German Inventor solves permanent magnet motor puzzle - wants to 'give away' the discovery...
Thomas Engel is a successful German inventor with more than a hundred patented inventions to his credit. He - like many of his peers - does not look back at a successful school education, but evidently that is not necessary for success if you are smart and, as some say it might even be counter productive, stifling creativity.
Engel has figured out the working principle of a type of motor many inventors and tinkerers have been working on - so far unsuccessfully. He found a way to make permanent magnets do actual work, transforming their attractive and repulsive power into the true motive action of rotary motion.
A recent article in the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (12 November 2013) recounts a visit of the paper's technology editors to the inventor's home and their impression of the new motor Engel says he wants to 'give away'.
While the article is carefully written to avoid trouble and while it quotes the obligatory university experts saying why such a motor is impossible, it does give enough detail to allow us to understand the concept. If you want to start experimenting, be warned: There is a lot of force in those rare earth magnets, they can be dangerous to the unprepared.
Here is a translation of the article...
It just keeps running and running...
Original published in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (November 12, 2013)
The inventor Thomas Engel demonstrates a motor to us that never runs out of fuel, because it works with the strength of neodymium magnets - leaving us a bit disoriented.
by Lukas Weber
translation: Sepp Hasslberger
Technical editors sometimes have to be impolite. There is a constant stream of people who want to save the world with their inventions - all they are missing is public support and the cash to further develop their idea. One has to tell those people that either no one needs their creation or that it won't work.
But what if it's different this time? There is a man who is seeking to contact us. He is going through a freelance photographer and says he's got a motor at his home that has been running since April without pause and that needs no fuel to do that. The photographer has seen it and is all enthusiastic. We have heard about such motors before, but have never seen a demonstration. Normally, you wouldn't even have to bother to read beyond this point, because something like this can't truly exist. But this time we're not talking about some crank with an idea. This one was honored in 1972 with the prestigious Rudolf Diesel Medal for inventors, he has well over a hundred patents to his name and has been lecturing at universities all over the world.
In the nineteen-fifties Engel developed a new procedure for the production of polyethylene making plastic pipes resistant to hot water. The Munich Olympia stadium has a lawn heating system based on this invention. He became a millionaire before the age of 30. He never even took the A-level school exam as in 1944 he was drafted into military air defense. After that, he did not have time any more. Our journal reported at length about his carreer as a diswasher exactly 13 years ago (on November 22, 2000). That is not the biography of a charlatan. The inventor lives in Baden-Baden and he has a place in Lucerne, Switzerland, where the motor is located. So we drive off with mixed feelings to beautiful Switzerland.
Engel's motor is running. During the three hours we are there, it is chugging along quietly, interrupted only by some experiments we will be talking about later. There is no noticeable development of heat. The seems familiar, the motor obtains its power from neodymium (NdFeB) magnets. Those are the strongest permanent magnets known, a disk as little as a one-Euro coin can hold about kilograms of weight. Neodymium is a rare earth element, much used in electronics. Magnets made out of this material are used in nuclear spin tomography and in wind generators, they drive water pumps of heavy trucks and keep tools steady.
The magnets are manufactured using a mixture of neodymium, iron and boron which is pressed into form and sintered. They are then magnetized with a strong electric impulse. The energy used for magnetization, however, is not what keeps the magnet working. Several suppliers of those magnets have assured us that the power of the magnets doesn't diminish - even after years of use. So it seems that the magnets can do work constantly without getting degraded. The only thing those magnets don't like is great heat.
Engel's idea was that it should be possible to convert that power of the magnets into rotary motion. He built a machine made of brass, resembling a miniature lathe. The rotor is a disc with magnets fixed to it. The shaft turns in ceramic bearings. A disc magnet fixed at the correct angle and distance from the rotor but which itself is able to rotate (Engel calls it the mirror) can affect the rotor magnets. There is attractive and repulsive force, depending on the orientation of the poles: the rotor can thus be set in continuous motion, as long as the mirror keeps rotating. The mirror's rotation regulates the speed of the rotor.
The inventor and his motors. The older version on the left
was constructed from an old watch maker's lathe.
The exact form and disposition of the parts is difficult to ascertain, Engel had to experiment at length with those parameters. If the mirror is a tad too distant, the magnetic field breaks down. On the other hand, if it is too close, the neodymium magnets will rip the construction apart. The mirror hangs in a kind of outrigger. Two electric wires connect to the lower end with crocodile clips. There is a tiny electric motor that rotates the mirror. So it isn't possible to do without electricity altogether? The inventor signals his disagreement. "Eight milliamperes at nine volts", he says. That is only a control mechanism. The power at the shaft is much greater. Engel also thought about a mechanical drive for the mirror directly from the rotor shaft, but opted against this as it would considerably increase mechanical complexity.
We wanted to know more. The rotation is about 400 RPM. We don't have an instrument to measure mechanical power. So we are having to use the finger brake. It is difficult to stop the rotation by grabbing the shaft. The motor only comes to a standstill after considerable heat developed on the calluses of our hands. A little hand made propeller out of plexiglass doesn't impress the motor at all; we would really like to know how much power the machine turns out. With a bit of dexterity, one can turn the mirror by hand and set the rotor in motion. There is hardly any resistance when turning the mirror. We therefore hazard an assertion: The output felt at the shaft is clearly greater than the input needed to give the impulse. Of course measurement was only done with human sensors.
It would be possible to put a second rotor on the opposite side, to be addressed by the same mirror. Holding a screwdriver between the mirror and the rotor in operation results in an oscillating motion of the screwdriver between the magnets, without however touching them. Mr. Engel would like to do more experimentation with the number of magnets and their form, but he says he lacks the strength for further development.
Science is skeptical. A motor which produces more energy than it uses up is impossible, says Markus Münzenberg, a professor for experimental physics at Göttingen University. Because in closed systems, the sum of energy is always equal. The apparently high torque at the shaft could be a consequence of inertial mass of the machine which, once in motion, is difficult to stop. Professor Ludwig Schultz, the director of the Institute for Metallic Materials in Dresden agrees. While it would be possible to imagine magnet configurations that periodically attract and then repel other magnets, but in that case the potential energy would periodically bleed off without there being a gain in energy.
The inventor's reaction to the question whether his motor is a perpetual motion machine is somewhat resentful: "That is rubbish", he says. "There is no such thing". Mr. Engel is convinced that his machine uses the enormous energy which is inherent in quanta, those inconceivably small components of atoms which were first described by the physicist Max Planck in the early part of the last century. He therefore calls his machine an "quantum deviation apparatus". Somethings are still unclear, also for the inventor himself. Somewhere in Germany, a businessman has a second such motor at his company, which runs with 1200 RPM. The man called some days ago he says, and recounted that, when the motor was covered with an acrylic hood, its rotational speed diminished. Engel does not know the reason for this.
The expression "quantum motor" brings some bad associations with it, since some cheats, about a decade ago, used that name to collect money for a machine which never materialized. Engel's motor is quite different from that, apart from a similarity in the description. The inventor does not need money. He says he wants to give away the motor because mankind needs affordable energy. It has to be further developed until some years in the future, we will be making electricity with it in the basements of our housing units.
What is the next step now? Engel wants to attach a small generator to the shaft and show that his motor delivers more electricity than is needed for its control. If he could do that, we'd really have some sensational news.
Update: Since I wrote this article, I have heard of the death of the inventor. So he will no longer be pushing this along.
Others are working on permanent magnet motors. Here is an example of the principle that Engel used in another, independent development
and then there is the development of a commercial version by an ex policeman in Turkey, Muammer Yildiz. In this video he demonstrated his invention at Delft University in the Netherlands.