Thermoenergetics: Can Hydraulics Reverse Entropy?
The idea of entropy, of the constant and irreversible winding down of the universe, was introduced with the second law of thermodynamics. This law is based on an observation of James Watt's steam machine, which was the only technological utilization of thermal energy available at the time. According to the current views of thermodynamics, there is no antidote to entropy. Once expended, energy is said to be lost forever in that giant heat sink, which we imagine the vast reaches of the universe to be.
One of the great minds of this century, an outsider to established science, has recognized the folly of this view and coined a term for the antidote. He calls it syntropy. In his book Cosmography, R. Buckminster Fuller writes: "The reader will discover that the inexorable course of the gradual running down of the energy of the universe - that is, entropy - is only part of the picture. Entropy has a complementary phase, which we designated syntropy".
I wrote these words and quoted Fuller in 1993, in an article titled A New Beginning For Thermodynamics. At the time, I had my share of opposition, together with some appreciative comments. But few physicists seemed ready to question the unconditional validity of the second law of thermodynamics at the time. It was and perhaps still is one of the untouchable principles - almost a holy cow of physics.
Now, a decade and a half later, it seems that some researchers have hit upon a way to circumvent the law, to reverse that inexorable tendency of heat to disperse from a warm place to a cooler one.
Ammonia Butane Ambient Heat Motor - David Matos de Matos.
Heat pumps have been available for quite some time. They are used in refrigerators, air conditioners and environmental heating applications. They can extract between three and four times more heat from an environmental source than the equivalent of electricity needed to produce heat in a resistance heater. Their coefficient of performance is therefore said to be about three to four. Even though they are more efficient than electricity in heating, so far no one has been able to close the cycle and use the heat thus generated to again produce the driving force for the heat pump with some power left over to do other work.
But this seems destined to change. David Matos de Matos from Angola has designed a system that apparently can do work with compression only. He proposes to do away with the expansion valve found in fridges and air conditioners to more efficiently utilize the cycle and run a motor or turbine with the continuously pressurized working fluid.
Matos says the efficiency of this engine could be much increased by incorporating the Hydristor, a variable vane hydraulic pump and motor developed by Tom Kasmer, into his design. The Hydristor operates by converting shaft rotation and power into hydraulic pressure and flow, and/or the reverse. It can seamlessly merge several flows of hydraulic power with a shaft rotation.
Kasmer proposes to use the Hydristor to replace the transmission in conventional vehicles. It could be retrofitted in cars, trucks and motorcycles without much trouble and would increase the efficiency of transmission tremendously as well as use breaking energy regeneratively.
But another use Kasmer has in mind is incorporation of the hydristor in a heat pump cycle, where he says it could increase efficiency to the point of allowing the closing of the circle. One could use the accumulated heat in a stirling engine which in turn could drive a generator and produce sufficient electricity to run the heat pump with power to spare:
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Another capability is the Hydristor heat pump/generator. This Hydristor package will use Freon type technology which currently returns 300% of the input electrical power in the form of low grade environmental solar and geothermal heat. The Hydristor will raise the return from 3 times to fully ten times. The energy harvested from the air, water or ground will be sent to an available Stirling engine which converts 40% of the applied heat energy at 300 degrees F into direct shaft horsepower. The Stirling shaft now drives an electrical generator to create 3.5 Kw output per 1 Kw input. The last step is to 'pull the wall plug' and quickly plug the output into the input and the system is self sustaining with useable energy left over. You now have 'free energy' with true Zero emissions.
A Hydristor heat pump/generator can be configured as a stand alone water condenser/refrigerator-freezer and electrical source sited out in the middle of deserts or anywhere moderately temperate harvesting the Sun's heat to operate and separately harvesting moisture from the 'rivers of moisture' everywhere on Earth. A very big number of crises can be immediately solved by this simple and lowly pump.
The heat pump is theoretical but the engineering is sound. Taking the example of conventional heat pump operation, a gain of 3 times is easily achieved, called a 'coefficient of performance' or COP. In plain language, if you input ONE Kw of electrical energy to the electric motor driving a conventional Freon heat pump, you can 'harvest' or 'capture' the low grade (temperature) heat equivalent in BTUs in the amount of 3 Kw for a gain of energy.
Simply put, one Kw of electricity diverts 3 Kw of heat from the air or water, said heat put there by the Sun, or geothermal from the Earth's core.
There are 4 main losses in the conventional heat pump technology. First there is the efficiency of the existing pump technology. Second is the significant loss of mechanical work energy associated with the expansion of the Freon. Last is the molecular friction of the Freon molecules rushing through the expansion valve (a tiny hole in a disk) at supersonic speeds. There is also an impediment to variable operation of the pump to allow for source and load requirements which change because the existing pump is fixed displacement. The system is cycled on and off to adjust for variable conditions. This is like driving your car using either a pedal to the floor or lifting your foot off the pedal and varying the proportion of that on/off gas pedal to maintain 30 Mph in city driving. Talk about inefficiency and very bad gas mileage.
The Hydristor heat pump technology addresses all 4 of these issues. First, the pump efficiency of the Hydristor is significantly better than the old way. Second, the Hydristor has 4 individually variable chambers and chamber one is the Freon pump. The compressed Freon is sent to the 'hot' heat exchanger which transfers the heat to a Stirling engine where 40% of the BTUs are converted to rotating shaft horsepower. Most of the heat is removed from the Freon but the system pressure is the same throughout this section. Instead of sending the cooled Freon at the full system pressure to the expansion valve, it is instead sent to Hydristor chamber 2. The Freon is held inside the Hydristor and each of chambers 2,3 and 4 expand as the hydristor rotates, turning the expansion of the Freon directly into hydraulic motor torque which is directly applied to the common rotor so that the energy needed from the electrically driven motor is directly reduced by the expansion motor torque. Since there is no significant Freon molecular friction due to the absent expansion valve, that loss is also eliminated. The Hydristor's ability to individually vary the rotational displacement of the 4 chambers means no starting and stopping. The 4 chambers are individually adjusted by the control system so that the optimum performance is achieved.
My experience, training both as a scientist and practicing engineer and my 'gut feel' tell me that I will see a 3-4 fold improvement in the COP of the Hydristor Freon cycle resulting in an energy gain of at least 10 times the input electrical energy. The last part of the Hydristor Freon generator is to add an electrical generator to the Stirling output shaft and create an electrical output.
To recap, one Kw of external power will harvest 10 Kw of heat equivalent energy and the Stirling will transform that energy into 4 Kw of mechanical shaft power driving the output generator which in turn generates 3.5 Kw of electrical power. Once started, the plug to the power company is pulled and the output is quickly plugged into the input to make the Hydristor system self sustaining with some energy left over to do work. The end result of the Hydristor freon generator is to harness the Sun's daily heat influx and harvest it from the air or water temperature 24/7 to create a continuous power source requiring no fuel and making absolutely zero emissions.
An array of the hydristor heat exchangers located several hundred yards offshore deep enough to be insulated from violent storms will drive a localized community power grid and will also absorb the excess heat in the Oceans and lakes which are driving the horrible weather and storms. This will have a double whammy effect by enabling the shutdown of existing air burning generation, long line transmission and nuclear generation.
A note about nuclear generation is that it does contribute to global warming because of the huge amounts of cooling water discharged directly into the environment. In the words of Dr. Phil, 'what are they thinking?'
The Hydristor heat pump has another convenient feature. The 'cold' exchanger is very cold, like -40. This will condense huge amounts of water directly from the air. The Earth is covered by moving air currents which are also 'rivers of moisture' This is true everywhere it is above freezing. This distilled water provides an absolutely pure source of water in any locality and for free! Large arrays of such Hydristor systems could be established to irrigate farmland and provide municipal water sources. If you dry the air out in an area, the air will automatically move more moist air in to replace it.
Both Matos and Kasmer are still at the stage of early engineering and no one has built such a system yet, but it does appear that with a combination of smart technologies the coefficient of performance of heat concentrating systems could be increased sufficiently to allow stand-alone operation in a motor and generator application. The aim is to use environmental heat that is abundantly available and sufficiently concentrate it where electric output becomes feasible.
The technology is not exotic. Heat exchangers and their parts are available off-the-shelf. With the addition of Kasmer's invention, who knows whether we might not gain energy independence in an entirely unexpected way.
Would such a motor violate the Second Law?
I believe not. As I wrote in that article on thermodynamics more than a decade ago,
It seems that things went wrong when we were trying to imagine a closed system. That is something achievable only in theory. Because every system existing within this universe is in constant and continuous exchange with the rest of the universe. And how this universe is made, what it consists of and how it functions, we have not even remotely begun to understand.
Thermoenergetics - David Matos de Matos proposes to create a worldwide conscience for innovative and serious debate about the Laws of Physics and new propositions. Energetics and the Maximum Power Principles, the Onsager reciprocal relations and Thermoeconomics are propositions that should be discussed.
Open Source; "Gas Assisted Solar Absorption Heat Engine" An open source project to develop a gas based solar heat engine proposed by David Matos de Matos.
Tom Kasmer's Hydristor page on PESWiki
The Synergetics Collaborative brings together a diverse group of people interested in Buckminster Fuller's Synergetics in workshops, symposia, seminars, pow-wows, and other meetings to educate and support research and understanding of Synergetics, its methods and principles.
Ardeshir Mehta has found this quote from Tom Kasner that gives an excellent background to his work and the possible uses of his Hydristor:
Thomas E. Kasmer, Hydristor Corp
[...] Originally, I was trying to create a totally solar powered car called the Mag One. The concept was feasible but the million dollars required was not there. So, I modified my approach initially to drive a John Deere lawn tractor and that can be seen on Web site http://www.hydristor.com. This proved the function of the Hydristor technology which is a totally variable hydraulic vane pump/motor. Packaging two of these in the form factor of an automotive OEM torque converter as a standard unit with some adapters to enable the same Hydristor converter to fit a multiplicity of vehicles was the next logical step.
Having done the design, I am now working on the financing of several prototypes for a Ford Expedition and a DeLorean DMC-12. The idea is to retrofit these vehicles with Hydristors and pressure storage accumulators which allow the engine to develop the average road horsepower required to drive the car instead of the peak horsepower. The engine can be operated at the lowest possible speed, usually idle, so as to charge the pressure tanks, or the engine can be turned completely off. The vehicle kinetic energy can be recycled upon stopping and re-used to drive the vehicle. There are two direct results which have a significant impact on global warming and also energy. Since the engine is usually idling or is completely turned off, the generation of CO2 greenhouse gas is quartered on average by my estimate and the fuel economy is typically doubled on the highway with city driving mileage near the augmented highway mileage. The Ford Expedition which weighs 7,000 pounds will see an increase from 16-to-45 with highway driving and from 12-to-40 for city. The retrofitted vehicle becomes a true full-hydraulic hybrid.
As an aside, if every vehicle already on the highway were retrofitted (in a 5-6 year period), then the national-USA use of oil would drop to half and the 'existing' generation of CO2 would be quartered. This same approach applied worldwide could result in a rollback of the present CO2 production without scrapping all the existing vehicles in anticipation of hybrids, electric or otherwise. This item alone represents a significant benefit for the environment. What energy and raw materials will be required to scrap all the existing cars and trucks in favor of questionable hybrids? The Hydristor retrofit method would preclude this and would save the natural resources and related energy expenditure required for scrapping all vehicles.
Any vehicle equipped with a Hydristor recycling converter and energy storage would become an awesome performer with AWD vehicles accelerating 0-60 in 3 seconds even if the vehicle was diesel powered. Large SUVs and pickups would become desirable again by producing economy in the range of the hybrids and performance soundly outstripping the hybrids. If this technology were adopted by the US automobile companies, the downward spiral in business would turn sharply up as customers could again buy what they really wanted and the existing environmental penalty associated with those types of vehicles would be eliminated. The domestic auto companies would resume expansion and re-hiring which would greatly benefit the country.
Another paradigm shift associated with the Hydristor is in the field of electrical power generation. A four-chamber Hydristor can act as a variable Freon pump by the use of one of the 4 chambers to compress Freon gas to extract absorbed heat and the hot, pressurized gas can be directed to a Stirling heat engine which converts the applied heat to shaft horsepower at a conversion-efficiency of 40 percent at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. The Stirling removes some of the heat energy while retaining the original compressed pressure. This energy-reduced but still compressed Freon gas is returned to the compression Hydristor where it is re-introduced into the second Hydristor chamber. The second chamber is varied to expand with rotation and most of the mechanical compression energy is returned to the common Hydristor rotor where it serves to reduce the required input drive to the Compression Hydristor. For good efficiency, the expanding Freon is retained inside the Hydristor so that additional rotation of the rotor and vanes further expands in chambers three and then four and extracts a maximum amount of the original mechanical compression energy finally minimizing the required drive energy supplied by the external drive motor. Conventional Freon heat pumps have been commercially available since 1950 and they reach a gain (C.O.P.) of 300 percent.
In simple language, if your heat is electric baseboard and you registered a December bill in the Northeast of $900, you could reduce that bill to $300 if you had instead used a conventional Freon heat pump to heat your house. That is the bottom line of a 300 percent (C.O.P=3) gain of conventional technology. A Hydristor Freon super heat-pump would have a C.O.P. =10 and the same bill would be further reduced to $90 for that cold December month. That would represent a savings of 90 percent in energy cost.
Consider directing the heat capture output of a conventional Freon heat-pump to the 40 percent efficient Stirling engine. Say one kilowatt of electricity was supplied to the conventional Heat pump drive motor. The harvest of environmental heat from the outdoor air or water would yield 3 kilowatts of equivalent electrical energy in the form of compressed, heated Freon gas to the Stirling. The Stirling would turn that three kw of heat energy into 1.2 kw of shaft horsepower using today's technology. The next step would be to connect an electrical generator to the Stirling output and typical efficiency of the generator would be 90 percent. The generator would now convert the 1.2 kw of shaft horsepower into 1.08 kw of original type of electricity which initially was provided by the power company wall-plug.
If you started the system and then quickly pulled the plug from the wall socket, then moved the plug to the generated output, the system might continue to run; perhaps as long as Niagara Falls will run, but there is virtually nothing left over even to power a light bulb. Now introduce the Hydristor super Freon heat pump with a C.O.P=10 in place of the conventional Freon system. An input of 1 kw harvests 10 kw equivalent heat energy to the Stirling which converts it into 4 kw of shaft horsepower and the driven generator makes 3.6 kw of electricity from a power company input of 1 kw.
For those who would interject concepts related to 'perpetual motion' at this point in my story, I say 'consider how Niagara Falls makes electricity seemingly for free but actually driven by the Sun's heat energy causing evaporation of the waters to rise up against gravity to rain on the hills and fill the Great Lakes' and there you have nature's example to the human race of how to make energy for man's use. I propose to package 'Niagara Falls in a Box' and make truly free electricity with truly zero emissions.
I believe this is the future for the generations to come. Hydristor underwater heat exchangers can be sited several hundred yards offshore in a manner so as to make zero the impact on coral and sea life. Arrays of such heat exchangers could line 10,000 miles of ocean and large lake coastlines to form more localized power grids. The long distance power transmission power grids which are susceptible to large area blackouts could be retired. The existing air burning power plants could be retired with significant further reductions in CO2.
The overheated waters that are causing horrific weather in increasing frequency and in new regions previously not known for events like tornados could be cooled by the extraction of heat energy from the waters. Energy could become free for everyone as air and water are free. In terms of the Global Warming challenge, I envision many 'cleanup' stations placed around the Earth, operated by Hydristor, solar and wind energy combining forces to power the temperature reduction of atmosphere to cooler and cooler temperatures until the excess CO2 is distilled out, and other pollutants added by man's Industrial Revolution are also removed, expelling pre-industrial atmosphere in the opposite direction from the initial air intake. These stations could be funded by donations from individuals and groups who have the Earth's natural health in their hearts and minds.
I believe that I have reached this point of understanding with the help and assistance given to me by IBM Corporation and Dassault Systèmes in the form of excellent equipment and the power of CATIA V3 and V4. These tools have been as visual as X-ray glasses looking through the physically solid real world, enabling me to 'see' inside the box just as an oscilloscope allows me to observe the behavior of electrons operating at light speed inside electrical wires.
I have been a 'lonely inventor' as described in a recent news story and I have operated under very limited resources for the past 16 years. I expect to attain the recognition of working physical systems soon. The availability of the CATIA V5 would markedly speed up my work efforts by allowing exploration of alternatives and by affording better design analysis through the 'virtual reality' scheme.
I would welcome any help in this adventure from those who would join me in my 'save the humans' quest.
To contact Thomas, dial 607-206-8960 or 'Hydristor' on Skype or email@example.com.
Update (June 2008) from David Matos de Matos:
My heat pump project is going; soon I will have good news.
Once again thank you for the article.
Meanwhile I designed and am in the process of prototyping one cylinder/piston pressure multiplier River flow water pump.
It is a submersed water pump for river flows working only with the river flow.
We can fabricate simple machines in Angola, and cylinder/pistons assembly is easy.
Two cylinders, one with 1 meter diameter and the other 0.2 m/diameter. Pistons are on the same shaft. Area ratio is of 25 X. Pressure ratio of 25X.
The bigger cylinder has a diffuser of a diameter of 1.5 meter on both ends and is open on both sides.
When we submerse it in the river flow, the water flows in and pushes the piston. On the other end of the cylinder the water flows out in the direction of the river flow.
It is a shrouded cylinder with a diffuser and two half diffusers, like impellers to move the system around.
The piston pushes the second piston, in a closed cylinder (0,2m/d) and pressures water. The inlets and outlets of this double side cylinder have retention valves to control aspiration and discharged of the cylinder.
The cylinders rotate on its axis, enabling continuous cycles.
With a 1 m long, 0,2 m diameter pressure cylinder it will pump 15.000 liters/hour, 360.000 liters/ day up to 50 meters high, only with river flow velocity of 1m/s.
If instead of pumping water for a storage tank, we pump it to a micro hydro turbine electric generator in the margin of the river; we can produce up to 10Kw.
I have the drawings at: http://tidalwaterpump.blogspot.com/
This Technology being developed by Kender Inc. isn't really do-it-yourself, but it opens interesting perspectives for the use of solar energy as a serious (and widely distributable) local energy source.
It does remind me of the proposal of David Matos which is to use a similar arrangement but different working gases, which is the subject of this post.