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My father helped put man on the moon

PUBLISHED: 09:00 17 July 2009 | UPDATED: 08:20 01 August 2010

A BUNGAY woman has spoken of the pride she has in her father who was responsible for putting the first man on the moon.

As the world gets ready to mark the 40th anniversary of the first moon landings, Daphne Vivian-Neal of Bardolph Road described the role her father Tom Bacon played.

A BUNGAY woman has spoken of the pride she has in her father who was responsible for putting the first man on the moon.

As the world gets ready to mark the 40th anniversary of the first moon landings, Daphne Vivian-Neal of Bardolph Road described the role her father Tom Bacon played.

Mr Bacon developed the Bacon Fuel Cell, which powered the astronauts' equipment, control centre, heating and light.

And was personally thanked by President Nixon who later told him they couldn't have completed the mission without him.

“He was absolutely thrilled when they landed on the moon,” said Mrs Vivian-Neal, who will be celebrating the anniversary on Monday with a friend. “But of course he was always nervous that the fuel cell would fail and the astronauts wouldn't get home.”

Mr Bacon's real name was Francis, and he was in fact a direct descendent of the 17th century Suffolk philosopher Francis Bacon. He passed away in 1992, but was fascinated by the idea of the fuel cell throughout his life.

The fuel cell is an electrochemical convertor of hydrogen and oxygen, which produces electricity, heat and pure water, and was initially invented by the scientist William Groves in 1840.

However it was not until Mr Bacon started developing Grove's idea, around 100 years later, that the fuel cell was considered as anything other than a scientific “curiosity” of little practical use.

Though a serious lack of funding dogged him throughout his work, he managed to make great leaps in the development of the fuel cell, and it was finally put to practical application in the Apollo spacecrafts developed in the US.

On July 20, 1969, his efforts facilitated one of mankind's greatest leaps when it was used in the first spacecraft to land on the moon.

In the spacecraft the Bacon Fuel Cell provided in-flight power, heat, and clean drinking water, a by-product of the electrochemical reaction.

However Mrs Vivian-Neal is a staunch supporter of the device as a source of energy on earth that can help address energy problems in the future, as it is highly efficient and pollution-free.

Fuel cells have been trialled in some London buses over the past three years, with the next generation of design on the way. It is also being used for transport in Germany and Spain, and can be used to power individual houses and communities.

She said: “He never made any money from it. He was really trying to look to the future for our energy for the next generation. I'm just very concerned for the future and time is running out. But it needs funding to develop. Bungay is a transition town and it could be used for generating electricity here.”

Daphne Vivian-Neal's brother will be speaking about the Bacon Fuel Cell on the One Show on BBC1 this evening at 7pm.

To find out more about the Fuel Cell visit www.fuelcellpower.co.uk.

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