Is Mills taking over where Newman and Soule' left off?
- New power source or sci-fi delusions?
By Kevin Coughlin
The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger
Sunday, November 21, 1999
EAST WINDSOR, N.J. -- From a cavernous laboratory near Princeton
University, a former dairy farmer with a degree from Harvard and
confidence is promising to conquer the world.
Randell Mills calls his secret weapon the BlackLight Process.
It is a new and abundant source of cheap power, Mills claims, that
will run cities on a swimming pool's worth of water. As a bonus, he
says its byproducts
are novel "hydrino hydride" compounds with a million and one uses:
electric-car batteries that run 1,000 miles on an overnight charge;
chips; munitions packing more bang for the buck; super sealants for
a rust-free Navy.
A lot of respected scientists think so. They call Mills misguided
at best, a sci-fi con man at worst. P.T. Barnum with an F in
physics, a perpetual motion
machine of ego.
If Mills is right, they say, then a century of quantum mechanics --
the bedrock of modern physics that has produced transistors, lasers,
"His theory is totally groundless," says Paul Grant, a former IBM
scientist now with the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo
But the brickbats haven't kept private investors -- including two
power companies and a former federal energy official -- from pumping
$20 million (the
company's figure) into Mills' BlackLight Power Co. Inc.
They're betting he's the next Einstein, even though some
acknowledge they can't understand a word of "The Grand Unified
Theory of Classical Quantum
Mechanics," Mills' self-published tome. It's 1,000 pages long and
sells for $100.
If Mills is right, they say, he will transform the world and make
them all very, very rich.
"He's getting the same treatment Galileo got from the Vatican,"
complains investor Shelby Brewer, an MIT-trained physicist and an
assistant secretary of
energy in the Reagan administration. Brewer writes off naysaying
academics as "old ladies, old sinecured bureaucrats."
Mills, 42, pulls no punches, either.
"Quantum mechanics is purely fictitious," he says matter-of-factly,
deriding the nearby Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory as a flop
that's wasted billions
of dollars trying to harness the sun's power.
Mills says he's found the answer and it's chemical, not nuclear. No
hellfire, radioactive fusion. And no room-temperature fusion in a
The concept of "cold fusion" caused a sensation 10 years ago, but
its promise of limitless energy hasn't panned out.
If BlackLight isn't cold fusion, the quest began around the same
time. And Mills' dreams hinge on the same thing: The most abundant
-- and probably
best-understood -- element in the universe.
More than a dozen U.S. patents of his are pending, says Mills'
lawyer, Jeffrey Melcher. They cover "new ways of providing abundant
energy from ordinary
hydrogen," he says, and a "new field of chemical compounds having a
fantastic combination of properties never seen before."
Yet another source of "free energy"? Wallace Edward Brand