1992-11-07: Marin Independent Journal: In Quest of Perfect Engine
Paul Pantone has a lofty ambition -- he wants to save the planet. But the world may not be ready to be saved.
The Greenbrae resident claims to have invented the miracle engine -- cheap energy and no pollution. In fact, says Pantone, it produces energy while cleaning the air, something that has been, at least until now, akin to turning lead into gold.
It is nothing less than the Holy Grail of the Industrial Age. The engine could eliminate toxic pollution and bring an enormous boost in the standard of living to everyone on the planet. If American industry develops the idea, as Pantone wishes, it could put thousands of idle factory workers back to the assembly line.
"If it were true, that would be great," says Robert Catterson, head of research at engine maker Briggs & Stratton in Milwaukee.
But as Galileo found, revolution isn't an easy sell.
"I've about chucked it down the well," Pantone says. Some days he salivates at the prospect of earning millions from the invention. Other days, he says, he would give it to humanity, just to forstall a global calamity and keep his sanity intact.
The miracle engine turns nice people into greedy ones. Prospective investors and patent lawyers demand extortionist terms. Friends and employees have tried outright theft. "Everybody's trying to rip me off," he says.
Then there's the cold shoulder from the business establishment.
Nonsense, engineers say. Their explanation is far simpler: It doesn't work.
"His invention violates two out of the three laws of thermodynamics and the laws of relativity," says an engineer who looked at plans.
Pantone says that kind of textbook thinking is the enemy of progress.
Scientific papers numb the mind to the possibilities, instead of opening up the possible, says Pantone, a high school drop-out who doesn't like to read.
"Science puts limits on things. I couldn't accept limits." he says.
Pantone still remembers the genesis of the device he calls an "endothermic reactor." An indifferent student, he was daydreaming "in Mrs. Bowman's 7th grade classroom" in Palmdale.
He filled with it for years, but got serious about making a living from his ideas after a serious leg injury ended his carpentry career.
His reactor doesn't look like the start of a new era in technology. It's a big lawnmower engine mounted on a wood plank, with a network of pipes, chambers and valves. Pantone's pipes take the place of the exhaust pipe and the carburetor, where gas and air are mixed in many internal combustion engines.
Pantone's explanation of what happens in chambers is vague. "I don't know what we're getting," he says.
The fuel is heated in the endothermic reactor. As the molecules speed up in a vacuum, the fuel implodes instead of burning. The process doesn't consume oxygen, he says.
That would be a Milky Way-sized shock to scientists: Combustion always consumes oxygen. If it didn't, scientists would have to re-write the laws of the universe. If the endothermic reactor doesn't consume oxygen, it would be a nuclear reaction -- which scientists say couldn't be happening in the chamber.
To prove the reactor works, Pantone had several services perform smog tests. He runs them on all kinds of fuel, from crude oil to water.
Pantone says the tests show a miracle in the exhaust. It has more oxygen than the atmosphere and no hydrocarbons, the unburned fuel residue.
In a test paid for by the IJ, the engine performed only adequately, even Pantone admits.
The oxygen output was about the same as the atmosphere; it emitted about as many hydrocarbons as a new car.
"It's not burning as clean as the current standards for a catalytic converter." says Jim Morris, who conducted the smog test at Country Club Shell in Ignacio. But Morris was intrigued. "If he can keep the hydrocarbons down, he'd have something."
Pantone blames the poor performance on an incompatible valve. He says he had to substitute too small a valve after some associates damaged it while trying to steal it.
But independent engineers asked about the test results scoffed at the claims.
"The results were disappointing. It didn't live up to the claims," says Catterson of B&S, which brought Pantone to its Milwaukee headquarters for a test. It did a fairly complete evaluation, he said.
Smog tests shouldn't be given too much credence, experts say. They're OK on cars with well-tested technologies. But they don't measure many critical ingredients of exhaust -- sulphur and nitrogen, for example.
Just as important, a smog test doesn't measure how much energy the engine produces. An engine that produces a little pollution that doesn't produce much work may be worse than an engine that produces a lot of pollution and a lot of work.
Even the most claim that the endothermic reactor pollutes only as much as a modern car is misleading, independent experts say. A modern car runs on four or six cylinders. Pantone's one-cylinder engine spews out as much pollution as a six cylinder car.
By Tom Nelson (IJ business editor)
(from geet-pantone.com news article website, )