On August 9, 2011, an apparent hydrogen/oxygen explosion occurred at the alternative energy firm Rainbow of Hope in the Sylmar section of Los Angeles. Timothy A. Larson, 42, an L.A. firefighter who was on disability leave due to an existing injury, was one of the two inventors critically injured in the blast, as they were thrown into an alley by the force of the explosion. Larson apparently lost an arm an a leg in the blast. In the hospital, William A. Stehl, 68, was induced into a coma with extensive shrapnel wounds in his face.
This latest accident occurred 14 months after Larson's brother (28-year-old Tyson Larson) was killed in a June, 2010 explosion at Realm Industries, in Simi Valley, their father's predecessor alternative fuel business. In 2008, there was an explosion at Realm Industries when it was located in a different building. The 2008 blast was smaller, and there were no serious injuries.
The father, Timothy A. Larson, was among the numerous investors in a New York company formed in 2001 by Stehl, (photo at left by the Adirondack Daily Enterprise) who was indicted in 2010 in New York on charges of bilking more than 300 investors out of $7 million. Stehl claimed he developed an economical process to create energy from water, and allegedly promised his investors guaranteed returns. When the business, BGX Technologies (formerly known as Rainbow Technologies), went under, Timothy A. Larson bought its equipment and had it shipped to California so he could set up Realm Industries with his sons.
Somehow Stehl (and Tyson Larson) got a patent issued for this "technology":
Neither this patent, nor the predecessor patent application, mentions "Brown's Gas" (or "HHO Gas"), which is actually what they were producing. In brief, Brown's gas is produced by simultaneously capturing the two product gases of water electrolysis, hydrogen and oxygen, in a single, unstable product stream. They instead claim they were "modifying the bond angles of water." The slightest spark (or an errant piece of catalyst) will cause an explosion in the product gas mixture, as the hydrogen and oxygen violently recombine back into water. I have no idea why anybody would willingly produce such an unstable gas mixture, and especially why they might try to store it. It seems that Cal/OSHA believes that Stehl and the Larsons were trying to compress and store their hydrogen/oxygen gas mixture at pressure in a pair of 8-foot diameter pressure vessels! Of course, a pressurized hydrogen/oxygen mixture has even more explosive energy than an atmospheric pressure hydrogen/oxygen gas mixture.
One final note: notice how the name of one of Stehl's companies, "BGX", seems to be an acronym for "Brown's Gas"?