Star Scientific Non-Combustion Heat Exchanger and Catalyst

Star Scientific has raised over $100 million over two decades. Early on they were working on muon catalyzed fusion but they seem to have transitioned to non-combustion heat generation from hydrogen.

The are using some thin-film catalyst that generates heat when exposed to hydrogen and oxygen.

The Hydrogen Energy Release Optimiser (HERO) converts hydrogen into continuous industrial heat without combustion.

The technology utilizes hydrogen and oxygen gas, combines them in the presence of the HERO catalyst, and produces vast amounts of usable heat. Water is the only other output.

Star Scientific won the inaugural World Hydrogen Awards’ Industrial Application category for innovation. It was also awarded the 2020 S&P Platts Global Energy Awards’ Emerging Technology of the Year.

The company recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Philippines Government centered on HERO. The MoU will help drive the country’s energy self-sufficiency using hydrogen as a fuel source.

Star Scientific has always been very secretive about the specifics of their various science and technology processes. The prior work with muon fusion did not amount to anything. This new work also does not look consistent. The video demonstration does not match up with a process that is ready for industrial-scale applications.

In December, 2021, Australian hydrogen research and development company, Star Scientific, announced its technology will be used to provide heat for industrial-scale sanitation in a pilot with Mars Food Australia.

The HERO technology 18-month pilot with Mars Food Australia and not-for-profit Central Coast Industry Connect Limited. The pilot will see Star Scientific’s HERO technology, which is driven by a catalyst reaction that generates temperatures of over 700 degrees celsius without combusting hydrogen, used to generate heat for industrial-scale sanitation in food manufacturing. Precisely how the hydrogen technology will be integrated though is still being finalized, with Star Scientific telling pv magazine Australia it is in a process of “translational research” before it confirms the exact configuration of the pilot.

The new claims are more modest than the old muon fusion claims but a lot of time has passed without proven successful commercial usage. There are plenty of more mundane hydrogen combustion systems already in use in industrial applications.

33 thoughts on “Star Scientific Non-Combustion Heat Exchanger and Catalyst”

  1. I’ve privately researched some of this; my take is that it is a research group in search of people to fund them. Preferably with deep pockets.

    NOW UNDERSTAND that there is nothing particularly new about catalyzed hydrogen oxidation as a source of heating, without (one hopes) the attendant proclivity to go BOOM when things get to hot. Part of that is by using either platinum catalysts (helpfully employing the faddish ‘nanoparticle’ word) or rutile (titanium oxides) variants. Most of this work was deep-discovered and characterized in the 1960s and 1970s. During the last ‘oil crisis’.

    What’s new is that ‘snake oil’ verbiage is being inserted to lubricate gullible minds into believing that there really is something new being invented. At least that’s my take.

    • I’d like to understand how a catalyst helps avoid a boom. If you carefully regulate how much hydrogen and oxygen enter the reaction chamber, then there won’t be a boom, regardless of whether you use a catalyst or a spark plug. And if you have a hydrogen leak somewhere outside the reaction chamber, then you’re going to get a boom either way. So how does the catalyst help?

      • If you have H2 and O2 in some other carrier gas below a certain threshold, a flame
        will not propagate, nor would an detonation wave. I don’t have the numbers handy, and they might vary somewhat with the carrier gas, pressure and temperature. Anyway, in this ‘below threshold’ condition, the H2 and O2 can still react exothermically by contacting a catalyst, thereby heating up said catalyst and any carrier gas flowing through/near the catalyst. If the catalyst is a pure metal, you need to keep the temperature low enough such that it doesn’t oxidize, removing the catalyst from service. This rules out all metals that easily oxidize. If the catalyst is already an oxide, you need to make sure that different oxide molecules are not created or any other reaction to degrade the catalyst. The achievable temperature will be limited greatly by this method of ‘burning’..

  2. Muon catalysed fusion is a kind of Cold Fusion or LERN (Low Energy Nuclear Reaction). I suspect the are still pushing this path but with another name to avoid bad press.

    • Muon catalyzed fusion is proven and real. However all studies show that it is impossible to reach break-even, let alone get to higher Q (=Pout/Pin) values. The key problem is that muons take a LOT of energy to create and they have a very short half-life. So, they are unable to cause enough fusions before they disappear. If you have a bunch of D-T molecules, the muon will replace one of the electrons, and cause the nuclei to approach each other close enough to fuse at room temperature. The half-life of muons is about a microsecond.

  3. I’m kind of missing the utility here; Hydrogen isn’t a source of energy, because every bit of it on Earth has to be created by separating water, or some similar source, using an actual source of energy to drive the reaction. (Usually electricity.) It’s just a way of storing and/or transporting energy.

    And it’s not a particularly good way to store or transport energy, because the density sucks even if liquefied, and hydrogen tends to seep through other materials and embrittle metals, so it’s not easily transported via pipeline.

    Sure, you can use it to run fairly efficient fuel cells that generate electricity with water as a waste product. But using it to generate low grade process heat strikes me as about the most useless thing imaginable. Though hydrogen economy fanatics do talk about using it for space heating and similar applications, they’re being totally unrealistic.

    About the only real use I see for a hydrogen combustion catalyst that worked at extremely low concentrations would be scavenging hydrogen leaks to avoid it building up explosive concentrations in closed spaces where it’s being used. Which would be useful, but this catalyst doesn’t seem to work at extremely low concentrations.

      • The utility comes from a simple chain reaction:

        1. Star makes a catalytic burner, adds a bunch of cool buzzwords, may even have some technical improvements, and sell it to Mars food company in exchange for money AND the prestige boost of “our product is used in industry”.
        2. Mars food company installs what is fundamentally a gas heater with some extra steps, adds a bunch of cool buzzwords, and reports their status to the government environmental departments as “using super new advanced hydrogen green carbon free covid safe all organic not tested on animals nano ninja pirate blockchain”.
        3. Government department packages up all these buzzwords, with a whole lot more government buzzwords and handwaving, and uses to to report to both the local electorate and international bodies that “carbon free hydrogen ….”
        4. Local electorate and/or/also international bodies can now wave multiple news reports on how these guys can do it, so everyone else needs to go “hydrogen non-carbon nano space technology” so they are happy too.
        5. At the bottom of the chain we have ignorant low information voters who will vote for, and pay taxes to support, the whole thing.

        At some point along the chain, you start to get people who actually believe all this stuff. Probably at each step there is a higher % of people who buy into it all. But what matters is that at the final step there are enough voters who are fooled.

  4. Is this actually a slow burn hydrogen fuel cell, but using the electrical output for some kind of ohmic heating to boost heat output? Like, wanting a more controlled heat output, not wanting to just plain burn at stoichiometric, and wanting to avoid outside air (thus needing pure oxygen?). So a convoluted process heat boiler?

  5. It looks and smells like a scam. It’s well known that a small amount of Iridium on a ceramic pellet (generally alumina Al2O3) will combine GH2 and GO2 (stoichiometric mix ideal) very exothermically. The obvious trick is not to use too much H2/O2 in another inert carrier gas (say N2 or He) to cause a flame front to flow back towards any tank structure. Research ‘Tridyne’, used in rocketry. Of course, it will take much more energy to ‘create’ the H2 than you get out exothermically. That is why H2 is considered an ‘energy carrier’ instead of a primary energy source. Most H2 is obtained from methane, but this won’t give you additional energy .vs. methane due to the chemistry involved to make it. Using electrical energy to ‘create’ thermal energy wastes about 2/3 of the energy if you plan to convert it back to electrical power.

  6. I don’t know what the catalyst will cost, but there will be big savings over a conventional boiler that runs hydrogen. A simple single fluid condensing heat exchanger, no flue needed.

  7. So, hang on: if this isn’t legitimate, why would the Philippines government be on board? I know I’m missing something, sorry, guys.

  8. Maybe there is a membrane between the H and O but if there isn’t and the catalyst gets hot in the presence of H2 and O2 then you get a mini Hindenburg.

  9. If they’re combining H+O->H2O+heat, then how is that not combustion? That sounds like the very definition of “combustion” or “burning”.

    You might say a fuel cell doesn’t count as “combustion”, because it’s generating electricity. But these guys aren’t doing that.

    And it’s impossible to get more heat out of that reaction than you would get from any other way of burning hydrogen, so what’s the point?

    This doesn’t sound legit.

    • I agree. Does not seem legit. Site and videos have no data. A decade ago they claimed a breakthrough in pion production to enable muon catalyzed fusion.

      Any ideas about how to prove that the catalyzed heat is not legit?

    • Conventional hydrogen burn is very high temperature, which can be difficult to handle. This sounds like a slowed-down reaction to reduce the temperature. But I think one could achieve the same result just by diluting the input streams with some 3rd gas (steam, for example; or just nitrogen, though that could produce nitrogen oxides).

      • Conventional Methane burn is very high temperature. You scale the combustion down and put a metal heat sink above it and suddenly you are scrambling eggs.

        • Hydrogen burners are, I gather, a real pain to design, due to the much higher propagation speed, peak temperature, and hydrogen embrittlement. And keeping the flame going if the fuel air mix varies is tricky, too.

          All in all, hydrogen is just a pain to work with.

          • Hydrogen, while with ‘special needs’, is pretty good as a non-carbonizing welding gas. Just saying, when working with high zirconium stainless, hydroxygen welding is pretty much a must.

  10. Why would this be any more efficient than just burning the hydrogen? Although I see no talk of fusion here, this sounds a lot like Rossi’s heat generation system that was no more than water passing through a Raney nickel catalyst.

    • Rossi was a complete scam from the start. There was no catalyzing, there was no excess heat. He hid the source of the power input by rewiring the ‘neutral’ to carry power that was not recorded by his self-installed power measuring device. He never allowed a neutral third party to examine any part of his installation. The ‘heat’ was likely from from hidden resistor elements within his ‘black box’. If you researched the scam, he claimed to magically convert a certain Ni isotope to Cu, which he claimed was a fusion reaction. However if true, this would have made a single Cu isotope, and the examination showed the Cu has the natural abundances of isotopes as if it were freshly obtained from any mine on earth. Sad there were enough idiots to feed his ‘magic trick’ ploy over the years. Also, if he really had any level of fusion reactions, he would be long dead.

      • I’m actually unclear how Rossi ever got any investors; Even before he got into cold fusion scams, he had a criminal record as a scammer. That alone should have had the alarm bells ringing loud enough to drive off anybody with money.

        • Some people with lots of money are unbelievably stupid and gullible.. Most with money know their intellectual limitations and will hire ‘experts’ to evaluate things then decide whether to trust those ‘experts’. Others plow ahead thinking they know it all, and will only learn once their ‘investment’ disappears in a cloud of ‘magic steam’..

        • Specifically, I think that getting those gullible Italian scientists to vouch for Rossi’s ‘technology’ was a huge step to advance the scam. These clowns basically re-spewed what Rossi told them without any actual hardware examinations. They were played for fools and they delivered in spades. I would guess that most foolish ‘investors’ took their statements as evidence, as there was never 3rd party testing of any claims (Rossi couldn’t allow that, since the scam would be exposed). Rossi did have a long history of scams and associated criminal activity before ‘e-cat’, but well, you can’t fix stupid. Rossi dressed like a researcher, but had no degrees in any scientific field. Too bad he didn’t scam any Mafia types.

      • And there was the time he demonstrated to reporters a giant half-megawatt fusion heat generator, which had a big power cable connecting it to a half-megawatt traditional electric generator. The electric input to the fusion box was just to “power the control electronics”. The generator and cable weren’t even hidden.

        More recently he has a box that produces more electricity than it consumes. But it can magically detect whether the input electricity is coming from a battery or from a wall plug, and it doesn’t work if it’s from a battery (which would allow easy testing whether it’s true).

        It seems like he isn’t even trying to be a good con man.

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