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Yet Another Perpetual Motion Device 563

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the fun-never-ends dept.
The Star reports on this inventor breaking all the laws of physics as far as free energy goes. It even provoked interest from "esteemed Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Markus Zahn". I would like to know how this seemingly backyard enthusiast's experimental set up has not been tried a million times over the years. It seems so simple and too good to be true. The article has links to a multi-part video demo of the device accelerating an electric motor under load for free!
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Yet Another Perpetual Motion Hoax

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  • by A Friendly Troll (1017492) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @10:34AM (#22360088)
    FTFA:

    There's no talk of perpetual motion. No whisper of broken scientific laws or free energy. Zahn would never go there - at least not yet. But he does see the potential for making electric motors more efficient, and this itself is no small feat.

    Why the headline, Taco?
  • by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann.slashdot@NoSpam.gmail.com> on Saturday February 09, 2008 @10:37AM (#22360106) Homepage Journal
    From another source [physorg.com]:

    In Heins' machine, he explains that magnetic friction somehow gets turned into a magnetic boost. Working with an electric motor, he attached the drive shaft to a steel rotor with small round magnets lining its outer edges. In this set-up of a simple generator, the rotor would spin so that the magnets passed by a wire coil just in front of them, generating electrical energy.

    Then Heins did an experiment: he overloaded the generator to get a current, which typically causes the wire coil to build up a large electromagnetic field. Usually, this kind of electromagnetic field creates an effect called "Back EMF" due to the so-called Lenz's law. The effect should repel the spinning magnets on the rotor, and slow them down until the motor stops completely, in accordance with the law of conservation.

    But instead of stopping, the rotor began to accelerate. Heins recounts that the first time it happened, the magnets starting flying off and hitting the walls, as he ducked for cover.

    The magnetic friction wasn't repelling the magnets and wire coil. Instead, as Heins explains, the steel rotor and driveshaft had conducted the magnetic resistance away from the coil and back into the electric motor. In effect, the Back EMF was boosting the magnetic fields used by the motor to generate electrical energy and cause acceleration.


    He also says it's *NOT* a perpetual motion machine. He's asking experts to explain him why that happened, and if it could turn into a way to make electrical generators more efficient.
  • by Rei (128717) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @10:43AM (#22360160) Homepage
    It's really, really simple. He has a spinning magnet and metal bars with coils of wire wrapped around them around the magnet. What happens when it spins? That's right, you induce AC current. What happens when you induce a fluctuating magnetic field through a metal? That's right, hysteresis drag. So, he's basically built a magnetic brake. Then he shorts out his coils, and what happens? Sure enough, it accelerates; he's shorted out his brake!

    Nothing to see here, move along.
  • by pla (258480) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @10:45AM (#22360178) Journal
    Why the headline, Taco?

    In the very first paragraph, TFA states "he'll demonstrate an invention that appears - though he doesn't dare say it - to operate as a perpetual motion machine."

    As for why "nobody's calling it" that, TFA answers that as well, with:

    It's for this reason the 46-year-old inventor has learned to walk on thin ice when dealing with academics and engineers, who he must win over to be taken seriously. Credibility, after all, can't be invented. It must be earned. "I have to be humble. If you say the wrong thing at the wrong time, you can lose support."

    Seems straightforward enough. The guy believes (or wants others to believe) that he has made a perpetual motion machine, but calling it as much would result in his instant damning to the land of crackpots. So instead of claiming something widely considered impossible, he describes it as simply some sort of "very efficient" electric motor, a perfectly reasonable (if unlikely, given his background) idea.
  • Videos (Score:4, Informative)

    by chihowa (366380) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @10:55AM (#22360274)
    He has a series of Youtube videos [youtube.com] where he shows it off and attempts to explain it.
  • by marvinglenn (195135) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @10:57AM (#22360290)
    FTA...

    It's now Jan. 28 - D Day. Heins has modified his test so the effects observed are difficult to deny. He holds a permanent magnet a few centimetres away from the driveshaft of an electric motor, and the magnetic field it creates causes the motor to accelerate. [...]

    I will assume that the motor is a common DC motor with field on the stator, armature on the rotor. If the flux from the magnet he's holding near the shaft is canceling some of the flux from the field, then the motor will naturally speed up. The opposite effect is when you increase the flux from the field... the motor slows down.
  • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Saturday February 09, 2008 @11:20AM (#22360476) Journal

    4) To the idiot that said something about 'disconnection brakes', in this case the brakes were effectively electro-magnets. By shorting the coils, they became lumps of copper. No more electro-magnets, no more brakes.
    A coil of wire (in the presence of a moving magnetic field) with no current flow through it is a lump of copper. When you allow current to flow from one end of the coil to the other, then it starts doing work. The less resistance you put across the coil, the more current flows and the more energy is extracted from the prime mover (I^2*R). Shorting the coils should induce the maximum drag on that motor.
  • by ChromaticDragon (1034458) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @11:24AM (#22360522)
    Not to knock the possible independent invention of Spread Spectrum techniques by your friend...

    Not to dismiss your remarks regarding that others may have also independently invented this sometime in the last 40 years (though I believe you're simply referring to civilian commercial use in the past few decades)...

    But it would seem to take just a wee bit of effort of web research to demonstrate that various forms of this have been around a lot longer.

    Goodness. Tesla patented a form of frequency hopping in 1900!!

    Hedy Lamer is famous for being the woman who more or less invented and patented an early form of CDMA in 1940.

    Granted, these things didn't have widespread civilian use and applications until the last few decades. But it seems strange to present your story the way you did. It would seem likely depending in his implementation that this chap couldn't have patented it in any case due to longstanding prior patents.

    Furthermore, describing this as "zero bandwidth" really seems strange. I can certainly understand why engineers would have dismissed this. A more accurate description of spread spectrum would be "infinite bandwidth". That is why it's called SPREAD spectrum. It flattens out the wave in the frequency domain. Simply because the power in any given range drops to the noise floor isn't quite the same as it truly being zero bandwidth.

  • by ilikepi314 (1217898) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @11:45AM (#22360728)
    Without seeing diagrams and all, it's very hard for me to guess what is going on. It's entirely possible that it's not really a novel phenomenon, just a novel setup. We've had things like that happen before in the labs; its explainable with current physics, just too complicated to explain within the same day you discover it. I suspect you are correct in that this machine is not perpetual motion, but could very well be an interesting device for other purposes. I'm actually curious to see it work!

    The text of the article really bugs me though. Almost no information is provided about anything except this guy's background, and it's very careful to point out that he lost his wife and his dog died and he lives under bridges and eats garbage and stuff. It almost seems like a sympathy article, like they want you to believe he's the underdog fighting for truth against the tyranny of scientists that are just out to destroy all inventions from the little guy that would help humanity.

    Which of course is hardly the case; if more people knew just a little more about science, they would understand why most are skeptical.
  • Re:Green Plug (Score:2, Informative)

    by Gewalt (1200451) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @11:46AM (#22360738)
    Wrong and wrong again. Your device causes the "measured power" to be reduced only, by adding a large capacitance to the largely inductive load of your appliance. This is effectively lying to the power meter, as your device actually has leakage power associated with it in itself. So you are literally STEALING POWER, and as such, those devices are no longer sold because they were made illegal.
  • by spud603 (832173) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @12:04PM (#22360918)
    In the video linked to from TFA he shows the ammeter on the motor displaying decreasing values while the tachometer shows increasing values.
  • by Cheerio Boy (82178) * on Saturday February 09, 2008 @12:06PM (#22360934) Homepage Journal
    That would be Kohei Minato. [google.com]
  • by StarKruzr (74642) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @01:32PM (#22361594) Journal
    Are not that it's a "perpetual motion machine" but that he may have found a way to make electric motors significantly more efficient. This by itself is an entirely believable claim, and I think worthy of further serious investigation.
  • by Ecuador (740021) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @02:03PM (#22361844) Homepage
    He doesn't only get his physics wrong, but he even named the device erroneously. There is no greek word "perepiteia" (it might sound greek to you, but it sounds just silly to Greeks), instead he wanted to say "peripeteia" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peripeteia). It could be his "mild dyslexia" at work, however he uses the "dyslexia" excuse for his bad performance in math - although all the dyslectics I have known don't have a problem with math (feel free to enlighten me on this, it is just my personal experience). Anyway, I just think it boils down to him not doing his "homework"... Personally, I wouldn't invest on his startup...
  • by Skrynkelberg (910137) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @02:20PM (#22362012)
    He never says that it takes energy to uphold a magnetic field, but that it takes energy to CHANGE it, which is is another matter. What we call "permanent" magnets can in fact lose their magnetization, for example by heating them. Read up.

    I don't know if this explains the observed effect, but it is a plausible explanation. I just had to intervene because I hate people that are rude and stupid at the same time. Thank you.
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @02:26PM (#22362076) Homepage

    So I have been thwarted in understanding what "non-linear magnetic steel" is.

    There are whole families of non-linear magnetic devices. Non-linear magnetic effects are used in saturable reactors [wikipedia.org] for motor control, magnetic amplifiers, and other AC electrical devices. You don't see those things much any more, because power semiconductors are now used instead, but the physics still works. Also see this explanation of magnetic hysteresis [gsu.edu], which is a related non-linear magnetic effect.

    Consider a permanent magnet brake that relies on hysteresis effects to absorb energy. Reversing magnetic domains requires energy, which comes out as heat. Look at the figure "Variation in hysteresis curves" in this article [gsu.edu]. Maximum braking is achieved when the magnetic field is near the middle, wide parts of the curves. If you use a coil to apply a magnetic field that forces the material closer to saturation, or to cancel out the field from the permanent magnets, the braking effect decreases. That's probably what's going on with the "Perepiteia" device. Mild steels are in the midrange of magnetic materials; they are easy to saturate magnetically, which is why they make wimpy permanent magnets, but have moderate hysteresis, so they make inefficient transformer cores. For a magnetic brake, though, you want something in the midrange of magnetic materials, where the magnetic domains resist changing direction enough to generate heat, but don't resist so strongly that nothing happens, as in a strong magnet. I suspect that the "Perepiteia" device has coils wound on mild steel, and the braking energy is dumped into heating up those metal cores. (Here's more than you probably want to know about saturation and hysteresis in magnetic materials for transformer design. [mag-inc.com]).

    I'm still not clear on whether the magnetic connection to the motor in the "Perepiteia" device really has much to do with this. But there's nothing mysterious about an electromagnetic brake that turns off when you short the coils. It's unusual, but known.

    This isn't really my field, but I do have a classical EE degree, so I had to learn this stuff once.

  • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Saturday February 09, 2008 @03:00PM (#22362340) Journal

    (I.E. in his first video, the system oddly slowed down when he shorted the coils -- WTF?)
    That's what should happen.

    A coil of wire with 90 volts induced in it and open-circuited (0 amps) will dissipate 0 watts.

    Assume the coil has an resistance of 1 ohm. When he short-circuits the coil, it looked like the induced voltage dropped to about 10 volts.

    10 volts / 1 ohm = 10 amps
    10 amps * 10 volts = 100 watts

    Suddenly adding 100 watts of load to a motor should slow it down.
  • Stanley Who? (Score:5, Informative)

    by mangu (126918) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @03:14PM (#22362444)

    it took inventor Stanley Meyers a full 15 years before he could get someone from the known scientific community to even look at his prototype

    Since you gave no link, I had to google that name [google.com]. Here's a good tip: when you read about an inventor who has trouble getting someone from the scientific community to look at his prototype, google on his name plus the word "fraud". Failing to do that, you risk being part of a notice like this [padrak.com]:

    "End of Road for Car That Ran on Water," London Sunday Times, 1 Dec. 1996.
      An Ohio court ruled against inventor Stanley Meyer, in a case brought against him by disgruntled investors recently.
      Meyer had sold "dealerships" and licensing rights in his Water Fuel Cell technology to interested investors, in anticipation of the day when it would power electric vehicles or even aircraft.
      That dream was shattered as Meyer was found guilty of fraud when his Water Fuel Cell failed to impress three "expert witnesses" who decided there was nothing revolutionary about it, rather that it was simply using conventional electrolysis.
      The Sunday Times article also stated that when one of the court experts went to examine the Water Fuel Cell driven car, it was impossible to evaluate because it was not working.

  • by Great_Geek (237841) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @03:40PM (#22362652)
    A much more informative article is at http://www.electro-tech-online.com/chit-chat/36096-another-perpetual-motion-machine-mit-professor-stumped-one.html [electro-tech-online.com]

    Some quotes:
      "they have demonstrated the Perepiteia to a number of labs and universities across North America, including the University of Virginia, Michigan State University, the University of Toronto and Queens University."

      Prof. Habash of University of Ottawa looked at it: "It accelerates, but when it comes to an explanation, there is no backing theory for it. That's why we're consulting MIT. But at this time we can't support any claim."

      Prof. Zahn of MIT: "It's an unusual phenomena I wouldn't have predicted in advance. But I saw it. It's real. Now I'm just trying to figure it out."

    What I infer from this is that competent people have looked at it in some detail and were surprised, so it is possible that a new more efficient motor has been invented (it is also possible that some old forgotten motor is now more efficient because of new material, or any of a million possible outcomes.)

    It is even possible that the professors forgot about magnetic brakes and other basic undergrad stuff; but I would not bet on that. It is also possible that this is a "con" but I also would not bet on that.

    Some people seem very sure that this is non-sense. Would any of them like to give me 10-to-1 odds? That is, if turns out to be non-sense, I lose $1; it it turns out to be a more efficient motor, I win $10. (I will ignore the vanishingly small probability that it actually is revolutionary.) This means I am offering free money to people who are 100% sure. Even if you are only 95% sure, you still have positive expected value. On second thought, I have no desire to be jailed by some over-zealous police or DA when I am flying somewhere; so the bet will be for bragging rights only - no money.
  • Re:Symmetry (Score:3, Informative)

    by mako1138 (837520) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @03:58PM (#22362800)
    You probably want to mention Noether's theorem [wikipedia.org] by name.
  • by srmalloy (263556) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @04:20PM (#22363024) Homepage
    More importantly for shooting down the 'perpetual motion' crap is that from his description, the base configuration has the wheel of magnets inducing current in the coil placed at the rim, thereby dumping energy into the coil that is wasted. Then he connects the coil back into the system, essentially dumping the induced energy back into the motor to strengthen the field in the motor's coils. Yes, the motor will speed up; the system is recovering energy that was lost into the coil, which overall reduces the load on the motor, allowing its speed to increase until the load again matches the energy being put in. But the speedup is no different from the speedup you'd get if you simply disconnected the wheel of magnets entirely, taking its load out of the system, except that you'd get a larger increase in motor speed, because you have inductive losses in the coupling of the magnets and the coil, and resistive losses in the coil and the wires back to the motor. So all he's demonstrated is "If I take a load off a motor, its speed increases." Definitely an earth-shattering discovery, fully worthy of high-school freshmen.
  • Slashdot physics (Score:5, Informative)

    by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Saturday February 09, 2008 @07:00PM (#22364490)
    I know you're all like "bullshit!" by now but this exists in nature. Ever heard of a tornado? It would be kinda like how a tornado gets so much energy. There are opposing forces caused by air pressure that should just about cancel each other out and do nothing. But the energy of Earth turning and air's resistance to turning with Earth because of its gaseous state combined with the fact that the inertia isn't in a straight line causes more rotational energy in the opposite direction than would be exerted if Earth wasn't there. The air draws power from the Earth's rotation by resisting wanting to turn with Earth, just like I mentioned how a generator could work.

    None of this makes any sense. You're confusing energy with momentum. Air simply doesn't have "resistance to turning with Earth because of its gaseous state" and has no problem turning with the Earth.

    These storms get their energy from the sun. In the more straightforward case of a hurricane, the sun is causing northward/southward movement by heating air at equatorial latitudes (and charging it with water vapor) more than the air closer to the poles (which stays cooler and drier). Due to the increased pressure the equatorial air moves toward the poles, and displaces colder air which moves toward the equator. (The water's heat of fusion helps maintain the pressure gradient by buffering thermal energy- it continues to heat the wet air as it moves poleward, and keeps the dry air cool as it crosses warm water which vaporizes and robs it of its heat.) The "Coriolis force" appears to cause circular motion, but it's a false force that's an artifact of the rotating coordinate system we like to use. In a non-rotating coordinate system, the air is retaining the linear easterly momentum that it had at the equator, so when it reaches higher latitudes it appears to be moving east, and the air that reaches the equator is now moving westward there simply because it had less easterly momentum to start with. Note that the Coriolis "force" does no work here since it applies itself in a perpendicular direction to the air's movement so the dot product is zero. Gravity, a real force, is doing no work here either for the same reason- even though it flips the sign of all linear momenta every 12 hours. All the work is being done by the pressure gradient.

    The net effect is that the storm has had solar energy injected into it, which enables it to extract angular momentum from the Earth's rotation. When it reaches land and throws your stuff around, the Earth gets all its angular momentum back since the wind and debris is moving sideways with respect to the ground. The energy is dissipated in all the collisions into the form of heat, but the system's total angular momentum never changes.

    Tornadoes are a bit more convoluted but essentially work the same way. Just like when I stir my coffee. I borrow angular momentum from the earth, with energy that originally came from the sun via the food I ate. As my coffee slows down, the earth gets its angular momentum back (transferred through the mug, through the table, and into the ground) and the energy I put into the coffee heats it and the mug it's in a tiny little bit. That energy came from the sun, not from the earth's rotation. I can't "draw power from the Earth's rotation" to stir my coffee unless I somehow hook my stirrer up to tides crashing at the beach. Those DO extract potentially useful energy from the angular momentum in the Earth-Moon system, since the Moon is available as an anchor and momentum can be dumped into it until the Earth and Moon eventually become tidally locked- analogous to the situation when a hurricane, tornado, or coffee stir is finally dissipated. At that point the angular momentum will be useless for extracting further energy.

    Basically, you can't stick a generator axle into the North Pole and generate electricity by spinning the rotor. You have nothing to anchor the stator against.
  • by sterlingda (732011) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @12:14AM (#22366902) Homepage Journal
    We posted a feature page about this here: http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Perepiteia_Generator_by_Potential_Difference_Inc#In_the_News [peswiki.com]

    The following are a couple of the better comments we received.

    No Useful Output
    On Feb. 6, 2008, Peter Lindemann, DSc, writes:

    I have reviewed all seven video links. In all fairness, I would like to say that Thane has built some nice demonstrations and spent a lot of time running experiments. That said, the films show nothing important. First of all, the films do not show enough detailed information to evaluate the demonstrations. Second, no free energy is shown. In fact, the generators are never shown producing any useful outputs. They are either shown producing voltage in "open circuit" mode, or they are shown in "short circuit" mode, where the generated voltage drops below one volt. So, ZERO WATTS are produced in either case.

    The changes in mechanical drag are due to changes in inductance and hysteresis. Back in the 1980's, both John Bedini and I independently worked with "variable reluctance" generators. We both saw that these designs work like an inverse to a standard induction generator. That is, they produce maximum drag in "open circuit" mode, and minimum drag in "short circuit" mode. John found that the point of maximum benefit in this situation is to charge a battery, where the impedance of the generator "sees" the battery as a "near short circuit". Under these circumstances, the generator free-wheels and the battery charges quickly.

    Unfortunately, Thane is not showing any useful benefits from the generator output. So, there is no "efficiency" to calculate because there is no output!

    The real problem with these demonstrations has to do with his motor drive. The motor driving his system is a single phase induction motor. This type of motor has almost zero starting torque, and only produces its rated power at rated speed. So, the rated speed of his motor is probably in the neighborhood of 1725 RPM. Running this motor in the 100 RPM range converts 98% of the input electric power to HEAT. He says he has a capacitor in the input circuit to the motor, but this is never shown in schematic, so we don't know how it is hooked up. If the capacitor is connected in SERIES with the motor winding, it will act as a current limiter, and skew the power factor of the motor towards reactive power. This is fine, IF you want to limit the mechanical power of the motor as well. If the capacitor is connected in PARALLEL with the motor winding, it will act to produce reactive power for the motor locally, and reduce the amount of power it draws from the wall. But again, this would only be significant at rated speed.

    The effect he shows when a magnetic field is applied to the motor shaft would be undetectable if he was operating the motor correctly. It is a very weak effect. It is probably caused by the external magnetic field interfering with the induced magnetic field of the rotor. This would not happen if the motor coils were not being severely current limited and the rotor was not "slipping" severely in the rotating magnetic field of the stator.

    My GUESS is that the capacitor is in SERIES with the motor winding. This will limit the current to the motor to a specific maximum. At the speeds he is running these motors, the only other mechanism to hold back the input current would be the resistance of the wire in the motor coils. If that is all he had, the motor would quickly over-heat and melt the insulation right off the wire. The fact that the motor is running hot is proved in the seventh film where a large black fan is shown blowing on the motor!

    From the data presented, my best estimate of the efficiency of the demonstrations is that over 90% of the energy going into the motor is converted to heat. The changes in drag of the generators is standard behavior for variable reluctance topologies
  • by cluckshot (658931) on Sunday February 10, 2008 @12:23PM (#22370750)

    Using a standard stepper motor which is essentially what he has here, the stepper motor can be timed to hit the Back EMF pulse in a position where it becomes a propulsion pulse. Typically the Back EMF pulse is proportional to the load on the motor. The result is that a forward kick equal to the RMS of the Back EMF pulse can be achieved. Since the motor rotated with force equal to the induced coil current less some losses like friction etc, the motor without the Back EMF pulse would be almost 100% efficient. With the Back EMF pulse normally timed symmetrically such that it occurs on exit from a magnetic field the resulting Back EMF works against the rotation of the motor essentially presenting as the "Load" on the motor because it is proportional and appears in the current phase load. Because this phase load can be timed to mismatch by many means, it can appear as an attractive load as one enters the adjacent field for action. Such a motor rather than Braking as is presented in discussion accelerates. The limit of this device is about 140% of line load current in torque.

    If you subsequently place magnets in the coils you can also take advantage of a maxwell equation reduction which is F=B^2. This allows one to drag by at 1/2 magnet force losing 1/4 the force with magnetic induction equal to 1/2 the driver force. At the same time adding 50% to the magnetic B field is possible using only 1/2 induction. The resulting 150% B field accelerates with Force of 2.25 times the induction giving a drag of .25 netting for induction a gain of 2 times rotation force. This actually can be asymmetrically powered giving a real gain against induction. This is why the device accelerates given the resident field of a magnet near the device.

    The problem most physics types have in seeing this is that they don't follow their rules which include displacement in time and space. As to the claims of energy coming from the energy which cause the magnetic field in the magnets that is just funny. The force to magnetize a magnet is trivial and a time transient. Surely the field is very intense for a moment but that hardly includes any significant energy. Modern magnets are for the most part immune to the demagnetization issues that are discussed in such arguments.

    The real issue with this guys device is to give it like all discoveries, or claimed discoveries, a fair, open and decent respectful examination and conclude according to the facts. The argument that it is "impossible" or etc is the argument of an unscientific person. If I told you that a block of metal could emit massive amounts of heat to destroy or power cities in 1930, I would have been decried as a fool and an idiot. It would have been argued to violate the laws of Physics. By 1945 2 cities had been destroyed by the heat from such an impossible event. Try shutting up the arguments and start looking. This might not be a working device and it might be one. A fair hearing is what is called for.

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