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Man turns to crowd-funding for engine invention

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Wednesday, August 21, 2013, at 10:20 p.m.

Jon Jordan has a big idea but little money to fund it.

He has designed a device that uses the exhaust flow from an engine, such as a jet engine, to turn a crankshaft that generates electricity. He calls it a high-velocity low-pressure engine.

He has applied for a patent and built an early prototype in his garage. Jordan, who lives in Bel Aire, works for United Technologies as a carpenter.

To really develop his invention, he said, he needs some serious dollars. He has started with Rocket Hub, a crowd-funding site, in hopes that people will contribute to it. Donors don’t get any ownership of the company, but they do get token gifts or services for their contributions.

He said his goal is $300,000.

“I was trying to sell it as something that would make the planet a better place,” he said.

But crowd-funding is a fickle thing. For every success, there are plenty of failures. It helps to have a lot of family and friends willing to donate; a quirky, fun or inspirational product that people can identify with; some savviness about how to market the product through social media; and a lot of luck.

So far, he’s gotten less than $1,000, and he has fewer than 10 days left in the fundraising effort.

“I knew it would be kind of hit and miss,” Jordan said, sounding a little discouraged.

Kenneth Jack, a Wichita attorney who handles much of the patent work in the area, said he was impressed with Jordan’s device. It’s clearly something new.

“It’s very interesting, very patentable,” he said.

Seeking a patent is key for inventors who thinks a product is new, Jack said. It allows them to consult the experts needed to improve their designs without worrying about having their ideas stolen.

“It frees creative people to move forward,” Jack said.

To find more information on the engine, go to http://www.rockethub.com/projects/28731-energy-capture-fuel-saver-research-project

Trish Brasted, president of Wichita Technology Corp., said Jordan’s engine isn’t a good candidate for crowd-funding.

“Crowd-sourcing is really more for consumer products,” she said.

On the other hand, it sounds like a perfect fit for Wichita’s product-development ecosystem, she said.

Wichita companies and inventors are continually creating devices and technologies. But, she said, many aren’t viable as new businesses for a variety of reasons.

“Once you create something, then the hard work starts,” she said. “You have to figure out if it’s something that someone is willing to pay for, whether you will license it or develop it yourself and, if you develop it yourself, you have to figure out how to build a business.”

But, she said, Wichita has a host of groups that assist with product design, development, commercialization and entrepreneurship.

“If he’s serious, we need to see what phase of development he’s in and hook him into the right resources,” she said.

Reach Dan Voorhis at 316-268-6577 or dvoorhis@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @danvoorhis.

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