Tuesday, April 12, 2011

BlackLight's physics-defying promise: Cheap power from water

An entrepreneur with $60 million in venture funding says he's found an endless source of cheap energy. Trouble is, it violates the laws of quantum physics.
Imagine being able to convert water into a boundless source of cheap energy. That's what BlackLight Power, a 25-employee firm in Cranbury, N.J., says it can do. The only problem: Most scientists say that company's technology violates the basic laws of physics.

Such skepticism doesn't daunt Dr. Randell Mills, a Harvard-trained physician and founder of BlackLight, who recently claimed that he has created a working fuel cell using the world's most pervasive element: the hydrogen found in water.

"This is no longer an academic argument," Mills, 50, insists. "It's proven technology, and we're going to commercialize it as quickly as possible."

For the first time in his company's 19 years of persistent trial and error, Mills says he has a market-ready product: a fuel cell that produces a chemical reaction to alter hydrogen atoms. The fuel cell releases heat that turns water into steam, which drives electric turbines.

The working models in his lab generate 50 kilowatts of electricity - enough to power six or seven houses. But these, Mills says, can be scaled to drive a large, electric power plant. The inventor claims this electricity will cost less than 2 cents per kilowatt-hour, which compares to a national average of 8.9 cents.

While his business has been working on the "BlackLight Process" since its inception almost two decades ago, Mills developed the patented cocktail that enables the reaction - a solid fuel made of hydrogen and a sodium hydride catalyst - only a year ago. (He recently posted instructions on the company's Web site,blacklightpower.com). Now that the device is ready for commercialization, he says, BlackLight is negotiating with several utilities and architecture and engineering firms, but he won't disclose any partners' names until the deals are finalized.

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www.cnn.com

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