05 Jan 2017 15:50 IST

Mills’ energy mill

This device is estimated to produce as much energy from one unit of water as 2,000 units of petrol | Pic credit: brilliantlightpower.com

Maybe 2017 will really be a happy new year, considering an invention that may kill energy poverty

If what I have been reading in the recent past is any indication, 2017 will be a happy new year — and not in a platitudinous sense. I mean in a very real way. It seems there is an invention just around the corner that can kill energy poverty and bring prosperity to mankind, just as though with the swish of a wand!

Story of industrial heat

As regular readers of this column may recall, 2016 was witness to a battle with an inventor called Andrea Rossi and a company that funded him , called Industrial Heat.

The invention was a fist-sized device (called E-Cat) which, when spiked with a nickel and a handful of cheap, easily available chemicals, could produce more energy than was put in — a process that scientists believe involves ‘nuclear fusion’ at room temperatures (It is pertinent here to mention that nuclear fusion, which releases insane amounts of energy, requires even more energy to take place, and so, happens in places like the Sun).

The converts

Rossi’s E-Cat is now the subject of a legal battle, though there are reports emanating from Florida (where the Italian inventor lives) that he has begun selling bigger versions of the device. Of course, the thing has its detractors as well, people who believe it is bunkum and a sham, something that will eventually be proved as fraud, because (according to them) the fundamental tenets of physics are sacrosanct.

However, with each passing day, E-Cat has more and more people converting from sceptics to believers. The current year is likely to witness some interesting developments in this space. If it turns out to be a commercial success, you could have a TV-sized machine in the basement of your building, supplying electricity 24x7 at incredibly low prices!

Moving on…

What is happening a little up north, in the city of New Jersey, something that is slowly grabbing attention, is as interesting and potentially game-changing as the E-Cat. It is a device that its inventor calls ‘SunCell’. It is the size of a coffee-cup and can produce energy from — hold your breath — water.

One estimate has it that it can produce as much energy from one unit of water as 2,000 units of petrol! Funnily enough, the inventor is a medical doctor, Dr Randell Mills. Apparently, he has been tinkering around with such contrivances for around two decades now, and recently came up with the winner — SunCell.

So watch out for more news on SunCell, which Dr Mills’ company, Brilliant Light Power, has begun commercialising.

Honey, I shrunk the atom

The contrivance works on the principle that a hydrogen atom can be shrunk. Hydrogen is the most basic of elements (it is the first element in the Periodic Table) and comprises one proton and one electron. When you bring the electron closer to the proton, it releases energy.

 

Dr Mills calls the shrunk Hydrogen atom ‘hydrino’ and believes that ‘dark matter’ — which astro-physicists believe makes up 95 per cent of the Universe — is all hydrinos.

A description of how the SunCell works — and there is plenty of technical material available in public domain — reads like pure magic. This is probably why there are hundreds of people gritting their teeth in disgust. The device consists of liquid silver and a pump to inject it, a small injector to put in hydrogen produced from water, a pair of electrodes and some such other stuff. When it is on, it produces a very bright light, as bright as “one thousand suns”, according to a press release of Brilliant Light Power.

From there to electricity generation is but a small hop. Have a bunch of photovoltaic cells around the glow and you have electricity flowing. Ta-da! Dr Mills is said to have used just $100 million of privately raised money to come up with this machine. (To watch videos of this device in action, click here )

As in the case of Rossi’s E-Cat, there is a lot of scepticism around SunCell too, and the device will no doubt generate a lot of heat — metaphorically. People in favour of it argue that every major invention has had to go through such a ring of fire. They believe SunCell will come out shining.

Wishful thinking

At the beginning of a new year, there is scope (and need) to be optimistic. Imagine the world if both E-Cat and SunCell click. In a few decades, it will mean the end of all coal, nuclear, gas plants, and the entire oil and gas industry will be pushed to the pages of history (Brilliant Light Power is also working on a version of the SunCell that will power automobiles). Every single person in the world will then have ample cheap energy to play around with, which in turn will mean the end of poverty.

Great, no?

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