One Scientific in Phase II of its commercialization efforts

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Jon Barnwell, Co-Founder and COO of One Scientific Inc. in Johnson City, draws an analogy between the progress the clean tech start-up is making and the stages of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

He says One Scientific’s path closely aligns with companies that have gone that route. There’s Phase I, which is the opportunity to establish the scientific, technical, commercial merit and feasibility of the proposed innovation. Next comes Phase II where the focus is on the development, demonstration and delivery of the innovation. Finally, Phase III is actual commercialization.

“We’re in Phase II,” Barnwell says of One Scientific’s effort to commercialize multiple technologies including a 40-year old cost-effective method for generating renewable hydrogen anywhere in the world where there is access to water. 

The work officially began about three years ago with the company’s founding, but Barnwell and Michael Redwine, the Founder and CEO, have been focused on the concept for a much longer period. In fact, it is Redwine’s technology that is the technical foundation for the company.

We have followed One Scientific’s progress with a series of previous articles on teknovation.biz that you can find here.

Over the last three years, the start-up has developed three major components for its one-of-a-kind distributed energy resource (DER) system. They include a catalytic hydrogen/oxygen gas generator, 3D-printed Cyclonic Separator, and a novel fuel cell.

“We’ve achieved all of the technical milestones we established,” Barnwell says.

Now, it’s a matter of putting all of the components together for a year-long pilot project.

“We’re excited about completing the prototype,” Barnwell says. One Scientific’s next goal: commercial quality pilots – Phase II, if you will, beginning this year.

“We’re into the final weeks of phase I,” Barnwell says in response to how soon the pilot for energy storage will begin. “The fuel cell is the last component we are working on. We are building 48 for the prototype.”

One Scientific has produced a “four-foot cubed stainless steel enclosure” that will house all of its technology including 48 fuel cells that can generate 500 watts each. Collectively, they will power the 24 kilowatt prototype that will be deployed by the energy storage pilot partner.

“Other pilot applications we’re pursuing include onsite renewable hydrogen supply for a chemical company and onsite renewable hydrogen supply for Fuel Cell Vehicle refueling station.“

One Scientific visualizes building units that can scale with demand, so Barnwell says the 24 kilowatt prototype has been developed as a module for ease of scalability and to maximize manufacturing efficiency. The company has also filed utility and international patent applications on its technology.

Barnwell has been participating in the “Energy Mentor Network” operated by the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council with support from Launch Tennessee.

“It’s really been a good experience,” he says. “The mentors are exceptional providing industry related experience to help us prepare for raising future capital. It’s a great program.”

One Scientific is located in the Innovation Lab at East Tennessee State University.

“We’re growing,” Barnwell says proudly. “Our team is expanding and it’s exciting to see the pieces of the puzzle coming together.”

Mission accomplished!

One Scientific’s latest breakthrough has solved a problem with our technology that dates back to its inception in the 1970s.

If you’ve read our “About” page, you’ll recall that when the earliest prototype of our technology was first tested, it shot a jet of flame across a 30-foot distance and singed the eyebrows of a bystander. It was this incident that caused our founder Michael Redwine to shelve his incredible invention until scientific advancements could help make the technology safe.

The problem stemmed not from a flaw in the technology, but from the inherently volatile nature of pure hydrogen and pure oxygen when exposed to one another. Our technology’s unique method of splitting water produces a gaseous stream made up of 2:1 hydrogen and oxygen. Michael tested various filtration medias to separate the two gas streams—including pure gold leaf—but was unable to successfully devise a method that was both efficient and cost-effective.

Fast forward to March 3rd, 2017. Thanks to years of experience and advancements in additive manufacturing, we have finally produced the solution Michael was searching for with our 3D printer. With this key component, we have achieved over 99% separation of both gases.

Our 3D printed part has a short life due to the filament material limitations. We are now looking to outside vendors who can manufacture this component in a more robust material. This means another round of experiments to finalize the breakthrough and another step closer to commercialization. 

This breakthrough is truly a landmark along the journey to bring Michael’s dream to fruition. We can now produce and harness hydrogen gas from water almost anywhere—safely.

Stay tuned for future updates on our progress, and if you haven’t already, sign up for our newsletter to receive future news!

One Scientific moving forward with its disruptive technology

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA 

When you are involved in a disruptive technology that will potentially change the world, one of the greatest challenges is determining where to start.

That’s certainly the case with One Scientific Inc., a Johnson City-based clean tech start-up that has been the subject of several previous articles in teknovation.biz including this initial overview. We caught-up with Jon Barnwell, Co-Founder and Vice President, during a recent visit to Northeast Tennessee.

“One of our biggest challenges has been identifying where we fit into the evolving energy space,” he told us. “We can produce two energy carriers – hydrogen and electricity – with ultra-high efficiency.”

The question becomes what customer segment has the greatest pain and opportunity to gain? It’s a long list, and Barnwell says there is potential to serve them all.

One Scientific is commercializing multiple technologies including a 40-year old cost-effective method for generating renewable hydrogen anywhere in the world where there is access to water. Conceived and built in the 1970s by Michael Redwine, company Founder, the technology is ready for broad commercialization now that One Scientific has combined with another proprietary technology, a new hydrogen fuel cell, which will work to address previous safety concerns.

Yet, the widespread adoption of hydrogen as a mainstream energy carrier has not yet occurred, because it has been expensive to produce and convert to a useful form of energy.

Barnwell underscored that challenge by noting that there are less than 1,000 fuel cell vehicles on the road, most of which are in California. “But that’s about to change,” he says.

At the 2016 “California Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Summit,” stakeholders met to discuss unprecedented attention and activity in the use of hydrogen and fuel cells along with ongoing challenges. Honda Motors proposed that three key developments need to happen for broad consumer adoption of fuel cell vehicles.

“More fueling stations, (a greater) need for renewable hydrogen, and the cost at the pump must be less than $10 a kilogram.” Barnwell said.

One Scientific believes it can meet all three challenges and would like to do so here in Tennessee.

“It would be so exciting to help Tennessee get on the hydrogen economy map,” Barnwell says. “We’re preparing technologies that can lower the cost of hydrogen filling stations as well as the delivered cost of hydrogen.”

Stations cost between three to five million dollars, a not inconsequential amount. “Historical demand for hydrogen in transportation has been low, but near term projections are very high,” Barnwell says.

On the advent of EVs and FCVs, he explains One Scientific is creating a solution that can supply existing gas station convenience stores with the means to generate their own electricity for refrigeration and lighting as well as for recharging electric vehicles and refilling fuel cell vehicles.

“We’re talking about a nationwide infrastructure upgrade with multiple benefits that hit the bottom line directly-That’s what we want to do,” says Barnwell. “Phase I of our R&D plan is nearly completed.” The company plans to demo version 1 of its first commercial product in the next few months.

Up next is Phase 2 in which One Scientific will work on testing and improving its system.

One Scientific focused on providing data to validate its technology

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Edwards Deming, the world-renowned statistical process guru, once said, “Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.”

That’s certainly the reality that Johnson City-based One Scientific, Inc. has encountered as it advances its game-changing technology to harness hydrogen anywhere in the world where there is access to water and immediately generate electricity.

As noted in our initial article late last year on the start-up, One Scientific believes it has found a way to commercialize a 40-year old technology that had remained on the shelf for four decades due to safety concerns. Once those beliefs can be documented with solid data, the company expects to unleash a rapidly growing hydrogen economy.

“We now have in Johnson City the first version of our commercial product,” Jon Barnwell, Co-Founder and Vice President, told us recently. “We spent many hours designing it to house multiple technologies and have many more hours ahead of us to get to the final version.”

Those technologies include the core reactor doing the catalytic induced plasma phase electrolysis and a hydrogen fuel cell that will mate-up with the core reactor. Working together the proposed system eliminates the need for hydrogen transportation and storage or electricity transmission and distribution.

“We have the core reactor and it works,” Barnwell said. “We are developing the fuel cell.”

That’s good progress for a start-up that is mostly self-funded, but additional capital is clearly needed. Over the long-term, Barnwell and his partner, Founder and Inventor Michael Redwine, expect to fund the work through a combination of grants and private investments.

Regardless on the source of new funding, the One Scientific team knows it needs baseline efficiency data.

“Being a pre-revenue, high tech start-up, we need data to convince federal agencies like the Department of Energy (DOE) that we can do what we say we can do,” Barnwell says. That reality was reinforced by the reviewers’ comments on several applications that One Scientific has submitted to DOE.

“My takeaway was we are onto something big,” Barnwell said of the comments.

To secure the needed data, One Scientific has engaged the University of Kentucky’s Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER).

The Center has a rich history in fossil fuel research, not surprising given the coal economy of Kentucky in the past. Today, the Center conducts research in clean fuels and chemicals, biofuels and environmental catalysis, carbon materials, environmental remediation and restoration, electrochemicals, power generation, and utility fuels.

“CAER will do the analytical work to produce the baseline data,” he said. “We believe the data will cause heads to spin.”

That work is underway, so stay tuned for another update.

One Scientific commercializing 40-year old technology

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.

“It’s a new but dormant technology that was tucked away in a corner for years,” Jon Barnwell of One Scientific, Inc. told us recently about the inaugural product the new company is pursuing.

The Co-Founder and Vice President of the Johnson City-based start-up was referring to its Catalytic Hydrogen Production System or CHPS, pronounced, “chips.” CHPS is a cost-effective technology for providing very efficient hydrogen gas all over the world where there is access to water.

“The technology is something Michael conceived and built in the 1970s,” Barnwell said, referring to Founder and Inventor Michael Redwine. “It remained hidden because it was unsafe.”

Now, nearly four decades later, the team at One Scientific believes it can overcome earlier concerns about safety that made commercialization of the technology challenging, if not impractical.

“Advanced materials, unique design and processes have paved the way to make it safe,” Barnwell explained. “We’re setting new precedents with a small-scale demo. We’re talking about a game changer invented by a remarkable man who, among many achievements, was nominated by Apple Founder Steve Jobs for SPIRE Engineer of the Year – and won.”

So, what does the technology do? Simply stated, it’s hydrogen to electricity conversion.

According to Barnwell, CHPS has the trifecta – waste heat recovery, solid state power generation technology, and distributed production. It starts with hydrogen, which is the key to unlocking clean and abundant energy for this and future generations.

“The hydrogen economy requires adoption of the hydrogen fuel cell,” he says, noting that fuel cells deplete hydrogen and must be refilled. “We have very few hydrogen filling stations in the U.S. because of cost and technical challenges related to producing hydrogen from renewable sources.”

This translates into a critical need for thousands of renewable filling stations that have to be affordable, easily installed, and accessed.

That’s where One Scientific’s technology enters the picture.

CHPS overcomes those challenges. While the process involves closely held trade secrets, Barnwell says, “We efficiently generate pure hydrogen gas from a superheated steam and we do so at the point-of-use.”

By effectively removing the transportation element, One Scientific says it is cutting years off of market transformation due to lack of hydrogen pipeline and transportation infrastructure.

“We are gaining attention from some big players,” says Barnwell. One Scientific believes it has a scalable solution for hydrogen fuel cell filling, remote/back-up power system, off-grid/on-grid power generation, and disaster recovery where quiet and fume free power generation is needed.

Barnwell and Redwine met in church six years ago and began collaborating on CHPS and One Scientific. They formed the new company, which is located in East Tennessee State University’s Innovation Lab, last year.

As a pre-revenue start-up, operations have been fully funded out-of-pocket and through private investment.

“We expect to demonstrate the alpha prototype by the end of 2015, then immediately begin beta.” Barnwell says. “We’re now seeking financial capital from government grants, equity crowdfunding, and angel investors.”

Barnwell and Redwine are focused on building the right team that can help take the technology to the next level.

“Michael leads the technical end, and I bring in the business side,” Barnwell explains. “Together we’re creating a goal-oriented environment that fosters innovation and rewards success.

Barnwell has been involved in three start-ups and simply says, “This is the most challenging by far but also the most rewarding. We share in one common vision and have the obligation to empower the world with hydrogen energy, one switch at a time.

One Scientific headquarters in northeast Tennessee

We are very pleased to announce the establishment of our business office, within the East Tennessee State University Innovation Lab in Johnson City, Tennessee. Passing the Innovation Lab’s self-proclaimed “unashamedly highly selective” vetting process brought with it a certain amount of prestige that helped us build our network and create connections with important companies and organizations in the area.