Lonnie Johnson made more than $1 billion with the invention of the Super Soaker! Now he's putting the money to good use...
If you grew up in the early nineties, you have no doubt owned, played with or wish you had a Super Soaker water gun! It was the top-selling toy in the United States in 1991 and 1992 and was invented by Lonnie Johnson, a Mechanical and Nuclear Engineer from Tuskegee University.
Johnson got his PhD in engineering at Tuskegee. He is also a former NASA scientist who became an entrepreneur in 1989. He then licensed the Super Soaker, which had $200 million in sales just two years later. He holds more than 80 patents, with 20 pending. The sales of the Super Soaker have now passed the $1 billion mark!
With the money he made from the super toy, he is developing a new kind of device that converts heat into electric current. He says it has the potential to be the best-ever method of converting solar energy into a form that we can use. "The sun is the only source that will be able to meet future terawatt levels of power demand, as more and more countries become industrialized and seek to improve their standard of living," says Johnson.
Among the potential uses for his device are at utility-scale solar thermal farms and for plug-in hybrid vehicles. In the vehicles the device would use waste heat from the car's internal combustion engine to help power the car's electric motor.