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    Free Energy by Simon Derricutt

    SimonI suppose I was around 12 years old when I built my first “free energy” device. An aerial wire, a coil, a variable capacitor, a diode and a crystal earpiece. I could listen to the BBC’s Third Program using it. At Droitwich there was a massive aerial system I’d seen from the train in passing, and it’s said that people living close enough to it listened to the Third Program through the fillings in their teeth picking up the radio waves.

    Wherever there are waves, and we can put in some device that changes the probability of the wave passing in one direction as opposed to the other (some form of diode) then we’ll be able to harvest energy. Some waves we can get energy out from in both directions – the equivalent of a bridge-rectifier. Ocean waves, sound waves, radio waves, light, heat… you find a lot of waves in Nature, and they are all sources of free energy if we can convert them to a version we can use.

    In a normal gas-filled heat engine, the molecules are all bouncing off each other producing the pressure. Put more heat in and the molecules bounce faster and the pressure goes up. Allow one wall of the cylinder to move (use a piston) and that pressure can move the piston, reduce the pressure, and the random motion of the gas molecules (heat energy) gets converted into nice linear motion of the piston. In the process, since the gas molecules will bounce off the piston at a lower velocity than they hit it at, they will cool down. Is there another way to use this effect? We want to use single molecules so that Newton’s laws of motion apply, and energy is thus transferred by collisions – the molecules cool down and we harvest the energy.

    Around a dozen years ago, our design group was tasked to produce a couple of patent applications. Since we were basically involved in redesigning boards to reduce cost and improve reliability, we could only find one real copier-related idea, so that gave us only half the task done. That patent was granted after the site shut down and my job disappeared to Hungary (much cheaper there), but that’s maybe another story. At the time, therefore, we had to put another patent idea in. I thus came up with a perpetual motion machine as the other. I’ve had this open on the net for a long time now, so anyone who manages to make one can do so, but it won’t be patentable as such.

    Gold schemImagine a piece of gold-leaf that is pierced with holes that are funnel-shaped. An air molecule that is on the left in the diagram has a better chance of getting through the holes than one on the right moving left, since whereas a hit on the inside of the funnel tends to make the hole bigger (and guide the molecule towards the hole), a hit on the outside of the funnel tends to make the hole smaller. In order for this to work the gold-leaf must be thin and thus flexible in the funnel, and the holes should be slit-shaped and of the order of size of the mean-free-path of the gas molecules. We have changed the usual probability, of the gas molecules passing through the holes in either direction equally, to one where they have more chance passing left to right. Since we are dealing with large numbers of molecules, this translates as a higher pressure on the right, and the equilibrium happens when the higher pressure on the right sends the same number of molecules right-to-left as left-to-right.

    The gold-leaf thus generates a movement of gas from one side to the other and an unequal pressure on either side. If this pierced gold-leaf is then mounted in the vanes of a windmill, the windmill will turn without any energy being input – the energy to do this comes from the heat energy in the gas.

    gold turbineConnect this to a generator and we would generate electricity from the energy in the air, which would of course cool down.

    This idea generates electricity of the order of nanowatts, but after that it’s only a matter of scale.

    Note that the gas WILL cool down – the energy has to come from somewhere.

    This breaks the 2nd  Law of Thermodynamics since energy will move from a colder body (the air) to a hotter body (whatever you connect the output to) without any work being input to the system.


    OK, then how about another method that maybe gives us more energy? Although the windmill should work, it’s not exactly world-shattering power output. Sorry, but this needs a bit of maths, so I’ll start off by defining the data I’ll be using:

    (Figures here from ICAO atmosphere, as stated in Tennent’s Science Data Book, rounded to 2 decimal places since this is an order-of-magnitude calculation)

    2.55E+25 – molecules per cubic metre

    1.225Kg/m³ – density of air

    6.63E-8m – 66.3nm – mean-free-path: Λ

    6.92E+9 – collisions per second (about 6.9GHz hit-rate): R

    4.80E-26Kg –  average mass of an air  molecule: M

    459m/s – velocity of molecule: V

    (other useful number – Avogadro’s number 6.02E+23)

    Derived numbers:

    5.06E-21J – approximate energy of a molecule: E (=1/2 M V²)

    2.90E+14 – number of mean-free-path diameter circles in 1m : Q (= 4/πΛ²)


    These are extreme numbers relative to daily life, and even very small volumes of gas have large numbers of molecules and collisions, thus any individual collision is difficult to distinguish. With a very small microphone, though, the fluctuations do give an increased noise figure so we can see that the smaller the microphone the bigger the noise signal will be, and you can’t design around that. This snippet of information is well-known to sound engineers.


    When a molecule hits the wall of its container, it rebounds off at the same speed on average, since the collision is perfectly elastic, thus it retains its temperature. Of course, if it hits a warmer body, it will gain energy and get “hotter” (faster), and if it hits a colder body it will lose energy and get “colder” (that is, slower). These energy transfers are continually happening, since there is a range of velocities of the gas molecules, and they are all hitting each other and transferring energy at an average rate of around 6.9GHz at room temperature. This is important, since we will be dummying a molecule into believing it’s hitting another one, and is thus giving its energy to us instead.


    A portion of the wall, of diameter around the mean free path of an air molecule, will receive around  the velocity, divided by the mean-free-path, hits per second. This is 459 divided by 6.63E-8, or 6.9E+9 hits per second (about 7GHz).


    If we can absorb the energy from the molecule, by using a small microphone of diameter 0.07 micron, we will thus get a hit rate of the order of 7GHz. Of course not all the energy can be absorbed since (a) there is a range of angles of incidence giving about one third of the total energy in the direction we want, (b) the microphone will probably not be very efficient at converting mechanical to electrical energy – say we can get 30% efficiency here. Overall harvest-efficiency will be of the order of 10%….




    ….or about 10 kW using the given figures (I’m interested in ballpark numbers for now). Actually quite a surprisingly large amount.

    So approximately 10kW per square metre is available, from which we could probably harvest about 1kW per square metre once we’ve got the engineering sorted.

    In order to harvest the energy, we need a small microphone. This would need to be made in nanoengineering using probably piezo technology. We get a signal from this when it is hit by a molecule, and thus the molecule rebounds at a lower energy. Recently I’ve seen that we can get diodes that will rectify a signal of this frequency, so instead of heat as the output we could in fact get electricity, but stick with the heat output for now since it nicely shows 2nd law to be breakable.

    resistorThe piezo element should be of the order of size of the mean-free-path. Note that we can use a bigger piezo element if we use helium as the gas, which has a mean-free-path of 3 times that of air, so we could use a piezo of about 0.2 micron as opposed to that of air of 0.07 micron. That may make this a bit more usable. With the longer mean-free-path, the frequency goes down to around 2.3GHz, and here it’s also easier to use a diode to rectify it and add the outputs from a number of piezo elements to drive a load. We would also have less energy available from Helium, since the energy per molecule remains the same whilst R and Q are both smaller. I need to get more data on Helium to calculate the ratio, but the increase in dimensions may make it worth it, depending upon the manufacturing difficulties. 0.07 micron is right at the limit of current fab technology.

    Per element, we have the kinetic energy of the molecule times the hit-rate, which is E times R or about 3.5E-11 watts incident on each piezo. Restated, that’s 35 picowatts. It takes a lot of elements to get a reasonable amount of power, but it is free. A 1kW array will be around a square metre and would currently have an astronomical price, but it’s a one-off cost and after that you just harvest energy from the air.

    Note that conservation of energy is observed within our array – we are just transferring it from one side to the other. Conversion between mechanical and electrical energy is a normal occurrence.

    If we build an array of these elements, then we have a system where the gas is cooled on the side of the piezos and heated on the side of the resistors, and this breaks the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics  since energy is moved from a cooler to a hotter body without using energy to do it.

    If you choose the resistors and heat as output, then you can of course use a Peltier block to get electricity, but at lower output than the diode version. If the array is put into the wall of an insulated container with the piezos on the inside, then the inside will cool down. A useful no-energy fridge. You can also build a room-heater or an air-conditioner depending upon configuration.

    The laws of thermodynamics break down when we look at things on the nanoscale where the particulate nature of matter becomes important. This can be used to do work without needing energy to do it. In physics, we need to re-evaluate the equivalence of work and energy, since they cannot be the same thing. Energy is a finite resource, whereas work is an infinite resource (this can be seen in any office, as well). Trouble is that, since they use the same units and since in normal systems they absolutely equate to each other, they are seen as being the same thing and that is also what is taught in the schools and universities.

    It ain’t necessarily so….

    I’ll probably get complaints that you just can’t break the Laws of Thermodynamics. With the ideas put forward above, though, you have a choice. If they work, they break 2LoT, but if they don’t then they break Newton’s laws of motion. Which Law would you suggest is more easily broken? Thermodynamics was worked out using the idea of heat as a perfect fluid, without granularity, whereas the real world has molecules that have a certain size, so at the molecular scale the original calculations do not match reality since the built-in assumptions are invalid.


    Article published by R-G Author Simon Derricutt, 7th May 2013.


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