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Sunday, December 26, 2004

Capitalism is Cool...

Who are Peter Cordani and Rudolph Gunnerman?

Odds are that you never will know. But, then again, there is always the chance that they will become household names someday. Both have the potential to create a name for themselves that might eclipse the celebrity of Bill Gates, Henry Ford, and George Washington Carver combined. Such is the norm in the “land of opportunity.” You never know where the next advancement in technology, medicine or convenience will pop up.

The recipe, however, is usually the same. A problem or dilemma exists. A problem solver decides to take a stab at it. Potential for financial gains wait at the end of the rainbow should the problem solver find the solution. Sometimes the impetus is something other than money. But, even those ideological individuals who claim to be searching for the big find in order to “better the world” end up comfortably well off in the end.

ENTER Peter Cordani.

Peter Cordani is a big thinker. Back in 2001 he started doing some research on how to (get this) slow down, or just plain stop a hurricane.

Apparently, Cordani was working on the yard one day and the Soil Moist he was using sent off one of those All American “light bulbs.” Soil Moist is one of those chemical mixtures you put around the roots of the plant so that the water doesn’t pool and cause rot. The moisture, instead, gets absorbed into the polypropylene concoction. Cordani, the thinker, tinkered with the polymers and created a white powder substance. The spoonful of powder, when mixed with a glass of water, immediately turns to, well, goop. It, also, lowers the base temperature of the “goop” to something close to ice.

It’s been a couple years since he invented the product. Cordani even negotiated with Evergreen Aviation in McMinnville, Ore to rent a Boeing 747 Tanker this past hurricane season, while the coasts of the southeast were getting pounded with four strong storms. Astronauts Edgar Mitchell and Scott MacLeod are on the team as well. Cordani considered flying a load out to one of the four storms and giving it a Dyn-O-Gel enema. The goal was to drop in tons of the powder that can absorb 3,000 to 4,000 times its weight, shear the storm, and knock down the temperature about 15 degrees. That, in turn, would lower the Hurricane scale about two categories. That’s the theory as Cordani sees it.

Recently, Cordani and his team have been meeting with representatives of China, Japan, and Taiwan who have showed a curiosity. He’s looking for a substantial investment so that further testing can take place. The US, in general, has taken a skeptical approach to this Floridian’s endeavor.

Government meteorologists and scientists say he hasn’t got a chance of making a difference…But, I know something that they don’t know. Cordani has a previous invention that could endear him to every single female on the planet. It seems that in his Long Island teenage years Cordani invented the heated toilet seat. He’s also, invented straws that change colors based on a chemical reading to prevent against the unknowing use of the date rape drug Rohypnol. Simply put, Cordani identifies a problem, produces a potential solution, and tries to get the two to meet. And, he’s relentless by all accounts.
"We're just going to work on an isolated section in the southern quadrant of the storm and it's going to use its own energy to work against itself. That's the key to this. We're not dropping 300 nautical miles of powder. We're working on a small isolated section," says Cordani.

It sounds far fetched. Perhaps he hasn’t got a chance of pulling it off. Maybe I’m not wrapped too tight to think that he’s on the right track in guarding against one of nature’s greatest furies. But, then again, what would Ben Franklin say about the Space Shuttle?

Oh yeah, one more thing.

In 2001, “Cordani's team chartered a Canberra jet to drop $40,000 worth of his Dyno-O-Gel (also called Dyn-O-Storm) into a dark cloud off West Palm Beach. The event was covered by local TV, which reported that the cloud immediately dissipated. Not only that, a video of the airport radar screen showed that the cloud vanished. “
(you can see a video demonstration right here…)

AND then, there was Rudolph Gunnerman.

Gunnerman is CEO of Sulphco, Inc. and his bailiwick is a new fuel for the combustion engine that is cleaner burning, cheaper to produce, and doesn’t compromise the power produced from a 100% gasoline burning engine. Wouldn’t that be a kick in the teeth to the Saudis?

By all accounts, he’s already done it. In fact, he’s been in a partnership with Catipillar Company since 1994 developing this little dream of his.

Gunnerman’s invention is a substance called “Aqueous fuel for the 21st century” (A21). Essentially, Gunnerman has developed a fuel that is comprised of up to 55% tap water, and 45% Naptha.

What’s Naptha?

It’s an early by-product of the refining process used to produce gasoline. Whoa. Did you get that? One of the most costly factors in the production of gasoline usable in your motor vehicle is the refining process. This is due, not only, to the necessity of creating an efficient burning fuel, but, also, the plethora of regulations placed on the refineries so that environmentalists don’t cry in their Cornflakes. However, the use of Naptha in the formula would require less refining, because the byproduct of the process would be a significant part of the new fuel. That seems like a win/win situation so far doesn’t it? Lower refining costs and lower necessity of imported crude oil would be golden. However, there are other benefits as well. Simply put, have you ever tried to light a substance on fire that is comprised, mostly, of tap water? That would be safety factor #1. Actually, tap water and Naptha would separate naturally, sort of like oil and vinegar. However, the simple addition of a chemical agent to prevent the naptha and water from separating causes the fuel's vapor pressure to drop to one-fifth that of ordinary gasoline. This renders the new fuel inflammable and negates the necessity for a standard engine to have vapor-recovery systems on fuel pumps. Bingo that may be a small cost in auto production, but suppose you produce hundreds of thousands of motor vehicles annually. That a nice savings.

Now the real question. Everyone knows that a new fuel concept won’t be easy to push on the American people if there is a significant loss of power. Ed Begley jr. is, certainly, entitled to a glorified putt-putt golf cart, but that wouldn’t fit the bill for those guys in the Hemi commercial. The water molecules separate into hydrogen and oxygen atoms, which increases the fuel's combustibility. And, listen to this:

Don Patterson, a truck engine account manager with Tenco, the
Caterpillar dealership for 10 counties surrounding Sacramento, has used
A-21 to fuel a three-axle, 300 horsepower tractor truck, and he's
impressed.

"It felt exactly like diesel, good acceleration, no smoke," he says.
"You could not tell you were driving an alternative fuel truck. The other alternative fuels, compressed natural gas, liquid natural gas, you do get a horsepower and torque loss. Not with this. I've been a journeyman mechanic for 25 years, and I've never seen anything like it."

That was an interview from back in 1996. So where is it? Beats me. You’re lucky to find any information on this potentially revolutionary alternative hybrid fuel source after 1998.

Testing on the new fuel was done all over the country. The Minnesota Transportation Department challenged Gunnerman to convince them, so he flew up and, promptly, convinced them. "it had the cleanest exhaust I've even seen coming out of a diesel. If this really does what it seems, this is big!"---MTD chief operations engineer.

Then there are the comments from the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection from 1996:

"It's probably close to half again cleaner than regular gasoline, at
least," says Ed Glick, a planner in charge of the mobile sources section of the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, which has studied A-21. "It'll meet the 2005 standards -- the gasoline that we're all using now wouldn't."

So, where is this stuff? Why isn’t all over the market giving Sheiks and Shysters stomach problems? Beats me.

In 1996, A21 won federal approval to be become the first "primary fuel" on the market since the invention of gasoline and diesel more than a century ago. And, apparently, in the City of Reno (home base for Sulphco)A-21 has been successfully used in boilers receiving 250 kilowatts of electricity a day from an A-21-fueled generator stationed on the Gunnerman's property. A-21 can be used in any diesel powered or spark-ignition motor to drive cars, trucks, aircraft, even locomotives. In fact, Reno's city bus N. 405 started using Gunnerman’s initial prototype of A21 back in 1993. On February 22, 1996, after 11,292 miles of city use -- the engine was shipped to Caterpillar for inspection. Reno's Regional Transportation Commission maintenance supervisor Bruce Anderson reported a 29% increase in mpg for the bus.

I’m not an environmentally conscious individual. But, I do support a common sense approach when the concept ties into an economical and strategic advantage. So far, only minor adjustments costing less than $500 would have to be done to existing vehicles so that A21 could be used. However, the cost of the fuel would be about ½ of today’s prices and that cost would be made up rather expeditiously. Gunnerman knows the math. Like all good capitalists he realized that in order to make money, you have to spend money. As of 1996 he had sunk $7 Million of his own money in the development of A21.

So, where is it? Well, the company has focused on alternatives to diesel engines in heavy-trucks and equipment first. Perhaps that’s why we aren’t seeing an A21 pump at the local Sunoco. Then again, I can’t find any recent news on this new fuel. Perhaps there was a flaw of some sort. After all, water has a tendency to freeze in cold climates. However, that problem was solved by an ethanol additive. Who knows?

That’s not the point is it? The truth is, these two remarkable innovators both grabbed onto a problem begging for a solution. Both projects are works in progress. Both of the treasure hunters are relentless in their pursuit. And, our “land of opportunity” provided the freedom that encourages creativity, originality, and innovation.

Incidentally, our society provides that flowerbed for these ideas and the motivation to grow them into a fruit bearing concept. That society is a nice heaping helping of capitalism.

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