Power From Environment
Energy Generated by Non-Animal Organism Multiplied Into
Clean, Free Electric Current
May 02, 2006
Wadle has invented a way to capture the energy generated by a living nonanimal 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
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.
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.
"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.
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, L.L.C. is a leading custom designer and manufacturer of magnetics of all sizes for the broadcast, telecommunication, microwave, military, defense and energy industries.
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