It’s been 40 years since Michael Redwine made the initial discovery. This is his story.
The idea for these technologies came from a noteworthy source of inspiration: the Biblical account of the prophet Elijah on top of Mt. Carmel, which Michael was studying at the time. According to 1 Kings 18, Elijah performed a miracle before the Israelites by calling upon God to send fire from the sky that consumed a sacrifice placed on an altar drenched with water. Being both a man of God and a man of science, Michael reasoned that a bolt of lightning had struck the wet altar and that it could only have created a fire intense enough to completely burn everything it touched if the water itself had contributed as fuel.
Finding the missing key
With scientists across the U.S. scrambling for a solution to the OPEC oil crisis facing the Western world at that time, Michael was intrigued by the possibility of using pure water as a sole source of fuel. He knew the answer dealt with harnessing the power of hydrogen—the unique element that makes up two-thirds of every water molecule. The “easiest,” most reliable way to separate hydrogen from oxygen in water molecules at that time was via a chemical reaction called electrolysis. The problem Michael faced was that generating the amount of heat required to trigger electrolysis necessitated the use of an outside energy source.
Michael was convinced that all the components needed to trigger the reaction and create powerful energy had been contained in Elijah’s altar almost 3,000 years ago. The key to solving the problem, he hypothesized, was determining the right catalyst chemistry.
Michael built an apparatus to test his idea and, in early 1976, began experimenting with different catalyst configurations. As months and months went by without results, friends and coworkers of Michael’s jokingly hung a sign on the apparatus, calling it “Redwine’s Folly.” But persistence paid off. In the same way that Elijah’s miracle on Mount Carmel proved the presence and mighty power of God to the doubting Israelites, when one of Michael’s experiments finally produced a small flame, it proved his hypothesis correct—and opened the door for the boundless possibilities of truly clean, renewable fuel. So why did it take almost 40 years to progress the technology?
As proven by that first small flame, Michael’s apparatus was producing a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen gas. Hydrogen gas on its own is flammable, but the presence of oxygen amplifies that flammability. This became apparent after a subsequent experiment in which a flame was ignited that produced a thrust so powerful a coworker’s eyebrows were singed from over 25 feet away.
Fortunately no one was seriously harmed, but Michael realized he needed to find a way to control the reaction. Unfortunately, at that time selective gas separation technologies were prohibitively expensive and had limited applications. Michael decided to postpone further development until he could conduct experiments without putting human beings in danger.
It would be many years before Michael would make new scientific discoveries and manufacturing became sophisticated enough to present a viable solution to mature the technology. As Michael ventured into other fields, his miraculous discovery and the brilliant idea behind it fell to the wayside—until now.
a New ERa
Over the decades, Michael continued to work on the technologies out of public eye. In 2014, One Scientific Inc. was founded to complete the work started over 40 years ago and bring MHD hydrogen technology to the world.