Despite his plan to do things domestically first, Minato is well prepared for the international markets. He is armed with both six years of living and doing business in Los Angeles in the early 90s -- and with patent protection for over 48 countries. His is hardly a provincial perspective.
His US experience came after playing the piano for a living for 15 years. He began tinkering with his invention in the mid-70s. The idea for his magnetic motor design came from a burst of inspiration while playing the piano.
But Minato decided to drop everything in 1990 to help his daughter Hiroko, who at the age of 20 decided that she wanted to be a rhythm and blues star in the US. Minato is a strong believer in family: If Hiroko was going to find fame and fortune in the US, Dad had better be there to help manage her. He suceeded in helping Hiroko to achieve a UK dance chart number one hit in 1995.
In 1996 Minato returned to Japan and his magnetic motor project. The following year he displayed his prototypes to national power companies, government officials and others at a five-day conference in Mexico City. Interest was palpable, and Minato realized that his invention might meet a global need for energy-saving devices.
Subsequent previews and speeches in Korea and Singapore further consolidated his commitment to bringing the invention to fruition, and he was able to bring in several early-stage investors.
During the late 90s, Minato continued to refine his prototypes. He also stayed in constant contact with his lawyer, registering patents in major countries around the world. Through his experiences in the US he realized that legal protection was critical, even if it meant delaying release of the technology by a couple of years.
Ironically, by the time he'd won patents in 47 countries, the Japanese patent office turned him down on the grounds that "[the invention] couldn't possibly work" and that somehow he was fabricating the claims.
But a few months later they were forced to recant their decision after the US patent office recognized his invention and gave him the first of two patents. As Minato notes: "How typical of Japan's small-minded bureaucrats that they needed the leadership of the US to accept that my invention was genuine."
By 2001, the Minatos had refined their motors and met enough potential investors to enter into a major international relationship, initially with a Saudi company, to be followed thereafter by companies in the US and elsewhere.
However, fate dealt the investors and Minato's business a serious blow when the World Trade Center was attacked in New York. The Saudis retreated, and Minato's plans fell back to square one.
Now Minato is once again ready to move. With the first order in the works and more orders pending successful prototypes, he has decided that investors don't have to be primary partners. He is actively accepting inquiries from corporate investors who can bring strategic advantages and corporate credibility with them. His company, Japan Magnetic Fan, will make a series of investment tie-up announcements in the first and second quarters of 2004.
Minato's motors consume just 20 percent or less of the power of conventional motors with the same torque and horse power. They run cool to the touch and produce almost no acoustic or electrical noise. They are significantly safer and cheaper (in terms of power consumed), and they are sounder environmentally.
The implications are enormous. In the US alone, almost 55 percent of the nation's electricity is consumed by electric motors. While most factory operators buy the cheapest motors possible, they are steadily being educated by bodies like NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association) that the costs of running a motor over a typical 20-year lifespan comprise a purchase price of just 3 percent of the total, and electricity costs of 97 percent. It is not unusual for a $2,000 motor to consume $80,000 of electricity (at a price of .06 cents per kilowatt hour).
Since 1992, when efficiency legislation was put into place at the US federal level, motor efficiency has been a high priority -- and motors saving 20 percent or so on electrical bills are considered highly efficient. Minato is about to introduce a motor which saves 80 percent, putting it into an entirely new class: The $80,000 running cost will drop to just $16,000. This is a significant savings when multiplied by the millions of motors used throughout the USA and Japan -- and eventually, throughout the world.
Minato's invention and its ability to use remarkably less power and run without heat or noise make it perfect for home appliances, personal computers, cellphones (a miniature generator is in the works) and other consumer products.
The magnetic motor will be cheaper than a standard motor to make, as the rotor and stator assemblies can be set into plastic housings, due to the fact that the system creates very little heat. Further, with the motor's energy efficiency, it will be well suited for any application where a motor has limited energy to drive it. While development is still focused on replacing existing devices, Minato says that his motor has sufficient torque to power a vehicle.
With the help of magnetic propulsion, it is feasible to attach a generator to the motor and produce more electric power than was put into the device. Minato says that average efficiency on his motors is about 330 percent.
Mention of Over Unity devices in many scientific circles will draw icy skepticism. But if you can accept the idea that Minato's device is able to create motion and torque through its unique, sustainable permanent magnet propulsion system, then it makes sense that he is able to get more out of the unit than he puts in in terms of elctrical power. Indeed, if the device can produce a surplus of power for longer periods, every household in the land will want one.
"I am not in this for the money," Minato says. "I have done well in my musical career, but I want to make a contribution to society -- helping the backstreet manufacturers here in Japan and elsewhere. I want to reverse the trends caused by major multinationals. There is a place for corporations. But as the oil industry has taught us, energy is one area where a breakthrough invention like this cannot be trusted to large companies."
Minato was once close to making a deal with Enron. But today, he is firmly on a mission to support the small and the independent -- and to go worldwide with them and his amazing machine. "Our plan is to rally smaller companies and pool their talent, and to one day produce the technology across a