Here be Dragons
My favorite free energy sources
Woodward, T.T.Brown, Casimir, Farnsworth, Solar, Lightning, Water
The Woodward Effect
Doctor James F. Woodward (Cal State) developed an amazing insight into Mach's equations for inertia. In essence, he figured that the inertia (the apparent mass) of a system could be changed momentarily by creating the right conditions. These conditions aren't likely to happen spontaneously in nature, so the change in inertia was not a well known anomaly.* Two actions are essential to create the conditions for a transient change in inertia:
Woodward applied this discovery to build (and patent) an inertial thruster. His device repeatedly thrust an electrical part away and pulled it back while simultaneously pumping electrical energy into and out of the part. This produced an average thrust, because one side lost inertia and the other side gained inertia during the expansion stroke, while the opposite sides lost and gained inertia on the contraction stroke. His device worked, but was not impressive enough to garner the recognition it deserved.
As an engineer, I had run afoul of the problems caused by the Woodward Effect in meter movements. When I first read Woodward's paper on inertia, I recognized a clear explanation for the meter movement anomaly. This led me to recognize a couple of implications of the Woodward Effect which Woodward himself may have missed.
In a meter movement, the Woodward Effect acts to create nonlinear acceleration of the meter needle when there is a sudden signal change (second order, again), even when the needle starts out motionless! In other words, a strong transient which removes electrical energy from the meter movement will cause the meter to respond as if the movement had less mass. And a strong transient which adds electrical energy will cause the meter to behave as if it had more mass. This happens whether the meter is at rest or in motion.
How can this be, since the first requirement of the Woodward Effect is physical acceleration on the affected part?
It works because the meter is on a pivot, and any motion of the meter causes angular acceleration.
So we can improve a practical device using the Woodward Effect by taking advantage of angular acceleration. To get the maximum benefit, we design the active parts as a rotating system, and get constant angular acceleration with nearly zero mechanical energy consumed.
In his demonstration model, Woodward used electrical and physical elements driven by sinusoidal waveforms. Although a sine wave nicely meets the straight first order term needed for the physical acceleration of the system, the second-order term needed for the electrical change is very brief in a sine wave, and real-world (non-ideal) components tend to reduce even this small amount.
So I would change the drive on the electrical element of the system to produce an optimized drive waveform, designed to compensate for non-ideal components and maximize the second-order energy change.
Next, let us perform a thought experiment in which we make an inertial thruster with no electrical losses. In the real world this would require zero radiation components, perfect insulators, and perfect superconducting connections. Obviously a difficult and expensive device to build, but it's theoretically possible.
Now, with this perfect thruster in operation and sitting in its test bed producing thrust in one direction, how much energy will it consume? Obviously zero: because it's a loss-free system, and it's not doing any work, therefore its energy consumption must be zero. And this answer is correct until we let the thruster move. As soon as it moves, we have three possible answers...
(Note well: when traveling to, say, Mars, decelerating away from the desired trajectory is precisely equivalent to accelerating toward it.)
The Thomas Townsend Brown electric thruster
T.T.Brown has become infamous due to the confusion which surrounds his work on electrostatic thrust. This confusion started with Brown himself, who reported excessive levels of thrust, far beyond what could be explained by ionic jets. When he tried to patent this novel method of developing thrust, the military blocked his application based on the obviously 'incorrect' figures for thrust produced. As a result, he accepted the reduced claims, rather than give up his patent completely. Then he proceeded to prove that the thrust was NOT the result of ion jets, by duplicating his tests in a high altitude chamber. In the chamber, the thrust increased as the ionic medium got thinner!
Apparently pissed off at his audacity, or perhaps in an attempt to prevent others from duplicating his work, the military disseminated disinformation which obfuscated Brown's work and even his biography beyond recognition. Suddenly, Brown's name was associated with the notorious and imaginary Philadelphia Experiment, and his method of producing thrust was linked with anti-gravity nonsense and space-distorting asymmetric capacitors.
Brown himself never claimed to understand the thrust levels produced, but he did enough experiments to determine the optimum geometry and power levels, and he carefully included those in his patent.
Knowing what we know today about the Woodward Effect, I believe we can confidently explain the thrust of Brown's machine. We might even improve the design.
In the Brown Electrostatic Thruster, gas is ionized at a fine wire and the ions accelerate toward the conductive leading edge of his flying disk. Let's look at what is happening while taking into account the Woodward Effect.
A neutral gas molecule is attracted to the high voltage wire and strikes it. As it hits the wire, it takes on a like electrical charge which pushes (accelerates) it away from the wire. Thus we have rapid (easily second order) electrical energy increase to the molecule, combined with physical acceleration. This will produce a transient increase in the inertia (apparent mass) of the molecule (now an ion) just as it is pushed away from the wire. Thus the reaction (thrust) against the wire should be stronger than what would be predicted by conventional analysis.
But this is only half of the story. In fact, it is less than half the story, because ionization takes place all around the wire, not just at the preferred trailing edge where it produces forward thrust.
More than half of the story occurs when the ion accelerates and collides with the conductive leading edge of Brown's flying disk. Here the speeding ion undergoes drastic deceleration (impact) and simultaneously loses all its charge. This loss of charge is so fast, and the deceleration so drastic, that the transient inertia of the molecule will be driven negative and this negative inertia will be transferred to the leading edge of the disk on impact, actually causing forward acceleration of the disk.
In table top models of Brown's thruster, this transfer of negative inertia can be seen dramatically. Once you rule out the electrical attraction of the ionizing wire, this 'pull' due to ion impact can look like a manifestation of anti-gravity, confusing the issue once more.
As noted, the thrust at the ionizing wire is not optimized in the typical Brown model. A non-ionizing charged body ahead of the wire would direct most of the ionization to the trailing edge of the wire and increase the thrust generated at this point.
What's very important to note is that the portion of overall thrust attributable to the Woodward Effect will greatly exceed the thrust from ion jet effects. Thus, a complete Brown Thruster can be encapsulated in an optimized gas mixture and pressure, and operated in a sealed fashion with nearly no loss of thrust
Free energy from the Casimir force
The "Casimir force" is well known as a direct physical demonstration of Zero Point Energy (ZPE) or Vacuum Energy. The standard demonstration makes use of two parallel plates which are pushed together by the force of "virtual photons and waves" in the ZPE. The experimental setup is very similar to tests for gravity, charge, and magnetism, and I'm guessing this similarity is why mainstream scientists haven't picked up on the OU possibilities.
OU power production using the Casimir force does not violate conventional science because the Casimir force does not arise from a constant field or property of matter.
The force arises because virtual photons and particles, which exist in emptiness (pure vacuum) as an expression of universal uncertainty, are partially excluded from the area between the Casimir experiment plates. Thus, the photon/wave pressure outside is greater than the pressure inside, and the plates are pushed together. The reason virtual photons and the wave properties of virtual particles are excluded from that inner region has to do with probability, and the exclusion of certain waves from within a waveguide. The two parallel plates form a waveguide, and the inner region of this waveguide will exclude real EM waves which are longer than the cutoff frequency of the waveguide. This exclusion apparently extends to the probability function within the waveguide, and thus virtual photons/waves which meet this exclusion criteria do not occur within the cutoff area of the waveguide.
Because the property which gives rise to this force is not a "physical" phenomenon, but rather a probability property, it can be changed without expending any physical energy. Yet the force produced by the change is physical and has been demonstrated to do work.
So how would we make an OU Casimir force device?
The simplest form of Casimir-Anderson Vacuum Energy Transformer (CAVET) consists of three identical parallel long fingers with approximately square cross-sections, all attached at one end to a rigid base and arranged in a straight line. If the gaps between the fingers are small and precise enough to exhibit a measurable Casimir force, then the two outer fingers will be pulled toward the center finger. Crystal transducers bonded to the outer fingers can convert this pull to an electrical signal. To obtain measurable power, we will move the center finger perpendicular to this pull. Viewed with the three fingers in line horizontally, the left finger pulls to the right, the right finger pulls to the left, and we'll move the middle finger up and down. (I didn't start out intending this description to be funny, but it sure looks like we're giving somebody the finger!)
As the motion of the center finger moves out of alignment with the side fingers, it reduces the regions of altered probability (the waveguide cutoff regions), and pull on the outside fingers is reduced. The change causes the outer fingers to flex and produces a signal in the transducers.
The important thing to note is that the center finger does not experience any net force from the Casimir effect at any point in its motion. If it can be made to vibrate with sufficient efficiency, the power generated in the outer fingers will be more than enough to keep the center finger moving. (Dare I say "flipping?")
Since piezoelectric transducers can be used as both generators and drivers, this invention has the added potential of acting as a heatless energy sink! Instead of extracting energy from the transducers, drive the transducers out-of-phase with the Casimir force, and they absorb electrical energy instead of generating it. Which is why I named it an "Energy Transformer" instead of an "Energy Generator."
This bidirectional property makes CAVETs ideal for transportation, since energy can be drawn from the ZPE for acceleration and cruising, and pumped back into the ZPE for braking without significant heat or wear.
Reverberation in the Farnsworth Fusor
P. T. Farnsworth invented and developed the nuclear fusor, and the way it was rejected may have killed him. His bench top hydrogen to helium fusion machine will probably be brought out of wraps when the mainstream scientific community decides to become serious about fusion. Right now too many people are making WAY too much money in continuing development grants to even consider something as practical as the Farnsworth Fusor. If you read the history of its development effort, you'll find mentioned an irritating side effect of the early designs. Farnsworth called it "electrical reverberation."
What happened was, as the Fusor tube warmed up the AC drive voltage started to increase without good control. At this point in starting the tube, there was no gas present, so the spikes were considered a nuisance. Farnsworth corrected the problem with appropriate damping and went on to obtain successful nuclear fusion.
But Philo Farnsworth didn't know about quantum mechanics and the effect of "very strong fields." In fact, as an empty Fusor starts up, a "bubble" of electrons forms and begins to expand and contract at the RF drive frequency, always driving toward a theoretical point at the center of the spherical tube. When this is happening, the electrons don't have any work to do compressing hydrogen, so their momentum builds up and they reach extremely high density every time they drive toward that central point. And a shrinking bubble of electrons creates the greatest possible "very strong" electrical field. This charge density distorts space-time like the gravity density of a black hole distorts space-time. The result is the conversion of electron mass and momentum into anti-electrons. These positrons materialize in the center of a dense electron bubble and instantly annihilate, cancelling some of the charge density and generating gamma rays which couple to the collapsing electron bubble and blow it apart. Externally, this energy causes the AC (RF) voltage to spike and change frequency and the Fusor "reverberates."
If, instead of designing reverberation out, we capture and control this excess electrical output, the Farnsworth Fusor becomes a Farnsworth-Anderson Reverberator (FAR). Because the total overall net effect is to destroy electrons and produce electrical energy, this is a perfect matter-to-energy converter. And it makes a lot of power in a small space.
An optimized solar-to-electricity converter
An aluminized plastic film mirror designed for space, with triple-redundant aiming and focusing hardware, would weigh (at most) 10g per square meter. Placing a square kilometer of such mirrors in orbit would enable us to reflect sunlight to a collection point on earth.
This collection point would have the following advantages over a standard passive solar collector:
For the cost of several weather satellites per generating station, we could build 1.2GWT generating plants which produce truly "free energy!"
Tesla and free energy from lightning
Tesla is one of my heros, albeit a distinctly eccentric one. Let me say a few words in his defense.
In a number of his experiments, some even through water, Tesla proved to his own satisfaction that useful power could be transmitted via radio waves. So, when he proposed the first power tower to Morgan, I think he had reason to believe the feat of providing "free power" was possible.
Tesla had a habit of NOT documenting his thoughts or the inner workings of his designs.* My own reconstruction of Tesla's "free energy" tower follows...
*(A long monograph could be written on the why of this eccentricity. At its base was the fact that Tesla could develop and visualize so fast mentally, that spending time for proper documentation would have prevented him from building half the things he invented.)
In early high voltage RF tests at New York, Tesla noticed an anomalous increase in power output from his radio transmitter, which if extrapolated would yield more power out than what was put in. The Colorado building and tower were constructed to test this possibility, and it appears that the system was a success.
At its peak operation, the Colorado facility seems to have pumped power back to the local power company, not enough to blow the line fuses, but enough to overspeed the generators and cause damage to the bearings!
After this "success," Tesla approached Morgan and the New York tower was started at Wardenclyffe.
What I think Tesla managed to do in Colorado was set up a high voltage standing wave over a large area, and thus gain energy from synchronous atmospheric discharges. What I think he intended to do with the Wardenclyffe tower was set up a standing wave over the entire planet. With proper drive and at the proper frequency, this sort of wave both promotes lightning strikes and derives power from those strikes.
Most apparently "free energy" is from the Sun, and lightning derives from solar energy.
Had the Wardenclyffe tower gone into operation, I think Tesla would have quickly run into problems with available power. Globally, there are only about 100 lightning strikes per second, which translates into around 300 megawatts of continuous power planet-wide. In his tests, Tesla had not tapped enough of this potential to see any hint of an upper limit, and he may have believed that the power available was unlimited. Assuming the output of that tower could double the strike rate locally AND set up a synchronizing field over about 1/10th of the planet, the available "free power" from that tower would approximate 60 megawatts.
Such a system would become saturated very quickly.
Perhaps it's just as well that Morgan's machinations prevented the completion of this project. If I'm correct about its operation, it was doomed to fail.
Free energy tricks with water
The "Osmotic Fountain"
An osmotic fountain is a free energy source which provides pressurized clean water when submerged at a sufficient depth in the ocean. The depth is substantial, with designers claiming as little as a mile and a half to estimates which exceed the depth at the ocean's deepest trench. Since the device is not likely to be built any time soon, the actual depth is academic.
The fountain seems to operate from the difference in pressure between the salt ocean water and the column of clean water produced by the reverse osmosis unit at the bottom of the device. In fact, although pressure is critical, both the pressure and the mechanism of operation depend on a simple falling weight.
An entire thread was dedicated to this problem on a science elist, and the conclusion is that an "osmotic fountain" works just fine. Unfortunately, rigorous analysis is hampered by several misleading properties which tend to make the device look like a generic perpetual motion machine.
For serious analysis, the system is best visualized as a three-port system which takes in salt water coming down through a long vertical tube, ejects salt through a small port at the reverse osmosis membrane, and returns pure water up a second long vertical tube.
Although operation is best visualized with two long columns of water, the salt water column in a real system is unnecessary. This is a subtly misleading characteristic of the original puzzle. Regardless of the salt water source, the process is powered by the weight of the salt falling in the sea water column. Perfectly normal, perfectly conventional, falling mass in a gravity field doing work. The size of the ocean hides the process at first glance.
In the case of a closed-loop lab model of this machine, you will quickly run into a problem with the "concentration gradient." As the salt falls down the saline column and is removed at the membrane, the salinity concentration around the membrane increases until osmosis stops. Then you have to wait for heat-driven diffusion to raise the salt in the input column so osmosis can restart. In this sense, it is a heat driven power source.
Like water-powered engines, static collectors, and solar cells, an osmotic fountain works fine, but the capital costs per unit of energy output and especially the maintenance costs make it impractical.
But exactly how impractical are water engines? We've all heard about the inventor who builds an engine which runs on water, then the inventor and his engine disappear under suspicious circumstances. This is silly, since you can find a working water engine for sale in almost any novelty shop.
The "Bobbing Bird" novelty toy is a simple engine which runs on water. The slight difference in temperature between the bird's wet head and its bulbous body drives a fluid siphon which causes the bird to bob.
In my youth, I built a number of variations on this theme, including a nifty Stirling-air engine which turned a fan which increased the cooling efficiency. But the temperature difference available from evaporating water is small, and because the evaporation rate is limited, the total power available is tiny.
In fact, the power output of even my best effort was so tiny as to make the effort put into building it seem silly. Yet the energy of evaporation for water is 8,000 BTU/gallon, and a water engine is theoretically no less efficient than an Otto-cycle engine at converting this potential energy into power. Since regular gasoline releases about 125,000 BTU/gallon when burned, an optimum water engine would consume 16 gallons of water to produce the same energy as one gallon of gasoline. Not a bad tradeoff, when you compare the price per gallon.
Is there a more effective method of tapping the energy potential of water?
I always wanted to build an evaporative "vacuum engine." This sort of engine forces water to evaporate, by injecting water into a piston-driven vacuum chamber at the point of maximum expansion. Such an engine derives its power impulse from the slightly greater return pull on the vacuum piston due to the cooling of the evaporated water. With today's low friction rolling-seal pistons, and ultrasonic water injection, I suspect this type of engine could be made fairly effective.
Such an engine would take in ambient air at less than 100% humidity, and exhaust slightly cooler saturated air at 100% humidity.
Power would be highly dependent on ambient temperature and humidity. Still, it would make a good drive motor for air conditioners in low-humidity climates. Once started, the engine could bootstrap the condenser heat from the AC to warm and dry its incoming air for more power. So the hotter the weather gets, the greater the cooling output from this AC, and it runs on water!
© 2005,7 Jeff Lee Anderson