnaces will be able to boil water and turn turbines to produce electricity.
In a recent economic forecast, Prof Maas calculated that hydrino energy would cost around 1.2 cents (0.7p) per kilowatt hour. This compares to an average of 5 cents per kWh for coal and 6 cents for nuclear energy.
"If it's wrong, it will be proven wrong," said Kert Davies, research director of Greenpeace USA. "But if it's right, it is so important that all else falls away. It has the potential to solve our dependence on oil. Our stance is of cautious optimism."
Hydrino Study Group
Theory in a Nutshell
Dr. Mills unifies the theories of Bohr, de Broglie, Maxwell, Einstein, Newton, etc. via a new insight into the nature of the atom. Mills takes advantage of a 1986 Herman Haus paper that explains how charged particles may undergo acceleration without radiation. He then applies the mathematics of this insight into a new analysis of the hydrogen atom. His new model treats the electron, not as a point nor as a probability wave, but as a dynamic two-dimensional spherical shell surrounding the nucleus. The resulting model, called the "orbitsphere", provides a fully classical physical explanation for phenomena such as
2. Angular momentum
3. Bohr magneton
Essentially, the electron orbitsphere is a "dynamic spherical resonator cavity" that traps photons of discrete frequencies. Broader implications of GUT-CQM include the possibility of catalytically shrinking the hydrogen atom to below "ground" state, releasing useful energy in the process. Unification of the electron orbitsphere radius formula with General Relativity (GR) provides a quantum explanation for gravity as well. This leads to a novel explanation for the recently observed accelerating expansion of the cosmos.
BlackLight Power, Inc.
BlackLight Power, Inc
Having exactly solved the atom using physical laws for the first time, BlackLight is the primary mover in advancing applications of a new chemical process of releasing the latent energy of the hydrogen atom, the BlackLight Process.
An ordinary hydrogen atom consists of an electron orbiting a proton. The BlackLight Process allows the electron to move closer to the proton, to which it is attracted, below the prior-known ground state. This generates power as heat, light, and plasma (a hot, glowing, ionized gas) with the formation of strong hydrogen products that are the basis of a vast class of new chemical compounds with broad commercial application.
The energy released from this process is hundreds of times in excess of the energy required to start it. The primary fuel is hydrogen gas, which can be created inexpensively via electrolysis from water. Energy is released as heat and may be converted to electricity using known methods. The process is scalable from small, hand-held units to large, fire-box replacements in large central power stations.
Rather than pollutants, the BlackLight Process releases heat, light, and valuable chemicals. The lower-energy atomic hydrogen products of the process can be used to form novel hydrino hydride compounds ("HHCs") which are proprietary to the company, and form a vast class of new chemistry. Alternatively, the product can be a new inert form of hydrogen gas that may serve in revolutionary applications such as the medium for a new high-energy laser. Since this gas is lighter than air, it may also be safely vented and allowed to diffuse into space.
BlackLight's technology has far-reaching applications in many industries such as: Power, Heating, Lighting, Lasers, Chemicals, Batteries, and Advanced Materials.
BlackLights experimental results are published in over 65 peer-reviewed publications and have been replicated by many independent groups. Reports by leading independent researchers claim that the state of the art BlackLight Process reactors are ready for development and commercialization. The process, apparatus and compositions of matter are covered by patents pending and issued. BlackLight will license companies for the commercialization of our technologies as we continue to develop new technologies related to the BlackLight Process.
BlackLight Power, Inc. has created a commercially competitive new source of energy. In BlackLight's patented process, energy is released as the electrons of atomic hydrogen are induced to undergo transitions to lower energy levels producing plasma, light, and novel hydrogen compounds. BlackLight uses a chemically generated plasma to form atomic hydrogen, and a catalyst to form lower-energy hydrogen atoms called hydrinos. Since hydrinos have energy levels much lower than uncatalyzed hydrogen atoms, the energy release is intermediate between conventional chemical and nuclear energies. The net energy released may be over one hundred times that of combustion with power densities like those of fossil fuel combustion and nuclear power plants.
Thus, the catalysis of atomic hydrogen, the BlackLight Process, represents a potential new source of energy. The hydrogen fuel is obtained by diverting a fraction of the output energy of the process to power the electrolysis of water into its elemental constituents. With water as the fuel, the operational cost of BlackLight Power generators will be very inexpensive. Moreover, rather than air pollutants or radioactive waste, novel hydride compounds with potential commercial applications are the by-products. The BlackLight Process offers a prospectively efficient, clean, cheap, and versatile thermal energy source. Two of the potential applications of its technology are in the heating and electric power production.
Heat generating prototypes have indicated the BlackLight Process to be competitive with existing primary generation sources over a range of scales from microdistributed to central power generation. They have better performance characteristics than proton-exchange-membrane (PEM) fuel cells without the restrictive capital costs that arise from the requirement of hydrocarbons with the associated infrastructure and hydrocarbon-to-electricity conversion systems. The BlackLight Process thermal power source is ideal for interfacing with commercially available electric power generating equipment such as Sterling engines and turbines for microdistributed and distributed electrical applications, respectively. BlackLight has also successfully demonstrated direct plasma to electricity power conversion which is possible since the Process generates a plasma. On larger-scales, BlackLight technology is well-suited for and could eliminate problems attendant to the utility industries, such as those arising from the variable regional supply and price of fuels such as natural gas, the associated cost of building out a suitable supporting infrastructure and transmission grid, and eliminate pollution, green-house-gas emission and other externalities. In time, it may be possible to meet the worlds energy needs cleanly and safely at a greatly reduced cost.
The BlackLight Process is a new primary energy source that has unique competitive advantages in all energy markets: electricity, heat, cogeneration (electricity production with waste heat recovery and utilization), and motive power. As an example of the potential in the latter application, consider that the average US gas station pumps about 2000 gallons of gasoline per day corresponding to an energy equivalent of 3 MW of electricity that could be provided by using the BlackLight Process. Thus, power cells of the 1-10 MW electric may be a competitive solution for generating electricity locally at gas stations, for example, and also produce hydrogen gas from the electrolysis of water using the electrical output temporarily diverted from the local grid as a replacement for gasoline. The savings of avoiding transmission and distribution costs represents a considerable cost advantage that is often half the price of electricity. Considering the absence of fuel costs that is permissive of reduced complexity and costs of power-conversion equipment, lack of pollution, the ability to produce fuels with an absence of the need to on-site reform natural gas to hydrogen for use in certain fuel cells, BlackLight represents for the first time a possibility to realize the vision of the hydrogen economy that frees the world from fossil fuels and undesirable or limited primary-power-source options. The transition could occur relatively seamlessly with existing and developing technologies with the consumer realizing savings and the producer realizing higher, stable profits while the environment benefits. In the interim, the ability to generate low-cost heat and hydrogen could relieve the pressure on oil demand by providing a cost-efficient method of producing crude from some of the hundreds of billions of barrels of oil locked in known North American reserves of tar sands and oil shale
The power from the BlackLight Process forms a plasma (a hot, glowing, ionized gas) that represents a primary light source as well as a primary energy source in the form of heat. Systems have been developed that harness the power primarily as light. Prototype lighting devices comprising a cell similar to a conventional light bulb but containing a catalyst of the BlackLight Process as well as a source of atomic hydrogen have produced thousands of times more light for input power using 1% the voltage compared to standard light sources. Projected into a product, these results indicate the possibility of a light that could deliver the power of conventional fluorescent and incandescent lighting, but operate off of a flashlight battery for a year without an electrical conne