Energy Challenges for the 21st Century

Copyright © Harold Aspden, 2002

This Lecture is my impromptu reaction to having today (July 4th, 2002) received in my mail two items, (1) being the monthly periodical Physics World (July, 2002) sent to members by the U.K. Institute of Physics and (2) the other being the Space Energy Journal (June, 2002) published quarterly by the Space Energy Association of P.O. Box 1136, Clearwater, Florida, USA, 33757-1136. The latter was accompanied by a handwritten letter from Don Kelly who reminded me of our past meetings at U.S. energy conferences and drew my attention to something pertaining to the energy research of Dr. Henry Moray. Having, as recently as 15th June, 2002 delivered, as an invited keynote speaker, a lecture in Berlin at the Binnotec 2nd Berlin Congress for Innovative Energy Technologies, a lecture which hinged on the findings of Dr. Henry Moray, I see reason to put some of my thoughts on record in these web pages.

I have to confess that I find it extremely depressing when I see the contrasting attitudes concerning our future energy problems as revealed by these two publications referenced above, especially in the light of my contribution to that conference in Berlin. The title I have assigned to this Lecture No. 29 is the same as the one which dominates the front cover page of that July 2002 issue of Physics World, where it is followed, in small block capitals, by a sub-title: 'CAN WATER, WIND AND FIRE SAVE THE EARTH?'. In contrast, the title of the theme I see as the subject of that June, 2002 Quarterly issue of The Space Energy Journal is: 'Cosmic Energy - The Legacy of Nikola Tesla and T. Henry Moray'. I can also say that the title of my Berlin Lecture was: 'Our Future Energy Source - the Vacuum!'

You may wonder why I find this depressing. My answer to this is that I find it reprehensible on the part of our physics establishment that, in spite of the growing concern about our depleting energy sources and the pollution effects of hydrocarbon fuels, it does not include in its spectrum of enquiry at least some reference to the claims of record pertaining to certain unconventional sources of energy. Can it be that the physics community at large has to be deterred from exploring avenues of research that are somewhat controversial? Should one fear witchcraft, when in fact, as that sub-title suggests, we must anyway expect to suffer the ordeals of water, wind and fire if we are to save the Earth?

As to one such unconventional energy claim of record, I wish here to acknowledge the fact that it was the Space Energy Journal which, in its September 2001 issue, drew to my attention to what may well be the first U.S. Patent to cover an invention that offered access to a source of energy which can solve all our future energy resource problems. It was an invention 'before its time', as we may say, but one we should not ignore and so I made a point of mentioning it in that Berlin Lecture of mine, as you may see by reading Lecture No. 27 . That U.S. Patent No. 119,825 was granted in 1871 to Daniel MacFarland Cook of Mansfield, Ohio. It described a way of making an electrical device which, without any obvious power input source, could replace a voltaic cell and so deliver electrical energy as if from nowhere.

I therefore ask you, the reader, to weigh the implications of what I say below by contrasting two scenarios (1) a scenario in which we drift along the pathways outlined in that July 2002 issue of Physics World and (2) the alternative scenario that is open for exploration if only physicists are willing to pay attention and learn something new, even though it is reminiscent of the past. The message is important. It concerns us all and is not akin to a philosophical enquiry into black holes in far off galaxies which has no bearing whatsoever on the future of humanity. Physics which concerns energy of the kind we harness here on body Earth is what matters and there is much to learn in that endeavour.

THE FIRST SCENARIO: That of Physics World: July 2002 issue
Under the heading: 'Energy Challenges', the opening paragraph declared:
"Satisfying the world's insatiable appetite for fuel without destroying the environment is the biggest challenge facing the energy industry."
That, however, is surely not the biggest challenge the industry faces, given that our main concern should be the dwindling reserves of the fuel that is available. After all, our environment has survived so far in spite of our own need to survive by the burning of coal and the consumption of oil and gas and though a pollution-free environment might mean a longer lifespan it can hardly have priority over the concern about the ultimate energy resource needed to give us mobility and keep us warm, and so alive, in winter.

So let us look at the topics which that Physics World issue then addressed.

First, however, take note of a few of Valerie Jamieson's other comments. They include:
"World energy consumption is expected to soar by 50% to a staggering 180,000 GWh per year by 2020, with the developing world demanding an ever-increasing share."
"Renewable technologies still make up less than 1% of the world's commercial energy."
"Supporters of renewable energy are fighting claims that the environmental credentials of solar, wind and wave power are less than impeccable."
"A longer-term possibility is nuclear fusion. Despite the enormous progress in the performance of experiments over the past 30 years, nuclear fusion is still decades away from generating electricity."
The summary verdict by Valerie Jamieson on her theme Energy Challenges is:
"Advances in physics and engineering are making energy from renewable sources increasingly affordable. But political will- as well as scientific progress - is just as crucial for safeguarding the environment for generations to come."
I see in this the message that physicists and engineers are doing a good job in improving orthodox technology as used in alternative energy generation, in spite of the added expense warranted as the price for reducing pollution, but, as ever, the finger is pointed at politicians telling them to do better, presumably by funding more research. I do not see the message that physicists must leave no stone unturned in their efforts to stimulate new ideas and follow every possible line of enquiry that may open the door on a new source of energy. Nor do I see the all-important message that physicists must pay attention to those, past and present, who claim or have claimed insight into new avenues leading to such new sources of energy.

Taking stock now of the orthodox technology seen as warranting attention, as discussed in this Special Issue of Physics World covering the energy theme, one finds they are itemised by separate articles under the following headings.

Green cars move into top gear
Highlighting a few comments here one learns that:
"By 2020 more than 1 billion cars (automobiles) will vie for space on the world's roads, compared with the 400 million cars that exist today."
"Fuel cells represent the most futuristic method of propulsion as well as the cleanest; they mix oxygen with hydrogen - a potential fuel of the future - from a pure source or a hydrogen-rich compound such as methanol, and they emit only water vapour."
"Electric cars have a long research history; but until recently they had little to show for the work in terms of commercially viable cars for the mass market."
The hydrogen economy blasts off
The same theme is pursued by a different author under this heading by reference to fuel-cell technology. Under the sub-heading 'American Power', one is informed that:
"The DOE aims to realize the "meaningful introduction" of fuel cells for energy generation by 2005, replacing 12 trillion kilowatt-hours of conventional energy with hydrogen by 2010. Each year the US consumes 2500 times as much energy, but the plans do not stop there. By 2030 the DOE intends to replace at least one-tenth of its current annual energy consumption with hydrogen power."
Fuel cells eye up the mainstream market
Here an author at the University of Birmingham tells us something about fuel cells. His comments include:
"The fuel cell is the cleanest and most efficient power-generating device invented so far. It converts the chemical energy of molecules such as hydrogen, methane and alcohol into electrons at a potential close to 1 V. A stack of such cells can supply DC power at any desired voltage."
"Cryostatic tanks in the boot of the car store the liquid hydrogen and are topped up at robotic filling stations. However, the practicality of storing energy in this way is still in doubt."
"Indeed, the hydrogen storage issue is one of the most challenging problems for fuel cells. Currently the pressurized bottles used to store hydrogen are 20 times heavier than the liquid they contain. In other words, the storage density - the mass of hydrogen divided by the total mass of the container - is only 5% for hydrogen compared with 20% for petrol (gasolene)."
As I interpret this it does not sound promising for those US DOE predictions above, but, then again, I do tend to be a little suspicious when faced with numerical assertions in media publications for the general reader. However, Physics World is read by physicists and not the 'general reader'. Thinking about the automobile that I drive, a full tank of petrol can be nearly as heavy as a passenger and I would indeed be surprised if the weight of my petrol tank when empty were to be anywhere near the weight of five passengers, which is what is implied by that latter statement! Evenso, I can accept that fuel cell technology, with the dangers and difficulties of storing hydrogen, is going to involve a trade off between the benefits of reducing pollution and the price paid for loss of life owing to the danger involved.

Energy savings go through the roof
Here, under this heading, Physics World surveys the benefits of designing buildings in such a way that they consume less energy to keep them warm in winter and cool in summer. No one can argue with this objective.

Bright future for efficient lights
Lamp efficiency is the subject discussed under this heading, but one can not get particularly excited about the likely energy savings here, though any saving is, of course, desirable.

Solar power to the people
The subject of the article having this heading is photovoltaic cells. A few comments included are:
"Solar energy is the power source that people love to love. Photovoltaic solar cells transform sunlight into electricity with no atmospheric emissions, no moving parts, no sound, and can provide a virtually endless supply of free power."
"To overcome the obvious drawback of photovoltaic cells - that they only work when the sun shines - many systems incorporate lead-acid batteries to store energy."
"By any account, as the price of photovoltaic cells approaches that of retail grid power in the coming years, more individuals and companies will consider the benefits of generating their own environmentally friendly energy and help to make solar power a major contributor to the world's energy supply."
If this cost convergence proves to be true, who can argue with the sentiment expressed here?

Surge of interest in wave energy
The opening and closing comments of this article by an author from the University of Edinburgh are:
"The challenge of generating energy from the sea has led to many different approaches to harnessing the power of the North Atlantic waves."
"Harnessing the power of the sea economically is difficult and requires the best engineering skills. The conditions at sea are very different from those onshore and every aspect of wave behaviour and device performance has to be understood. With rising concerns about environment - and such an abundant source of natural energy on our doorstep - wave power demands a closer look."
Wind power moves out to sea
Here an author from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands assures us that windmills located offshore can make a real contribution to our energy needs. He concludes by saying:
"Offshore wind energy could become a major source of power in Europe - and elsewhere - by the end of the decade. The technical challenges are being faced by a willing industry, with many players keen to play a part. Their efforts will no doubt lead to innovative and cost-effective solutions, just as in the onshore wind-energy and off-shore fossil-fuel sectors. One day it may even be possible to combine offshore wind farms with wave and tidal plants. It is clear that offshore wind power is an energy source with huge potential."
I do not find this convincing. Wave power has been there for a very long time and if it has such potential then why do we still have a problem?

New designs on nuclear energy
Here, by the article under this heading, the pros and cons of conventional nuclear power generation are discussed. The industry claims to be confident that nuclear generation has a viable future. The opening and closing remarks are:
"The nuclear industry and environmental campaigners have battled long and hard over the benefits of nuclear power. One side argues that nuclear plants emit almost no greenhouse gases and use a plentiful source of fuel. The other claims that nuclear power is expensive and produces radioactive waste that is fiendishly hard to store. But the nuclear industry is starting to think it has turned the corner in the battle for public acceptance of this form of energy."
"People realize that nuclear waste is not nice, but it is not the end of the universe. It is our weakest point, but it is not our Achilles' heel."
One gets the feeling from this that those in charge of nuclear power plants know their power, the strength of their position, and see pollution as something we have to live with regardless of its problems.

Waiting for the power of the sun
Here in this final article one is confronted with the ongoing saga of the hope of an energy source that I first heard about in the 1950s, as a young man having a Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering and employed by a major energy corporation in U.K. Over the years since that time it has always been something that needs just a little more research, a matter of just two or so more decades to bring to fruition, just enough, I came to realize, for those making that judgement to reach their years of pensioned retirement.

The caption under the title of the article includes the words "fusion energy is still decades away". I quote the following passages:
"Nuclear fusion - the energy source that powers the Sun and the stars - requires patience. Over the past 30 years the performance of fusion devices has improved by five orders of magnitude, but of all the energy sources discussed in this special issue, nuclear fusion is still the furthest from generating electricity. Even if the 'fast-track' approach to fusion is adopted, it will not generate electricity until 30 years from now."
"A major milestone on the route to fusion power will be breakeven - that is when the energy produced by the fusion reactions exceeds the energy used to heat the plasma. The record performance for a fusion experiment so far is 65% of breakeven by the Joint European Torus (JET) at Culham in the UK."
"Fusion is not an easy technology to master but it has enormous potential if it is successful."
"Fusion reactors will be able to generate the levels of power needed for the production of large volumes of hydrogen fuel, which is the only practical way to supply the energy needed for transport without contributing to the greenhouse effect."
"There is something either appealingly circular or worryingly roundabout going to great lengths to achieve the fusion of deuterium and tritium to ultimately produce large volumes of hydrogen. As with so much in fusion, only time will tell."

So, there you are, just hold your breath for another thirty years or so and, if all goes well, we will see nuclear fusion reactors generating the heat which drives our turbines to power electrical generators and so produce the electricity needed to generate hydrogen from water by electrolysis, which hydrogen can then be used in a fuel cell to power our automobiles. We shall then be mobile using power which man has tapped from a process which replicates that which, in theory, sustains the energy radiated by the sun. In the meantime we can find comfort in the technological development of solar panels and the extended use of windmills. Or, perhaps, we should heed a few voices which speak about over-unity and free-energy, and the breakeven factor in that pursuit, but that means giving a little attention to the heretic fraternity, those who respect the efforts of Dr. Henry Moray.

After reading through the detailed reports covered by the headings just summarized, one can therefore hardly be surprised if a politician's private reaction to all this is "So what?", as there is nothing here to stir one's hope or imagination and one can but feel that the energy problems of the future are best left for the future generations of the political community.

But now let us examine the alternative scenario, one which at least should have been given a heading of its own in the above discourse.

THE SECOND SCENARIO: That of so-called 'Free Energy'

What is 'Free Energy'?
This is a reference to a form of energy that is tapped somehow from our immediate environment in defiance of our accepted interpretation of physical law and by being guided by anomalies which are revealed by experiment, even though the latter might be seen as the work of cranks in our scientific community.

The guiding spirit here is one which says that matter itself, indeed our Earth, Sun and the whole universe all had to be created from an omnipresent source of energy and so, maybe, there is a way of tapping a little more energy from that source. It is a source that some physicists refer to as 'the zero-point energy background', the quantum underworld that pervades all space and is the seat of quantum electrodynamic activity such as the transient materialisation of electron-positron pairs one can read about when studying theoretical physics.

It was on this basis that I presented my Lecture in Berlin by concentrating attention on the physical principles that could explain the common features of certain remarkable energy generating devices such as were demonstrated by that Dr. Henry Moray many years ago and by others including present day researchers.

Now the research I have pursued indicated how protons are created from the activity of that medium which forms the quantum underworld and so the creation of matter in the form of the hydrogen which clusters, by gravity, to form stars is explained. It is mere hypothesis to say that nuclear fusion has to be the source of the sun's energy brought about by enormous temperatures assumed to exist in its central core. No one knows how to measure the temperature in the sun. All we know is the temperature of the surface that we all can see and that is found to be about 6,000 K. Even the evidence afforded by neutrino output falls short of proving that solar energy radiation is attributable to nuclear fusion and so the sun may well not be a good model on which to build in guiding one's efforts at hot nuclear fusion and one might well be on a better track in adopting the route to cold nuclear fusion pioneered by Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons.

There is, however, one aspect concerning the creation of the sun which warrants our attention. It is the need to explain how the primordial sun acquired its angular momentum, enough to shed the planets and impart to them their orbital motion while leaving a small residue of spin angular momentum without reversing the direction of that spin. My early research on this question revealed why that medium of the quantum underworld, the aether, could impart spin angular momentum as a function of the radial electric field set up by the protons that formed the sun. The theory indicated that, for every unit of electric field energy in that field, the aether would import from its own store of energy an exactly equal amount of dynamic energy. In short, I was destined eventually to realize that it could well be possible, by pulsing a radial electric field in suitable electrical apparatus, to import aether energy at a continuous rate, energy that one could then deliver as an electrical power output. The creation of the sun was my source of enlightenment.

I could then see that the necessary apparatus for implementing such a free-energy objective would be a pair of concentric cylindrical capacitors primed by a charge at high voltage, but not drawing power steadily from that high voltage source. The energy would come from the aether directly. The operation would depend upon setting up an oscillation of the charge as between the two capacitors and so the pulsing of the radial electric field between the electrodes would import aether energy at a steady rate.

Once I saw that U.S. Patent No. 119,825 in the September, 2001 issue of Space Energy Journal, of which Don Kelly was a founder, I was triggered into writing the Lecture I delivered in Berlin on June 15th, 2002. I could then see why Dr. Henry Moray needed an antenna to feed the D.C. voltage necessary to prime the capacitor charge and raise the output power from that of a simple voltaic cell to one of kilowatt proportions. Moray, some 70 years ago, could generate those kilowatts of energy as if from nowhere using apparatus transported to a remote location in the luggage trunk of his automobile. Furthermore I could then understand why the Methernitha community in Switzerland can generate free energy in their apparatus. They also use cylindrical electrode capacitors, in the form of a pair of two large Leyden jars, and have a large electrical influence machine (Wimshurst machine) connected to provide the D.C. voltage priming.

I leave it to the reader to refer to the earlier LECTURE No. 27 to see the scope of that Berlin Lecture and its accompanying NOTES which augment the argument. I further remind the reader that any claim to have an electrical device which purports to operate as a 'free-energy' system, must, of necessity, imply a negative resistance property and that, according to standard electrical theory, must imply the onset of electrical current oscillations. Pulsing therefore occurs naturally and it is the pulsing of the radial electric field that imports dynamic energy from the aether.

So, in summary, I owe it to Space Energy Journal for providing the extra input I needed to add emphasis to what I had to say in my Berlin Lecture. However, there is a further observation I now wish to add and this is on a point raised by Don Kelly in his letter to me dated June 27, 2002. It concerns the story that Nikola Tesla, by his Pierce Arrow car demonstration in Buffalo, N.Y. in 1931, actually had a free-energy system which powered that vehicle. This is mentioned on page 1 of the June 2002 issue of Space Energy Journal, where Don Kelly notes that somehow Tesla had found a way of importing cosmic energy without using an antenna in conjunction with a ground connection. This contrasted with Dr. Henry Moray's device, but it is explained if Tesla had seen what I have now seen, namely that one could use any D.C. high voltage priming method to get the capacitor system operating. Instead of tapping into the atmospheric voltage gradient with hardly any current draw, Tesla could have used the ignition coil otherwise needed for activitating spark plugs in the car. The vertical tubes he used to start his engine by pushing rods within them could have been transformer cores which provided an inductive coupling that stepped up the voltage to a higher level needed to really enhance the action of those capacitors, their charge priming being proportional to the square of their voltage. However, what I do not know and still lack such information is the detail of the electrical circuit that Tesla may have used, though I see the following statement in Don Kelly's note on 'Cosmic Energy' in the June, 2002 issue of Space Energy Journal:
"The common approach to both of these cosmic energy systems (those of Tesla and Moray) was the use of three basic stages, i.e. (1) cosmic energy collection, (2) storage or capacitance and (3) the conversion of transformation or cosmic energy into useful EMF."
I would classify these stages by using the wording:
"(1) A D.C. voltage source to prime the capacitor charge, (2) at least a pair of capacitors having concentric cylindrical electrodes, whereby to facilitate charge oscillations between the capacitors which, owing to their radial electric fields, import cosmic energy and (3) a transformer coupling which provides inductance to define with the capacitors a suitable oscillation frequency and to serve as the means for feeding power output at a useful level of EMF."
Finally, as one can see from the text of my Berlin Lecture and the related Notes, it seems manifestly feasible to contemplate powering a motor vehicle at the normal levels of power, by using a capacitor system no larger than one that would fit neatly into the luggage trunk of the vehicle.

The logical message, in conclusion, is that maybe we are now in a position to understand the principles of operation of Nikola Tesla's and Henry Moray's free-energy devices and harness them in our future technology. Maybe we do not have to be patient and await the creeping advance of hot fusion research before we can have automobiles that run on an abundant source of energy without pollution. Only time will tell, but one must wonder how long it will really take before the physics establishment is willing to listen and willing to support our efforts, as guided by the pioneering work of scientists and inventors such as Nikola Tesla and Henry Moray.

Harold Aspden
July 4th 2002