Transitioning to the Future (Tom Whipple)

The following post has been submitted by Tom Whipple

Last Wednesday I had what may turn out to be a glimpse of mankind’s future in, of all places, New Jersey. Keep in mind that New Jersey was where Edison invented the light bulb, so the state has a track record of earth-shaking innovation. The venue was the most recent demonstration of the progress that Brilliant Light Power has had in preparing its SunCell energy generating device for market. As some of you may recall from my previous columns, this device takes tiny amounts of water, converts it to a controversial form of hydrogen (which mainstream science does not admit can possibly exist) and as a result produces a teacup-sized sun that is used to produce prodigious amounts of electricity using solar cells. There is, of course, no pollution resulting from the SunCell’s operation and the cost of the fuel is close to zero, making it an irresistible choice to power the world of the future.

If your immediate reaction is that this sounds too good to be true, welcome to the club as 99+ percent of people who have ever heard about this device have the same reaction as you — at least for now. The issue is not that the SunCell does not work, for all those who have been close enough to see it in operation or tested its output testify that it does; the problem is that the device and the science behind it are simply too far ahead of our time to be comprehended. As the late Arthur C. Clarke, the science fiction writer, said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Starting from the development in November 2013 of a process to extract large amounts of energy from atomic hydrogen derived from water molecules, Randell Mills and his associates at Brilliant Light Power have moved the technology from a single flash of light to a device that now can keep a teacup-sized version of the sun burning continuously inside a sphere made of refractory materials. In few weeks, this sphere, which glows with the intensity of a light bulb filament, will be encased in a geodesic dome of advanced photovoltaic chips which will produce electricity which first will measure in tens of thousands of kilowatts and eventually in megawatts.

It is obvious that widespread dissemination of this technology could quickly replace all other ways of generating electricity — including the combustion of fossil fuels, nuclear, solar, wind, and hydro. The major reasons for the rapid acceptance are that it is a compact device, simple to make, non-polluting, does not require an electric grid, and once installed, costs virtually nothing to run. While the photovoltaic cells currently are the most expensive part of the SunCell, their price should drop markedly once these devices are produced by the millions.

Needless to say, we can anticipate a strong vested-interest reaction to the advent of this technology from those involved in the various way we currently produce and distribute electricity. These interests naturally will be supported by those who have not yet grasped the reality that the world is getting hotter largely due to emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels. So the SunCell will start life with formidable resistance to its introduction. Unless the world has already passed a tipping point where it is no longer possible to stop and reverse global warming, then the SunCell and perhaps equivalent technologies, offer the best, if not the only, hope of keeping life on this planet reasonably pleasant in the near future.

Much of the news coming from the Brilliant Light Power’s recent presentation concerned the timetable for bringing the SunCell to market which is anticipated to be late next year or soon after. The heart of the device which are the subsystems that produce the small sun seem to be functioning well. They have no moving parts and are expected to run continuously for 20 years which is the expected life for solar cells. There are probably many useful things a device such as the SunCell can do in an industrial setting; however, for now the priority is to make inexpensive, non-polluting electricity, which as we know has endless uses both in the stationary and mobile modes.

Current plans call for the photo voltaic cells to be ready for testing by January. Customizing the photovoltaic cells is not a simple matter as the SunCell produces light thousands of times stronger than that of the sun by the time it reaches earth. This energy must be safely handled and exhausted to prevent the cells from melting. If all goes well, early prototypes of the SunCell will be made available to prospective customers and collaborators for testing by the middle of the year. If the testing is satisfactory, and all the safety certifications are in place, then the SunCell could be available for commercial use by the end of 2017.

What are we to think about all this? First, the possibility that the whole idea is a scam is too remote to consider. Mills has been open about his project and more recently the progress and setbacks as he tries to develop a commercial system. The assertion by those in the academic community that the science behind the SunCell is impossible means that they have not dived into the subject deeply enough to fathom that the science goes beyond current dogma. There are now too many outside scientists, engineers, inventors, attorneys and financiers that have seen the technology up close to believe there is a massive fraud being perpetrated. Obviously, the hundreds of employees of respected outside firms that have contracted to build the solar cells or engineer the SunCell into a marketable product do not think they are dealing with a fraud or even a dubious technology. Too many outside academics have staked their reputations by verifying the technology.

Somewhere in the next six months, an electricity-producing prototype of a SunCell should be ready for public display. At this point, Mills, Brilliant Light Power, and its product will be difficult to ignore. Academics who have been denying Mills’ science for the last 25 years will either have to find an alternative explanation for the extraordinary amounts of electricity being produced or start rethinking some parts of physics. The world will never be the same.

Tom Whipple

  • Svein

    Replication of the Sun Cell.

    The Sun Cell might be very difficult and expensive to replicate, so I understand if people
    are reluctant to do that, but to just make the bang might be in some replicators capability.

    The high voltage might be the easy part, but to figure out what Mills put into the souse
    might be the problem. Are there any known groups working on this?

  • peacelovewoodstock

    I was open minded until I read that a postdoc who reviewed Mills’ “Grand Unified” book found it rife with mathematical errors and baseless assumptions (at least the sections that weren’t lifted word-for-word from other texts).

    I’ll bet $1,000 that BLP doesn’t have a commercially viable product by the end of 2018, much less 2017.

    This is a bet that I would be happy to lose.

    • kenko1

      Hey, a prototype is only ‘six months away’!

      • artefact

        He could argue that a prototype is not commercially viable.

    • Michael W Wolf

      What is his name? If he did find errors, you skeptopaths would have them all over the internet. We are they? Yea, that is what I thought. Rathke tried to go public with so called errors. He was shown to be completely incompetent, making simple mathematical errors.

    • Svein

      I think Brilliang Light power are not planning to sell
      units, but the power the units produce. So it might take a long time before you can
      buy a unit, so the bet should be adjusted to «more than 1000 units produced, that
      will deliver more than 10 kW of electricity with less than 10% input power.»

  • radvar

    “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
    William Gibson

    Just ask those folks burning cow chips in the Sahel.

  • Asterix

    Edison didn’t really “invent” the incandescent light bulb, but refined and commercialized it–see:

    http://www.livescience.com/43424-who-invented-the-light-bulb.html

    for a larger story. There are also numerous reports of others coming up with the same notion of a carbon filament in vacuo years before.

  • Dr. Mike

    Michael,
    I don’t doubt the issues are being worked as they arise, but I believe there will be several more reliability issues arising once the full-up prototype is tested. For example, note Leonard Weinstein’s comment on the previous post about how carbon from the graphite blackbody radiator will slowly evaporate, coating the PV cells.

  • LuFong

    In the meantime, the future shows up anyway: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRqSkR4ENAg

    • Zephir

      This is rather gradualist progress (evolution of solar panels) – but anyway it looks like the most useful thing, which Musk ever developed.

      • LuFong

        The point is the future keeps arriving anyway. Worldwide renewables have now surpassed coal. Musk has integrated solar with battery and transportation that is now on the market. The SunCell still has that pesky word “if” prefixed to it’s future. Rossi keeps moving the goal posts. This is real now.

        P.S. Don’t really follow your video. Looks like something new?

        • Zephir

          Slow and steady may win the race. But they may lose tournament, There’s no doubt, that Musk will die rich. But will he die as the most contributory person for mankind? I can already doubt it.

          http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hy-musk-subsidies-20150531-story.html

          • LuFong

            Elon Musk is already rich. Tesla has paid off it’s government loan. Subsidies exist independent of Musk. Tesla makes nice cars, he’s revolutionizing space travel, and he’s doing what makes sense to me. He’s done a lot already.

            I believe he’s stated that Tesla exists to finance SpaceX which his plan to perpetuate the species. He’s just started and it will be history that judges him not us. I like what I see so far. I don’t have a dime invested in Musk but I will need a new car and new roof 5-10 years from now….

            One would think that if Kapagen works that after 7 years it would be more well know…

            • Zephir

              Well, the cold fusion has been invented in 1924/26 – and we all know, how much it’s actually famous… I can just see the same very type of evasions and ignorance between LENR promoters, like between mainstream physicists…. 😉

    • Iggy Dalrymple

      Looks good, sounds good……..but I doubt affordable.
      I bet the roof costs more that 1/2 what I paid for my nice home.
      My total utilities (electric, water, sewer, nat gas, garbage, & yard trash pick-up is $225/month year-round…..and that’s in hot Florida.

  • Ophelia Rump

    You need to refresh you Rossi understanding badly, and you either or vision of the future and marketability is staggeringly naive.

  • Zephir

    /* will be encased in a geodesic dome of advanced photovoltaic chips which will produce electricity */
    The SunCell generates plain heat, it doesn’t require any progress in photovoltaics for its utilization. Once the most of energy is generated in ultraviolet, the existing solar cells would be deadly ineffective anyway. On the contrary, I consider such a delays a bit suspicious – what prohibits Mills to surround his cell with normal boiler and to generate the steam directly from it?

    • tlp

      Why don’t you also study what blackbody radiation means?
      And there is not any delays, everything is going as planned.
      Just standard (though advanced) photovoltaic chips are used, but installed a little differently.

    • Dr. Mike

      Zephir,
      The UV and deep UV output of SunCell heats a blackbody radiator (a graphite dome) which in turn outputs a blackbody energy spectrum that is captured by the PV cells. The PV cells will be designed to most efficiently capture the energy from the blackbody radiator, not the energy spectrum from the SunCell reaction. I don’t see any reason the SunCell could not directly produce steam . I wouldn’t be surprised to see the SunCell eventually powering boilers in existing power plants, however, it seems that the initial goal is to build a small footprint electric power generation system. Since the CPV array is by far the largest cost of the proposed SunCell system, it does seem like it would have been more reasonable to use this technology to replace existing coal/gas/oil fired boilers in power plants before developing the proposed system. It would be a good question to ask Mills why he decided to go for the direct electrical generation market, rather than the power plant market. Wouldn’t a SunCell system pay for itself in just a couple days of fuel cost in a converted power plant?
      Dr. Mike

      • Axil Axil

        I think that Mills wants to use the SunCell as a lightweight auto power source.

      • Zephir

        I can understand that – but why do you believe, the solar cells would convert the black body heat to energy more effectively, than the simple boiler?

        • Warthog

          You’ve got it exactly backwards. Photovoltaic cells based on silicon are already almost a perfect match for a blackbody curve, it is in the visible and especially in the UV where their conversion eficiency drops off.

          There are already silicon cells designed for use at high temperatures (using concentrating optics). To keep them operational, they need to be actively cooled.

          It is not impossible that a plant using “Suncells” would be a combined cycle unit, with energy captured directly by the photovolatic process (I think they have these up to around 20-30%), and from the “cell cooling cycle” by using a low-boiling coolant fluid and a turbogenerator.

          • Zephir

            Photovoltaic cells based on silicon are already almost a perfect match for a blackbody curve

            Match or not, their theoretical limit is 30% only

            http://i.imgur.com/n8gZAvr.png

            Until we use the “cell cooling cycle”, then this efficiency can rise to 40% with usage of Strirling engine and no photocell could beat it

            http://www.greenoptimistic.com/solar-stirling-engine-ripasso/

            • Jouni Tuomela
            • Dr. Mike

              Zephir, Warthog,
              Zephir is correct that all longer wavelength photons (1100nm and longer) in the blackbody radiation with an energy less than the 1.1eV bandgap of Si will not be converted to electricity. Also all photon energy greater the 1.1eV bangap energy of Si will be wasted as heat for the shorter wavelength photons. Therefore, Si cells have maximum efficiency in the near infrared to red spectrum, lower efficiency for yellow through deep UV light, and no efficiency for far infrared light. Poor efficiency for the photons in the yellow to UV energy spectrum and no efficiency in the far infrared spectrum have led to the development of the 3 layer cell to maximize the theoretical conversion efficiency for cells exposed to blackbody radiation. No single semiconductor is a really good match to blackbody radiation generated by the SunCell radiator.
              Dr.Mike

              • Warthog

                My point was that for single-semiconductor dells, silicon is the best match for a blackbody output curve. I’m well aware of the multi-layered multi-semiconductor devices, although it has been a few years since I checked SOTA for them..

                It is all a balancing act of tradeoffs….if a multi-layered cell costs 10X silicon, they will probably use silicon despite lesser conversion efficiency.

                • Dr. Mike

                  Warthog,
                  Actually GaAs might be a better match for a single semiconductor for the blackbody radiation output by the SunCell, assuming it reaches the temperatures predicted. Also, even at 10X cost (actual it might be 50-100X), the final design will use the 3-layer cells because the 3-layer cell efficiency should be about 40% vs 20-25% for the Si cells. After a few weeks operation you would have paid for the extra cost of the 3-layer cells. All types of CPV cells will probably need additional design to go from 500-1000 suns up to the target value of 2000 suns or more due to the higher current densities and the internal series resistance of the calls. The internal series resistance of off-the shelf Si PV cells would probably limit their usefulness to intensities of 50-100 suns. If the system is initially demonstrated using conventional Si cells, the cells would have to be placed at a much greater distance from the blackbody radiator to limit the light intensity. This would result in a much larger prototype, but I don’t see anything wrong with this approach for demonstration purposes.

                  Dr. Mike

                • Warthog

                  “If the system is initially demonstrated using conventional Si cells, the cells would have to be placed at a much greater distance from the blackbody radiator to limit the light intensity.”

                  Unlikely. Far easier to just cool the cells for either Si or CdAs types. The tech for cooling is well-developed from designs for concentrator solar cell systems.

                  Or you could just dredge up the Stirling technology developed for concentrator solar, which can put out 60Hz AC directly.

                • Dr. Mike

                  It’s not a matter of cooling the cells. Conventional cells that are designed for one sun operation have too high of internal series resistance to be operated at high light intensities (which would cause their efficiency to drop dramatically at high light intensities). At a minimum they would have to use Si cells that specifically designed for use in concentrated solar arrays, which would be much expensive than conventional cells. When the SunCell design was originally proposed, a claim was made that the high intensity light could be captured by conventional solar cells. Now they realize they need expensive cells to do the job.

                • tlp

                  All the time they have planned, and are going to use conventional CPV cells, of course not non concentrated cells.

                • Warthog

                  “At a minimum they would have to use Si cells that specifically designed for use in concentrated solar arrays, which would be much expensive than conventional cells.”

                  I had thought it pretty clear that it was exactly “concentrator-designed” cells that I was referring to throughout. And cooling is most definitely part of the design of concentrator units.

        • Dr. Mike

          Zephir,
          They are planning on using a quite expensive 3-layer PV cell that does not even include Si. The longer wavelength radiation from the blackbody radiator will be collected in a Ge layer. CPV cell manufacturers have claimed 40% efficiency on such cells (for solar radiation), but I’m not sure what the efficiency will be on production cells of a large area. Also, the SunCell may operate at higher intensities than the current cells are designed for. I could see where the internal series resistance of existing cells will be too high for the devices to operate at high efficiency at high intensities (2000 suns or so) without some major improvements in the cell design.
          I believe the SunCell is using CPV cells so that they will have a “solid state” electricity generator that doesn’t require a steam driven generator.
          Dr. Mike

          • Zephir

            OK, thank You for explanation, but You already know, what I think about all of it…

        • Albert D. Kallal

          I have to agree!

          That’s my question too!

          Why bother with the PV part of this system? If the heat outputs are as claimed, then we should be off to the races.

          I mean, sure, down the road working out the PV panels and producing electricity is not a bad idea. However with energy and heat output is as claimed, then I am at a big loss as to why spend all this time messing around with some solar panels?

          I mean, this is like creating a great nuclear reactor ready for prime time, but then going off on some tangent and placing solar panels around this incredible reactor? This just not make sense.

          Why spend on all that time on R&D for solar panels when you can take that device and heat a skyscraper now?

          Why spend time on solar panels when you can drive a steam turbine?

          I am at a loss here – this “extra” step makes little sense at this point in time. So sure, down the road one might want to wrap some solar panels around such a device – but I am hard pressed to see why this course of action makes any sense at this point in time?

          Regards,
          Albert D. Kallal
          Edmonton, Alberta Canada

          • tlp

            Because it is easier and faster to market. Try to build a small power plant 10kW to 250kW using steam turbines in a couple of months.
            The heat source has been finalized maybe a week or two ago, and solar panel solution should be ready early January, so there is hardly any delay there, any other electricity production method would take the same time to integrate.

            • Zephir

              /* Try to build a small power plant 10kW to 250kW using steam turbines in a couple of months */
              On the contrary, just the small scale steam generators are ready-made solution prepared at the market. Do you think, I’m completely stupid?

              https://www.alibaba.com/premium/steam_turbine.html

              • tlp

                Hmm, alibaba, sure.

            • Albert D. Kallal

              Who says they need to make a smaller unit? And the size of the unit is already small.

              And yes, there is a huge delay by messing around with PV panels.

              This PV issue is the elephant in the room – and I find it rather hard to ignore. If the core technology works as claimed, then muddling around with MHD designs, or now doing a 100% about face and talking about solar panels makes VERY little sense here.

              You don’t have to build any turbine plant – just go heat some factory. The units are not large at this point in time anyway.

              There are TONS and TONS of institutions and universities that have on-site natural gas plants for heating and electricity – you don’t have to build anything. Same goes for any large hospitals – they have co-generation units on site that provide hot water and electricity (and run on natural gas).

              The lack of effort or business plan to work this “first” ready-made market for a heat producing device makes no sense at all.

              So no, it not easier and faster to market. If the heating core is ready, then it is ready for such applications with little effort as compared to some PV dome around their fire.

              Regards,
              Albert D. Kallal
              Edmonton, Alberta Canada

              • tlp

                They need to make a unit that is self sustain off the grid, because that is the only way people believe that it produces more energy than it consumes from the grid. They have been showing calorimetric measurements for years, but still most people are skeptic, as you seem to be also?
                Skeptisms is also the reason why they cannot just go to a power plant and say: lets plug this heater in your system to get cheaper electricity.

                • Albert D. Kallal

                  Well, at least your suggesting that PV would eliminate the “nay” sayers in regards to COP measuring (that’s the best argument so far!). So much of my skeptic is why go with PV panels for this device? (and no one really given me a viable answer).

                  And they don’t need to approach some large generating plant but as noted one of many “smaller” scale co-generation plants that exist at so many universities and institutions. So about the only case I seen as “viable” is your point that such a setup would eliminate any issues of calorimetric measuring.
                  However, with the given claimed energy outputs, significant amounts of heat will have to be pulled and removed from the device anyway. Assuming an optimized 30% conversion to electricity, we still NOW faced with having to remove 70% of the energy away from the device in the form of heat. So the cost and engineering to remove 70% of the heat or 100% is likely not much different. In fact by introducing the solar panels, you likely increase the cost of how you going to remove all that heat energy. (and you STILL have to deal with and remove that heat).

                  So yes, I have quite a bit of skepticism here since no one made a strong case as to why the goal here is not using the amazing energy output as heat as compared to capturing 30% of the energy as electric, and THEN having to engineer a system to remove the remaining 70% of the heat?

                  So what are the plans and stated goals for that 70% excess heat energy? As I said, this is rather large elephant in the room. Someone at least has to address this heat output issue, and by ignoring the obvious, then my skeptical meter remains high.
                  Of course if they start talking about all that engineering required to remove waste heat – then my obvious question rears its ugly head!

                  And that question remains as to why not use this incredible heat source and worry about attaching some solar panels later on down the road? And without a thoughtful discussion as to how or where the waste heat is going to be utilized again is WAY too large of detail they are not discussing or talking about.

                  So the efforts to remove 70% of the heat, or 100% not really going to be much if any different in terms of cost. And let’s say some really good reason is made for going with solar panels, the lack of discussion as to their plans in regards to waste heat remains an elephant in the room.
                  With outputs claimed, then that 70% heat output is no small potato, and represents 70% of the energy output – and no one going to talk about 70% of the energy output here? Really???? This issue has to be addressed in a serious manor.

                  Regards,
                  Albert D. Kallal
                  Edmonton, Alberta Canada

          • Zephir

            IMO this is all just Mills evasion why not to show investors clear water calorimetry and COP evolution with time.

            • Mark Underwood

              I believe the positive water calorimetry result has already been well established at the demonstration day before the most recent one. An outside expert in bomb calorimetry was involved.

          • Mark Underwood

            It’s understandable that a Canadian (who lives in Edmonton no less) wants heat at this time of year, and they want it *now*! 🙂

            Seriously, I wonder if cooling the enclosure with water would have an effect on the plasma reaction inside. Apparently Mills is getting a self sustaining plasma reaction on the order of a minute or so. Active cooling of the surrounding enclosure might quench it. Maybe.

        • Leonard Weinstein

          The dome is heated to between 2000K and 3000K, which produces visible and near IR radiation which is efficiently converted to electricity using concentrator solar cells. These cells would be cooled with water circulation, and are ~35% efficient. Steam power plants require turbines and are also ~35% efficient in modest sizes. The use of solar cells is far more compact and inexpensive. The only problem is that at the higher end of temperatures, the dome will slowly evaporate. This would likely limit the dome temperature used, and require a better choice of material than carbon, which evaporates more easily than ceramics or Tungsten even though it has a higher melting point.

          • Leonard Weinstein

            The version with PV is compact and efficient and practical for motor vehicles, and for individual home use. Steam turbo-generators are not efficient at <10 MW scales, and efficiency is very low for systems the scale proposed (efficiency at 250 kW electric for steam/electric generation is only about 15%)

          • Zephir

            Well, this is all redundant as 65% (but I suspect way more, as the common silicon cells at market operate at 15% efficiency) of output SunCell energy would be wasted in heat and it must be recuperated in some steam engine anyway (Stirling engine is by far most efficient at small scales)…

            So why not to use it directly and complicate the stuff with PV cells, evaporation of dome and similar nonsenses? IMO this is all just Mills evasion why not to show investors clear water calorimetry and COP evolution with time.

            • Leonard Weinstein

              Zepher, if you bothered to read up on concentrator PV cell progress, you would find that 3 stage cells now exceed 45%, and 2 stage ones 35% at wavelengths close to solar. In fact, the dome would have to be some cooler than proposed (as I stated, due to evaporation) but the IR response is still in a favorable range even at 2400K. The size and cost of a steam turbogenerator at several hundred kW levels would be much worse than the PV version.

  • Jimr

    My next concern would be the solar cells. Have they really developed a cell that could handle the excessive light, heat, etc for a prolonged period. What is the maximum wattage from a square meter of cells?

    • artefact

      These cells allready exists. They have to have the producer make fitting peaces.
      These cells can deal with up to 10000 “suns” for large collectors. BLP wants to run them at 2000 “suns” in the beginning.

  • artefact

    BRILLIANT LIGHT POWER’S OCTOBER 26, 2016 INDUSTRY DAY

    PDFs available (link at the end):

    http://brilliantlightpower.com/brilliant-light-powers-october-26-2016-industry-day/

  • Gerard McEk

    I hope it will work Tom. Every new source of energy that does not pollute the environment is welcome in this world.
    I’ll wait and see who is first Randell or Andrea. Let the competition begin!

    • sam
    • LION

      There are always many custodians of the Flame, some are presently known, yet others will emerge, to the surprise of the many. The more the merrier, Humanities NEED is great.

  • Axil Axil

    I predict that if Mills used a 50/50 mix of protium and deuterium in the SunCell, it wound fail to work.

  • Axil Axil

    Tom Whipple did you try to use your cell phone when the plasma reaction was active? Did your cell phone work? Did you have any issues with your quarks watch when the plasma reaction was active?

  • Dr. Mike

    I doubt that the SunCell will ready for commercial use by the end of 2017 because of the reliability issues of operating this system at a very high temperature. However, the progress made in the past year or so seems really promising for eventually commercializing this technology.