James Hunt is a man in his mid 30s who in the course of his studies at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg Illinois engineered a portable hydrogen generator. As something of a leader Mr. Hunt set up an inventors club on the campus. It seems the generator is impressive enough that the college has assisted in obtaining the networking connections to gather the attention of early angel investors and two other universities that are testing his system. It’s reported that he has a lobbyist in Washington D.C., “pending contracts,” some contract work and has already talked with General Motors who it’s said will license the design. The license awaits additional research completion as I imagine Mr. Hunt would like the license for as complete of a design as possible.

But there are problems of being new, untested and seemingly in the perpetual motion business. In order for the vehicles converted to be driven on roads and highways he has to get past the Environmental Protection Agency, and that entails third party testing for verifying the process works and is safe.

How serious is this? You just don’t find your oddball inventors backed in principle by colleges and universities, with 15 employees, angel investors, EPA applications, universities testing your engineering and contract work on the books. So something is really up here or Mr. James Hunt is one of the most impressive frauds of all time. I don’t think so – I called.

I spoke with the reporter/editor of the local paper that ran the first story about James Hunt. I asked straight out what he thought about the veracity of Mr. Hunt. The reply ran something small town and quite reassuring, as the reporter knows people at the college, the inventors club is four military guys the college felt comfortable with to allow and encourage the research into Mr. Hunt’s idea. The reporter has met and spoken with Mr. Hunt. He’s as close to a reference as we’re going to get without some track record of the idea working, and the local folks are comfortable. The music man James Hunt is certainly not.

I managed to get the office phone answered. The gentleman spoke with me at some length. I did not ask any questions that would task him for proprietary information; rather my goal was to be certain that Mr. Hunt would see my email with the obvious questions.

So why aren’t these folk’s names, contact numbers and such listed here? Well, its respect. Any one can blow in and pester these folks and in truth, the past few days have been just about that. These are good people, ill prepared for the modern “get it now!” approach to life. I respect them and wish to encourage their progress.

What do I know beyond the newspaper story? It’s an old phenomena known as plasma induced hydrogen – oxygen separation that now has modern engineering skills and tools applied to it. I have asked the pertinent questions and anticipate that the responses will be forthcoming in a week or two. I sense that the hydrogen generation matter is pretty well resolved, and the focus might be on recycling the water so not requiring any new water added.

I have asked that Mr. Hunt respond to these concerns. The first being what is the ratio of energy units in to energy units out. Spare me the emails about conservation of energy, as molecular reactions are not nuclear reactions. If he has a physical way that cleaves the bond between the hydrogen and oxygen of water and the rebonding by oxidation yields more energy – so be it. The second concern is that Mr. Hunt explains “plasmatic induction” in terms that relate to his take on the original work and his effort to apply his modern engineering skills and tools that can be readily understood. Then I raise the matter about the inherent inefficiency of internal combustion engines. Obviously we’ll need some kind of retro fit for years to come and the ratios of energy inputs to outputs have distinct application here. The yields that Mr. Hunt’s process realizes must be quite substantial as IC engines have poor efficiency on the order of needing 4 or 5 units in to get 1 unit out.

Those are the big concerns for now. I noticed that the carbon rod used in the system gets used up and the only apparent exit is out the exhaust, which raises the issue of a minor, or microscopic amount of carbon based effluent. I hope that over time he can or a licensee can speak to the complexity of computer-managed engines being retrofitted as the computer and sensor requirements would be somewhat different if needed with the same process measures at all. And lastly I’ve inquired about compression ignition engines. It strikes me a much more complex of an issue to adapt the diesel or jet to run on something as reactive as hydrogen.

For those of you just now becoming aware the original news report from the Register-Mail of Galesburg, Illinois is here. Another link is by Max Lindberg who interviewed Mr. Hunt and has the conversation downloadable as an mp3 on his blog site The Lindberg Report.

A word about the assertions that GM is offering to license and other bits in the press reports. It is likely that GM has visited with Mr. Hunt as all the automakers realize that the petroleum scenario as its unfolding now is a disaster in slow motion. It’s a good bet to assume that GM will talk with anyone that might have some chance of providing an affordable personal vehicle future for people worldwide. I’d be visiting too and if the impression were good an offer to license early would be not just good diplomacy but sound business sense. After all “An American Revolution” needs a point and maybe an American hero, too.

It is also likely that the college has the connections to get third party tests and confirmations done by other schools. This is quite normal and the discretion is understandable too. Should the test garner the anticipated results, it will get quite noisy.

Or it may all be a flash in this week’s news that simply goes out in a few days. But the dream of portable hydrogen generation is alive and well. Almost any news that proves showing Mr. Hunt and his team have gotten past the 1:1 ratio of energy in:out will set off a charge of research into the field and that bodes well for mankind.

These past few days have gone far to bring me into thinking there might be some chance that a hydrogen economy could be part of the future. The problems of storage saw a big boost earlier at the University of Virginia and now portable generation has a story to tell. In any case the sharp pencils in the fuel cell business have to be smiling and breathing a sigh of relief. Back to work guys – something is going to break out soon.


5 Comments so far

  1. DAVID G. BOLEY on December 4, 2007 7:23 PM

    I think for now I’ll remain a fence setter on this one. I have worked and expereminted with producing hydrogen by electrolysis. Traditionally it has taken more energy to extract the hydrogen than what energy it can produce. On the other hand it just may well take a fellow like Mr. Hunt to open a new door here. It will definitely take somebody who isn’t afraid to think and work outside the box. One problem I have is that so far the criticism I have read is by those who have no real idea about what they are critcizing. If I’m going to read criticism I prefer it to be from experts.

  2. Anonymous on January 4, 2008 12:52 PM

    Post-haste Mr.Hunt, post-haste.
    We have all watched as the price per barrel of oil has risen from $15 to $100 in 8 years. And the powers that be don’t care because they themselves are becoming richer. 27% of my personal income goes to energy consumption in the form of gasoline, heating oil and electricity. E-freakin-nough already!
    Post-haste Mr. Hunt.

  3. Tom on January 5, 2008 10:48 PM

    Google This-Dr. Robert W. Bussard died Sunday morning October 7th 2007 according to friends and family. Although Dr. Bussard was in poor health, the news comes as a surprise in view of the widely held high hopes for his ideas on polywell fusion.

    Comments say that others will continue his work. More news as it becomes available.

    I wish to express my sorrow and sympathy to all of those who knew Dr. Bussard and called him a friend, mentor, leader, inspirer and other descriptions of a talented and personally interesting man. He will be missed.

    It seems anyone researching cheaper energy doesn’t live long.

  4. Steve on June 10, 2008 10:06 AM

    This seems likely to be a hoax. It would be nice but there are just a few articles on this on the web and they seem sort of hoaky. Leading me to label this guy and his invention a HOAX.

  5. Alicia on November 17, 2008 10:53 AM


    This isn’t a hoax. I have been using this since 2 years now. In fact, have over 1000 people using the same. Check my website if you still don’t believe. http://BuildHydrogenCar.com

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