Researchers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), scientists for the U.S. Navy and a group of investors who have contributed over $25 million to his private company believe in the work of Harvard Medical School graduate Dr. Randell Mills.
However, scientists at the American Physical Society (APS), a trade organization for American physicists, and Harvard say his findings are unfounded.
According to Mills his fight to establish a breakthrough technology pits establishment science against the cutting edge of innovation in the field of energy.
While this researcher-turned-CEO prides himself on the scientific developments his firm has made while working in the commercial sector, he may ultimately need the academic community's support to become a financial success.
Mills's detractors recently succeeded in convincing the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to revoke a patent issued on Feb. 15 to his company, BlackLight Power, Inc. of Cranbury, N.J. BlackLight was awarded the patent for a process developed by Mills in which hydrogen molecules are broken down to release energy and "hydrinos."
According to Mills, this process generates energy much more cleanly than traditional fuels and generates by-products that are useful in a number of industries, from aerospace to computer chips.
The company is now suing to recover the lost patent. Jeffrey Melcher, BlackLight's lawyer in Washington, says he expects to appear before a U.S. District Court Judge on May 22. He says he is seeking summary judgment to have Blacklight's patent reinstated.
"To the best of my knowledge, the U.S. Patent Office's action in this case is unprecedented or extremely rare," Mills says.
From the beginning of his career, Mills has been dogged by an academic community with which he has little in common as a medical doctor and practicing businessman.
The most visible representative of Mills' opposition is Robert L. Park, a University of Maryland physics professor who recently wrote a book called Voodoo Science: the Road from Fraud to Foolishness, in which he attacks Mills and other "fringe" figures for propagating what he calls "junk theories."
In Voodoo Science and a number of articles, Park, who was not available for comment, contests the BlackLight process for producing energy from hydrogen because he says it defies accepted laws of physics. But Park admits he has never tested Mills's method in a lab.
For this reason, Melcher says, it is especially remarkable that the U.S. Patent Office has named Park as one of the instigators of its decision to review and ultimately rescind BlackLight's patent.
Mills says he believes Park, who is the paid spokesperson of American Physical Society (APS), protested his patent as part of an ongoing campaign "to protect the agenda of 'Big Science'"--his term for the group of scientists that receives government research grants.
According to Mills, Park does not want to acknowledge that BlackLight, an independent firm running on private capital investment, has succeeded at a project members of his own professional organization have been trying to achieve for years.