“No point is more central than this, that space is not empty, it is the seat of the most violent physics.” – John Wheeler
To begin with, “free energy” refers to the idea of a system that can generate power by taking energy from a limitless source. A power generated free from the constraints of oil, solar, and wind, but can actually continue to produce energy for twenty four hours, seven days a week, for an infinite amount of time without the worry of ever running out. “Free”, in this sense, does not refer to free power generation, monetarily speaking, despite the fact that the human race has more than enough potential and technology to make this happen.
If all places in the world had access to limitless energy generation, the implications would be grand. Take poverty, disaster for example, many regions around the world are suffering due to a lack of power generation. Free energy would transform all aspects of humanity, including the entire global economy, so much of which is currently dependant on oil.
So, is there such a machine? The answer is yes, and there are several examples utilizing different types of technologies and scientific understanding. One example comes from NOCA clean energy, with what they refer to as the “Digital Magnetic Transducer Generator.” It’s a form of magnetic, clean green technology that can, if scaled up, power entire cities.
5 Reasons Why you Shouldn’t Count on a Generator When T-SHTF.
Generators are great for short term power outages. They are relatively cheap and can be sourced from most home improvement stores. If the grid goes down for a few days after a major storm generators help to keep the food in the fridge from spoiling, keep the sump pump running and make sure a few lights stay on inside the home. However for long term grid down (SHTF) outages, generators should not be counted on to provide life sustaining support, and here’s why…
- Fuel Availability. With the exception of solar powered generators, all generators run on some sort of fuel (gasoline, diesel, propane, natural gas). After Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast fuel shortages were immediate and widespread, how much more if a large scale power outage occurs over a prolonged period of time? Gasoline and diesel will not be available for purchase from local stations and any that happens to be on hand will most likely go to emergency vehicles first. Propane will be long gone at the local hardware store (it was all sold out prior to Hurricane Sandy hitting in some areas). Generators powered by natural gas will initially be immune to this but will soon face their own shortcomings.
- Fuel Storage Considerations. Most portable generators use between 8 to 22 gallons of gasoline per day, compared to 4 to 8 twenty pound propane tanks (propane generators). That’s quite a bit of fuel just for one day’s usage and it’s simply not realistic to assume that the average person will be able to store enough fuel on site to keep the generator running for weeks on end. At 15 gallons of gasoline per day, that equates to keeping 42 five gallon gas containers on hand to power the generator for 2 weeks. Even a large 250 gallon propane tank only has a 3 to 4 weeks worth of fuel, if that. Hardly enough to keep the lights on during a long term grid down scenario.
- Reliance on the Electric Grid. Even gasoline and propane powered generators rely on the electric grid. If the grid goes down and stations/retailers can’t sell fuel/propane generator owners will simply be out of luck. This is also where folks who own standby generators will run into trouble. Many standby generators run off of natural gas which is piped into homes from pumping stations, which relies on the electric grid to maintain adequate pressurethroughout the system. Translation: if the grid goes down for an extended period of time many of those expensive and professionally installed standby generators will be good for nothing more than scrap parts.
- Operational Security (OPSEC). Imagine this: you haven’t had power in your area for a month. You are tired, dirty, hungry and out scavenging for food in neighborhoods that have been abandoned when you hear it. It sounds like a motorcycle with the throttle opened halfway, a constant wailing noise. Could that be a generator? Someone has power! That must mean that they also have food, water, maybe medicine! You see where I’m going with this don’t you. Even if you could magically keep your generator running long after T-SHTF you would only succeed in making yourself a massive target (unless you live out in the country).
- Load Capabilities. This is where solar powered generators meet their match. While having a solar powered generator is better than having nothing at all, most are incapable of providing long term viable power solutions. Consider the Goal Zero Yeti system. Based on my beer math you could power a few appliances for a couple hours before discharging the entire battery, at which point it would take (optimal) 20-24 hours to recharge the battery from the solar panels. Again better than nothing at all during a long term grid down scenario, but definitely a reason to not count on it. What happens if you completely discharge the battery and heavy clouds and fog roll in (read: degraded charging) for a week or more?
I’m not trying to discourage anyone who is interested in purchasing a portable, standby or solar generator. I also do not doubt the usefulness of a generator for short term use. They play a huge role in keeping people comfortable when storms like Hurricane Sandy pummel an area. I simply want people to understand the shortcomings associated with generators, and that if a long term grid down scenario does play out these devices simply should not be part of the overall survival plan.
When civilization collapses, he predicts, the world will go back to barter.
Urges everyone to have a disaster-preparedness kit containing enough food, water and other supplies to last 72 hours. This is sensible advice, and prepares have a point when they mock those who ignore it.
Originally appeared : open.edu
Do It Yourself
A generator is simply a device that converts mechanical energy (itself derived from coal, oil, natural gas, wind, water, nuclear reactions or other sources) into electrical energy. Here, we describe how to use readily available materials to make a simple generator. Although it will only be powerful enough to light a small torch bulb, it works on the same basic principles as the power station generators that supply domestic electricity.
How a generator works
When an electric current flows through a wire, it generates a three-dimensional magnetic force field around the wire, similar to that surrounding a bar magnet. Magnets are also surrounded by a similar three-dimensional field. This can be ‘seen’ in two dimensions if iron filings are sprinkled on a sheet of paper placed over the magnet. The filings align themselves along the lines of magnetic force surrounding the magnet.
Two-dimensional representation of the magnetic field around a bar magnet. The arrows indicate the direction of the lines of magnetic force. The N (north) and S (south) indicate the poles of the magnet, where the lines of force are focused. The north pole of the magnet will repel the north pole of a compass or another bar magnet, while its south pole will attract the north pole of a compass or another bar magnet.
The simplest generator consists of just a coil of wire and a bar magnet. When you push the magnet through the middle of the coil, an electric current is produced in the wire. The current flows in one direction as the magnet is pushed in, and in the other direction as the magnet is removed. In other words, an alternating current is produced. If you hold the magnet absolutely still inside the coil, no current is generated at all. Another way of producing the current would be for the magnet to be rotated inside the coil, or for the coil to be rotated round the magnet.
This method of generating electricity, called induction, was discovered by Michael Faraday in 1831. He found that the stronger the magnets were, the more turns of wire in the coil, and the quicker the motion of the magnet or coil, the greater the voltage produced. Faraday also observed that it was more efficient if the coil was wound around a metal core, as this helped to concentrate the magnetic field.
The prototype castaway generators used two options: Jonathan exploited wind power to move his magnets, while keeping the coil stationary. Mike Leahy, on the other hand, used fixed magnets, and steam-power to spin his coil.
Jonathan’s wind-powered generator
Mike Leahy’s steam-powered alternative
Voltage and current
What do the electrical terms voltage (measured in volts) and current (measured in amperes, often shortened to amps) mean? Imagine the electric current flowing in a conducting wire to be like cars travelling along a motorway. The motorway is the wire and the voltage the speed at which the cars move. The current corresponds to the number of cars passing a given point each second.
When a current flows through a wire, electrical energy is converted into other forms of energy, like heat in a heating element, light from the filament of a bulb, or sound from a loudspeaker. The electric current could also be made to produce mechanical energy, which is what happens in an electric motor. A motor is therefore just a generator operating in reverse.
What you’ll need
- 15cm long iron nail with a 6mm diameter and a large head
- 8–10cm long bolt with a 6mm diameter, and nut
- 25m enamelled copper wire (30 swg or approx. 0.3mm diameter)*
- E825 eclipse button magnet (with a fixing hole)*
- 6V, 0.06A torch bulb and bulb holder*
- a roll of insulating tape*
- a hand drill
* Obtainable from DIY stores, or electronic shops.
a simple generator
What to do
Your generator will consist of a coil held close to a spinning magnet.
- Cut out two cardboard discs roughly 3cm in diameter, and make a 4–5mm hole in the centre of each. Insert the nail in the hole and push one disc up to its head. Cover the next 2–3cm of the nail’s surface with a couple of layers of insulating tape.
- Slide on the other disc until it butts up against the tape, and then wind more tape on the other side of it to fix it in position so that the cardboard discs are no more than 2–3cm apart. Unwind 30cm or so of wire from the reel to form a lead from the coil, and start winding the remaining wire around the insulating tape between the two cardboard discs. To keep track, it may help to make a tick mark on a piece of paper after every 100 turns. The number of turns is not critical, but the more the better; 1 500 should do.
- Having covered the nail with a single layer of turns, continue building up layers one on top of the other. You don’t have to do a particularly neat job.
- After about 1 500 turns, leave about 30cm of wire free at the other end and then cover the windings with insulating tape. Remove a cm or so of the insulation from the two end wires by scraping off the enamel, and connect them to the bulb holder. Fit the bulb into the holder.
- Pass the bolt through the hole drilled into the base of the magnet, and fasten it by tightening the nut. Fix the bolt into the chuck of a hand drill. Next, fix the sharp end of the nail in a vice (or between two heavy books) so that it’s horizontal. Bring the magnet to within about 1mm of the nail head, which should be slightly off-centre from the middle of the spinning magnet. Make sure the gap between the magnet and the nail head is as small as possible, but not so close that they touch. A tip here is to rest the hand holding the fixed part of the drill on the table-top so that it’s as steady as possible. Turn the drill handle as fast as you can and the bulb should light up. Generating electricity really is as simple as this!
Generators in bikes and cars
Cars need a direct-current supply to operate the ignition, lights, windscreen wipers, etc. This is generated by an alternator which is mechanically coupled to the engine. A device called a rectifier is used to convert the alternating current output to direct current. A regulator also has to be fitted to control the current, so that the alternator’s output voltage continues to match the voltage of the vehicle’s battery as the engine speed changes.
A dynamo on a bicycle, that produces electricity as you cycle, is another example of a generator. Its basic design is just the same as the home-made generator described above.
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