Thanks to Chris Wolfer for this tip. Despite this being from around 7 years ago it hasn’t yet become mainstream, mainly I suspect because the power actually generated is pretty small.
It’s worth reading the article first here and then I’ll add a bit of discussion.
OK, this is real and collects the power from the infrared part of the spectrum. At room temperatures there’s not a large amount of power available there – somewhere in the region of a watt per square metre, so unless this is really cheap to make then it’s not going to be that useful. For something that needs a few mW to run it, though, this should give power 24/7 with a reasonably small area and won’t need batteries replacing.
So far I haven’t spent the time chasing up what’s happened since or more details of exactly what power it produces per m², and the onward links from the article give me a 404. Here I’d rather discuss the principles instead, since I’m working at using the same power-source but getting a more-useful amount of work out of it.
If as expected this nanoantennae-loaded infrared PV device picks up the power in the IR from room temperature, it can drive an incandescent bulb (maybe those Graphene low-power devices we looked at about a week ago) which will produce a high local temperature. We’re taking heat from ambient room-temperature and transferring it to a higher temperature without putting in work. As I see it, this will break 2LoT in that heat is moving spontaneously from a colder to a hotter body. We can also run a small motor with it that uses the ambient energy to run that motor for ever (or at least until things wear out). This is perpetual motion, and runs from a single heat-sink in contravention of Carnot and thermodynamics.
I’ll look forward to some interesting discussions trying to defend the theory in the face of experimental evidence that perpetual motion is indeed possible. This doesn’t break Conservation of Energy, by the way. Energy is conserved, but work isn’t. Infrared, like any other electromagnetic wave, is a photon that carries energy but it has to move to exist – there is no rest mass. From the movement of this energy we can extract work (a non-conserved quantity) and all we’re doing is diverting the movement of the energy from its natural path to one we choose instead by converting the photon to electricity and passing it down a wire. It does work, and in the process goes back to another infrared photon and carries on its way. If we store it in a battery then that energy is temporarily out of circulation, but when we use it it will become thermal energy once again.
Rather than continuing to connect motors and generators, or use gravity-machines, or play with magnets, or use carefully-shaped coils and bad measurement techniques to try to make a PM machine (and we know those methods have always failed), wouldn’t it be better to try to further develop a method that can be demonstrated to actually work both in theory and practice? Since I first put up the article on RMS I’ve been working on this myself, and I would expect that if I am successful then the device (like this nanoantenna panel infrared PV) will pass all the tests any sceptic can suggest.