US 20060131165 A1
Multi-directional currents are generated in a medium by cyclically reversing the direction of a conventional current applied to at least one of at least two electrodes so that an electromotive force (EMF) pulse travels from side of the electrode to the other, changing the direction of current in the medium. The multi-directional currents may be used to accelerate electrolytic processes such as generation of hydrogen by water electrolysis, to sterilize water for drinking, to supply charging current to a battery or capacitor, including a capacitive thrust module, in a way that extends the life and/or improves the performance of the battery or capacitor, to increase the range of an electromagnetic projectile launcher, and to increase the light output of a cold cathode light tube, to name just a few of the potential applications for the multi-directional currents.
1. Apparatus for generating a multi-directional electric current, comprising:
at least two pairs of electrodes;
a current carrying medium between respective electrodes in each of said pairs of said electrodes; and
circuitry connected between at least one power supply and at least one end of each of said electrodes for alternately supplying a current to respective said ends of said electrodes in order to cause a cyclically reversing electrical current to flow within said electrodes between said ends, wherein said pairs of electrodes and the current carrying media between said electrodes form electro-chemical cells, and wherein said electro-chemical cells are connected in series.
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10. Apparatus for generating a multi-directional electric current, comprising:
at least two pairs of electrodes;
a current carrying medium between respective electrodes in each of said pairs of said electrodes; and
circuitry connected between at least one power supply and at least one end of each of said electrodes for alternately supplying a current to respective said ends of said electrodes in order to cause a cyclically reversing electrical current to flow within said electrodes between said ends, wherein said pairs of electrodes and the current carrying media between said electrodes form electro-chemical cells, and wherein said electro-chemical cells are connected in parallel.
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12. Apparatus for generating a multi-directional electric current as claimed in
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17. Apparatus for generating a multi-directional electric current as claimed in
18. Apparatus for generating a multi-directional electric current comprising:
at least two electrodes;
a current carrying medium between the electrodes;
at least one power supply;
a circuit connecting said at least one power supply and said at least two electrodes, said circuit including:
means for reversing current flow in at least one of said at least two electrodes from a first current flow direction to a second current flow direction and from a second current flow direction to a first current flow direction by alternately connecting respective ends of said one of said two electrodes to a same terminal of said power supply, thereby causing continuous changes in a direction of current flowing in said current carrying medium.
This application is a Continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/411,307, filed Apr. 11, 2003.
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates to multi-directional, reciprocating electrical currents. The invention also relates to an apparatus and method for generating the multi-directional currents, and to applications of the generating apparatus and method.
The multi-directional currents of the invention are generated in a current carrying medium by cyclically reversing the direction of a conventional current applied to at least one of a plurality of electrodes, so that an electromotive force (EMF) pulse travels from one side of the at least one electrode to the other, changing the direction of current flowing through the medium between two or more electrodes.
The multi-directional electric currents have the effect of accelerating processes that rely on interaction between a current and the medium that carries the current, and of eliminating asymmetries that can lead to scaling or premature wear in batteries and other electrolytic systems. The medium that carries the multi-dimensional currents may be an electrolyte, gas, gel, semiconductor, or any other medium capable of carrying current between two electrodes, and having at least two dimensions so as to enable variation in the current direction.
By way of example and not limitation, the multi-directional electrical currents of the invention may be used to (i) increase the efficiency of hydrogen generation by electrolysis of water (while at the same time preventing scaling and purifying the water), (ii) extend the life of batteries such as nickel-metal hydride cells, and of capacitors, by symmetrically charging and discharging the batteries or capacitors, (iii) provide a power source for electromagnetic projectile weapons and similar devices, and (iv) increase the efficiency of plasma generation or light conversion in cold cathode systems.
Other potential applications of the multi-directional electric currents of the invention, and of the apparatus and method for generating the currents, include computers, communications, drug and chemical development, medical treatment of cancers, anti-gravity experiments, transportation, energy, water treatment, genetic research in humans, plants, and animals, and aeronautical propulsion systems, as well as fuel cell and PEM electrolysis systems utilizing proton exchange membranes and catalyst materials.
2. Description of Related Art
A. Basic Principle of Invention
The basic principle underlying the multi-directional currents of the invention may be understood from
The invention may thus be characterized as a method and apparatus of generating multi-directional currents in a medium by reversing the direction of electron flow in at least one of a pair of electrodes. If the voltages applied to the electrodes are DC voltages, then the multi-directional currents have characteristics of DC currents, and if the voltages applied to the electrodes are two or three phase AC voltages, then the multi-directional currents have characteristics of AC currents. However, unlike conventional DC and AC currents, the currents generated by the method and apparatus of the invention move or rotate. If the electrodes are one-dimensional wires, then the currents rotate in two-directions. If the electrodes themselves move, or extend over two or three-dimensions, for example a plane or a curved plane, then the currents will move in three-dimensions.
B. Conventional Electric Currents
There are two types of conventional electrical currents and corresponding voltages, neither of which changes direction in the manner of the present invention. The first, direct current (DC), was already well known when Benjamin Franklin performed his famous kite experiment in 1752 to prove that lighting was a form of electricity, while the second, alternating current, came into widespread use after Nikola Tesla invented the first alternating current motor in 1888 (U.S. Pat. No. 5,55,190).
Both direct and alternating voltages can be applied to electrodes for the purpose of causing a current to flow through a medium between the electrodes. However, the voltages are conventionally applied across the electrodes so that the resulting inter-electrode current follows a fixed, albeit reversible, path between the electrodes, irrespective of the type of medium or geometry of the electrodes. This is clearly the case in systems having only a single terminal for each electrode, and in systems having multiple terminals but no switching circuit.
It is of course possible to periodically reverse the polarity of currents applied to the electrodes in such a system, and a number of systems have been proposed for doing so, including the systems disclosed in the patents discussed below. However, none of the previously proposed systems involves changing the direction of current in a single one, or both, of the electrodes so as to vary the direction of current flowing between the electrodes by other than 180°.
The invention in its broadest form consists of the above-described multi-directional currents, and apparatus and methods for generating the currents. However, an important aspect of the invention is the numerous applications in which the unique properties of the multi-directional currents may be exploited. These applications include, but are not limited to, the following:
C. Hydrogen Generation By Electrolysis of Water
One of the applications of the invention is electrolysis of water to generate hydrogen, or hydrogen and oxygen, for use in fuel cells and other essentially pollution-free hydrogen-driven power sources. This application is of particular importance because it offers a solution to the problem of generating, storing, and transporting the hydrogen.
Hydrogen fuel cells, in particular, have the potential to provide a completely non-polluting power source of electricity, not only for vehicles but also for electricity generation in general, but have been limited by lack of a safe distribution system for the hydrogen, and by the costs of generating the hydrogen in the first place. While it has long been known that hydrogen may be generated by applying a direct current to water, the rate of hydrogen generation is too low to provide a practical hydrogen source for mass distribution. As a result, hydrogen for mass consumption is currently produced from fossil fuels at relatively high energy costs relative to the energy value of the hydrogen produced. However, if sufficient hydrogen could be produced by water electrolysis to provide an on-board hydrogen generator for a vehicle or electric power plant, so as to generate just enough hydrogen to supply the fuel cells, then the need for a distribution system and hydrogen storage would be eliminated.
Power or propulsion systems that use water electrolysis in combination with hydrogen fuel cells to generate the hydrogen necessary to power the fuel cells are known as regenerative electrochemical cell or systems, an example of which is disclosed in U.S. Published Patent Application No. 2002/0051898. Despite their theoretical promise, however, similar systems have yet to offer a practical alternative to fossil fuels. It is believed that a regenerative system can only attain widespread acceptance if the efficiency of hydrogen production is increased. The multi-directional currents of the invention offer the potential for providing such an increase in water electrolysis efficiency.
The way that the invention increases water electrolysis efficiency is by using the applied electric current to not only pull the water molecules apart at the cathode, as in a conventional electrolysis system, but to add a shearing force that helps break apart the ionic bonds between the oxygen and hydrogen atoms. The effect is similar to separating a pair of magnets by sliding them perpendicularly rather than pulling them apart. In conventional electrolysis, the water molecules tend to align with the positive and negative electrodes in the manner illustrated in
It will be noted that the set-up illustrated in
Periodic reversal of the polarities of electrodes has also been used in electrolytic water purification systems. The periodically reversed currents can be used to directly destroy bacteria as in U.S. Pat. No. 3,865,710, or to expedite the release of electrolytic reaction by-products such as metal ions, as disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,241,861; 5,062,940; 4,908,109 (entitled “Electrolytic Purification System Utilizing Rapid Reverse Current Plating Electrodes”); U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,734,176; 4,525,253; and 3,654,119.
These systems are not to be confused with the system of the invention, which changes the direction of currents but does not necessarily change their polarity. However, the effects of the direction-reversing currents, and/or released ions, on bacteria and other micro-organisms can be utilized and even increased by the present invention, i.e., the currents of the present invention can be used not only for electrolysis of water to generate hydrogen, but also to purify the water. Unlike the currents disclosed in the water purification references, which cannot be used for hydrogen generation, the present invention combines generation of hydrogen with water purification so that, for example, a power plant that included hydrogen generation cells supplied with river water would also have the effect of cleaning the river water, serving as a source not only of electricity but also of potable water.
D. Charging of Nickel-Metal Hydride Foam Batteries
Although especially useful for water electrolysis, the present invention is not limited to a particular electrolyte, electrolytic process, or electrolytic cell configuration. In another application of the invention, the multi-direction currents of the invention are applied to the electrodes of a battery containing an electrolyte. This application of the invention takes advantage of the reversing currents in the electrodes to reduce the wear and tear of friction and heat caused in conventional batteries by current moving from one post down the length of the electrode.
In the case of batteries containing nickel metal hydride, as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,413,670, additional advantages of using the method and apparatus of the invention to charge the battery an increase in the hydrogen generated during the charging process, which may be captured by utilizing the principles of the gas capture system described in copending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/______, filed on - - - by the present inventor. Furthermore, the use of multi-directional currents may improve the ability of the foam to absorb hydrogen through the hydride substrate in a manner analogous to shaking of a screen to expedite passage of granular materials.
The apparatus and method of the invention can also be applied to capacitors and capacitive systems, which have similar fundamental problems of fast charging heat losses and discharge heat wear.
An example of capacitive systems to which the principles of the invention may be applied are the thrust generating systems disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,317,310, 3,022,430, and 2,949,550, which use the electrostatic force between asymmetric capacitor plates to generate a thrust force. The EMF voltage spikes utilized by the present invention amplify the high voltage as the current changes direction to improve thrust performance. In addition, the magnetic field switching multi-directional high voltage currents may be computer controlled on the surface of the capacitor module's thrust plates or thrust tubes to change the direction and speed of the module, and the polarity of the currents may be controlled to change the direction of thrust. Thrust, pitch, roll, and yaw can be controlled by multiple such capacitor modules.
F. Cold Cathode Light and Plasma Generators
The principles of the invention are not limited to electrolyte materials, but may be applied to any medium capable of carrying charges between a pair of electrodes, including not only electrolytes, but also gases, gels, and semi-conductors. For example, when applied to a cold cathode light, reversing the current direction in the electrodes to change the direction of the excitation current between the electrodes will cause the ionized gas to produce more electrons, and thereby produce a brighter glow.
Similarly, in systems that generate plasma by passing a gas between electrodes, the multi-direction currents of the invention will increase the rate of plasma production relative to direct current systems, and those that use a single electrode polarity reversing switch applied to a single terminal on each of the electrodes of the plasma generator, as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,222,321.
G. Electro-Magnetic Devices
According to Lenz's law, a changing electrical current generates a magnetic flux having a magnitude that is proportional to the rate of change of the current. In the present invention, which utilizes reversing direct currents in the electrodes, the energy resulting from the above-described EMF or voltage pulses, edges, waves, or spikes can also be utilized to generate a corresponding magnetic field, which in turn can be used to drive a projectile in an electro-magnetic gun, or a piston.
In addition, such systems can be made regenerative by capturing hydrogen generated during charging and using the hydrogen to power a fuel cell, which in turn charges a battery for accumulating energy to be supplied to the electrode coils when the weapon is fired or the piston is to be operated.
H. Computing Devices
By adding two inputs and outputs to the conventional electrolytic cell, the apparatus of the invention may also be used in logic circuits and computing devices. U.S. Pat. No. 3,172,083 discloses an electrolytic memory utilizing three electrodes, but each electrode only has a single input, and thus the resulting storage cell has no advantage over conventional silicon memory devices.
I. Medical Devices
The multi-directional currents of the invention may also be applied to a variety of medical devices, including x-ray machines and various devices for treating tissues by electrical currents and/or magnetic fields.
It is accordingly a first objective of the invention to provide an apparatus and method that utilizes electricity in a more efficient manner in order to conserve energy resources and protect the environment.
It is a second objective of the invention to provide an improved electrical current generating apparatus and method which accelerate electrolytic and cathodic processes, including generation of hydrogen.
It is a third objective of the invention to provide an improved electrical current generating apparatus and method capable of more efficiently sterilizing water.
It is a fourth objective of the invention to provide an improved electrical current generating apparatus and method capable of more efficiently charging a battery.
It is a fifth objective of the invention to provide an improved electromagnetic device capable of utilizing the counter-EMF generating upon reversal of an electric current.
It is a sixth objective of the invention to provide a multi-dimensional electrical current having the property of changing direction as it flows from one electrode to the other, with or without changes in polarity.
It is a seventh objective of the invention to provide a system and method for generating a direct current that changes current direction with at least two ground switching paths and two positive connections in a parallel switching relationship back and forth, in phase or out of phase.
It is an eighth objective of the invention to provide a direct current that changes directions while the polarity of the electrodes changes back and forth.
It is a ninth objective of the invention to provide an alternating current with a sine wave in a parallel relationship with earth ground or neutral which switches from one end to the other to control the direction of current from the ground or neutral.
These objectives are achieved, in accordance with the principles of a preferred embodiment of the invention, by providing an apparatus having at least two spaced electrodes, a current carrying medium between the electrodes, and at least two terminals at each end of each of the electrodes, for a total of at least four terminals, to which a direction-reversing direct or alternating current is applied.
The electrodes may have a variety of shapes, including wires, coils, planar, or curved structures. The direction reversal may be effected by an electromechanical switching network, solid state, photonic or mechanical switches, and so forth, including the current reversing circuitry disclosed in the above-cited patents. In addition, the currents applied to the electrodes may include alternating as well as direct currents, the present invention being distinguished in that the current reversing circuitry is applied to opposite ends of at least one, and preferably each, of the two electrodes, so that reversal of the currents occurs within the electrodes, as opposed to within the current carrying medium between the electrodes (although, as described below, the direction of the multidirectional current within the current carrying medium may also be reversed by switching the polarity of the electrodes in addition to reversal of the current within the electrodes).
In the case of an electrolytic process, the multidirectional currents have the effect of substantially increasing the efficiency by which bonds in the electrolyte are broken, thereby providing an enhanced electrolysis method for producing hydrogen, oxygen, and other gases, and at the same can be arranged to purify the remaining electrolyte.
When the electrodes are in the form of coils, then a magnetic field is generated that may further accelerate certain electrolytic processes such as the generation of hydrogen, with or without using the multi-directional currents. While the advantages of multi-directional currents apply to coil-shaped electrodes, advantages may also be obtained by operating electrolytic cells and other devices with coil-shaped electrodes in DC, pulsed DC, reversing polarity, and AC modes, in addition to various multi-directional current modes.
The new types of currents and corresponding voltages can be used to power a new generation of batteries, capacitors, motors, light bulbs, and plasma generators, as well as for hydrogen and oxygen generation, and further may be applied to applications ranging from electroplating of metals and plastics to transportation, to name just a few of the potential applications. In the field of medicine, the currents can be used in x-ray machines, to destroy cancer cells by placing a patient inside a coil to which the currents are supplied at frequencies known to kill cancer cells without affecting non-cancerous tissue, and in other devices that involve application of electrical currents and/or magnetic fields to tissues. DNA electrophoresis can be performed by using ADC instead of DC by running DNA gel samples from both ends of the gel plate instead of one. 46% of the planet's population doesn't have electricity or fresh drinking water due to the cost of infrastructure required to supply power lines and water connections. The new clean and cheap voltages (which may be referred to as SULLY VOLTAGES™ after the Inventor, John Sullivan) will revolutionize third world countries by supplying cheap power and fresh drinking water without petroleum based fuel oil.
The water 8 in this example may include a catalyst such as KOH, as is conventional, although the increased efficiency of the electrolysis process of the invention makes it possible to use ordinary tap water or water from rivers and lakes without adding additional catalysts.
When switches SW1 and SW4 are closed and switches SW2 and SW3 are open, current flows from the positive electrode of power source 6 through switch SW1 to conductor 4, and then is carried by ions in the water 8 to conductor 5, switch SW4, and the negative electrode of power source 7. On the other hand, when switches SW2 and SW3 are closed and switches SW1 and SW4 are open, current flows from the positive electrode of source 7 through switch SW3 into conductor 4, and then is carried by ions in the water to conductor 5, through switch SW2, to the negative terminal of power source 6.
It will be appreciated that there may be a delay between opening of switch pairs SW1, SW4 and closure of switch pairs SW2,SW3, although simultaneous switching is preferred. In addition, the power sources and switching circuitry is not limited to the illustrated batteries and switches, but rather may include any power sources and switching circuitry capable of effecting reversal of currents within the individual electrodes, including solid state switching circuitry and rectified AC power sources. The illustrated diodes 14 and 15 are not essential, and may be omitted or replaced by appropriate voltage regulation, filtering, or other circuit elements.
The ionic current passing through the water from conductor 4 to conductor 5 causes disassociation of hydrogen from oxygen in the water according to the well-known process of electrolysis. Optionally, the oxygen (O2) produced in the process may be trapped by a membrane 10 encircling conductor 4 for collection through an outlet 11 and storage tank 12, while hydrogen (H2) is collected via an outlet 13.
Variations in the direction of current passing through the water subjects the individual water molecules to shearing as well as tensile forces that expedite disassociation. In addition, different types of microorganisms are known to be sensitive to specific frequencies of electrical current, and therefore switching of the applied conventional currents at an appropriate frequency can have the effect of purifying the water remaining in the tank.
It will be appreciated that the magnetic fields generated in the embodiments of
The magnetic fields generated by the coaxial coil electrolytic cell apparatus of
As in the non-coiled embodiments, the electrolytic reaction rate may be increased still further by applying light to the apparatus, so that the energy of the photons adds to the energy supplied by the electric fields between the electrodes and the magnetic fields within the electrodes. Either or both of the electrodes may be enclosed within a membrane bag, sack, or tubing, as also discussed above, and currents and/or fields may further be arranged to kill microorganisms.
Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the multidirectional current generating apparatus of
Operation of the battery can be further improved by adding a current reversing discharge circuit to the current reversing charging circuit to prevent excess wear due to asymmetric discharge currents. As illustrated in
It will be appreciated that the principles of the invention may be applied to a variety of different types of batteries, including hydrogen batteries as well as the illustrated nickel metal hydride battery, and the invention is not to be limited to a particular type of battery.
In addition to the numerous different applications described above, the configuration and number of the electrodes may be varied in a variety of ways without departing from the scope of the invention. For example, more than two electrodes may be included, such as the three electrodes 60-62 shown in
The principles of the invention may also be applied to various capacitive systems, as illustrated in
The capacitors to which the principles of the invention are applied may take, of course, a variety of forms, and are not limited to a particular electrode geometric or specific electrode or dielectric materials.
As especially advantageous application of the principles of the invention to capacitive systems is the thrust module illustrated in
Capacitors or capacitor circuits of the type illustrated in
Those skilled in the art will appreciate that in any of the above-described embodiments and implementations of the invention, both the manner in which the current is caused to alternate direction in the electrodes, and the timing and magnitude of the EMF pulses, can be varied according to the principles of the invention. For example, FIGS. 27(a)-27(f) are timing diagrams of a variation of the preferred switching system in which opening and closing of switches SW1 and SW4 is delayed relative to closing and opening of switches SW2 and SW3. On the other hand,
In addition to the illustrated applications, other potential applications of the principles of the invention are as follows:
The electrolytic cell illustrated in
Another possible application is to use the currents to reduce radioactive waste of spent nuclear fuel by attaching the electron orbits of spent fuel in a multi-dimensional oscillating electric field, or a polarity reversing multi-dimensional electric field.
It will be appreciated that one can build an electromagnetic generator that will produce multi-directional currents and corresponding voltages, rather than converting the currents or voltages from another DC or AC voltage. Also, mechanical cam switching can create multi-directional currents and corresponding voltages, and one can similarly build motor that will run on new the voltages.
Finally, yet another possible application of the invention is to enhance dehydration of a porous material using electro-osmosis as described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,117,295 and 6,372,109.
Having thus described a preferred embodiment of the invention in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to make and use the invention, it will nevertheless be appreciated that numerous variations and modifications of the illustrated embodiment may be made without departing from the spirit of the invention, and it is intended that the invention not be limited by the above description or accompanying drawings, but that it be defined solely in accordance with the appended claims.