Meet the Ukrainian refugee genius hoping to revolutionise car travel

Mykola hopes to trade his invention for long-term residency in Spain

Mykola, seen here in this neighbourhood of Valecas (Maria Jose Carmona)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

As Britain reacts to groundbreaking proposals to clean up the car industry, a Ukrainian refugee is planning his own automobile innovation in Spain.

The refugee, known only as Mykola, is working on inventions in his home in the hope of revolutionising car travel.

The refugee arrived in Madrid just two years ago and is now working on technology which could mean cars could generate hydrogen, Publico said.

The self-taught inventor believes this could reduce pollution from car emissions by 60%, while cutting fuel needs by 30%.

His balcony in the neighbourhood of Vallecas is filled with cables, parts of old computers and tools, with many materials taken from rubbish. He also lives with his wife Eugenia and his two young children Nikol and Adrian.

Before leaving Ukraine, Mykola had worked as a chauffeur for a senior deputy who was part of the Ukrainian parliament. He also described his role as "chief helper" to the parliamentarian.

Mykola therefore knew a lot of information about the politician's life and was even not allowed to take a phone with him to work in case someone was tracking his GPS signal.

However in late 2013 Ukraine was thrown into turmoil, with mass protests against President Viktor Yanukovych. This eventually led to the overthrow of the government before a pro-Russian insurgency broke out in the east of the country, leaving thousands dead.

The man who was driven around by Mykola, who he has asked not to be named, then went on the run having been accused of working with separatists, as well as corruption.

This meant Mykola was threatened by others due to his links with government. He was once beaten by three men in his own home. But it wasn't until his wife was threatened whilst pregnant with their first child that the family decided it would be safer to leave the country.

They quickly fled, saying Spain was the closest country to travel to and Barcelona the first flight the couple found. They moved to Madrid, where they were helped with the asylum process.

The pair spent several months searching for somewhere to live and work. Eugenia now teaches English at academies and also promotes drinks at an airport.

Meanwhile Mykola has continued to work on his inventions. Previously in 2012 he pitched a rear light system for cars to BMW, but it was rejected as it did not have a patent.

He is currently testing the fifth prototype of his hydrogen engine and tests it in his own second-hand BMW, which is more than 15 years old.

But Mykola's dream appears likely to be thwarted, as he and his family have had their asylum application rejected and have not yet been told what the reason is. Authorities have informed them they have until the end of September to leave and if they have not done so, they will be deported.

Mykola now wants to use his inventions and trade them for asylum in Spain, as he is convinced the country will want to repay him for his work and insists Ukraine is too dangerous for him to return.

Thanks to Maria Jose Carmona for her assistance with this article.