By: Paul Clouse
From the back lot of the Wampler’s Farm Sausage facility in Lenoir City, TN, Ted Wampler, Jr., says a new technology is being tested that could have global implications. It is called a Cellulose Hydrogen Power Engine (CHyP engine).
It has the potential to change the way we create and distribute electricity by generating an incredible amount of power using natural, sustainable fuel.
Cellulose material, such as plants, sawdust, or even junk mail, can be used to power the CHyP engine, though switchgrass is preferred.
Wampler says, “All the fuel we use to power the CHyP engine is produced on site. We just cut and sprayed it, but out there is a field of switchgrass. Eventually it’ll grow 12 feet tall with roots going 15 feet deep. We want to show people what the world’s newest energy crop looks like.”
The grass is havested and fed into the engine where it is dropped into a chamber full of nitrogen and then heated to 2100 degress Celcius. The nitrogen prevents the material from catching fire, but the intense heat breaks the switchgrass down into carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.
The free hydrogen molecules get captured by the system where they are then combusted to power a generator and create electricity. The oxygen molecules either combine with the hydrogen or the carbon. When it combines with the hydrogen it turns into a super-heated water vapor that rises through the system and cleans the incoming switchgrass. The water returns to the engine and is once again heated allowing the hydrogen another opportunity to be collected. When the oxygen combines with the carbon, it gets shuffled through the system until the carbon molecules reach the waste bin. However, the carbon’s journey is far from over.
Dr. Sam Weaver, the inventor of the CHyP engine and its company, Proton Power, discovered that when the waste carbon (called biochar) is mixed with nitrogen, it becomes an incredible fertilizer. Research is still pending, but in small experiments they have found plants grown using the nitrogen/biochar can produce a yield of over 300% compared to a plant grown only in soil. Further, the life of the biochar in the soil is expected to remain active over 10,000 years. If their estimates are accurate, this means that areas with arid, desolate soil could become lush farmland.
Wampler explained how the CHyP engine can produce a half yield of water if configured properly. This means for every 1,000 pounds of switchgrass fed into the machine, it can produce 500 gallons of water. The water is not immediately potable. Calcium and other hardening agents must be added, but once the water is treated, it is completely safe.
Just a few months ago, Proton Power discovered that if the machine is configured properly, the engine could create synthetic oil that is chemically identical to natural oil. In a test, oil from the CHyP engine was successfully converted into diesel. It could also be converted to gasoline or any other liquid fuel.
The machine costs in the low-to-mid millions, so it is within the grasp of large businesses and governments’ purchasing power.
Wampler’s Farm Sausage is already seeing an influx in the number of scientists, engineers, and government leaders visiting for a chance to see the engine in action. If the CHyP engine catches on, it could change the face of global politics. It would allow small communities in distant countries to have electricity. It could help to relieve our water shortage. It could reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. It could help us fight hunger.
And it’s all getting started right here in East Tennessee. If you’d like to learn more about the CHyP engine, visit www.protonpower.com.
© Paul Clouse, 2015.