National Commentary

The Great Energy Transition: Brilliant Light Shifts Course

This week Brilliant Light Power released a new report updating the public on the progress they are making in developing their SunCell technology into a commercial product. The report also lays out a new marketing strategy for the technology. Two weeks ago, the Brilliant Light announced that they now have automated the energy-producing reaction inside a SunCell using digital controls. By eliminating the need for manual control of the reaction and closing up the reaction chamber, the SunCell should be able to run for extended periods and be ready for reliability testing shortly. The company says that first “lab-based” field trials should begin at the company’s in-house and an engineering partner’s laboratories within the next two-to-three months. Should these tests go well, prototypes of the SunCell are to be made available for outside testing by potential customers and manufacturing partners before the end of the year.

The surprise news is that the company now plans to build and lease a “thermal” version of the SunCell before the electricity generating version is ready for deployment. The decision to focus initially on a device that will produce steam, hot air, and hot water before the more complex and expensive “photovoltaic” version suggests that the first commercial versions of the device could be available next year – if, of course, the reliability testing goes well. A device that takes the energy from a carbide sphere glowing at 3,000o-3,500o K. and produces electricity using concentrated photovoltaic cells is indeed ingenious. However, complex engineering analysis to get the thermal balance of such a device adjusted properly likely will take a while to perfect. Using the energy emanating from the glowing sphere to heat air or water is much simpler, has far fewer technical risks, and is likely to be more trouble free. This can help with a commercial launch for a new technology that has already met with widespread skepticism in the scientific community as the underlying science of the device appears to conflict with what are believed to be well-established scientific principles.

Assuming that Brilliant Light’s SunCell, which can produce non-polluting energy at a fraction of current costs, works as planned and is ready for mass distribution in the next year or so, the question then becomes what is the best commercial use of this technology. The answer is clearly that in a world facing existential problems from carbon-induced global warming — eliminating coal burning furnaces from the earth as soon as possible is the number one priority. When these are gone, then the second most polluting fossil fuel combustion devices should be replaced. Reducing carbon emissions should continue as a top priority until as many carbon-emitting combustion devices as can be found have been replaced. The alternative could be a 22nd century that nobody likes. Beyond this, there are all sorts of benefits that can be imagined for cheap non-polluting energy. Replacing our central electric power stations with more economical means of producing our electricity; new forms of vehicles, and as yet unimagined uses for much cheaper energy. How about pumping ocean water up on top of the south pole as a way of keeping sea level rise in check. Given sufficient inexpensive energy, much could be done to regulate the environment by moving moisture to where it is most needed.

Although the existence of SunCell technology still is not recognized outside of a limited number of attentive people, this situation may be coming to an end shortly. It is difficult to believe that a successful test program for a new technology that can cheaply producing unlimited amounts of energy over extended periods can remain in obscurity for long. Don’t worry about running out of hydrogen, the SunCell’s fuel, the earth has eons of the element in reserve. The science which underlies the SunCell has been controversial since it was first recognized as a possible source of energy 25 years ago. More recently, however, the promise of the SunCell was simply too good to be true and therefore was not worth contemplating until proven beyond a shadow of a doubt by testers not associated with Brilliant Light Power. The day that the world recognizes we are on the verge of a new era certainly looks as if it is coming soon.