In recent months I have written about the progress being made in “cold fusion” which is short hand for a third way to extract energy from the forces binding atoms together. Some who are familiar with the details of what has been going on appreciate that we are nearly over denying that cold fusion is real as at least three companies have mastered the technology at lab bench level and are working on commercial-scale hydrogen powered devices that hopefully will one day replace fossil fuels as a source of energy for heat, electricity, and transportation.
The Italian developer Rossi seems to have linked up with a North Carolina company that not only is supplying the cash he needs to develop a marketable product, but apparently has made contacts to develop the technology in China.
The California company Brillouin was recently the subject of a series of videos detailing the current state of development of the prototype commercial boiler it is developing along with SRI to replace fossil fuels as the source of heat in electric power stations. Moreover Brillouin has recently licensed its technology to a Korean manufacturer who hopes to have a prototype in operation before the end of the year. The major take home from the videos, however, is that scaling up cold fusion from lab bench to commercial boiler size will involve some difficult engineering.
The third major contender in the race for cold fusion, Defkalion Green Technologies, announced last week that they are making good progress and hope to “commercialize’ their technology by the third quarter of this year. All three of these companies say they have had their technology verified by outside scientists, but have no intention of releasing their proprietary techniques as to how they make cold fusion work at this time.
Last week another contender in the race to replace fossil fuels resurfaced with the announcement by a New Jersey company, BlackLight Power, that it has applied for a patent and will be demonstrating its technology to selected observers on February 28th. BlackLight Power and its technology has been around for over 20 years; has raised and spent circa $80 million developing their technology; and have released a mountain of reports, data and even books describing how their technology works. Every few years they have announced that they were close to a commercial product that could produce heat, but somehow they always slipped back into the R&D mode and were largely forgotten even by close observers of the field and certainly not remembered by the mainstream media.
The biggest problem with gaining acceptance for the technology that BlackLight Power claims to have invented that it is so revolutionary that, should it pan out, the world and much science will never be the same. The simple version of BlackLight’s technology is easy to understand. By taking hydrogen atoms (protons with an electron orbiting around the nucleus), all one has to do is give the atoms a good zap of electricity in the presence of the right catalyst and the electrons drop down into orbits closer to the nuclei – releasing very large amounts of energy in the process.
After the hydrogen atoms’ electrons falls into a lower orbit, the resulting now-shrunken atom was called a “hydrino” by its discoverer, Randell Mills. The main problem with this idea is that our current chemistry says there are no stable states of hydrogen below what is known as the base state. Therefore most scientists say Mill’s hydrino thesis must be wrong. For 20 years, Mills has had to contend with an endless string of naysayers, including some very well-known scientists many of which called him a charlatan for raising and spending some $80 million dollars in search of something which cannot possibly be true – or so they contend.
If it is for real, the implications of this technology are far too extensive to describe here. Cheap off the shelf components, fueled by tiny amounts of water, which is the source of the hydrogen, are claimed to produce energy on the order of tens of megawatts from desktop sized devices. Needless to say there is no cost for the water used as a fuel, and the only output of these devices is supposed to be a very powerful jet of plasma that could be used to directly produce electricity and “hydrinos” which are inert and harmless. If you want on a real mind boggler, Mills says that most of the universe is composed of hydrinos which are the mysterious dark matter that astronomers have been grappling with for years.
So far the notion of hydrinos and the era of cheap energy has been confined to the blogosphere as the media is for the most part unwilling to go out on a limb in the face of mainstream science’s still overwhelming judgment about the technology. Should next week’s demonstration of BlackLight’s device go well, chances are things will start to change and the possibility that we can prosper without fossil fuels will start to sink into the public consciousness. However, as we have seen with demonstrations of early cold fusion devices, such demonstrations usually result stories asking how the “trick” was done and doubts concerning whatever measurements are provided.
If BlackLight Power can really develop the technology to produce electric power at a claimed 10th of a cent a kilowatt in the next few years, our planet and our science will never be the same again. Even the peak oil crisis could even come to a rather abrupt end in a way that no one ever envisioned. For now all we can do is keep an open mind remember that every century or so a real scientific revolution comes along.