New energy: the BlackLight claims


Richard Moore

Written by Craig Rubens
Posted May 30th, 2008 at 11:50 am in In the Lab,Startups

While it’s not cold fusion, the latest claimed breakthrough from the laboratories of the nefariously named Blacklight Power does defy some laws of physics. The startup announced this week that they have created a 50,000-watt prototype of a new fuel source by lowering the energy level of a hydrogen atom to below its ground state.

Cranbury, N.J.-based Blacklight claims that they can push an electron closer to the nucleus by way of a catalytic reaction and that the result is a huge amount of clean energy. The company describes the reaction as “somewhere between a nuclear and a chemical reaction” but without any of the messy nuclear fallout. Sounds far-fetched, but they’ve clearly convinced at least some people, as Blacklight says they’ve raised $60 million from “hedge funds and wealthy families.”

The only problem is, as far as quantum physics is concerned, almost none of this is possible. Indeed, Blacklight’s founder and CEO, Randell Mills, is proposing that we do away with much of pesky quantum mechanics and stick to simple Newtonian physics. Mills has been creating controversy for years with this theory, which he describes matter-of-factly as a classical take on quantum problems. He claims to be able to mathematically pinpoint the energy state and location of an electron, Heisenberg be damned!

Mills says they already have a prototype that they plan to scale to a 3 MW power plant within two years. Blacklight has wrangled with the Patent and Trademark Office over the scientific validity of some of the patents for which they’ve applied, but tells Earth2Tech that all of their IP is legally protected. If everything works the way it’s supposed to, Blacklight says they can use water as a fuel by electrolyzing it into hydrogen and producing hundreds of times more energy than hydrogen combustion would yield. Tehy say they can produce power from water for pennies.

While the company was mum about who their investors are, the Village Voice reported way back in 2000 that the likes of Eastbourne Capital Management, PacifiCorp and Conectiv have invested millions. Meanwhile, Blacklight’s board has some notable names, including Shelby Brewer, a former top Department of Energy nuclear official, and Aris Melissaratos, former director of Westinghouse’s Science and Technology Center. Update: Blacklight tells us that Aris Melissaratos left the company many years ago.

What Blacklight Power is proposing is truly revolutionary, if not impossible. They say they can do it, and they seem to have some credible people backing them. Now we’ll just have to wait and see if clean hydrogen energy really can scale — Mills promises that in 24 months, it will.