We first met Jon Barnwell, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of One Scientific Inc., at an event for entrepreneurs in Knoxville. He had travelled down from Johnson City, and we started talking about the start-up that was focused on developing a game-changing technology to harness hydrogen anywhere in the world where there is access to water.
Fast forward about four years, and that goal reached a significant milestone on April 7 when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued Patent No. 10611633 (One Scientific Patent). “It’s the most comprehensive coverage we could have hoped for,” Barnwell says.
As described on its website, One Scientific’s “patented modular technologies leverage an ionic plasma, a catalytic reaction, and magnetic field, which together define the field of science known as Magnetohydrodynamics or (MHD), to produce hydrogen more efficiently and at a lower cost than conventional methods.”
Barnwell says, “No one in the world has ever heard of using steam, a catalyst, and a magnetic field to make hydrogen. The magnetic field is what makes it so unique. Magnetohydrodynamics is a highly specialized field that involves a lot of complex equations. This new method is unlike any other and a significant breakthrough for mankind.”
Michael Redwine, a scientist and inventor, founded the company and serves as its Chief Executive Officer. He is based at One Scientific’s Engineering Lab in Madison, IN, while Barnwell focuses on the business and financial operations from a Johnson City base.
The latter told us that One Scientific received notice from the USPTO in late 2019 that the patent was going to issue, but “we were kind of holding our breath until we got the official patent number. More important, the USPTO did not make us file a divisional patent. That was a pleasant surprise.”
Describing the patent as providing “validity” about the One Scientific approach, Barnwell says the next major goal is to scale up the technologies. “We’re ready to test in a commercial pilot,” he says, and the company is in talks with industry leaders from across the globe to identify unique pilot opportunities.
“We’re at TRL 6, and progressing toward 9,” Barnwell says in referring to the federal Technology Readiness Level categorization system. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, TRL 6 is defined as “system/process prototype demonstration in an operational environment (beta prototype system level).”
Moving to the TRL 7 classification would elevate the technology from the “beta prototype system level” to an “integrated pilot system level,” while a TRL 8 is defined as an “actual system/process completed and qualified through test and demonstration (pre-commercial demonstration).”
As it moves forward, One Scientific has also modified its original business model.
“Our initial plan included manufacturing,” Barnwell says. “Our model is now licensing the intellectual property to channel partners. It’s the most sensible and scalable approach. Operating as a technology developer, is the best way to accomplish our mission which is to accelerate the world’s adoption of affordable onsite hydrogen from pure water and allows us to focus on what we do best.”
He also offered praise for Launch Tennessee and its microgrant program that provides funding to apply for Phase I, Phase II or Fast-Track Awards under the federal Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.