This article was first published in The Messenger (June 1989). The Pacheco Story was subsequently presented to the United Nations Environmental Forum in a speech given by the author Karin Westdyk. Later that year, Francisco was invited to demonstrate his generator at the Green Energy Conference in Canada, and in 1990 he was invited to participate in the International Hydrogen Energy Conference in Hawaii where his invention was the only prototype producing hydrogen fuel on demand. A chapter was devoted to the Pacheco Generator in Suppressed Energy Inventions, published by the Aukland Institute of Technology in 1994, and his story is included in The Coming Energy Revolution, by Jeane Manning (1996). – http://www.rexresearch.com/pacheco/pacheco.htm
Fifty years ago, in 1939,
in his native Bolivia, Francisco Pacheco became interested in electrical phenomena and especially in batteries. While in his early twenties he had heard a story about a Bolivian priest who had invented a battery that would give 3 volts instead of the normal 1.5 volts. The battery was called the Pila Bolivia but when Francisco tried to track it down and the priest, he was told that the priest had gone to Germany and neither he nor the battery was ever heard from again.
In the mountains of Bolivia, there are many minerals (tin, titanium, etc) most of which are mined and exported. It was believed that the priest used one of the rivers near a mine where the minerals were washed by women workers. But no one seemed to know which stream, from which mine, or which minerals created the electrolyte water that was used to make the Pila Bolivia.
Francisco’s dream was to reproduce the ‘super battery’ and he experimented with many metals until he finally came close to 2 volts from the battery. One evening, while working alone in his laboratory with his array of glass jars and electrodes, he noticed bubbles of gas forming. Because pressure was building in one of the glass vessels, he vented the jar. But, it wasn’t until he lit a cigarette and there was an explosion which dented the ceiling, that he knew that the bubbles that were emerging from the water were filled with hydrogen gas. After that, Francisco dropped his battery experiments and concentrated on improving the efficiency of the process he had discovered; that of extracting the hydrogen from salt water to use as fuel on demand. His first experiment involved a small unit which produced enough fuel to boil water. From there, he took his hydrogen fuel generator and used it to run a motorcycle.
In 1942, U.S. Vice President, Henry Wallace, while on a Good Will Tour of South America, saw the Pacheco generator run an automobile engine and shortly thereafter, the president of Bolivia, General Enrique Penaranda, observed the same phenomena. Both men encouraged Francisco to bring his invention to the United States.
In 1943, Francisco arrived in the U.S. with a letter addressed to the Chief Military Intelligence Service of the United States War Department from Colonel Clarence Barnett, the military attache to the American Embassy, introducing Francisco and requesting an audience to see his invention. At that time, it was believed that the hydrogen generator might be helpful to the U.S. war efforts. In April of that year, Mr. Pacheco successfully demonstrated his generator to the Bureau of Standards in Washington DC and applied for a U.S. patent. But, because there was a war going on, all U.S. patents had to be sealed for one year. After the year was up, Pacheco received a letter from the patent office stating that because of the high cost of aluminum and magnesium (the two metals used in his invention) that his patent was impractical. His patent attorney, after several letters to the patent office, also advised him to ‘shelve’ his patent until a later date, as petroleum was still believed plentiful and cheap.
Pacheco took his lawyers advice and set aside his dream of giving his adopted country the technology that would provide an inexhaustible supply of fuel and would burn clean. He went home to Bolivia but shortly thereafter returned to the United States with his wife and infant daughter knowing that one day, the time would be right for his invention. Fancisco worked in defense plants during the war and later, until retirement , as an oil burner service mechanic in New York City. In1967, he moved his family to Upper Greenwood Lake, New Jersey. In his basement laboratory, he continued to perfect his invention.
In the 1970′s, when air pollution and oil shortage became a problem, Francisco ‘unshelved’ his generator believing that the time was finally right. He secured a U.S. patent and a few years later, he received patents from Germany, Brazil and Japan. In February of 1974, with the hopes of acquiring government backing and support, Pacheco demonstrated his pollution free hydrogen fuel cell to Congressman Robert Roe. With no outside power source, the self taught chemical engineer connected the fuel cell to a Homelite alternator unit with a 3 horse power 1000 watt generator with a 4 stroke engine. The demonstration was successful. Mr. Roe seemed impressed and said that he would bring it to the attention of Washington officials. Upon leaving, Mr. Pacheco invited the congressman to another demonstration he had planned later that year at Point Pleasant, New Jersey Congressman Roe was invited to take part in a history making voyage; the first power boat ride ‘fueled by seawater’. Many newspapers were invited as well.
Congressman Roe did not show up and neither did many newspapers. Mr. Pacheco never heard from the Congressman again about his invention or the promise to bring it to the attention of appropriate Washington officials, but his voyage was a success. History was made on July 17th, 1974 when a 26 foot power boat ran for nine hours using the Pacheco generator and seawater for fuel, putting back into the oceans its waste, only clean water.
To good to be true? Today, hydrogen is the fuel that sends rockets into space. The source for hydrogen fuel is virtually inexhaustible and it burns clean. It is a perfect energy source which puts back into the environment something that is necessary to life and becoming scarce, clean water.
In an effort to overcome the skepticism he was facing and the PhD he could not add to his name, Francisco had his invention analyzed by independent experts. The Pacheco generator passed all tests at the New Jersey Gollob Analytical Service Corporation Labs in September of 1973, and in 1979. Nan Waters, a consulting chemist with the Aesop Institute analyzed the generator and wrote the following report.
‘I have read the literature relating to Pacheco’s hydrogen generator. In my opinion, there is no reason why it ought not work as described. Basically, he has combined in one device three very simple chemical principles; a) The use of active metals to produce hydrogen from water, b) The differing electrical potential of two metals to produce an electrical current, c) The use of electrical current to produce hydrogen from water by electrolysis. All the ideas are well known; they simply haven’t been put together this way before. It is so simple as to be elegant.‘
When Francisco tried to interest the automobile industry in his invention, he was again confronted with skepticism or ignored. He contacted energy companies and one such company, Consolidated Edison, sent a research chemist to see the generator in action. The chemist was enthusiastic about the invention but when he took it back to his company, he told Mr. Pacheco later, his company had no interest. He sent details of his invention to all the major oil companies. The response was either cool or nonexistent. One oil company returned all papers to him in an unmarked envelope and then after a two hour meeting with him, a representative told him, “We are in the oil business. Your invention, if we were to develop it, would be against our interests.”
Because he was getting nowhere with government and industry, in an effort to bring the generator to the attention of the public, Francisco contacted Geraldo Rivera, who he had meet after his power boat demonstration. Mr. Rivera was excited about the invention and promised to help, but apparently the TV station nixed the idea of doing a show.
In 1977, Mr. Pacheco adapted his generator to provide a complete energy system for his neighbor’s new home. A demonstration of the home generator was witnessed by the New Jersey Commissioner of Energy and staff, but again nothing happened.
In 1979, for 5 consecutive days, the generator was demonstrated for the public generating on demand hydrogen, electric and thermal energy as its output at the International Inventors Exposition. He received at this time, a plaque and award presented by a Commissioner of the Patent Department. At the Massachusetts headquarters of the Inventor’s Club of America, he received 2 consecutive Hall of Fame Awards for 1978 and 1979.
In 1980 the CBS program 60 Minutes contacted Francisco and told him they wanted to do an entire show on his invention. At last he believed on demand hydrogen would be recognized as a viable alternative energy source. Relieved and happy, he prepared for the show.
A 60 Minutes crew arrived to film his demonstration which took place in a friends barn. The demonstration included showing a hydrogen fueled burner, running an electric motor, blowing up a balloon with the gas, cutting a number 2 from a ¾’ thick steel plate with a torch using the hydrogen and running a 3hp lawnmower engine. All demonstrations worked perfectly except for the lawnmower engine. Because he was going to be on national TV, Francisco went out and bought a new lawnmower for the presentation and did not have time to test it. Unfortunately, the engine choked due to the excessive amount of fuel being produced. The 60 Minutes crew reassured Francisco and told him not to worry. They said they had enough footage of the successful demonstrations to complete a program.
When the show was aired, however, it had quite a different focus. The only part of the demonstration that was shown was the failure of the lawnmower to work and was used to point out an example of an independent inventors non-working invention. Although Francisco was advised to sue the program for misrepresenting his work, he discovered that the cost to do so would be more than he could bear having already mortgaged his home to put the needed dollars into prototypes and demonstration models.
At first devastated by this betrayal, his belief system that motivated his research for 50 years, despite the obstacles and frustrations experienced along the way, kept him focused. In 1986, he wrote to the Department of Energy about his generator. He received a form letter in response from an ‘Information Specialist’ which included brief information describing the virtues and drawbacks of hydrogen as fuel.
Although the DoE will not deny the advantages of this fuel, comparatively little research or dollars have been spent on developing hydrogen as a viable source for generating energy. Our huge dollar commitment to the nuclear industry and to the fossil fuel cartels, who are also heavily involved in nuclear processes, have blinded them to all practical alternatives. The powers that be, seem to wish to remain and will do so until people demand they move over and make way for some real solutions.
Francisco wrote back to the DoE, addressing each of their points with technical data on his system, showing them that the system he developed would overcome the obstacles they described. His detailed response was ignored.
For 46 years, Francisco tried to give his technology to America, his adopted country. He believed there were solutions to the serious environmental and health problems caused by the use of fossil and nuclear fuels. The evidence as to the negative effects of these energy choices is strong and growing stronger. Our concerns about the destruction of the ozone layer, acid rain, the greenhouse effect, air and water pollution, and oil spills that destroy marine life, and the nightmares created by our pursuit of an incomplete nuclear technology are now costing the public a great deal more than dollars. Perhaps, since it is ‘we’ the public who ultimately pay, it is time ‘we’ begin to pay closer attention and stop looking to a government, which has been part of the problem, for the solutions we need to find.
It has been a long time since Francisco Pacheco first came to the United States. After a lifetime of efforts to gain recognition for his work, which he offers to America as a tribute to liberty and as an instrument of peace, he remains firm in his convictions. He humbly but strongly believes in the words of an old wise man who once told him, ‘SON, God put on your shoulders something very big. Do not ask yourself, why me? Think why not me.’
This article was first published in ‘The Messenger’ (June 1989). The Pacheco Story was subsequently presented to the United Nations Environmental Forum in a speech given by the author Karin Westdyk. Later that year, Francisco was invited to demonstrate his generator at the Green Energy Conference in Canada, and in 1990 he was invited to participate in the International Hydrogen Energy Conference in Hawaii where his invention was the only prototype producing hydrogen fuel on demand. A chapter was devoted to the Pacheco Generator in Suppressed Energy Inventions, published by the Aukland Institute of Technology in 1994, and his story is included in The Coming Energy Revolution, by Jeane Manning (1996).
Francisco died in 1992. His grandson Edmundo holds the patent rights to the Pacheco Generator. His wife and daughter returned to Bolivia where Francisco’s ashes were spread throughout the mountains of his beloved homeland and the source of his inspiration.
Bi-polar auto electrolytic hydrogen generator, patent # 5,089,107
Inventors: Francisco Pacheco