The following information was provided to KeelyNet courtesy of Dan York (

The Sunday Times, September 15 1996 by Alex Spillius Delhi - Indian fuel trick stuns scientists

IF THEY have been tricked, they do not know how. Indian scientists watched in amazement last week as Ramar Pillai, a 30-year-old school dropout in flip- flops and a vest, appeared to turn water into fuel. His curriculum vitae ends with an A-level in chemistry. But Pillai, from a remote village in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, claims to have hit upon a formula that could revolutionise global energy production.

Before a distinguished audience of scientists in Delhi he added a fistful of leaves and bark to a litre of water, let it boil for 30 minutes and then sprinkled the mixture lightly with salt, citric acid and other chemicals. A layer of a kerosene-like substance materialised at the top. The Indian science establishment wants to know how he did it. "We all saw it, but didn't completely understand it," said Valangiman Ramamurthy, first secretary in the government's science and technology department. "We can't explain the chemistry, but it was carried out in a scientific manner. There was no magic about it at all.'

N. K. Jha, senior chemist at the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, said: "Until we know exactly what is in the mixture, we can't say for sure if this is real, but I do not think he is a trickster." Pillai says he can produce the mixture at 2p a litre, and that 4kg of the mysterious plant mix he uses yields 1,000 litres of the fluid. In Pillai's village locals claim they run their motorbikes and scooters on fuel bought from his basement laboratory. "It's better than normal petrol, I'm a regular customer," said one. Another added: "This man is a fool. He should be very rich by now."

Born into a poor farming family, Pillai has none the less made enough money to employ a full-time assistant who says he helps to produce 30-50 litres of the fuel each day. Veeranan Ramaiah, a retired army driver and Pillai's foster father, is the only other person who knows where to find the mystery plant. He accompanies Pillai on his forays with a rifle to fend off any attempts to extract the secret by force. Pillai claims that two years ago he was kidnapped and tortured for three days before being dumped in a field.

He says the owner of a local factory once offered him a car, a bungalow and $375,000 in exchange for the ingredient, while a former minister of Tamil Nadu offered to invest $310,000 of state funds on condition that he was made a partner. Pillai, who speaks only Tamil, is extremely wary. "Someone could steal my formula," he said. "Once the task of the patent application is overcome, we can move on to the big league."

from MUFOR Web site in Malta :

An additional article that provides a bit more detail was courteously shared with KeelyNet by Ross Hines (

From London Telegraph at - International News Electronic Telegraph - Thursday 19 September 1996 - Issue 484

Miracle fuel or Indian rope trick?

By Aisling Irwin

A SOUTH Indian villager who claims to have invented a fuel made from an unidentified herb was sitting on "dynamite", a leading Indian scientist said yesterday. Professor S. Subramanian, of the Indian Institute of Technology, said: "This is not magic, nor voodoo. It is definitely an incredible fuel."

But British experts are sceptical. "It's a bit like the Indian rope trick," said Professor Jeffrey Harborne, a leading plant biochemist at Reading University. It is a bit difficult to understand how he could possibly produce a stable hydrocarbon material in such vast quantities from plant material. Plants are mostly water, anyway."

Ponnaiah Ramar Pillai, 34, from Idayankulam in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, has demonstrated his invention to scientists in Madras and New Delhi. He claims that he can make his fuel by boiling the unnamed herb in water, then adding lime juice, salt and certain chemicals. The fuel is then skimmed off the top of the mixture. But Dr Paul Phillips, a chemist at Nene College of Higher Education, said that there were two proven ways of producing energy from plants.

One was to turn oil from their seeds into a fuel; for example, creating diesel from rape seed which now powered buses in Reading. The other was to ferment plant material until it became an alcohol. In Brazil, fuel was produced by fermenting plant material into ethanol. Dr. Phillips said he could believe that an unknown herb might produce a small amount of fuel. "It is all a question of quantity. Mr. Pillai is being guarded by five policemen and two armed security officers after his makeshift laboratory was burnt down last week.

"There is no doubt that if you have organic material you can transform it into a crude mixture of hydrocarbons and lipids. What would be mind-blowing would be if 10 grams of twigs produced 10 grams of fuel".

Mr. Pillai's process appeared to produce about five grams of fuel from 10 grams of plant matter. It would be believable only if it produced half a gram from 10 grams of plant matter. "In the history of science and technology there have been a significant number of claims about new wonder-fuels. Scientists can be gullible," he added. Other scientific objections were that Mr Pillai's process was too fast and the reaction temperature too low for it to produce a fuel. Prof. Subramaniam said the fuel, likened in chemical structure to petrol or diesel, had not yet been fully analysed by scientists.

"We need to find out what goes into it and what goes out," he said. If we know all the ingredients going in, we can have a full report ready in three to six months' time on its feasibility for mass production." Mr. Pillai is being guarded by five policemen and two armed security officers after his makeshift laboratory was burnt down last week. The Tamil Nadu state government is helping him set up a plant in his home village to produce around 50 litres a day. Mr Pillai, who claims his workplace was also burnt down last year and that he was kidnapped and hung upside down by men trying to steal his secret, says his discovery dates back to a school picnic in 1978. "When I lit a stove, a spark fell on a small plant and the green leaves started to burn vigorously," he said. The episode perplexed him for years but it was not until 10 years later that he rediscovered the plant.

He has disclosed its identity only to a few members of his close family. The fuel, which has been approved by local villagers who have tested it in their farm machinery, will go on sale at 10 rupees (about 20p) a litre, less than half the price of petrol. V Ramamurthi, secretary of the Indian government's Department of Science and Technology, said: "We have no doubt that we are sitting on something very big, but we must proceed carefully and systematically."

Vanguard Sciences notes - A documentary of Biblical wonders was shown on television a year or so ago which included the 'burning bush' which Moses encountered. According to the Biblical account, the voice of Jehovah issued from the bush when it was on fire. It has been thought of as an electrostatically induced corona since the plant 'was not consumed', however an oily coating burning fast enough, might do minimal damage to the plant, as with certain chemicals that can be burned openly in the hand without damage to the flesh.

The commentator of the video said there was a type of plant which grew in Israel which exuded an oily film that was highly flammable. A flame is an ionized plasma which can be electrostatically modulated to produce excellent sound which could account for the 'voice of Jehovah.'. The point here of course being that such plants as discovered by the Indian researcher are not unknown. Perhaps the Israeli plant is the same or of the same family.

One other point to mention, the alchemical term 'tincture' refers to the extraction of the oil or essence of the material by use of heat or other processes. We do this every day when we brew coffee or tea as you can see from the oily film which appears on cooling coffee as the oil separates from the water. This heating process is clearly stated in the Indian fuel article as being the means used to extract the oil from the mysterious plant. I did not record this video at the time, so if anyone has a copy of it perhaps you can get the name of the plant and share it with us.

Another option to identifying the plant is to get a video showing the leaf which could be compared to a good botanical book about Indian plants.

Imagine growing your own fuel in your backyard!!