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October 21, 2008

Venture Beat Investigates Blacklight Power

Venture beat has coverage of the Rowan University study of Blacklight Power

-Rowan University Prof Jansson gets supplied the Raney nickel from Blacklight Power, which it in turn obtains from an industrial supplier.
-Mills said it doped with a very small amount of another common material, sodium hydroxide, in a process that others could replicate.
-Jansson has been aware of Blacklight for years, and even acted as an advisor for an energy company that ultimately made a strategic investment, but it appears to have no unethical ties, just an ongoing interest.
-Mills, for his part, says that he’d like for scientists to independently verify every step of the process, from obtaining the Raney nickel and doping it to the calorimeter tests to prove that the energy bursts really exist. The information needed to run those tests is free to the public, he says; the only thing required is a researcher willing to take the time to puzzle through the process.
-Jansson’s team is observing produce only a quick burst of intense heat. In a commercialized process, there needs to be a steady output. Mills says he has purposefully kept knowledge of how to loop the reaction within the company, so that his own researchers can remain a step ahead in their work on the 50KW reactor the company earlier announced.
-According to Mills, it’s likely that a totally independent researcher will verify the whole process within a year. Meanwhile, the company will start licensing out its energy process.


The independent study was covered yesterday at this site.





The latest expected unit costs for the Blacklight power system compared to current energy technology:



The Blacklight hydrogen production plant diagram

FURTHER READING

A blogging Phd organic chemist Derek Lowe is taking a look at the Rowan University work.

This part would appear to be what’s being tested at Rowan:

”To achieve high power, R-Ni having a surface area of about 100 m2/g was surface-coated with NaOH and reacted with Na metal to form NaH. Using water-flow, batch calorimetry, the measured power from 15g of R-Ni was about 0.5 kW with an energy balance of delta-H = -36 kJ compared to delta-H of roughly 0 kJ from the R-Ni starting material, R-NiAl alloy, when reacted with Na metal. The observed energy balance of the NaH reaction was -1.6 x 10 to the 4th kJ/mole H2, over 66 times the -241.8 kJ/mole H2 enthalpy of combustion.”

I'll wait for more details before commenting on this, but it's clearly rather odd. Also in the rather-odd category are some of the figures in the Blacklight PDF - take a look at Figure 58, for example, which is labeled "MAS NMR spectra relative to external TMS Of NaCl, KCl, and CsCl showing the expected trend of increasing intensity of H2 (1/4) at 1.1 ppm relative to the H2 at 4.3 ppm down the column of the Group I elements."

Well, fine - but hold on a minute. MAS is "magic angle spinning", which is a solid-state NMR technique - and that NMR spectrum is clearly taken with a lot of DMF around. The dimethylformamide peaks are labeled as such, and it looks like a solution spectrum, not a solid-state one. Second, where's the trend? I see no series presented, just a single spectrum of something, with no labels to suggest various alkali metals. What's more, although I can't find a value for the NMR chemical shift of hydrogen gas in DMF, it's known to be 4.5 in deuterochloroform, so their 4.3 ppm is reasonable. But there's no peak at 4.3 to compare that big 1.1 ppm peak to - what am I looking at here?

We shall see - maybe. I'll report back if I hear from the group at Rowan. For now, I remain skeptical. I would truly enjoy the discovery a new energy source, but the history of this field does not inspire confidence.


Here is a peer reviewed paper which indicates that the Blacklight process could work while being consistent with existing physics.

The possible existence of fractional quantum states in the hydrogen atom has been debated since the advent of quantum theory in 1924. Interest in the topic has intensified recently due to the claimed experimental findings of Randell Mills at Blacklight Power, Inc., Cranbury, New Jersey of 137 inverse principal quantum levels, which he terms the “hydrino” state of hydrogen. This paper will show that the general wave equation predicts exactly that number of reciprocal energy states.

The four-dimensional potential equation indicates that fractional quantum states exist. The solution is square integrable, satisfying a fundamental tenet of quantum physics. Mills’ claim of 137 different inverse energy levels seems confirmed, as is Naudts’ relativistic analysis showing that at least one reciprocal state can exist.


Hydrino theory indicates maybe compatible with the standard theory of relativistic quantum mechanics.

Here is the paper that is critical of Blacklight Power.

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What works in reality will be explained with the right science. If fractional quantum states work, then science will integrate it with everything else that works and move on. So it still all boils down to does this thing work. We will see over the next 1-2 years.

If more funders put more millions into Blacklight Power and it does not work out for them, then so what. Given the trillions being lost now on the belief that advanced physics and math models could change sub-prime loans into triple-A loans, there are clearly worse consequences to being wrong about math and having misplaced belief.

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