My name is Don Owens and I am the CEO of HNO Green Fuels. I grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, and received my engineering degree at General Motors Institute (now Kettering University) and a law degree from Georgetown University. I recently wrote my first book, Burn Fuel Better, after creating a customized hydrogen solution that garnered 19 patents and is applicable for everything that burns fuel.
Burn Fuel Better reveals a crucial cause of the global climate change crisis, which is an element of particulate matter known as black carbon, and discusses why black carbon is the true, most urgent enemy of the planet. The book proposes an almost impossibly simple solution: a patented hydrogen technology that, put plainly, burns fuel better. From the staunchest environmental advocates to the most powerful oil company executives and everyone in between, my book eliminates the classic blame game ricochet to break down the role every one of us has played in the black carbon crisis, while illuminating a positive path forward, together.
What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?
Discovering a potential solution to the black carbon problem at the root of climate change happened by accident, as most incredible things do. I read an article about how I could use hydrogen to increase my gas mileage and save fuel (and money) for my car. In the process of developing and testing a prototype solution for that problem, diagnostic lab tests revealed that the device reduced particulate matter creation by almost 50%. My only question was, “What is particulate matter?”
Upon deeper research, I found that particulate matter is linked to a slew of dangerous-to-deadly respiratory health problems. Particulate matter inhalation is also known to exacerbate existing health conditions, including complications from the COVID-19 virus. I learned that all fossil-fuel-powered engines and devices produce particulate matter, but the methods to reduce it were very difficult and in some applications impossible.
When I first read about black carbon, which is a major component of particulate matter, I was shocked to discover that it’s 1,500x worse for the planet than CO2, given how rapidly it can warm valuable natural formations, like our glaciers. This is when I realized I had stumbled on something that could help the planet.
Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?
Growing up, I didn’t know what I wanted to do for my career. But, I enjoyed tinkering. This was a sign that I would later pursue a career in engineering. After graduating high school, I attended Florida A&M for their pre-engineering co-op program. But, since I wanted to pursue a higher degree, I transferred to the General Motors Institute (GMI), now known as Kettering University, in Flint, Michigan. Thankfully, GMI also had a co-op education program where I was able to work as an engineer while also pursuing my studies.
Soon after, I decided to leave engineering to attend Georgetown University Law School. Western Electric had a patent department where I could work for them while also pursuing my law degree. I figured that my engineering background could help me advance in becoming a patent attorney. As it turns out, neither career appealed to me.
Later on, I started developing internet database applications and I became the CEO of Business Internet Systems. In the late 2000s, I launched an online platform that serviced the major business card printing needs of the U.S. Congress, and offices in the Executive Branch and The Department of State. I also worked on networked database optimization for massive clients, such as the U.S. Census Bureau.
As previously mentioned, I recently discovered how black carbon is destroying the planet. And through a fortunate accident, I developed the technology, the LEEFH2 device, for reducing black carbon at its source. This technology works on anything and everything that burns fuel, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. There are thousands of applications, and each application can help reduce the effects of climate change right at the source. The LEEFH2, essentially, splits hydrogen molecules from oxygen within everyday water and redirects the hydrogen to the combustion chamber of an engine while releasing the fresh oxygen into the atmosphere (like a leaf).
Hydrogen burns faster and more completely than any other fuel in the universe, but there are aspects to hydrogen that make it ill-fit as a standalone combustion solution. However, when added to the air intake of any fuel-combustion engine, hydrogen burns those fossil fuels better, faster, and more completely — leaving 50% less particulate matter and black carbon in its wake.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
The future looks bright for HNO Green Fuels! We are in the process of doing something that the planet desperately needs. Essentially, we are developing technology that will help reverse climate change. We have a big problem with climate change, but we also have a hopeful future because we have a solution to it as well.
We’re also developing a device that can work in coal-fired manufacturing plants. We recognize how damaging the burning of fossil fuels is for the environment, but we also are aware that it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. People don’t realize how far into the very fabric of our way of life fuel reaches, and it’s the cheapest energy source. We are committed to finding every possible way to burn those fuels better.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
You never know when you get started with any company where it’s going to lead. I’m still amazed at how far we’ve come with HNO Green Fuels. I think it’s helpful to focus on what problems to solve and then find their solutions.
Don’t worry about what you don’t know, just keep going down the road toward where you want to go. If you just take off, things will come your way.
For HNO Green Fuels specifically, it is advantageous having the only technology in the space. We discovered something truly unique in the industry. As it becomes more developed, the technology can be expanded to continue to help to reverse the damaging effects of climate change.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I know a lot of people in sales and all of them speak highly about LinkedIn. The platform has helped us bring in people that are both, directly and indirectly, involved with the business. I never knew how much a social networking platform could help our business grow.
When it comes to spreading the word about black carbon and HNO Green Fuels, we need all hands on deck to share our message. LinkedIn is a great tool to amplify our message and gather support from all of those who want to help out with our mission. I recently became more active on LinkedIn myself and will continue using the site to inform individuals about why black carbon is the enemy of the planet.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Google has been a great resource for me for uncovering what both particulate matter and black carbon are. I didn’t know what particular matter was until I looked it up on Google. I found out about Black Carbon in an article found from a Google search. The rest is history!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out
Most of the time, people don’t know what they’re going to need to know to move forward. Take what you have today and use it the best you can. Tomorrow, you will find something to help you advance even further. Don’t worry about what you don’t know, just keep going down the road toward where you want to go. If you just take off, things will come your way.
When I first started HNO Green Fuels, I didn’t know I would need to organize a sales team. But, great salespeople showed up in my life to help me. Now, I have a great president for my company that organizes things the way I would have never dreamed of. This is when I learned that important people will always show up in your life to support you, and most of the time, just in the nick of time.
My last piece of advice is to never try to solve a problem you don’t have. Just know that a problem will be figured out when the time arises. I always say, don’t go looking for problems, but deal with them when they get to you, not before. Trust me, a lot of time can be wasted trying to solve problems that you don’t have.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Right now, we are already executing the work that we need help with. But, soon we will probably need lots of engineers and salespeople to help out with new projects. We will ultimately also need to hire more and more of each, including support people as we have more products to sell. Stay tuned!
Where can we go to learn more?
To learn more about my book, please visit Burn Fuel Better. You can also find me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook through the handle @donclimateowens. Feel free to also connect with me on LinkedIn!
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