For the last three years, Randell Mills, the CEO of Brilliant Light Power, has been conducting semi-public presentations to invited audiences about the progress he and his colleagues have been making in developing an entirely new source of energy that one day might replace all existing sources of energy including fossil fuels, nuclear, and renewables. As Brilliant Light gets closer to completing the development of a working prototype of its SunCell, the company has begun to focus on plans for marketing the device around the world.
This week Mills and his Director of Business Development, Dominic Jones, took their presentation on the road to spread the details of the progress they are making to a wider audience. On Dec. 6 they gave a presentation to an invited audience in Washington, D.C. and later this month will give a presentation in London. It has only been six weeks since a similar update was given at Brilliant Light’s headquarters in Cranbury, NJ. While there appear to have been no significant developments in the last month, the presentation gave some new insights into the origin of the technology, the progress the company expects in the coming year, and important changes in marketing plans. All this, of course, assumes that reliably working prototypes will be completed on schedule in the next six months and that they will successfully complete testing by prospective partners of Brilliant Light who have expressed interest in building or distributing SunCells.
In late October, Mills and Brilliant Light had prototypes operating for hours at a time under manual control after having overcome the numerous technical challenges involved in igniting a plasma reaction that was capable of heating a carbide sphere to luminescence at 3,000 degrees Kelvin. In the last few weeks, efforts have been directed towards automating the device by attaching sensors, processors, and controls that will allow SunCells to operate unattended. Given the temperatures involved, managing the heat in a device that can produce megawatts of energy would seem a formidable challenge. However, Mills continues to express optimism that the engineering involved has been completed and that we would see a self-controlled, continuously-operating device within the next few months.
The last step in producing working prototypes of the SunCell is to add the array of concentrated photovoltaic cells around the carbide black body radiator. Then to make sure the heat management system can remove excess energy from the solar cells, and enclose the device in a pressure dome. It now appears that the early versions of the SunCell are to produce circa 150 kilowatts, which can be upgraded later by increasing the operating temperature of the black body radiator to 3,500 degrees Kelvin. The maximum the carbide sphere containing the plasma can handle is 4,000 degrees Kelvin. By using multilayered solar cells, and eventually increasing the size of the carbide sphere containing the plasma, much larger amounts of electricity can theoretically be produced.
For those familiar with Mills and his work over the last 25 years, the most interesting part of the Washington, D.C. presentation was Mills’ defense of why it has taken so long to move from first recognizing significant amounts of energy could be released by converting hydrogen atoms into “hydrinos.” It is, of course, first necessary to acknowledge that mainstream scientific thinking does not believe that a phenomenon such as Mills’ hydrino can exist, much less release massive amounts of energy as part of the conversion process.
Mills noted in his presentation that it took 22 years of theorizing and experimenting to develop a new theory of how an atom functions and then use this insight to search for new sources of energy. However, it has only been three years since the “eureka” moment in late 2013 when he first recognized how the hydrogen to hydrino conversion process could be used to produce commercial amounts of power. The eureka came with the discovery of an arc plasma technique that allowed an explosive release of energy within 1/1000 of a second.
Since that time, the development of the SunCell has become more of an engineering problem than a science project. The explosive conversion to hydrinos had to be repeated 1,000 times per second to produce continuous power; the catalyst used in the reaction had to be completely recycled for years so that hydrogen from water was the only substance consumed in the reaction; and finally a solution to the vaporizing of the tungsten electrodes that initiated the reaction had to be found before a power-producing device could be marketed. Although these steps have been largely accomplished, it could take months of trials to ensure that a reliable device is ready for market.
Mills reiterates that the SunCell is composed largely of off-the-shelf components that have been proven in other uses and that there are no moving parts. In theory, the remaining steps to commercialization could be accomplished rather quickly. However, with a small device producing unprecedented amounts of power, working at the fringes of technology at extraordinarily high temperatures, there would seem to be a possibility of unknown unknowns that could delay the best-planned schedule.
Following Mills technical presentation, Dominic Jones, in charge of business development, gave an update on Brilliant Light’s marketing strategy. In the last six weeks, marketing plans have been considerably fleshed out and some key pricing has been changed. Brilliant Light sees its market as being worldwide and divided into stationary and motive segments. SunCells would be leased through distributors to industrial, commercial, and residential markets. Mobile versions of the SunCell would be leased to development partners who would presumably rework the devices for suitability in the mobile commercial, consumer, and marine markets.
A new plan has 150 kilowatt SunCells initially leasing at $90/day + plus a $2,000 installation fee or about $32,850 per year. This price would amount to about 2.5 cents per kilowatt hour for those users, industrial and commercial establishments and multifamily residential buildings, that can utilize the entire output from the device. For users needing less than the full output of the device the costs would be proportionally higher and the remaining energy would be dumped. Given that the direct operating costs of the device are expected to be around 1/10 of a cent per kWh there is plenty of margin to cover distributors, distribution costs, and maintenance that may occur over the life of the machine.
The next time we hear from Mills and Brilliant Light Power, it seems possible that they may be very close to having a device ready for field testing, or, of course, may have encountered delays.