For nearly two hundred years mankind has relied on Maxwell’s principles of electromagnetism for transforming fuel sources into transmittable electricity. The basic idea is that electrons move along pushed or pulled by a magnet in a conductor until the conductor passes them by another magnet that responds to the moving electrons. Then the electrons flow back to the first magnet to cycle again. But the magnet was magnetic before Maxwell moved it along the conducting wire, while he moved it and after he moved it. We’ve exploited that magnet moving with a wealth of other tools to use electrons like transistors, diodes, resistors and other devices that make the modern world a marvel. The magnet is still magnetized. Humm.
Recalling that there are the four atomic forces, gravitation, the weak nuclear force, electromagnetism and the strong nuclear force we’re faced with the conundrum that these forces are fully active whatever engineering effort we use to manipulate the materials for a job or more particularly for moving energy electrically. We each realize the simple magnet is exerting itself endlessly forming the field lines one sees when sprinkling iron particles over it that make those beautiful symmetrical designs. That endless exertion by the electromagnetic force is what could be free power.
The electromagnetic force is the strongest and longest ranged of the four forces. Its versatility is a function of exploiting the strong long-range nature with a little skill and precision to make a large variety of electric devices and the expression of its range can be seen in the immense time and distances that emissions in the radio spectrum can travel.
But the attractive – repulsive force between two magnets exists without any other energy input and for many magnet constructions lasts indefinitely. There’s the atomic power, the endless electromagnetic fields from the electromagnetic force of the atom.
It isn’t over yet – Maxwell’s equations left a lot of unanswered questions. Early in the 20th century the issues of energy in motion such as thermal radiation projecting warmth were defying the existing theory. Max Planck came up with the first theory to solve his experiment’s results and Albert Einstein followed on with proof that the motions Planck had theorized and named “quantum” of energy could be envisioned as massless elementary particles Einstein called “photons.”
By the 1920s it became apparent that electromagnetism came in both waves that we see in the iron particles sprinkled over a magnet and in particles we see in visible light with photons.
Now for the intellectual stretch, since light can behave as both waves and particles can matter be induced to dual states too? We live in a reality full of particles and readily recognize it, but can matter behave like a wave? It turns out that yes it can, as demonstrated by deBroglie with electrons traveling through matter creating diffraction patterns like those of light.
A couple guys named Schrodinger and Heisenberg sought to explain the wave activity from different angles and Heisenberg found that pairs of quantities in quantum mechanics couldn’t be measured at the same moment precisely. Thus, the famous “Uncertainty Principle.”
That set up the need for a theory that describes not only matter but all fields as well. It’s called the Quantum Electrodynamics. It includes Einstein’s special theory of relativity and we see that just as in the uncertainty principle of matter that the electric field and the magnetic field are pairs that can’t be measured at the same moment precisely. By intuition we realize that in when a complete vacuum is considered the uncertainty principle applies, as even as the emptiest place is a vacuum in space there remain electromagnetic fields bouncing from place to place.
When computing the total energy density of an empty vacuum in space one comes up with an infinite number. It’s a little disturbing to have infinite energy in a vacuum so the theory allows for renormalizing the results to avoid infinites and get some information out of the theory. But the renormalizing doesn’t mean the energy isn’t there and the argument continues to this day whether the energy is simple mathematical sophistry or actually physically exists.
Now back to the magnet – you know that you will need to exert some pressure to push like poles together and exert some force to pull unalike poles apart. Opposite to that is the electromagnetic power the magnet is expressing. So using the physics above, one can see that the magnetism could be modulated, which with some engineering could make a magnetic engine. Then you will need to get more working energy out than used to modulate the engine. This can be done mechanically as shown by Coler or perhaps will be done with solid-state electronics as Goldes, both listed below.
By now those of you with some physics background are rolling your eyes and thinking of all the things left out, glossed over and generally poorly explained. Guilty. But I hope the regular guy can get what all of this is about in simple terms with a chain of physics theory that everyone can follow. In any case some engineers have been looking at this with anticipation for over one hundred and thirty years.
Wesley Gary, 1874 – 2 US patents. http://www.fevj.org/FEV-magnet-motor-by-W-W-Gary.php
Hans Coler, 1933 http://www.energyscience.org.uk/le/le07.htm
Robert Forward, 1984 published Physical Review B See: http://www.calphysics.org/sci_articles.html or http://www.calphysics.org/articles/Forward1984.pdf
Dr. Frank Mead and Jack Nachamkin, 1996 US Patent #5590031
Dr. Fabrizo Pinto, numerous patents and linked at Interstellar below.
Now for the companies with real prospects:
Interstellar Technologies Corporation is headed by Dr. Fabrizo Pinto. The site is a wealth of information and can satisfy the reader with considerable physics skills. Its somewhat of a challenge for regular folks but well worth the effort as it’s the most complete science site of the company list. See: http://www.interstellartechcorp.com/companyHistory.html
Magnetic Power Incorporated is headed by Mark Goldes. MPI is asserting that it is pretty far down the development path and is working to produce a solid-state engine that has no moving parts. An easy read, packed full of information and ranges broadly out into the current market. See: http://www.magneticpowerinc.com/index.html
Steorn Ltd. is headed by Sean McCarthy. Using a moving armature engine called “Orbo” Steorn is has offered 22 validating scientists their device for examination. The site is media rich with video, but has to come from Ireland which is problematic for downloads. They look pretty far along and may well have a proven working model soon. See: http://www.steorn.com/
Perendev Energy Power Gmbh is headed by Michael J. Brady. The site proposes to sell and deliver working engines with power ratings from 100 kilowatts intermittent and 90 kilowatts continuous to 300 kilowatts continuous. They are way out in front if true. They have lease prices and ordering information on the site. See: http://www.perendev-power.com/
It looks like the physics theory is solid, mathematically, intuitively and by observation. That leaves the engineering and materials science to work out getting a net power output from a running device. There is also the matter of control as a unit sitting there charged to run will have a bunch of latent energy that would be much more useful if it can be throttled. Also operating conditions may well have considerable effects on a unit’s capability.
Is all this for real? Its getting hard to no, the history and wide spread effort are producing some results and the developers have attracted some impressive money and interested observers. But the management job will require a great deal of skill to bring something, which seems outlandish to fruition. There will be marketing physics too, as there will be at least an equal opposite marketing reaction, there is a lot at stake for a huge array interested parties who would see their investment, salary and pension go up in smoke.
If this works and the companies can get a 100kw unit on the market for a couple grand with enough people paying attention there would be no stopping the transition. It really is something fascinating to follow and I wish everyone involved rich brainstorming sessions, flashes of brilliant intuition and just plain good luck. Nuclear Electromagnetic Modulation is great story and we’re seeing it in real time. Great!