Tyler Hamilton, a senior energy reporter and columnist for Canada’s largest daily newspaper, the Toronto Star, has revisited Thane Heins. Heins has developed an electrical generator or motor that seems much more efficient. We looked at it too, just over a year ago and found the innovations simply fascinating.

Now for those looking for new concepts and progress from them, Mr. Hamilton ran a blog update Monday about Mr. Heins that links to the article written for the Toronto Star. On the technology front there doesn’t seem to be much to add in the engineering but a lot has happened over the past year.

Of note is that he’s acquired more naysayers, generally based on the claims that excess output might be forthcoming. On the other side populated by the curious has brought interest from as bureaucratic as NASA on to hard businessmen such as California Diesel & Power, a $10-million company that sells back-up generators for cellphone towers throughout California and rock legend Neil Young who might adapt Heins’ invention to power a 1959 Lincoln Continental MK IV, which is being entered into the $10-million automotive X-Prize – a contest in search of the world’s most efficient automobile.

Owen Charles, head of technology at California D&P, viewed Heins’ demonstration videos on YouTube last year and was intrigued. He flew to Ottawa for a live demonstration and was convinced the technology worked, at least enough to pursue it further. Mr. Charles is firmly midstream looking at what benefits can be incorporated straight away. “There’s acceleration, but what I don’t see is being able to harness more power out than power in,” said Charles during a phone interview with Mr. Hamilton. “But Thane is starting to get more and more watts, more power, out of the coil, in addition to the acceleration.”

Heins’ made a prototype for Charles, who’s been demonstrating it to customers and contacts throughout California. During a demonstration to some AT&T contacts the motor was spinning at its full rated capacity using only 75 watts of power, when normally it takes 250 watts to do the same work. “To me, that makes the motor a hell of a lot more efficient.” We’ll see in a few months if California D&P can make a far more efficient generator. That would be a major shift-making event in electrical power generation.

Heins’ company, Potential Difference Inc., has been in serious talks with a designer of small wind turbines in Montreal, a senior engineer from a large utility in Turkey, and a small manufacturer of electrical equipment in Toronto. He’s altered the design of his prototype as well by developing a high-voltage “self-excited” motor coil.

Mr. Hamilton didn’t mention this in his Toronto Star story, but the blog post notes Heins has decided to take a kind of open-source approach to licensing his technology. The idea, the way Hamilton understands it, is that others can license it and build real-world applications on top and that all members of the licensing network get to share in the advancements and the revenues that are generated — assuming it gets to that stage.

Which means there is some way to get details and start one’s own investigating, too. While the news in this post isn’t big, it’s a rare, rare thing indeed when ideas such as this can be accessed and tried out at home or at work, and that’s news.

Note that Mr. Charles’ demonstration to some AT&T contacts had the motor spinning at its full rated capacity using only 75 watts of power, when normally it takes 250 watts to do the same work. “To me, that makes the motor a hell of a lot more efficient.”

Indeed, that’s running at less than a third of the original current draw. I have my fingers crossed this will work out.


8 Comments so far

  1. BenE on March 5, 2009 5:07 AM

    I saw his video a while ago and it seemed what he was doing was running his motor with a magnetic break connected to it which would slow it down (a coil with a resistor to dissipate heat). He then changed something so that the magnetic flux didn’t flow properly and the magnetic brake wouldn’t work well anymore so the motor went faster.

    It certainly didn’t seem magical to me. But I guess for people with no knowledge of magnetic fields and coils it can look surprising.

    “During a demonstration to some AT&T contacts the motor was spinning at its full rated capacity using only 75 watts of power, when normally it takes 250 watts to do the same work.”

    What does this mean? Standard electric motors are up to 90% efficient which mean that at 250 Watts they should generate something like 225 Watts of mechanical power. Surely they don’t mean he was producing 225 watt of mechanical power with 75 input?

    The only way I can interpret this to make sense is that he was operating with no load (an inefficient mode of operation for electric motors) and he managed to reduce some of the magnetic field loses which normally happen when the motor is “idling”. It must of been a fairly big motor for it to normally need 250 just for idling.

  2. Dustin on March 5, 2009 3:13 PM

    I enjoy reading this site occasionally but it really brings the site down when I see stories like this were either the story completely misrepresents the actual technology or the technology is a sham.

    In this story the technology sounds like it doesn’t obey the laws of thermodynamics, and the wikipedia article on it implies that as well. Why do people get so excited over obvious snake oil scams? After we get unlimited power from this tech let’s all go run our cars on water, one of the lowest energy chemical states hydrogen can be in.

  3. Derrek on April 19, 2009 6:26 AM

    Sad to see all the usual naysayers show up.

    Follow the money, why would some try to discredit their own potential power freedom, unless they’re getting paid to slow down progress?

    Meanwhile, the idea, warts and all, offered to humanity free for improvement, in the hopes it gets legs.

    Not sold, but offered free…

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