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February 28, 2017 | Tom Ballard

One Scientific moving forward with its disruptive technology

One Scientific(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is another article in our on-going series exploring the start-up scene in Northeast Tennessee.)

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

When you are involved in a disruptive technology that will potentially change the world, one of the greatest challenges is determining where to start.

That’s certainly the case with One Scientific Inc., a Johnson City-based clean tech start-up that has been the subject of several previous articles in including this initial overview. We caught-up with Jon Barnwell, Co-Founder and Vice President, during a recent visit to Northeast Tennessee.

“One of our biggest challenges has been identifying where we fit into the evolving energy space,” he told us. “We can produce two energy carriers – hydrogen and electricity – with ultra-high efficiency.”

The question becomes what customer segment has the greatest pain and opportunity to gain? It’s a long list, and Barnwell says there is potential to serve them all.

One Scientific is commercializing multiple technologies including a 40-year old cost-effective method for generating renewable hydrogen anywhere in the world where there is access to water. Conceived and built in the 1970s by Michael Redwine, company Founder, the technology is ready for broad commercialization now that One Scientific has combined with another proprietary technology, a new hydrogen fuel cell, which will work to address previous safety concerns.

Yet, the widespread adoption of hydrogen as a mainstream energy carrier has not yet occurred, because it has been expensive to produce and convert to a useful form of energy.

Barnwell underscored that challenge by noting that there are less than 1,000 fuel cell vehicles on the road, most of which are in California. “But that’s about to change,” he says.

At the 2016 “California Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Summit,” stakeholders met to discuss unprecedented attention and activity in the use of hydrogen and fuel cells along with ongoing challenges. Honda Motors proposed that three key developments need to happen for broad consumer adoption of fuel cell vehicles.

“More fueling stations, (a greater) need for renewable hydrogen, and the cost at the pump must be less than $10 a kilogram.” Barnwell said.

One Scientific believes it can meet all three challenges and would like to do so here in Tennessee.

“It would be so exciting to help Tennessee get on the hydrogen economy map,” Barnwell says. “We’re preparing technologies that can lower the cost of hydrogen filling stations as well as the delivered cost of hydrogen.”

Stations cost between three to five million dollars, a not inconsequential amount. “Historical demand for hydrogen in transportation has been low, but near term projections are very high,” Barnwell says.

On the advent of EVs and FCVs, he explains One Scientific is creating a solution that can supply existing gas station convenience stores with the means to generate their own electricity for refrigeration and lighting as well as for recharging electric vehicles and refilling fuel cell vehicles.

“We’re talking about a nationwide infrastructure upgrade with multiple benefits that hit the bottom line directly-That’s what we want to do,” says Barnwell. “Phase I of our R&D plan is nearly completed.” The company plans to demo version 1 of its first commercial product in the next few months.

Up next is Phase 2 in which One Scientific will work on testing and improving its system.

“Our manufacturing plan is set for 2018 with a capacity of up to 150 fuel cell power systems a day,” Barnwell says. The target output for the unit picture below is 24kW DC.

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