Dr. Thomas B. Reed, Jan. 2, 1926 – Oct. 10, 2018

Thomas B. Reed
Dr. Thomas B. Reed, Inventor, Renewable Energy Expert, MIT Professor

Dr. Thomas B. Reed passed away Oct. 10, 2018. Below is a short obituary of a very long and productive career in science. It was written by his son, Philip Reed

During the first oil embargo in 1973, a director at Lincoln Laboratories asked Dr. Thomas B. Reed to research alcohol as a fuel for cars and trucks. Reed concluded that methanol — made from waste material — was superior to ethanol, which is mainly distilled from corn.

The result was the lead article in the journal Science which created a furor and changed the course of Reed’s career. He was named the Director of Methanol Division, at MIT’s Energy Laboratory, and spent the rest of his life researching and writing about renewable energy.

Reed, a Concord, Mass., resident for many years, died peacefully in Worcester, Mass., on Oct. 10, 2018 after a short illness, at the age of 92.

Born on Jan. 2, 1926 in Chicago, Reed left high school early to enlist in the U. S. Air Force and served until 1945. He graduated from Northwestern University in 1947 with a Bachelor’s degree and earned a PhD in 1952 from University of Minnesota in Physical Chemistry.

His first job was at Shell Oil Company, in Houston, Tex., in the early 1950s, and Reed shared an office with F. King Hubbert, who coined the term “peak oil” predicting that the height of oil production in the U.S. would be 1995. This planted a seed early in Reed’s mind that the world’s resources were limited. That thought was rekindled by the 1973 oil crisis.

Reed promoted methanol as a clean burning fuel, easily produced from many readily available sources, met with strong resistance from the oil companies which retaliated with full-page ads and articles claiming, among other things, that methanol could be poisonous when absorbed through the skin. However, in 1982, Bank of America ran a fleet of 250 cars on methanol and successfully drove over a million miles. And long before the oil crisis, methanol was regarded as an elite fuel by race car drivers because of its high octane (the amount it can be compressed without igniting) and lower burning temperature.

After working for MIT’s Lincoln Laboratories from 1960 to 1975, Reed moved to Golden, CO, where he joined the newly created Solar Energy Research Institute (now the National Renewable Energy Laboratory). In 1996 he traveled around the world studying the uses of renewable energy in India, Africa and South America.

Concerned about deforestation, he saw that families in rural villages built large fires, often indoors with venting through the ceiling, to cook meals, inhaling carbon monoxide in the process. He invented a simple stove that could be made from a coffee can that could boil water by burning a few small sticks. Many versions of his invention were built and used and it was eventually sold as a portable stove for backpackers. He co-wrote “A Wood-Gas Stove for Developing Countries” providing for free, the plans for clean burning wood stoves.

Reed secured twelve patents in the fields of biomass, material science and high temperature technology. He published numerous books and technical papers including articles in Scientific American and Science magazine. In 1965 he was a Senior Research Fellow, in the Department of Inorganic Chemistry at Oxford University. In 1982 and 1993 he received the R&D Magazine “Invention of the Year” Award for the oxygen gasifier and later for “Sea Sweep,” a natural absorbent for oil spills.

Reed, of Barre, MA, is survived by his four children, Katherine Lathrop, of Barre, MA, Philip Reed, of Long Beach, CA, Peter Reed, of Maynard, MA and Kevin Reed of Golden, CO. He is preceded in death by his wife, Vivian Odh.

A memorial service is scheduled for 1:00, November 4th at the Congregational Church in Barre, MA. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Dr. Reed’s life. A private burial will follow the service.

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A New Pyrolysis Patent

The patent below is potentially the best patent I have ever obtained in the field of biomass or Biochar Energy. But currently it sits unused and forgotten.

1) Pyrolysis (roasting) of biomass to about 280 C doubles it’s value:

2) by removing heavy and useless CO2 and H2O.

3) This product has been called “Biocoal”‘ and the name is appropriate, since Coal has a lot more energy than the coke you can make from it or the biomass it was made from 260-200 Mya (Carboniferous age, precipitated by the evolution of lignin that turned mosses into tall trees and our atmosphere from CO2 to O2.)

4) It is BONE dry with energy content of ~ 10,000-12,000 Btu/lb instead of the the typical 4000-8000 Btu for wet===> dry wood

5) It has lost most of its strength, and so can be densified into super dense pellets (50-60 lb/bag ?) with 1/5 the energy required for densifying sawdust

6) When transporting wood chips by truck, one could roast them using the truck’s exhaust energy tempered to 300C with excess air. (It is necessary to TEMPER the heat, since Overhearing will emit smoke and reduce final energy.)

It’s a shame to let it just sit unused at the patent office, and I’d appreciate any suggestions for commercializing it.

Below is a brief schematic explaining the process.

Tom Reed Patent 4 April

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Buying a Diesel Auto: 8 Facts to Consider

The 2015 VW diesel Jetta. Via Edmunds.com

Automobiles that run on diesel fuel provide customers with positive fuel economy. At the same time, a diesel engine that saves its owner money through gas expenses has the ability to cost the owner through repairs and maintenance. Like any auto, those that use diesel fuel require a learning curve. Whether or not the consumer believes the proven advantages outweigh the disadvantages will always remain a matter of personal choice. Knowing the facts regarding diesel fuel will give customers a better base to determine their choice.
High MPG Rating Diesel fuel provides customers with an alternative that lasts longer than gasoline on a per gallon basis. Owners enjoy this benefit while driving all sorts of diesel powered auto choices, including both trucks and cars.

  • Comparable Cost to Gas per Gallon: Many consumers have come to understand that diesel fuels no longer fall below gasoline costs. Generally, diesel fuel will cost the same on a per gallon basis when compared to gasoline. This price comparison always differs depending on the stage and time of the economic cycle. In some cases, diesel will actually cost more than some grades of gasoline.
  • Engine Maintenance Differences: A large number of consumers choose diesel powered autos due to their positive fuel economy ratings. Unfortunately, this factor leads the same group to look past the differences in engine maintenance when compared to gasoline engines. The engines found in gasoline powered cars have large differences when compared to diesel powered counterparts.
  • Diesel fuel powers engines with different features and working capabilities: A diesel powered engine has no spark plug connections or engine distributors. This ensures customers that certain engine tune-ups will never need to take place.
  • Slow Burning Power Source: One main factor that leads to the high fuel economy provided by diesel fuel lies within its physical and chemical properties. Diesel fuel has a higher boiling point than both gasoline and water. It takes a longer amount of time to evaporate diesel fuel because of its heavy, oily nature.
  • Availability of Diesel Fuel: Not every gas station offers its consumers with diesel fuel pumps. Many diesel owners find fuel sources in commercial truck stops along expressways. Customers must consider the availability of diesel fuel when considering a diesel car or truck purchase.
  • Diesel Fuel Engine Noise: Diesel fuel powers engines that produce more noise when compared to gasoline cars. The difference stems from the mechanical composition of the engine types and the fuel getting burned through differentiating processes.
  • Diesel Pollution Levels: The burning of diesel fuel causes more visible pollution than gasoline. Burning diesel does in fact produce less carbon emissions when compared to gas, though. These two facts serve as trade-offs to one another, providing customers with a choice regarding their effect on pollution.
  • Lessened Sport Performance: Cars that run on diesel tend to provide their customers with less agility and speedy responsiveness. Instead, diesel fuel increases an automobile’s towing ability and endurance. These factors produce yet another tradeoff for potential customers.

A Diesel Gas Mileage Comparison: 6 Highest Rated Vehicles

When it comes to diesel gas mileage, it blows gasoline engines out of the water. Diesel mileage comparison to that of gasoline is often not even close. Diesel engines get at least 30% to 35% better fuel economy numbers than gasoline engines do. Diesel engine cars are more often found in Europe than the United States because diesel has more emissions (of certain combustion byproducts) when compared to gasoline. Only 42 out of 50 states even allow diesel vehicles due to their emission standards. Many people are starting to choose diesel engines though because it costs nearly the same as gasoline, but it is much more economical. Not to mention, diesel engines are also much quieter than those from years ago, which was a big downside to diesel vehicles. Here are some of the top rated diesel vehicles.

The best diesel truck mileage would probably be the Chevy Silverado Hybrid. It has a heavy duty Duramax diesel engine, and can produce 22 miles per gallon on the highway, and 21 miles per gallon in the city. Diesel pickup mileage is typically much lower than this since their trucks are often heavy and powerful, but the Silverado is a diesel hybrid that allows it to be fuel efficient.

The best diesel mileage is obtained by the Jetta TDI. The Jetta TDI comes as a sedan, as well as a wagon. It gets 40 miles per gallon on the highway, and 31 miles per gallon in the city, for a combined rating of 35 miles per gallon. It is cheap, and offers great fuel economy.

The Golf is also comparable to the TDI. It is more expensive, but offers the same economy numbers. It gets 42 miles per gallon on the highway, and 30 miles per gallon in the city. It is about 25% more efficient than the Golf gasoline engine version.

The BMW 335d is also on the list, but it is far below the Jetta’s mileage mentioned. The 335d gets 36 miles per gallon on the highway, and 23 miles per gallon in the city, for a combined rating of 29 miles per gallon. It is also much more.

The Mercedes E320 Bluetec is another option, and is more expensive than the Jetta and BMW options. It may provide the most luxury, but definitely not the best economy on the list. It can get 32 miles per gallon on the highway, while still getting 23 miles per gallon in the city. Not the best, but still highly respectable, it does carry the high price tag though.

If you are looking for a diesel SUV, you may not have the best selections to choose from. The Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD would be your best option. The Jeep can get 25 miles per gallon on the highway, and 20 miles per gallon in the city, for a combined rating of 22 miles per gallon.

Now that we’ve seen the advantages of Diesel fuel, and some of the cutting edge diesel cars on the market, the need for innovative strategies for creating Diesel fuel from wood and other biomass is all the more apparent. Stay tuned for the final part of this series on Diesel fuel.

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The Biofuel Future of Diesel


Diesel fuel competes with gasoline around the world, but is superior in many ways. It is simpler, no worry about octane. It is safer – a diesel spill won’t burn as easily. It has a low volatility, typically C10-C20, rather than the C5-C12 used for gasoline.

Recently, I have created a plan for a revolutionary new technique to create this useful fuel from a plentiful and completely renewable resource: wood. I discuss the methodology of this in a later post. But first, it’s important to understand why diesel is so useful as a fuel.

What is Diesel?

According to Wikipedia, diesel fuel in general is any liquid fuel used in diesels. The most common is a specific fractional distillate of petroleum fuel oil, but alternatives that are not derived from petroleum, such as biodiesel, biomass to liquid (BTL) or gas to liquid (GTL) diesel, are increasingly being developed and adopted. To distinguish these types, petroleum-derived diesel is increasingly called petrodiesel. Ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD) is a standard for defining diesel fuel with substantially lowered sulfur contents. As of 2006, almost all of the petroleum-based diesel fuel available in UK, Europe and North America is of a ULSD type.

Diesel Advantages: Many people choose diesel over gasoline for its distinct advantages. Diesel does get more fuel economy than gasoline, and not by a slim margin. Diesel is more than 33% more efficient than gasoline is when it comes to your fuel mileage. This means if you were to get for example, 30 miles to the gallon, a diesel equivalent engine would get 40 miles per gallon. Diesel needs to be run through a diesel engine, and diesel engines offer more torque than a gasoline engine. Torque allows for great acceleration, which also accounts for the great fuel economy numbers. I can personally attest to these advantages: I own a diesel-running VW Jetta, and it’s the best car I’ve ever owned by a long shot!

Diesel Disadvantages (and rebuttals): Diesel engines are typically louder than gasoline engines, although technologies have been developed that have helped to limit this as much as possible. Diesel is also a dirty fuel and causes dirty emissions. (My own experience doesn’t confirm this: my car is whisper-quiet, and has no bad odor at the tailpipe).

In a straight comparison between diesel and gasoline engines, there are a number of things which can be considered. Using gasoline in cars is a mainly American tradition, as there have always been a high percentage of diesel cars in Europe. If you’re looking for a good reason not to purchase a car which runs on gasoline in the future, there are a number of cases in which diesel is much better, and more efficient.

Environmental concerns: This is the primary reason why many people choose to use a diesel car, and in this debate it certainly has benefits in both using less fuel per mile, and also making less CO2, or carbon dioxide. But the diesel fuel is not completely pollution free, and in fact has been shown to produce carcinogens, soot and NOx, which can be just as harmful to the environment – though this is not true for more recent diesel fuels. It is a good idea, then, for designers to create filters and catalytic converters for diesel engines which help to reduce even this risk of pollution, making environmental concerns a good reason to purchase diesel.

Engine performance: Surprisingly, the diesel fuel and engine combination can produce better engine performance, although this is lessened when the diesel use is bio-diesel, or other forms of enhanced fuel such as black diesel. If you intend to use the latter, then you will probably find that gasoline engines will outperform diesel cars.
Noise and smoothness of ride. This is another area where the gasoline car can easily out-do the diesel. NO MORE. While the latter no longer produces smoke under the bonnet, or horrible roaring noises, it is still louder than the gas car. You will also experience less of a smooth ride from your engine, which can make the drive a less pleasurable experience. NO LONGER.

Diesel vs. Gasoline: Diesel is becoming an increasingly popular fuel source for vehicles in the United States, and there are many benefits to using this kind of fuel, not the least of which are improvements in the performance of your engine, and a reduced pollution problem. The benefits of gasoline include a smoother movement through the engine, meaning less noise and restricted movement, and the cheaper cost of cars which run on gasoline, although it is only a matter of time before cheaper diesel cars are produced.
Diesel Fuel Economy (MPG).

Should you consider buying a diesel car? Absolutely! As part of this series, I have prepared an analysis of some of the best diesel cars on the market. But first, a look at some of the economic considerations that go into purchasing a diesel car:

Financial considerations

There is very little difference between the two fuels in this comparison. Diesel may be cheaper than gas half the time, but for the other half it is more expensive, so they are both about the same when it comes to the price of the fuel itself. However, diesel autos get better gas mileage, so there is a saving in that direction. Gasoline cars are cheaper as new purchases, as diesel cars can be around $700 more expensive.

One of the reasons that people are buying diesel vehicles is for the diesel fuel economy. For many years, people have been driving around in diesel powered cars and light trucks for the convenience of having something that they don’t have to fill up as often. However, when you want to compare specific diesel MPG ratings you will see some startling information as to just how good diesel fuel economy is.

Fuel Economy Differs between Car Types: Fuel economy is a funny thing. Depending on the type of vehicle you’re driving, you will find different numbers. Smaller hatchbacks and sedans will deliver greater diesel fuel economy than will larger trucks and SUVs. However, when compared as a whole, you will see that the savings in both fuel and in money are much improved that just a few years ago.

Head to Head Comparison: Looking at the same sized engine, in the same size vehicle, you will be able to make a better comparison of the two types of engines, and see the real results of diesel performance. If you take into account that diesel and gas prices were the same thing, you would, over the course of a year, save approximately $2,000 in fuel costs with a diesel powered engine. There are many factors that are the reason for this, but the savings are shown in the actual results.

More Efficient: When you burn diesel fuel, there is a different dynamic happening within the engine. While there are many similarities with both engines, the main difference is the actual combustion process. This is where the economic value is. Diesel is not mixed with the air the same way that gas is. In a diesel engine the air is brought in at the top of the cylinder and then compressed greatly to where the air heats up to an igniting point. The diesel is then injected as a small mist. The super heated air ignites and the piston is pushed by the explosion. This is a much more efficient manner and does not waste as much gas by mixing the two at the beginning.

Look Deeper than Just Engine Size: One of the mistakes that people make when they want to compare regular gas to diesel powered engines is that they only look at the size of the engine. This will show you how much gas a particular engine will need, but not how well the overall vehicle will perform compared to gas mileage. You must look at the rest of the factors involved.

Savings at Purchase: The savings are not only found in the diesel fuel economy. When you buy the same vehicle-but with different engines, you will see a savings in price. A 6.0L diesel powered engine will cost you less than an 8.0L gas powered engine. Both have the same performance rating, but the diesel is going to give you a better price.
Towing Economy Diesel engines have long been used in larger vehicles because of the power of the engine and the lower cost of gas. Since diesel has escalated in price, the savings are still there, as the newer engines actually use less. It is not unusual to see more than 30 MPG on a light duty truck or SUV.

Up next in this series: a look at some of the best diesel cars on the market, and finally, the details of my revolutionary new method for turning wood into biodiesel.

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The Five Step Origin of Oil


Considering the importance of oil to the world, it is amazing that there is no universally accepted explanation of its origin. Because of my unique scientific background, and long-term chemical interest in fuels at several major research institutions, I have studied this question for many years. I have concluded that oil is created in five steps, only four of which are currently known. Read the following to discover the fifth step which not only shine a light on how oil was created, but also where to look for future petroleum deposits.

1) ENERGY SOURCE: The Earth is 80% covered by salt and fresh water bodies. Sunlight only penetrates the first 10-20 meters of surface, the “Epipellagic” layer. Algae and other microorganisms convert carbon dioxide, water and solar energy in this layer, first to glucose (abbreviated CH2O, the generic formula of most carbo-hydrates) and oxygen:

CO2 + H2O + Sunlight ===> CH2O + O2 (photosynthesis)

Then the glucose is converted to all needed forms of biomass in this layer, in which all life was born, and matured to a high level before venturing on to shore and on to the continents during the Devonian age, 400-360 Million years ago.

2) ENERGY SEQUESTRATION: Most of the life forms are converted back to CO2 and H2O by the dissolved oxygen in sea water when they die, the reverse of the equation above. However, a great deal of the oxygen has escaped into the air during the aeons of time they have spent there to form our 21% O2 atmosphere. And simultaneously a lot of the life has fallen to the sea floor, typically 6Km below the surface.

3) ENERGY CONVERSION: The dead life forms that sink to the bottom of the ocean
do not carry the oxygen with them necessary for aerobic digestion. So instead they undergo anaerobic digestion to methane and CO2.

2 CH2O ===> CH4 + CO2

This is the same anaerobic digestion that occurs in any compost pile. However, the methane and CO2 do not escape into the atmosphere. Instead, they form a “gas hydrate”, a molecule of methane surrounded by a cage of water molecules that looks and fizzes like dry ice (frozen CO2), but will burn as it decomposes. There is a layer of gas hydrate at the bottom of the deep oceans 1-2 km thick, that contains more energy than all the gas and oil and coal found on the continents.

4) ENERGY TRANSPORT: 200 million years ago the supercontinent Pangaea began to break up. The ocean floors are restless. There is a mid ocean trench in all the oceans at which magma is rising to form the oceanic plates and pushing them under the continents in the ~60,000 miles of subduction zones surrounding our continents.

The process of ocean floor spreading is well known as shown in the following diagrams, found online:

origin of oil 2

Subduction: shows “sediments” being subducted, but no gas hydrate forming oil

origin of oil 3

5) ENERGY CONVERSION TO OIL: As the ocean plates and gas hydrates slide under the continents, the temperature of this vast methane reservoir rises from that of the ocean floor, a few degrees C, to that of deep mines in the Earth, (about 22 C, for each km of depth, so > ) So the methane hydrate travels under the continents at a rate of 2-8 cm per year (the rate our fingernails grow). As it moves away from the ocean, the methane is “roasted” and converts to oil which has the generic formula -CH2-.

CH4 + heat ===> -CH2- + H2

In order for this reaction to proceed forward, it is necessary to remove the H2 from the products. Fortunately, hydrogen is a very small, lively molecule and easily diffuses through the surrounding silicate rock. (One test of this hypothesis would be to sample gases rising along the continental shelf near the ocean for abnormal H2 concentration.)

SUMMARY So, to review what I’ve laid out in layman’s terms, the process by which oil is created involves the conversion of the remnants of algae and other oceanic biomass to methane, far below the ocean’s surface. This converts to gas hydrate, a form of methane, forming a thick layer at the bottom of oceans. With the process of seafloor spreading, this material is slowly transported toward above-water land masses, and thrust under other tectonic plates via subduction. The immense heat of the Earth’s mantle then initiates a chemical reaction that converts it into -CH2-, the generic molecular coupling found in all hydrocarbons. To give you an idea of how the whole process plays out, I have sketched out the entire process in the following diagram:

origin of oil 1

As far as I can find out, most of the pieces of this theory are known, but no one has added the hydrate layer in the picture above and suggested that it is the source of the oil. And there has been no search for hydrogen coming up near the subduction zones.

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Energy Calculations

carbon-atom-6-largeTHERMODYNAMICS is a subject that makes smart men quail and lesser men run to the nearest exit.
However, we live in a world increasingly dominated by energy use and creation, so that I have invented a simpler calculation not requiring more than a page to explain.

The energy of any fuel or Cc-Hh-Oo compound (where c, h and o are the numbers in the compound formula) can be calculated using the following rules and exceptions:

Carbon, C= 420kJ/mole
Hydrogen= 120 kJ/mole
Oxygen = – 90 kJ/ mole (minus, since it represents a partial combustion).

These numbers will predict the heat of combustion of all “normal” C-H-O compounds with better than 15% accuracy! And that is about the limit to which many of them are known.


EXAMPLES: Methane, CH4, = 420 + 4(120) = 900 kJ/ mole. (889) Methanol CH4O = 420 + 4(120) – 180 = 720 kJ/mole (726) (The numbers in () are the official vales.).



The above applies to all “normal” CHO compounds and fuels.
It does NOT apply to compounds like acetylene, (super unstable) or carbon monoxide or hydrogen gas, H2, which I call “extra energetic (“hyperenthalpic”). They are actually 280 kJ/mole, rather than the 240 predicted by the above rules.

It does NOT apply to CO2 and H2O.

SUPER stable compounds. They would predict the heat of combustion as 60 kJ/ mole, but they are the “Zero” energy of our chosen scale. I call them “hypoenthalpic”.

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Einstein, Nuclear Energy, and the Most Important Letter Ever Written

We all do our best and cast a long shadow. Few of us can predict what our actions may trigger.

Here’s the most important letter ever written! It was particularly important to the U.S. and my family, since without the Manhattan Project, I would probably have been dropping bombs on Tokyo in 1945, since I entered the Army Air Force in 1943.

Albert Einstein
Old Grove Road
Peconic, Long Island
August 2nd, 1939

F.D. Roosevelt
President of the United States
White House
Washington, D.C.


Some recent work by E. Fermi and L. Szilard, which has been communicated to me in manuscript, leads me to expect that the element uranium may be turned into a new and important source of energy in the immediate future. Certain aspects of the situation which has arisen seem to call for watchfulness and if necessary, quick action on the part of the Administration. I believe therefore that it is my duty to bring to your attention the following facts and recommendations.

In the course of the last four months it has been made probable through the work of Joliot in France as well as Fermi and Szilard in America–that it may be possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium, by which vast amounts of power and large quantities of new radium-like elements would be generated. Now it appears almost certain that this could be achieved in the immediate future.

This new phenomenon would also lead to the construction of bombs, and it is conceivable–though much less certain–that extremely powerful bombs of this type may thus be constructed. A single bomb of this type, carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory. However, such bombs might very well prove too heavy for transportation by air.

The United States has only very poor ores of uranium in moderate quantities. There is some good ore in Canada and former Czechoslovakia, while the most important source of uranium is in the Belgian Congo.

In view of this situation you may think it desirable to have some permanent contact maintained between the Administration and the group of physicists working on chain reactions in America. One possible way of achieving this might be for you to entrust the task with a person who has your confidence and who could perhaps serve in an unofficial capacity. His task might comprise the following:

a) to approach Government Departments, keep them informed of the further development, and put forward recommendations for Government action, giving particular attention to the problem of securing a supply of uranium ore for the United States.

b) to speed up the experimental work, which is at present being carried on within the limits of the budgets of University laboratories, by providing funds, if such funds be required, through his contacts with private persons who are willing to make contributions for this cause, and perhaps also by obtaining co-operation of industrial laboratories which have necessary equipment.

I understand that Germany has actually stopped the sale of uranium from the Czechoslovakian mines which she has taken over. That she should have taken such early action might perhaps be understood on the ground that the son of the German Under-Secretary of State, von Weizsacker, is attached to the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, where some of the American work on uranium is now being repeated.

Yours very truly,

Albert Einstein

(There were many more letters to Roosevelt from Einstein.)

We have the Manhatten Project to thank for much of our power. Interesting that Einstein doesn’t see what President Eisenhower did, the peaceful use of atomic energy.



Do Your Best
And forget the Rest.
Else the Rest
Will spoil your best!

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New List of Inventions

Sea sweep, one of Tom's inventions from the 90s
Sea sweep, one of Tom’s inventions from the 90s

I recently took a look through my (long) list of patents and have uploaded some of the best of them on this new page. Be sure to take a look. It brought back many, mostly happy memories to compile this list.

A bit of personal news: I am currently working on an “Improved Toplit Updraft Stove” for developing countries. Also on an “Integrated Power Utility For Small Villages” for same. Also, on a “truck pelletized Fuel Gasifier” to cut the cost of long distance hauling by a factor of 3-6 by using a pellet gasifier and wood pellets rather than diesel fuel.

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Pinecone Biochar (PCBC)

I have just returned from a three day conference on Biochar in Amherst.

We humans are furiously digging or pumping all the hydrocarbon fuels we can reach by mining, drilling and fracking and adding it to the atmosphere as CO2 through our chimneys and exhaust pipes. These fuels were sequestered below the surface over the last 400 Million years. They certainly make current life comfortable.

But putting all that old carbon back in the atmosphere as more CO2 is expected to cause global warming, since CO2 is a “greenhouse” gas, passing sunlight in, but not allowing the heat radiation back out.

The only countervailing activity for humans is to put charcoal back in the soil:

  • Charcoal in the soil can double plant growth by providing a home for microorganisms, and nutrients that would otherwise wash away.
  • Each ton of charcoal added to the soil prevents 3.7 tons of CO2 from returning to the atmosphere.

I have recently found that dry PINECONES are a particularly handy source for making charcoal. When opened out, their petals burn easily to make uniform 1-2 cm discs of Biochar 1 mm thick.

Several times I have stopped my car beside a pine grove, and in less then 10 minutes collected several trash bags full of dry PINECONES. I convert them to Biochar by piling them up on a wet newspaper and lighting the top few cones with alcohol or a propane torch. The cellulose in the cones burns with a lean, smokeless flame, leaving the charcoal from the lignin. They make very pretty black cones.


After they are all converted, the steam from the papers puts out the fire. I then step on the cones to reduce them to flake size, and I collect the flakes in bags for use in my gardens.

If farmers would do this with the trash left from producing corn etc., it would go a long way toward balancing our driving/heating production of CO2, and increase their crop yield.

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The Discontinuity of Species


Darwin, in writing his ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES, worried a great deal about why the intermediate steps between primitive and developed species, couldn’t be found somewhere in this large world. That big creature must either be an elk or a deer, nothing between.

While the vast age of the earth was emerging in Darwin’s time, it was still in transition between Bishop Usher’s 4004 BC and the current 13.7 BILLION years, now accepted by Cosmologists. (It was still “up for grabs”).

The essence of the ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES is that in this vast world conditions vary continuously from place to place, AND from time to time. (If heredity was absolutely fixed by the genetics of parents, we would still all be jellyfish!) So, we are fortunate that mutations and selection work together to make some variation possible within a species, while preserving general useful characteristics that define the species.

Hence, the Discontinuity of the Species.


This is a slow method of developing improved species, and its not surprising that it has taken 4By to evolve a rational species that can write a comment like this.

(I looked up “Discontinuity of the Species” on WWW. I found relevant articles, but didn’t find anything as clear as this.)

image courtesy of debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com

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