Controversial firm BlackLight Power says it will show off how it can generate power with water and the equivalent of pocket change next year.

The company claims -- amid harsh criticism that its assertions are the kookiest thing to come along since cold fusion -- to have discovered a way to produce energy from converting a hydrogen atom into a hydrino, a purported low-energy form of hydrogen that researchers at the company claimed to have discovered. When ordinary hydrogen is mixed with a chemical catalyst at a relatively cool 50 degrees Celsius, hydrogen molecules turn into hydrinos, according to Blacklight. The  hydrogen-to-hydrino reaction releases 200 times more energy than the amount of energy that gets released when hydrogen is burned. BlackLight has largely concentrated on harvesting heat from the reaction.

In a recent experiment, BlackLight says researchers have generated electricity directly from the reaction. According to BlackLight's calculations, a liter of water a second could generate up to a gigawatt of power. The capital cost of a power plant built on the technology would come to $25 a kilowatt. By contrast, nuclear plants cost $6,000 or more a kilowatt, while a natural gas plant runs $850 a kilowatt. The company now hopes to develop fuel cell-like devices to generate distributed power.

"It works phenomenally better than the heat system," said CEO Randell Mills. "This is going to be big time. This has tremendous characteristics."

Skeptics abound. Quantum mechanics rules out the existence of hydrinos, according to, among others, Andreas Rathke of the European Space Agency. Researchers at Rowan University have examined BlackLight's technology and co-authored papers with the company, but other scientists have not been invited inside to examine the process.

So when do we get to see it? A public demonstration will come in 2011, Mills said.