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Over the years, I've learned that the news about some great new discovery in the energy field is never something to get excited about.  It takes five, ten, and even more years to go from breakthrough news in the lab to the marketplace.  Even something like compact fluorescent light bulbs took about 20 years to go from being available to being available at the corner store.  

On top of that, news about esoteric energy concepts - cold fusion or low energy nuclear reaction, water engines, zero point fluctuation, experiments with some of Tesla's more outré ideas - is even more suspect.  It is the stuff of legend and laughter.  However, in the past few years, there have been more and more of these ideas that may, just may have some validity.  Again, as with any new breakthrough, check the information available but don't hold your breath.

Hydrinos

A week or so ago I saw that Blacklight Power (http://www.blacklightpower.com/) had released a series of validation reports on their "electrochemical cell which generates electricity directly from water vapor" using a "new form" of hydrogen called hydrino :
http://inhabitat.com/...

I've been aware of Blacklight Power since reading a long article about them and their founder, Dr Randell L Mills, in the Village Voice (http://www.villagevoice.com/...) back in 1999.  Mills has good credentials, with a BA in Chemistry, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Franklin & Marshall College (1982), an MD from Harvard Medical School (1986) and a year of graduate work in electrical engineering at MIT.  Blacklight Power has been working on this technology since 1991 and has received about $60 million in venture capital to develop it.

Their validation reports are available here:
http://www.blacklightpower.com/...

Mills may be the most rigorous of the esoteric energy researchers and has a whole new theory of physics and cosmology on which he bases his work.  The company also sells 3D molecular modeling software (http://www.blacklightpower.com/...).

Magnets

Steorn (http://www.steorn.com) is another company which is working on electromagnetic motors, induction heating, and hybrid passive magnetic bearings, all from what they are calling their Orbo technology.  Based in Ireland, they have been in the news recently, claiming that at least two multinationals are bidding to include their induction heating technology, Hephaheat, in commercial and consumer products:
http://truthfall.com/...

Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR) or Cold Fusion

What was once called cold fusion and is now named low energy nuclear reactions (LENR) is also getting some notice.  Wired UK (http://www.wired.co.uk/...) reports that there was a "rock concert feel" at the 17th Conference on Cold Fusion (http://www.iccf17.org) in August in South Korea.

Andrea Rossi's E-Cat (http://ecat.com) is reportedly getting ready to ship product this year and done at least one commercial installation.  Rossi's former partners, Defkalion (http://www.defkalion-energy.com) are planning factories and finalizing their prototypes.

Perhaps the most notable contribution [at the conference] was Francesco Celani's live demonstration of an apparently working cold fusion device. Unlike Rossi, Celani does not claim to have a secret catalyst, just a nickel wire loaded with hydrogen which produces more heat than is supplied to it. The 62 watts output from 48 watts input isn't going to boil a kettle, but it was a very open demonstration, and unlike Rossi, Celani has plenty of theoretical physics to support it.

Celani repeated the demonstration as part of an event in the US sponsored by National Instruments with positive results. UK-based start-up Kresenn says it has been licensed to develop Celani's technology commercially, with a particular focus on green energy for data centres.

A few weeks ago I was surprised to get a notice of this entry in the Cleantech Professional Webinar Series:
Our first class Next Generation Energy - LENR/Cold Fusion/"Free Energy", Fact vs Fiction will be led by Dr. Edward Beardsworth on Thursday September 20, 2012 at 10:00 AM PST. This class will be survey in the exciting world of next generation energy technologies. We will provide a detailed survey of innovations that range from those that are near commercialization within the decade to those that will remain largely fiction. A description of what works and why, as well as what doesn’t. More

Dr. Edward Beardsworth – As a strategic advisor, Dr. Beardsworth has been supporting corporate and investor clients, helping them to source widely and choose wisely among new technology opportunities. He possesses a deep, nuanced understanding of the complex energy and cleantech industry gained over his 30+ year career – setting him apart from relative newcomers to the industry. After earning a PhD in physics in 1972 from Rutgers University, he was in the group at Brookhaven National Lab that undertook interdisciplinary analyses of energy systems during the first energy crisis of the 1970s. Subsequently, he served in positions at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), which has given him an insider's view of power systems and the utility industry. Dr. Beardsworth speaks the language of both technologists and investors, providing an important bridge between these two stakeholder groups.

Besides being Cleantech.org's Research Director, he's been Associate Director at Jane Capital Partners LLC, advisor to Nth Power, Garage Technology Ventures, and a consultant to the Cleantech Group.  He previously managed the Hub Lab, a stealth R&D program funding revolutionary energy technologies, and managed the UFTO program, providing technology scouting to 30 of the top utility R&D and corporate venture arms.

http://www.eventbrite.com/...

The price for the webinar is $99.  It was interesting to see that the "Cleantech"  professionals are beginning to notice the more esoteric energy fields.  If these technologies demonstrate their viability, there is going to be a lot more of this.  Again, expand your horizons but don't hold your breath.

Water Engines

The idea of an engine that runs only on water has been a fairy tale of the Industrial Age.
David Mamet even wrote a play and movie about it, "The Water Engine" (http://www.imdb.com/...).  Over the summer in Pakistan, the water engine has become a political issue when Agha Waqar Ahmad, an engineer, claimed to have converted his car to run on water.  Father of the Islamic bomb, Dr AQ Khan has evidently endorsed the idea and, as of a July report, a sub-committee of the government has committed to supporting the project.

More at
http://pesn.com/...
http://globalvoicesonline.org/...

None of these ideas may pan out but some of the research involved could be useful.  Remember, it takes years to go from a lab success to the marketplace and, historically, the transition from one energy regimen, wood to coal, coal to oil, fossil fuels to whatever is next, takes about 50 years.  See the excellent documentary "Switch" (http://www.switchenergyproject.com) to get some idea of the scale of the task that confronts us.

I check in with http://www.peswiki.com/... about twice a month to see what is going on in the world of esoteric and free energy studies.  Lots of conspiracy theories and strange ideas but somethings I want to know about too almost every time I visit.  

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Poll

More esoteric energy research?

75%37 votes
14%7 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
2%1 votes
2%1 votes
4%2 votes
0%0 votes

| 49 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Crazy? (11+ / 0-)

    Could be but it I enjoy following the edges of the acceptable.  What we once thought was magic is now, in some cases, everyday life.

    Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

    by gmoke on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 03:07:42 PM PDT

  •  Extremely Skeptical... (7+ / 0-)

    I follow the Saganism: "Extraordinary Claims require Extraordinary proof"

    Any new energy technology had better be backed up by more than a staged demonstration.. peer reviewed papers and duplicated verifiable results are a must before I'll even give it more than a 2nd thought.

    That said, one company / technology I didn't see you list IS getting some quiet funding from the Navy. Check out the Polywell reactor. I keep hoping to hear one day that the technology proves itself and becomes viable. Right now, they're not claiming much other than concept testing, but it may be worth keeping an eye on. No news yet this year, but that may just mean they're working on it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    http://www.emc2fusion.org/

    "The price of a memory is the memory of the sorrow it brings" Adam Durst/Counting Crows

    by zipn on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 03:34:23 PM PDT

  •  I knew Bernie Haisch, one of the two people... (9+ / 0-)

    .... who developed the zero-point theory of inertial mass.  And that's what they were originally looking for: a more elegant explanation of inertial mass than the conventional one about the interaction of gravity from all objects to all other objects.

    Then it turned out that it also suggested a near-infinite source of clean energy, and Haisch got a team of smart researchers and the funding to pursue it.  (I installed their PBX which is how I met them in the first place.)

    This led to an instant cottage industry of various backyard inventors trying to figure out how to tap the zero-point field for energy.  And some friends & I went out to investigate a bunch of their claims, as part of a larger project we were doing on clean energy in general.

    What we found was that there were a) a lot of well-meaning people who made innocent mistakes, b) a smaller but still sizable number of people who were downright nuts and living in a kind of science-fiction reality, also not getting any concrete results, and c) an even smaller but more notorious number of outright frauds and charlatans whose game was all about promising the world and milking their investors.

    I've concluded that the zero-point field may be usable for a couple of pieces of tech that serve mundane purposes:  the well-proven Casimir effect could be used for building two things.  One, an inertial guidance mechanisms for robotic probes used to explore other planets and their satellites.  Two, a "scale" or "weighing device" for extremely small masses in low gravity or zero gravity (such as on the space station) where normal methods of weighing materials do not work.  The latter would be used in science and technology experiments conducted aboard the space station and interplanetary space craft (such as the live-crewed mission to Mars).  

    But as for unlimited clean energy, see my next comment.

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 03:41:41 PM PDT

    •  having looked (somewhat) at the physics (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gmoke, G2geek, mookins, Larsstephens

      behind the zero point field I did not find it all that convincing.  The goings on with the Casimir effect are so complex it is hard to sort out what is going on.  And the zero point "solution" creates more conceptual problems than it is trying to solve - an infinite energy density.  Which physicists wave their hands at with "renormalization" which is not valid mathematics.

      Be all that as it may it is clear from the physics that you can't get any energy out of it.

      •  apparently the idea that... (7+ / 0-)

        ... the vacuum has this high degree of energy density, is pretty well founded in physics, and all the renormalization stuff is just an attempt to make the infinities go away.  Which to my mind sounds like introducing cosmic constants and denying nonlocality: two other examples that appear to have fallen flat because reality is more "interesting" than we give it credit for.

        At the time I found Haisch's theory more plausible an explanation for inertial mass than the conventional one about interactions between gravitational objects.   Now today we have the Higgs field, which appears very strongly supported now that the Higgs bosons have been confirmed, so if that's the current explanation it does have empirical findings to back it up, and that's the gold standard.  

        However I also agree that the zero-point field isn't likely to lead to any usable energy sources.  

        Where I got my speculation about the potential mundane use of the Casimir effect, was the Bell Labs experiment showing that two tiny plates at an infinitesimal distance of separation between them, seem to be "attracted" to each other as the result of the "push" of the vacuum against the outward-facing surfaces of the plates.  OK, so what that suggests to me is a very very sensitive "balance" where the forces in play could be calibrated and then used to measure the effect of small masses on them, or small changes in inertial mass as would occur in an inertial guidance system.  

        What occurred to me was: you have a robotic space probe flying through an atmosphere of unknown or variable density around a planet or satellite, attempting to map or navigate, and it has no other useful frame of reference.  Casimir effect devices mounted on a number of axes, could provide a very sensitive inertial guidance system for those conditions, enabling more accurate mapping and navigation.

        But that's far, far, from suggesting that there's anything like a usable energy source to be found there.  

        BTW in case it wasn't clear from my previous posting: Haisch is a goodguy in this picture.  He was going for theory and then got funded to study applications.  The crackpots who popped up were not connected to him: they were doing their own thing based on material they read that was going around, which included his papers and a huge amount of speculation that got written by third parties about his papers.  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 04:41:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  you are throwing so much stuff up on the wall (5+ / 0-)

    it would take a career to debunk each and every one.  Be that as it may, I personally built a homopolar generator based on the assertion that it generated free energy by drawing from the zero-point field of quantum fluctuation.  I can personally confirm that the law on conversation of energy is correct and that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

  •  The laws of thermodynamics (8+ / 0-)

    are cruel and harsh mistresses.

    Sorry.

    The myth of hydrinos is well explained here. As you point out, Dr. Mills is not a Ph.D. but an MD.

    Rossi's only publications have been in his self published online "Journal of Nuclear Physics". He claims to be able to transmute nickel into copper through addition of a proton, at thermal energies. Nope.

    The "water engine" thing - HHO - has been kicking around for several years now. Fox News had some bit on it. I use it as a (bad) example and exam question for my physical chemistry class.

    Everything you mention pretty much violates the first law of thermodynamics, as well as most of what we know about chemistry and physics.

  •  we already have all the miracle tech we need: (8+ / 0-)

    Solar, via the Newtonian route (solar thermal concentrators boiling water to spin turbines) or the Einsteinian route (photovoltaics, converting photons to electrons).

    Wind, as Newtonian as it gets.  Pure conversion of kinetic energy into electricity.  

    Thorium fission: intrinsically safe nuclear power, melt-proof and bomb-proof (you can't use it to make atomic bombs), also in the Einsteinian category.

    Geothermal: also in Newton's corner and now with some test cases under development.  

    So yeah, let's put more money into pure research on esoteric energy programs, and the Navy seems to be doing that with LNER, which is a good thing because the Navy has credibility that a lot of private companies lack.  

    But let's not forget: we have all the miracle tech we need to save ourselves from ourselves if we choose.

    All we need is the political will.  

    And there's one more piece of miracle tech that's desperately needed: an effective "male pill" contraceptive.  That by itself would save the world.  

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 03:46:54 PM PDT

    •  methinks your last tech miracle is the toughest (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gmoke, G2geek, mookins, Larsstephens

      All of the other things you're looking at are physics and engineering. For a male pill we need to mess around with the biology & the male reproductive system. A much tougher problem. ;-)

    •  we can even skip the electric conversion stage (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, gmoke, Larsstephens

      Solar, nuclear, and high-end geothermal can all be used directly as process heat and then still be useful afterwards for space heating and domestic hot water. Thermal energy is arguably trickier to make green than is kinetic energy; finding ways to produce it without burning stuff would almost go farther to wean us off fossil fuels.  Wind can also directly turn machinery.

      There's a soft spot in my heart for low tech, not just because it's often greener, but I'm drawn to the idea that it can be more accessible than high tech.  Useful machines that someone can build in their garage from ordinary materials versus machines using rare earths mined by Chinese slaves and fabricated and assembled in vast corporate-owned facilities, all terminally dependent on complex and energy-intensive infrastructure and the political power necessary to protect it.

      To those who say the New Deal didn't work: WWII was also government spending

      by Visceral on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 04:37:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Can those hydrionno's power my Moller sky car? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wilderness voice, gmoke, Larsstephens

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...
    "BlackLight Power, Inc. (BLP) of Cranbury, New Jersey is a company[4] founded by Randell L. Mills who claims to have discovered a new energy source. The purported energy source is claimed to be based on Mills' theory that a hydrogen atom energy level can drop below the ground state, contradicting the definition of ground state. Mills calls the theoretical hydrogen atoms that are in an energy state below ground level, "hydrinos".[1] BLP has created a system it calls Catalyst Induced Hydrino Transition, or CIHT.[5] Mills self-published a closely related book The Grand Unified Theory of Classical Physics, August 2011 ed. (GUT-CP).[6]

    Several prominent physicists have been extremely critical of the underlying physical theory, calling it "extremely unlikely", "bull shit" and "fraud" and suggesting that their investors are fools and dupes,[7][8] while IEEE Spectrum magazine listed BlackLight as a "loser" technology.[9]"

  •  and let's also beware of frauds. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wilderness voice, gmoke, Larsstephens

    All this stuff about running cars on water, so far has turned out to be so much bullshit usually for the purpose of separating people from their money more effectively than hydrolysis separates hydrogen from oxygen.

    Steorn Energy appears to my eyes to be a pump-and-dump game.  If they have some useful mundane tech to promote, good for them, but their miracle device announced with much fanfare a few years ago seems to have evaporated.

    I recall hearing plenty about hydrinos when my friends & I were researching clean energy, but in the decade since that time, it appears nothing has come of that except more investors flushing their money down the drain (so perhaps someone needs to invent a water-saving hydrino toilet?).  

    Really: we already have all the miracle tech we need.  Let's get someone raising money to build a thorium reactor, which is already a well-proven concept.  

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 03:52:09 PM PDT

  •  Afraid I remain sceptical (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gmoke, Larsstephens

    Nuclear fusion reactors with a power surplus have been "10-20 years away" in the popular press for the last 30 years (a bit like Iran's nuclear bomb has been 5 years away). Only this weekend, The Observer had this breathless headline:

    Harnessing nuclear fusion to create cheap, safe and sustainable energy used to be a futuristic joke. But its day is almost upon us
    Well a day may be "a long time in politics" but in fusion reactors it looks more like 10 years. The article is about the start of construction of Iter after the JET has proven the technology is possible. Iter however is not even a prototype on a scale suitable for commercial generation:
    A fusion reactor called Iter is currently under construction in France and is due to start operation in 2020. Its principal goal is to determine the viability of fusion at the scale of a power station. Success is widely anticipated and there are already plans afoot to build a "demonstration power plant" to start operating in the 2030s.
    Note that the successor to Iter will be a "demonstration" - a sort of pre-prototype test bed - due sometime in the 2030s IF Iter is successful. It is going to be the 2040s before a full commercial station is built and the last quarter of the century before significant amounts are generated.

    Yet fusion has always been puffed as the answer to replace conventional fission reactors.

    Why doesn't Mitt Romney carry an iPhone? 1. He has staff to carry his cellphone 2. He has an Ann Droid.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 04:04:41 PM PDT

  •  water motors already exist and work fine (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gmoke, Larsstephens

    The trick is that they're basically just miniature water wheels spinning inside an enclosure that extract energy from falling water to turn an axle.  No chemical reaction takes place.

    I did learn last weekend that you can compress air using falling water and no moving parts or burning of fuel, as well as how they used to have hydraulic power networks: pump water into an elevated tank, then rely on gravity to pressurize it.  This pressurized water was then piped to hydraulically-operated machinery that could be located some distance away.

    To those who say the New Deal didn't work: WWII was also government spending

    by Visceral on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 04:14:51 PM PDT

  •  hydrino: afraid not, chappie (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gmoke, Larsstephens

    German Constitution, Article 1 (1) The dignity of man is inviolable. To respect and protect it is the duty of all state authority.

    by Mark B on Mon Sep 17, 2012 at 05:01:15 PM PDT

  •  Anybody see the diary about the plasmoids (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gmoke, Larsstephens

    A few months ago? Said it's some physicist on the East Coast.

    A ring of capacitors in a nitrogen chamber, with electrodes sticking out that surround a metal tube. Thing goes zap, plasma strings curl around into the tube, ravel up into donut-shaped 'plasmoids', which shoot electrons out their axis at their neighbors, and I guess it's the last one in line that gets hot enough for fusion.

    Said they claim to've already achieved the bad kind of fusion that makes radioactivity, and expect that when they turn the thing up to its designed power level, they'll get the clean kind.

    Any opinions on this?

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