Future Energy Technologies
(c) 2000 Thomas Valone M.A., P.E.
Today 85% of our country's energy comes from the combustion of dead fossils, a dirty fuel that is forcing the world's atmosphere to overheat. However, new 21st century energy sources that produce no carbon emissions and do not contribute to global warming are now emerging. Beyond the realm of fuel cells and hydrogen is the non-conventional world of "future energy." Some of the best examples are new and exciting generators that release trapped potential energy from nature in ways never dreamed of before. Others innovatively apply clean fuels in conventional systems that are surprisingly simple and yet very efficient. Still others qualify as promising theoretical technologies that are a focus of attention for NASA and the USDOE. Most of them have one thing in common: they are very scientific but are relatively unknown to the general public. This presentation summarizes the latest breakthroughs in future energy. With scientific explanations of the input energy and output energy, the overunity efficiencies can be understood by average audience members. Included in the quantitative article are the inventions of Brown, Graneau, Jefimenko, Miley, Shoulders, Wallman, and others. The energy revolution is now beginning. It is time to understand the clean alternatives to dead, poisonous fuel.
Keywords: future energy, overunity, betavoltaic, biomass, COFEIntroduction
In 1998, the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued its Comprehensive National Energy Strategy (CNES) that included as one of its five goals, the following aspiration:
Goal IV: Expand future energy choices - pursuing continued progress in science and technology to provide future generations with a robust portfolio of clean and reasonably priced energy sources.
Objective 1. Maintain a strong national knowledge base as the foundation for informed energy decisions, new energy systems, and enabling technologies of the future.
Objective 2. Expand long-term energy options.
However, the DOE has not engaged in developing, much less maintaining a robust knowledge base of future energy choices, nor expanded research into new energy systems or long-term energy options, mainly due to upper management decisions. In a study performed by Integrity Research Institute on the progress of the CNES two years later, it is surprising that instead the DOE has worked to actively suppress enabling technologies of the future. Furthermore, concern for global warming and the expected increase in carbon emissions by the American society clearly do not enter the present DOE policies. The DOE instead recently: (1) endorsed natural gas use for future generations, (2) rescinded a Nuclear Energy Research Initiative (NERI) grant awarded to a prominent professor for transmuting radioactive waste, and (3) reversed an initial offer to host a Conference on Future Energy (COFE). Therefore, it is clear by these and many other DOE practices that it is up to the private sector to conduct scientific research into new energy systems and enabling technologies of the future in order to replace carbon-emitting fuel systems.
As a guideline, it is generally agreed that emerging energy technologies that qualify as true future energy must not produce carbon emissions nor contribute to global warming if we are to have a future planet earth. The reason for this is as Worldwatch Institute notes: "Stabilizing atmospheric CO2 concentrations at safe levels will require a 60-80 percent cut in carbon emissions from current levels, according to the best estimates of scientists."
Future Energy Overunity
To understand emerging energy principles, it is helpful to examine the operation of a heat pump, which converts environmental free energy into useful work. The standard heat pump is a good example of an "overunity" system (energy out > energy in) releasing potential energy from the environment where the heat energy output is always in the range of 2 up to 7 times the input electrical energy. This so-called "coefficient of performance" represents an overunity efficiency, that does not violate any physics laws, if one considers, as the consumer does, how much energy must he put in to get the predicted energy output. Thus, the concept of "overunity," as also the concept of "free energy" has evolved from the consumer's point of view. What does it cost him to receive his heat, air conditioning, cleaning, or propulsion outputs? The closer it gets to "free," the more desirable it is for the consumer and, we might add, to third world countries who cannot afford to build the thousands of miles of high voltage wires (infrastructure) to support a centralized energy system. Locally installed, modular heat and electricity generators will replace present utility-based service in the future. Then, large area blackouts will be a thing of the past. Energy will be for the most part, a one-time investment, included in the house, car, or spaceplane of one's choice. However, much needs to be done for these systems to supplant the established energy businesses that are the nation's major polluters. A commitment to a carbon-free energy economy, with financial backing, is required for such large changes to take place.
Cold Fog Discovery
Many other systems exist today, in a research, development, or theoretical stage, which also convert potential energy into useful work. The first example is the "Cold Fog" invention of Dr. Peter Graneau from Northeastern University that converts chemical bond energy into kinetic energy. Intermolecular bond energy in water is an available amount of energy estimated at 2.3 kJ/g. When injected with a high voltage capacitor discharge of 39.8 Joules, normal rainwater is accelerated into a cold fog that loses about 31.2 Joules of low-grade heat and a comparable amount (29.2 Joules) in fog kinetic energy output. As reported in the Journal of Plasma Physics, the output energy thus exceeds the input energy by about 100% creating a 2-to-1 overunity condition favorable for reduction to a motorized conversion system.
Figure 1. Cold Fog Energy Flow
The next technology of importance is the betavoltaic battery invention of Dr. Paul Brown (U.S. Pat. #4,835,433). It involves a benign nuclear source called tritium (an isotope of hydrogen) that simply emits an electron (5.7 keV beta particle) over its half life of 12.5 years. The useful battery life is thus estimated to be about 25 years. It is a cheap, long-life, high energy density battery with a wide range of applications. Presently, Lucent Technologies has been contracted to produce the tritiated amorphous silicon for use in the semiconductor industry and even for watch batteries. The amorphous silicon is placed between two electrodes in order to complete the battery construction. The batteries have a mean energy density of 24 watts per kilogram and are ideal for low power, long-life applications . It is clear that no recharging of these batteries is ever needed. The disposal is even safer than disposing of smoke detectors.
Figure 2. Tritium Battery
Figure 3. Accelerator Driven Reactor Electrostatic Motors
Figure 4. Electrostatic Motor with Electret EnhancementThe next energy breakthrough is Dr. Oleg Jefimenko's electrostatic motors. Discovered by Ben Franklin in the 18th century, electrostatic motors are an all-American invention. They are based on the physics of the fair-weather atmosphere that has an abundance of positive electric charges up to an altitude of 20 km. However, the greatest concentration is near the ground and diminishes with altitude rapidly. Dr. Jefimenko discovered that when sharp-pointed antennas are designed for a sufficient length to obtain at least 6000 volts of threshold energy, the fair-weather current density available is about a picoampere per square meter. Such antennas produce about a microampere of current. However, small radioactive source antennas may be used instead that have no threshold voltage and therefore no height requirements. Similar to a nuclear battery design of Dr. Brown, these antennas have larger current potentials depending upon the radioactive source used (alpha or beta source) and ionize the air in the vicinity of the antenna. Electrostatic motors are lighter than electromagnetic motors for the same output power since the motor occupies the entire volume. For example, it is expected that a motor one meter on a side will provide a power of one megawatt and weigh 500 kg or less. Electrostatic motors also require very little metal in their construction and can use mostly plastic for example. They can also operate from a variety of sources and range of voltages. As Dr. Jefimenko points out, "It is clear that electrostatic motor research still constitutes an essentially unexplored area of physics and engineering, and that electrostatic motor research must be considered a potentially highly rewarding area among the many energy-related research endeavors." The atmospheric potential of the planet is not less than 200,000 megawatts. He has succeeded in constructing demonstration motors that run continuously off atmospheric electricity. Jefimenko's largest output motor was an electret design that had a 0.1 Hp rating. Certainly the potential for improvement and power upgrade exists with this free energy machine.
Figure 5. Biomass GasificationClean fuels are difficult to find today. One example that satisfies a limited definition of "clean" is the carbo-hydrogen gas produced from biomass. David Wallman has patented the process for producing COH2 from a high voltage discharge through any biomass solution (Pat. #5,417,817). This gas burns cleanly, producing water vapor and only the amount of CO2 that was originally absorbed by the biological mass when it was growing in the ground. Contrast this with burning fossil fuels (oil and natural gas) which resurrect old buried carbon and add it to the atmosphere from ancient cemeteries in the ground. Instead, biomass gas burning recycles recently absorbed atmospheric carbon dioxide. The input energy is typically about a thousand watt-hours or about 3300 BTU to produce about 250 liters per hour of carbo-hydrogen (8.5 cubic feet per hour). With a heating value of over 500 BTU per cubic feet, the COH2 output energy exceeds 4000 BTU, often approaching 5000 BTU in high efficiency designs. Thus, this biomass gasification process has an overunity efficiency of about 125% to 150%. However, when the entire energetics of the system are accounted for, including the ultraviolet light radiation, heat loss, etc., estimates of 200% to 400% are reasonable. Again, this process is a largely untapped resource while millions of gallons of farm-produced liquid biomass going to waste instead. Demonstrations of pilot plant designs are available from Wallman's company to replace present dependence on foreign oil (which is a fossil fuel). Municipal sewage treatment is a logical application for this invention. Figure 6. Biomass Energy Flowchart
Figure 7. Charge Cluster Borehole into Lead Glass
An unusual energy source is the clustering of electrons by a discharge needle into a high density bundle equaling Avogadro's density of a solid. Ken Shoulders has patented a process (Pat. #5,153,901) that produces electron clusters with such high energy density, they equal processes exceeding 25,000 degrees Celsius upon impact. Yet, he only uses 20 microjoules to produce the effects. The clusters travel up to one tenth of the speed of light and penetrate any substance with accuracy and sharp precision. It is similar to xenon clustering techniques currently used at megavolt energy levels. Low energy nuclear transmutation of the target has also been achieved with this process. Using a deuterium loaded palladium foil, only the bombardment areas show transmutation into silicon, calcium, and magnesium with electron clusters upon analysis with X-rays. Fox has postulated that the high velocity electron clusters achieve results similar to ion accelerators, including penetration of the nucleus, with substantially less power. The new physics of like-charges clustering in bundles under low power conditions opens a wide range of applications including spacecraft maneuvering microthrusters.
Thin-Film Electrolytic Cell Power Unit
A product with the consumer in mind is Dr. George Miley's invention that produces about one watt per cubic centimeter of electrolyte. Using a flowing packed-bed type electrolytic cell with 1-molar LiSO4 in light water, small (1-mm diameter) plastic beads with a thin (500-1000 angstrom) film of metal (nickel, palladium, or titanium) are employed. A special sputtering technique to spray on the metal is used. With 2-3 volts of electrical power and only 1-5 milliamperes of current, the single film experiments produce an excess power ten times the input power! (The input power is at most 0.01 watts while one half of a watt of heat is produced.) Observed power densities were 1 W/cc and above. It is also apparent that the physics of this reaction involve nuclear transmutations as well. As Dr. Miley notes: "The key finding from these studies has been the observation of a large array of "new" elements (i.e. different from the bead coating), many with significant deviations from natural isotopic compositions, after the run. Great care has been made to insure that these elements are distinguished from isotopic impurities by use of a "clean cell" with high purity components/electrolyte, in addition to the pre- and post-run analyses." Even low-energy radiation was detected from the beads days after each experiment. Application to space power, providing a 1-kW cell with only 500 cc of active electrode is predicted. Note that this particular invention, with its large overunity energy yield, was awarded a NERI grant by the DOE but then promptly withdrawn after certain individuals pressured the DOE into a re-evaluation of its grant to Professor Miley. The politics that override such grant decisions by the DOE Office of NEST are highly questionable.
Future energy choices are already here. In spite of the DOE lack of initiative in long range energy solutions, private inventors in this article have pioneered energy discoveries with a range of energy production possibilities. With Dr. Graneau's cold fog demonstrating a new energy source and a possible propulsion source, developmental efforts are ongoing with Hathaway Labs in Toronto to maximize the energy transfer to a useful machine for market. Dr. Brown's tritium battery is a milestone for long-term energy demand that is in production, while his nuclear remediation project is progressing rapidly. Dr. Jefimenko's electrostatic motors clearly demonstrate an available energy source yet untapped. Wallman's biomass gasification is ready to be developed on a large scale. Shoulder's charge clusters demonstrate extraordinary energy production on a microscopic scale with reasonable upscaling anticipated. Dr. Miley's electrolytic power unit also shows an extraordinary energy output, which deserves more research and development support. Other inventors that meet the future energy criteria include Dr. Deborah Chung, from the State University of N.Y. at Buffalo, who has discovered "negative" resistance in carbon fibers. Another, James Griggs, the inventor of the hydrosonic pump (Pat. #5,385,298), represents an overunity "apparatus for heating fluids" which even exhibits sonoluminescence (now marketed by HydroDynamics in Rome, Georgia). Dr. Paulo Correa also qualifies with his pulsed abnormal glow discharge (PAGD) energy conversion system. It is our belief that all of these inventions have the qualifications to be acceptable to energy futures. Also, theoretically and experimentally, there is growing support for a breakthrough in zero point energy conversion, which is the subject of more than one patent, the most recent being Dr. Frank Mead's patent #5,590,031. Furthermore, the extraction of energy and heat from the vacuum has also been proposed by Drs. Harold Puthoff and Daniel Cole. Certainly, if only a 2.6% disruption in the oil flow from the Mid-East in 1999 can cause immediate chaos in the gasoline prices in this country, we desperately need to cut the umbilical cord strangling us. Therefore, a more robust energy development effort is required to help us make the transition from dangerous fossil fuels. A more stable, long-term energy future is possible with new energy sources like these discussed in this article.