The Story of Francisco Pacheco and the Suppression of Hydrogen Technology
by Karin Westdyk

Francisco Pacheco's patent (#5,089,107) for his invention could revolutionize the field of energy.

The Pacheco Bi-Polar Autoelectric Hydrogen Generator is a unique system which separates hydrogen from seawater (the element's natural storage tank) as it is needed for use. The patent teaches the on demand autoelectrolytic separation of 99.98 percent pure hydrogen from seawater at both electrodes of the generator, and the simultaneous use of the hydrogen's carried energy.

Research and development of hydrogen as an energy source, till now, has been blocked by several factors:

  • It is an extremely volatile element and subject to explosion as happened in the tragic Hindenberg accident and the Challenger

  • The existing highly pressurized, cryogenic and hydride systems available for storing it are very expensive, cumbersome, and dangerous (there is no need for storage with the Pacheco system)

  • The United States Department of Energy is not interested in promoting or developing new energy sources that compete with the powerful energy monopolies now in place

Hydrogen is the cleanest burning fuel. When burned, its waste is clean water vapor which can either be recycled back in the system for reuse, or safely released into the environment and returned to the oceans, lakes and rivers—no greenhouse gasses, no atomic pollution, no acid rain, no crippling dependencies on foreign oil, no expensive transportation, or power lines.

The oxides of the two metals used in the system which produce hydro-gen at both electrodes are also recyclable (with a minimal 0.25 percent loss). The metals can be produced for use in the system from existing scrap metals actively seeking markets. The infrastructure necessary to develop this clean, safe, and efficient alternative energy source is already in place.

Pacheco has built prototypes which have successfully fueled a car, a motorcycle, a lawn mower, a torch, and a boat (with the ocean serving as its inexhaustible fuel tank). Another prototype system in demonstration energized an entire home in West Milford, New Jersey, providing electric energy and fuel for cooking and heating. In addition, Mr. Pacheco demonstrated his generator to the scientific community at the 1990 Eighth Annual International Hydrogen Energy Conference where he was the only exhibitor actually producing hydrogen.


His generator was also exhibited in Canada at the 1990 Green Energy Conference, and at many other notable conferences where he received several awards for his work.


As a young man in his native country Bolivia, Pacheco was fascinated with the idea of developing a super battery. While experimenting in his makeshift laboratory, he lit a match and the bubbles forming in one of the beakers ignited and blew a hole in the ceiling. He knew that he had made a discovery but was not sure what he had discovered. He abandoned his work with the battery and proceeded to develop his hydrogen generator.

In 1943, while on a Good Will Tour of South America, the Vice President of the United States [Henry Wallace] witnessed the Pacheco generator running an automobile. Wallace invited him to bring the generator to Washington where, later in that year, he demonstrated it to scientists and representatives from the U.S. War Department at the Bureau of Standards. He applied for a patent, but because the United States was at war, all patents were sealed and available only to the military. Later, he was advised to shelve his patents because, at that time, oil was plentiful and cheap and there was no need to develop an alternative source of energy.

Pacheco became a U.S. citizen and brought his family to his newly adopted country, knowing that one day, the time would be right for his invention. He worked in defense plants during the war, and then, until retirement, as a heating engineer in New York City. He discovered the beauty of West Milford, New Jersey, while on a family outing and returned for vacations whenever he could. In 1967, he moved with his family to West Milford and made his home there until his death in 1992.

During the oil shortage in the 70s, Pacheco decided it was time to apply for his patent again and received a U.S. and several foreign patents. But, he soon learned that neither the energy industries, the heavily subsidized utilities, nor the Department of Energy were interested in developing clean, abundant, safe energy from hydrogen.

Determined to bring his invention to the people, he built prototypes and demonstration models to show government and industry officials. Many came and saw, said they were impressed, promised to help, but none ever did. In 1974, with the hopes of acquiring government backing, Pacheco demonstrated his pollution-free hydrogen fuel cell to Congressman Robert Roe, who today speaks often of the wonders of hydrogen fuel.


With no outside power source, the self-taught chemical engineer connected the fuel cell to an alternator unit with a 3 horse power, 1000 watt generator with a 4 stroke engine. The demonstration was a success and the excited congressman promised to bring it to the attention of Washington officials. Upon leaving Roe's Paterson office, Pacheco invited him to participate in another demonstration at the Jersey Shore. 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.


But, Roe never showed up, nor did very many newspapers. Pacheco never heard from the Congressman again, but his voyage was a great success. History was made on July 27, 1974 when a 26 foot in-board power boat ran for nine hours using the Pacheco Generator and seawater for fuel, putting back into the ocean, as its waste, clean water.

In an effort to overcome the skepticism he was facing and the Ph.D. he could not add to his name, Pacheco had his invention analyzed by sever-al independent laboratories. It passed all tests but when he tried to intro-duce it to the automobile industry and the oil companies, the response was either cool or non-existent. After a two hour meeting with one of the oil companies, he was told that developing the generator would be against their interests.

In 1977, Pacheco built a prototype unit which provided hydrogen, electric and thermal energy for a 1000 square foot home in West Milford. The New Jersey Commissioner of Energy, and several of his staff members came to see and were impressed. The Commissioner wrote a letter of recommendation to the Department of Energy, but again nothing happened.

In an effort to bring the generator to the public's attention, Pacheco contacted Geraldo Rivera who expressed great interest after he had read about the power boat demonstration. Rivera wanted to do a TV show about the generator, but the idea was axed by the station.

It was during this time that Pacheco received some recognition for his work at the International Inventor's Exposition. He was the recipient of a plaque and award from the Commissioner of the Patent Department and two consecutive Hall of Fame awards from the Inventor's Club of America in 1978 and 1979.

In 1980, Pacheco was contacted by 60 Minutes, who promised to help him show his invention to millions of Americans. The 60 Minutes crew arrived in West Milford and taped the generator producing hydrogen fuel for a Bunsen burner, and for a torch which cut through a 3/4-inch-thick steel plate (indoors). The hydrogen gas inflated a balloon, and produced energy to run an electric motor.


The last of his demonstrations involved running a lawnmower with the fuel. Because he was going to be on television, at the last minute, he decided to buy a new one, and did not have time to test it out. The engine choked due to the excessive amount of gas being produced but the 60 Minutes crew assured him that they had enough material to present an entire show with the successful demonstrations. Later when the show was aired, Pacheco was devastated as the show had a completely different focus. The only demonstration aired was the lawn mower, and it was used to provide an example of an independent inventor's non-working invention.

In 1986, with increasing concerns about the environment, Pacheco wrote to the Department of Energy about the generator but received only a fact sheet in response which provided information on the drawbacks of hydrogen fuel based on the problem of storing it in liquid or gas form. He wrote back explaining that with his system, there is no need to store the hydrogen as it is produced on demand. His detailed response was ignored.

In 1989, after information about the generator was presented at a United Nations Environmental Conference, Pacheco was invited to exhibit a prototype in Canada at the Green Energy Conference. Subsequently, he was asked to participate in the International Hydrogen Energy conference held in Hawaii in 1990. Encouraged by the interest from several scientists, he applied for the new patent which he received in February, 1992.

Though the history of his technology is most intriguing, its future is more important. Its potential clean, renewable, and safe energy source represents long-sought solutions for the environmental degradation caused by existing energy sources. Although Mr. Pacheco had been discouraged and frustrated in his efforts to bring this technology to the people, he remained focused and committed to the end.


He 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?'"

Edmund Pacheco now owns the rights to his grandfather's patent, which will one day establish Francisco as the true grandfather of the coming hydrogen energy revolution.

Back to Contents  or  Next Article