Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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Monday, December 04, 2006
(N.B. An update was added to this post on Tuesday.)

Nikkogen, a company claiming to have

a global license to manufacture/market zero-emission Prime Mover Systems that are designed to drive large electrical alternators to generate clean carbon-free electricity.
are making legal noises at bloggers who linked to Tim Worstall's discussion of the subject.

The Nikkogen FAQ page is informative on points that do not matter, vague on points that do.


A: Nikkogens' offices are currently located in South Wales , approximately 130 Miles (209km) West of London in the United Kingdom.
"South Wales, United Kingdom, Earth" might do for a company address come the Galactic Empire - but here and now it would be reassuring to see a street and town. Or a patent application number that referred to something to do with energy rather than an "INSITU CONCRETE SAFETY FEATURE WITH REFLECTOR FOR A KERB", which is what the application number quoted to Tim Worstall refers to.

Looking at its website, Nikkogen could well be called a company of the future. At some time in the future it promises to announce to the public its recruitment plans, its public investment listing, the names of its partner companies in other industries, the events it will be attending, the cost of the power stations it will provide and a little more information - such as any at all - on how its revolutionary power plants, desalinisation systems or marine propulsion systems work. At present none of this information is available.

I would also like to see the name of a single customer and to know what body issued that "global license."

UPDATE: Tim Worstall has now been told a new patent application number. This one comes up "FLUID WHEEL DRIVE SYSTEM" - that does sound more relevant to power generation.

Nonetheless, I am amazed that Nikkogen is blithely talking about setting up both 40 megawatt and 240 megawatt power stations. In fact it gives the impression that you can buy one now. ("To purchase a 40-Megawatt or 240-Megawatt Zero-Emission Power Station, please contact us by telephone, fax or email for further information via the contact page.") Setting up a power station is a big undertaking. Like this fact or hate it, the state is involved at every stage. Generating stations of over 50MW are subject to consent from the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. Even for smaller stations you'd expect planning applications and environmental assessments and all that sort of stuff to be in the public domain years in advance.

Development of a new technology is also a big undertaking. You'd expect to see it tested in the laboratory, then at gradually increasing scales, with peer-reviewed scientific papers and press conferences and patents galore. Again, like it or not, for something promising to revolutionise energy supply you'd expect the state to have its paws in every stage of the process - and to be supplying large chunks of the money.

Here's a comparison. Between 2001 and 2004 there was a project, partly funded by the DTI, to build a "demonstration plant at utility scale" at Little Barford power station for the Regenesys energy storage system. (The parent company later pulled out and the technology has been sold to a Canadian company.) A Google search for websites mentioning both "Little Barford" and "Regenesys" gets 326 hits. Technical journals, DTI reports, detailed press releases, the lot. And all that was for a much smaller project than what Nikkogen is proposing.

"Unity" of the blog Ministry of Truth, one of the bloggers threatened with legal action by Nikkogen, has a post about the physics of all this. And a song or two. Considering how Nikkogen's Mr Jenkins behaved to him, Unity is pretty charitable.