Electric Power Source Breakthrough? Unlimited Energy from the Environment
Energy Generated by Non-Animal Organism Multiplied Into Clean, Free Electric Current
CANTON, Mass., Dec. 20 -- An alternative electric power generating system that draws energy from a seemingly unlikely yet abundant, eminently renewable and virtually free power source has been submitted for patenting by MagCap Engineering, LLC, Canton, Mass., in collaboration with Gordon W. Wadle, an inventor from Thomson, Ill.
Wadle has invented a way to capture the energy generated by a living non- animal organism -- such as a tree. Chris Lagadinos, president of MagCap, developed circuitry that converts this natural energy source into useable DC power capable of sustaining a continuous current to charge and maintain a battery at full charge.
"As unbelievable as it sounds, we've been able to demonstrate the feasibility of generating electricity in this manner," said Wadle. "While the development is in its infancy, it has the potential to provide an unlimited supply of constant, clean energy without relying on fossil fuels, a power generating plant complex or an elaborate transmission network."
The developers now intend to establish a collaborative agreement with a company, academic institution or potential investors who can help finance the additional research and development necessary to take the invention to the next level -- a practical, commercially viable power generating system.
Wadle likened the invention to the discovery of electricity over 200 years ago when charged particles were harnessed to create an electric current. "Now we've learned that there is an immense, inexhaustible source of energy literally all around us that can be harnessed and converted into usable electric power," he said.
Ultimately, it should prove to be more practical than solar energy or wind power, and certainly more affordable than fuel cells, he added.
Wadle said he got the original idea of harnessing a tree for electrical energy from studying lightening, more than 50 percent of which originates from the ground. This prompted him to develop the theories resulting in a method to access this power source. Lagadinos then designed circuitry that filtered and amplified these energy emanations, creating a useable power source.
Basically, the existing system includes a metal rod embedded in the tree, a grounding rod driven into the ground, and the connecting circuitry, which filters and boosts the power output sufficient to charge a battery. In its current experimental configuration, the demonstration system produces 2.1 volts, enough to continuously maintain a full charge in a nickel cadmium battery attached to an LED light.
"Think of the environment as a battery, in this case," said Lagadinos, "with the tree as the positive pole and the grounding rod as the negative."
Near term -- within the next six months or so -- and with additional research and development, Lagadinos said the system could be enhanced enough to generate 12 volts and one amp of power, "a desirable power level that could be used to power just about anything," he said.
It is enough power to charge batteries for any type of vehicle, including hybrids and electric cars, or to use with an AC converter to produce household power, he added. The LED industry is a prime example of a potential user of this power source.
Other applications would be to provide power for signs, security lights, street, park and hiking trail lights, surveillance or sensor equipment -- any application that heretofore couldn't be serviced because it lay beyond the hard-wired power grid.
Government agencies and the military could find the system especially useful because the power is basically free, unlimited and can be produced in remote locations.
MagCap is now seeking to establish a collaborative relationship with a third party, explained Lagadinos and Wadle. This is a step that could not be taken until proper patent protection was applied for.
A patent application for this pioneering invention was filed in December by the developers' patent counsel, Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C., Boston, Mass.
While the basic concept of this invention -- using a tree to generate electric power -- seems too incredible to be true, Lagadinos said it can be demonstrated quite simply. "Simply drive an aluminum roofing nail through the bark and into the wood of a tree -- any tree -- approximately one half inch; drive a copper water pipe six or seven inches into the ground, then get a standard off-the-shelf digital volt meter and attach one probe to the pipe, the other to the nail and you'll get a reading of anywhere from 0.8 to 1.2 volts of DC power," he said.
"You can't do anything with it in that form because it is 'dirty' -- i.e. highly unstable and too weak to power anything," he added. In order to properly harness this potential energy source, MagCap devised two test circuits: one with three capacitors that were connected in parallel by means of a switch and charged to 0.7 volts each. When fully charged they are switched to a series mode, multiplying the voltage to 2.1 volts and flashing an LED to show that sufficient power could be generated to produce a useable result.
The second circuit included a filtering device to stabilize and "clean" the current so it could be used to charge and maintain a NiCad battery. The battery then could be connected to the LED to keep the LED lit continuously.
Wadle pointed out that there seems to be no limit to the amount of power that can be drawn from an individual tree, no matter how many "taps" are inserted -- each produces the same amount of energy, an average of 0.7 - 0.8 volts. Size of the tree also seems not to matter.
Interestingly, while conventional wisdom would seem to indicate that the tree draws much of its energy from photosynthesis via its leaves, the voltage output actually increases to 1.2-1.3 volts in the winter after the leaves have fallen.
Headquartered in Canton, Mass., MagCap Engineering, LLC is a leading custom designer and manufacturer of magnetics of all sizes for the broadcast, telecommunication, microwave, military, defense and energy industries. For more information, see http://www.magcap.com/ .