How Cool Is This?

Technology news from Hawaii — “A Big Island company will be the exclusive seller of a new bladeless-turbine technology the manufacturer says will drastically reduce costs for electrical power generation and hydrogen fuel production for use in fuel cells and automobiles,” according to the Pacific Business News. If you read the article, you’ll see something that occurs over and over and over in the history of technological change — the inventor stumbled on this innovation by accident, in the course of doing some other research. That’s precisely why efforts that dirigiste control-freak folks think are duplicative and wasteful are very much NOT wasteful. It’s the knowledge problem — how do you know? How do you know what might arise from that effort?

The Hawaii company marketing this invention thinks this technology has great prospects for reducing energy costs of renewable resources, including hydrogen:

The breakthrough could one day be seen as being as important a discovery as the cotton gin, says Jack Dean, president of Hilo-based T.H.R.E.E.

“In much the same way people could look back and say, wow, what a revolutionary new idea that allows us to move to a totally different level of self-generation,” said Dean, a former executive for Puna Geothermal.

Because the bladeless turbine is ne-tenth the cost of a traditional turbine, it’s able to provide better efficiencies in cogeneration applications such as heating water or running chillers for air conditioners and bring the cost of producing hydrogen down to where it is equal to or below the cost of gasoline, Johnson says.

“To use the electrolysis process to generate hydrogen required for a fuel cell is about three times more than gasoline, probably more than that,” Johnson said. “We can make hydrogen, we estimate, at least at the price of gasoline and possibly closer to the price of natural gas.”

Aaaaaah, the perennial gale of creative destruction!