About the Team

Team Leaders

Jay Schmuecker
Ted Hollinger
David Toyne
Thomas Hurd
Doug Carpenter


Jay Leaman, electrical wiring for system
Russ Hughes, modified & painted tractor for hydrogen engine
Lynn Hostetler, Mike Springer & Bill Yoder, built system facilities
Scott McMains, tractor acquisition & maintenance
Mike Parker, piping installation

solar hydrogen system team

Members of the solar-hydrogen system development team, left to right: Adam Sylvester, Jay Leaman, Mike Springer, Lynn Hostetler, Ken Burns, Jay Schmuecker, Chad Franck, David Toyne, Tom Hurd, Russ Hughes, Bill Yoder, Scott McMains and Mike Parker.

Caption forthcoming

Jay Schmuecker (second from right) and the Team Leads who helped make his dream of a hydrogen-fueled tractor a reality, left to right: Ted Hollinger, David Toyne and Tom Hurd.

Caption Forthcoming

Gathered to discuss adding ammonia generation to the solar-hydrogen system are, left to right: Doug Carpenter, Bill Ayres, Jay Schmuecker and David Toyne.


JayJay Schmuecker

Manager of Pinehurst Farm LLC, Project Manager of the Raphael Schmuecker Memorial Solar-Hydrogen System, Retired Engineer, Caltech’s NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Several years ago, Jay began to envision a renewable energy project that would be a tribute to his late father, Raphael Schmuecker, who used Ray Smucker in his public life. Ray was a huge proponent of hydrogen as a viable substitute for fossil fuels.

Jay’s 50+ years as a NASA engineer proved to be invaluable in developing the project, from early ideas and calculations scrawled on a sheet of paper to the final hydrogen-powered John Deere tractor working in a field outside Blairstown, Iowa.

“At JPL, we pride ourselves on doing things that have not been done before,” says Jay. “The solar-hydrogen system is such an endeavor. Having worked on spacecraft taught me that doing things the first time takes more time and money than initially estimated, and problems are encountered that will be corrected as the development proceeds.”

Space ideas land on earth

Jay’s tenure at JPL also taught him that innovative ideas originally conceived for space use could eventually transfer to everyday life. A few examples:

  • The Voyager and Magellan spacecrafts had high gain antenna made from graphite composite materials. This is now being used in commercial and Air Force airplanes.
  • ICs (integrated circuits), applied by JPL to early lunar and planetary spacecraft, were the first generation of today’s extremely miniaturized ICs, found in everything from computers to cell phones.
  • Many technologies used in planetary spacecraft have been applied to satellites, which transmit much of our television programming.
  • The Mariner IV spacecraft that flew by Mars in 1965 was the first use of digital television—which is commonplace today.

Jay’s Background

In 1957, Jay got married, graduated from MIT with a BS in Mechanical Engineering, drove to California on his honeymoon and started a job with California Institute of Technology, which operates NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL). All of this happened in a little over a month. Jay was 22 years old.

He started at JPL in July and by October the Soviet Union had launched Sputnik, the world’s first Earth satellite. This event marked the beginning of the space age and of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. NASA was formed in 1958 and JPL, which had been under the direction of the U.S. Army, was transferred to NASA.

When Jay started with JPL, he was responsible for designing trailers to transport the Sergeant Missile System that JPL was developing for the Army. With the transfer of JPL to NASA, the missile work went to a contractor in Salt Lake City. “One week I was responsible for trailers and electronic enclosures,” remembers Jay, “and the next week I was responsible for the mechanical configuration of planetary spacecraft. It turns out that I just happened to be at the right place at the right time; on the ground floor of activities to send spacecraft to the planets!”

Highlights of Jay’s career with JPL, which focused on unmanned planetary spacecraft:

  • Mariner II—Responsible for the design and fabrication of part of the structure of this spacecraft and the spacecraft mechanical assembly, which flew by Venus in 1962.
  • Mariner IV—Supervised the engineers who designed and assembled the Mariner IV, which took the first pictures of Mars in 1965. He was on duty in the spaceflight operations center when the first picture of Mars was played back from tape the next day.
  • Mariner V—As Engineering Mechanics Division Representative to the project office, he was responsible for the Division’s structural, mechanical, electrical cabling, electronics parts, electronic packaging, materials and mechanical assembly activities in support of the Mariner V, which flew by Venus in 1967.
  • Mariner IX Mars Obiter—Was Engineering Mechanics Division Representative for the Mariner Obiter, which orbited Mars in 1971.
  • Magellan—Took part in selection of the contractor for the Magellan spacecraft, which orbited Venus in 1990.

Managed 100 engineers who were responsible for:

  • Overseeing the mechanical activities of Boeing, who built Mariner X, which flew by Mercury in 1973.
  • Design, fabrication, testing and delivery of the mechanical components of two Viking spacecraft that delivered landers to Mars and orbited the planet in 1976.
  • Design, fabrication, testing and delivery of the mechanical components of two Voyager spacecraft that flew by Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. After more than 38 years in flight, these crafts are still operating.
  • The early design and fabrication of the mechanical components of the Galileo spacecraft that orbited Jupiter.

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Ted HollingerTed Hollinger

Founder and President, HEC (Hydrogen Engine Center)

Lead Designer and Developer of the hydrogen engine and modified tractor

Jay Schmuecker’s pursuit of a hydrogen engine to fuel a tractor led him to Ted Hollinger, founder and CEO
of Hydrogen Engine Center (HEC) in Algona, Iowa. Ted’s company has an international reputation for adapting internal combustion engine designs to run on alternative fuels, including hydrogen, ammonia, ethanol and methanol.

Ted says he took on Jay Schmuecker’s project because it was a chance to show the world that a John
Deere tractor can run carbon free and still do the work. It was also an opportunity to demonstrate that the combination of ammonia and hydrogen fuels can be used in a working sense—in this case, planting and harvesting duties in an Iowa field.

“This is the first time anyone has ever run a hydrogen engine this large at 9.4 liters,” says Ted. “It’s the first time a combination of fuels has been used. It’s the first time someone built their own hydrogen refueling system. What Jay is doing is for the common good. Because of that, a lot of people are willing to help.”


Ted Hollinger has worked as an electronics engineer for over 50 years. He studied mathematics and nuclear physics, graduating with a degree that was pre-cursor to Stanford University’s Ph.D. program. “I went to school with a slide rule,” he says, referring to the fact that the first pocket calculators did not become popular until the 1970s.

Ted began his career in 1964 at Fairchild Semiconductor as a digital integrated circuit designer. Silicon Valley and the semiconductor industry were in their infancy. “We built the first chips that went into computers,” he says. “It was extremely competitive and I developed skills that I still use today. I learned that every problem is an opportunity.”

During his five-decade career, Ted has worked for the following companies:

  • Advanced Micro Devices; designer, integrated circuits
  • Amdahl Computer; manager, computer memory system design effort
  • Lockheed Missiles; consultant, integrated circuit design
  • Linkabit Corp.; consultant, integrated circuit design
  • Siliconix; manager, integrated circuits applications, became chief VMOS engineer
  • Ford Motor Company; director, power conversion engineering
  • Ballard Power Systems; VP, power conversion
  • Advanced Power Technology (“APT”); founder, power semiconductor company
  • Advanced Power Control – ONSITE; founder, subsidiary of Pacific Power & Light, later incorporated under the name APC-ONSITE
  • Hydrogen Engine Center; founder

Ted has been granted 15 patents, the most recent in September 2011 for developing an engine that runs on both hydrogen and ammonia—the engine designed for Jay Schmuecker’s tractor.

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David Toyne

Owner and Consultant, Solutions for Automation, Tujunga, California

Lead Designer and Developer of the controls for hydrogen and air piping and pumping components

TomOne day David had a call out of the blue from Jay Schmuecker, who had seen Solutions for Automation’s ad in the Yellow Pages. He told David about his plans to develop a solar-hydrogen system as a memorial to his dad. While Jay initially called David in search of someone to do high pressure piping for the system, David realized expertise beyond that one need was going to be required for the hydrogen system. “In talking with Jay, I could see he needed someone to do the entire system design,” says David.

He was tasked with using existing technology in a unique application.With Jay’s parameters on what he wanted to accomplish with the system, David set out to find equipment to make it happen. For instance, the system required two gas compression pumps, which normally retail for $80,000 each. David was able to locate equipment that would do the job for less than $40,000.

David enjoys his role in developing a unique use of renewable energy. “With any technology, the first step is to show it can be done,” he says, pointing out that the cost of solar cells has come down in recent years.

David’s Background

David has a long history of designing custom equipment and systems. He is happy that Jay’s project has brought him back to Iowa, where he began his career over 40 years ago. He worked in the Cedar Rapids area from 1969-1979, first with Collins Radio (now Rockwell), where he assisted in the design and development of the prototype for the first commercial zero-visibility navigation/landing system. His next job was chief engineer for Welty Way Products (now MetCoil), a small custom machinery manufacturer specializing in metal coil processing equipment. With David’s redesign and expansion of the company’s line, sales grew from $1 million to $7.5 million in three years.

Additional Iowa job experience includes:

  • Regional hydraulics application engineer and salesman for J.N. Fauver (now Sun Products). His territory was Eastern Iowa, including all of the John Deere plants.
  • Engineering consultant for American Can in Des Moines.
  • Designed automated assembly and test equipment for automotive gasoline filters at Parr Manufacturing.
  • Consultant for Fawn Engineering to improve manufacturing and productivity for their vending machines.

David left Iowa in 1983 to pursue increasingly challenging engineering projects.

A few of David’s favorite custom engineering projects include:

  • Universal Studios Back to the Future ride: He designed the prototype motion base and helped sell the $60 million project to upper management. The ride operates 18 hours per day, 7 days a week, and is in operation more than 20 years after installation.
  • Universal Studios Florida Earthquake ride and special effects: He was responsible for concept, design, manufacturing and installation. These systems handle thousands of guests per hour, 12 hours per day, 7 days a week. It is in operation more than 20 years after its original installation.
  • MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas: He was a member of the team that planned and managed the exterior renovation, including installation of the “MGM lion,” the largest bronze sculpture in the world, weighing thousands of pounds. The lion has a separate internal structure to support the sculpture and must handle 100 degrees in temperature variation from summer to winter. The project also included $30 million in cutting-edge LED signage and a 1,000 h.p. water fountain around the lion.
  • Hydraulic and controls system design installation for a 4.5 million pound, triple action hydraulic drawing press.
  • Key component design and all specifications and bid documents for a Disney Shanghai China’s $160 million Pirates of the Caribbean ride using patented linear induction technology.
  • None of David’s projects makes him prouder than the Raphael Schmuecker Memorial Solar-Hydrogen System.

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TomThomas Hurd, AIA, NCARB, ASES

Founder/Owner, Spatial Designs, Mason City, Iowa

Lead Power and Facility Designer

Jay Schmuecker contacted Tom as a result of Tom’s involvement in the I-Renew renewable energy organization.

Tom says a lot of people stop in his Mason City office to talk about including renewable energy in their lives, but don’t follow through. “Jay was different,” says Tom. “Once I learned he was a NASA engineer, I knew he was serious.”

Tom is excited to contribute to this innovative renewable energy project. “We have cars and buses that run on hydrogen, but hydrogen has not taken off as a renewable fuel because people resist change,” says Tom. He believes this slow acceptance comes, in part, from a disproportionate concern for safety. “Gasoline is just as volatile as hydrogen,” explains Tom. “But car companies said long ago you need gas to run your car and it’s safe to use, so people accepted it. Once people are shown that hydrogen is relatively easy and safe, its use will increase.”

That is the goal of the Raphael Schmuecker Memorial Solar-Hydrogen System—to prove hydrogen is a viable alternative to fossil fuels.

Tom’s Background

Tom founded Spatial Designs, an energy-solutions focused architectural firm in Mason City, Iowa, in 1983. The firm has designed over 1,500 projects across the United States and one in Africa, including shopping centers, schools, churches, and buildings for government, law enforcement, residential and historic preservation.  Spatial Designs specializes in alternative energy design and tornado-safe shelter design.

Tom’s dedication to incorporating renewable energy into his designs has attracted awards and recognition from many sources, including:

  • Received Solar Today magazine’s 2010 Solar Hero Award
  • Recognized by  U.S. Ambassador William McCormick during his presentation at the 2006 Petroleum Conference in New Zealand
  •  Iowa State Fairgrounds multi-purpose/tornado safe shelter, designed by Tom, was selected as one of seven in the nation to be included in FEMA case study
  • Spatial Designs’ office qualified as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified at the Platinum Level, the highest possible ranking
  • Tom’s firm designed the first solar-powered FEMA rated tornado/community center in the U.S. in Duncombe, Iowa.
  • Front-page article in USA Today on wind turbines, 2006
  • North Iowa Girl Scout Office and Learning Center, All City Award

Tom’s expertise in renewable energy has kept him busy as a speaker at many energy conferences. A highlight of his presentations includes:

  • “An Ultra Low Energy Sustainable Office Building,” International Renewable Energy Conference, Cairo, Egypt, 2010
  • “Photovoltaic Panel Treatments,” Alternative Energy Systems Problems in Turkmenistan Conference, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, 2010
  • “The Power of Green,”  “Energy Conservation and Alternative Energy 2,” keynote speaker, Forest City Home and Green Expo, 2008
  • “A Generation Beyond Update,” American Solar Energy Society/American Society of Mechanical Engineers 2007 National Solar Conference, Cleveland, Ohio, 2007
  • “A Generation Beyond,” ASES/ASME 2006 National Solar Conference, Denver, Colorado

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doug-carpenterDoug Carpenter

Founder and President, Sustainable Fuels, Tustin, California.

Responsible for the conceptual design of the ammonia generation subsystem and for providing the ammonia reactor.  Because of hydrogen being readily available, this is the first application of making ammonia from solar power.

Doug’s background includes over 30 years of senior technology and business leadership positions servicing military, industry and government research institutions. Doug was chief scientist of Technanogy, a nanomaterials manufacturing company focused on the production of nanoaluminum particles. He also served as staff scientist at Hercules Aerospace Company and as staff scientist at Aerojet, a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader serving the missile, space propulsion, defense and armaments markets.

Doug held a faculty position at University of the Pacific, Calif., and he was a staff member at the Facility for Advanced Instrumentation at the University of California, Davis. He earned an M.S. in organic chemistry from University of the Pacific and a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from the University of California-Davis, where he concentrated on fracture testing and fabrication of functionally graded titanium/titanium-monoboride materials. Doug holds several patents and has authored numerous publications in the area of material science.

Doug’s Background 

  • 2003-2015: Founder, CTO and President of Sustainable Fuels, Tustin, Calif.
    Manufacturing of systems for palm oil extraction and bio-diesel production. High- pressure ammonia synthesis for commercial, co-op, off grid and homestead use.  Developed a process for the extraction of oil from Utah tar sand in cooperation with Vivakor Viva Energy Group.
  • 2004-2013: Founder, Chief Scientific Officer, Senior Science Advisor and CTO at QuantumSphere, Santa Ana, Calif.
    Process development for nano materials manufacture, catalytic metals, alloys and semi conductors for applications of nano materials in high output, long life batteries, direct methanol fuel cells, high efficiency hydrogen generation via fresh and salt water electrolysis with improved cathodes, anti-microbial materials and devices, high strength non-fouling water purification membranes, increased efficiency industrial chemicals production via improved nano catalyst.
  • 2000-2003: Chief Scientist at Technanogy, Santa Ana, Calif.
    High burning rate propellants, gelled cryogenic propellants for heavy lift rockets, nano aluminum manufacture and analysis.
  • 1995-1998: Microscopist at Facility for Advanced Instrumentation, Davis, Calif.
    Operation and maintenance of SEM and TEM electron microscopes, and computer image capture.
  • 1984-1985: Staff Scientist, Aerojet General, Rancho Cordova, Calif.
  • 1983-1984: Scientist at Hercules Aerospace, Magna, Utah
    Advanced high-energy propellant research, nitro oxetane binder synthesis, ultra high burning rate NG propellants, low smoke and case-less ammunition for GAU-8 gun project.
  • 1980-1983: Senior Propellant Chemist at Aerojet General, Rancho Cordova, Calif.
    Liner and fuels for Peacekeeper Stage II ICBM booster rockets, principle investigator of high performance 1.3 propellants.
  • 1979-1980: Chief Scientist at Engineering Research Inc., Rancho Cordova, Calif.
    Formulation and fabrication of fragmentation warheads for sidewinder missiles.
  • 1975-1978: Propellant Chemist at Aerojet General, Rancho Cordova, Calif.
    Tactical and strategic solid fuel motors and booster rockets, liner and propellant formulation.
  • 1974-1975: Process Engineer at ALCAN Cable West, Rocklin, Calif.
    Aluminum and copper wire stranding, rod mill and polymer extrusion for power cables.

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