Static electricity is high voltage (HV) at low current. That unexpected ZAP! occurring when you walk across a carpet and touch a metal object demonstrates HV conduction by ionized air particles. Ion wind turbines use electrostatic forces acting between these particles to produce mechanical movement.

I decided to go green by making this desk-top project from mostly dollar-store hardware; re-purposed plastic, cardboard and aluminum disposables from my kitchen recycling bin as well as some curbside junk from the neighbors next door. The turbine uses foil electrodes that encircle a plastic, tubular rotor. Each electrode has a sharp edge that sprays a stream of positive or negative ions on the rotor's surface. When these electrodes are arranged so they alternate in polarity around the rotor, each electrode repels a rotor segment carrying the same charge and simultaneously attracts that rotor segment carrying charges deposited by the preceding electrode.

Many sources of static electricity --from old CRT screens that "crackle and pop" when powered up, to room air ionizers -- will spin a reasonably well constructed turbine. You can view an enhanced version, constructed from better components and featured on this page w/the basic version, in operation here:


The tools required for this project are a(n): marking pencil; felt tip pen; ruler; compass; protractor; utility scissors; metal saw; desktop paper punch; high speed electric drill with 1/32,” 1/8 “ and 1/4 “ bits; assorted grit sandpapers; sanding block; miniature hobby file and some Gorilla Glue. In addition to the parts listed in STEP 1 you will need a rubber band as well as rolls of paper and cellophane tapes.

Unlike many DIY electrostatic motors that creep along at hundreds of RPM, this bad boy can spool up to thousands of RPM in only seconds when sufficiently powered. Work carefully and don’t forget the safety glasses! Also, operate the turbine in a ventilated area if you smell ozone gas. So let's begin...

Step 1: Parts List for Basic Version

Here is a list of the parts (there's plenty of opportunity to improvise if a specific part is not available).

A. Rotor Assembly
1. Cylinder (1)               3 oz plastic container of Pounce Cat Treats
2. Conductive Liner     2-1/4 x 7” aluminum strip cut from soda can
3. Disks (2)                   2-1/4” dia disks with 1/8” center hole cut from 1/8” cardstock
4. Shafts (2)                  1/8” dia x 6” metal rod; #6 x 1-1/2“ metal bolt with lock washer & nut
5. Collars (2)                 #6 de-threaded nylon nuts

B. Rotor Cage Assembly
1. Floor & Roof Disks (4)       3-3/4” dia disks with 1/4” center hole cut from 1/8” cardstock
2. Bearings (2)                         #6 nylon flat washers
3. Hubs & Insulators (10)      1/4“ dia x 1/8” flanged, nylon screw insulators
4. Support Columns (4)          1/4” dia x 2-7/8” wood dowels

C. HV Electrode Assembly
1. Power Rods (4)                     1/4” dia x 2-7/8” wood dowels
2. Conductive Jackets (4)         foil chewing gum wrappers
3. Ionizers (4)                              2-1/4” x 2-1/2“ strips cut from aluminum pie pans
4. Connecting Leads (2)           4” of #20 AWG insulated wire
5. Lead Clamps (8)                   plastic push pins
6. Input Terminals (2)                ring connectors w/#20 AWG insulated input leads

D. Final Assembly
1. Fly wheel (1)                           2-1/4” dia disk with 1/8” center hole cut from 1/8” cardstock
2. Flywheel Spinner (1)             metal tip from ballpoint pen
3. Project Base (1)                     1/8“ cardstock
4. Turbine Shroud (1)                cardboard peanut container (4" dia x 3-1/8")
5. HV Rim Insulators (1)           plastic, snap-on, peanut container lids
6.Mounting Stand-offs (2)         empty plastic or styro thread spools
7. Power Source (1)                   DIY HV X-former w/multiplier or a commercial HVDC source (example:  

<p>Hey man awesome work, this is a great design. I just have a few questions...</p><p>1. How hard is it to build?</p><p>2. What is the total cost of everything, including a charger.</p><p>3. Also if I were to hook this up to my bike what would be the effect? How fast would it go and how long would it last?</p>
<p>suh-WEET! made from &quot;junk&quot;</p>
<p>I just want to put an idea out there, I looked into Jefimenko, and I was wondering if the concept of drawing electricity from the air could be applied to a hydrogen fuel cell. I know that this post isn't in spirit of what this build is about. But I'm thinking in terms of upping efficiency, as opposed to using electricity to directly run a motor use it to produce a better energy source and have it drive a small modified motor.</p><p>Again I don't feel that this post relates totally to what this build is, but its an idea I want to put out there for anyone reading. I just want to see a successful build of a motor that's powered by the atmosphere. It would bridge the Gap between reality and science fiction.</p>
<p>Oh good, this is a <br>nice creation. I would myself like to try my hands on it. If it produced <br><a href="http://www.sterling-energy.com/services/management-operations-and-maintenance-mobilizations/" rel="nofollow">energy</a> I will get back to reply.</p>
<p>I'm thinking maybe then have four units, replace the turbines with gears and have them turn a larger diameter in the middle.</p><p>And from what I understand its very low current very high voltage so you can connect the motors in parallel to the circuit and probably maybe a small current draw of under 50mA. (I'm not certain of this)</p><p>Probably a large flywheel just to give it initial starting kick that would be spun by hand.</p>
These motors suffer from serious power loss due to corona leakage as voltage is increased. Four of them connected in parallel would probably require more than 50 mA to run. <br> <br>I'm working on getting a ES motor to spin a flywheel.
There is an updated version of the project here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Improved-Electrostatic-Turbine-Made-from-Recyclabl/ <br>Good Luck.
<p>I thought this type of motor was science fiction.</p><p>Anyways I just wanted to say that maybe you could develop more torque if you added smaller cylinders along the outside circumference of the main rotor like a planetary gear drive.</p>
A knife edge is still required to produce a corona discharge between each HV electrode and the rotor's surface; otherwise, you're correct. There is too much stray leakage from the ends of the electrodes which caused the internal arcing in this demo vid:<br>http://www.flickr.com/photos/87819267@N03/10427367055/<br>.
so it takes static electricity from the air?<br>
Yes!<br><br>Check out the Oxford Bell<br>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford_Electric_Bell<br><br>Also check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_electricity<br><br>Just like a hydro electric dam taps into the energy produced by the condensation cycle and gravity we can tap into the electric field potential and drive a capacitor motor or a Tank Circuit coupled to a motor which drives a gen set, or think piezoelectric transformer.<br><br>The biggest challenge to make it practical is new materials. Air is a great conductor at high voltages.<br><br>A neat idea would to build off the ideas using modern materials and thinking.<br><br>For example: Harvest the potential and use it to oscillate a piezoelectric stack inside a tubed ring with a pressurized gas such as helium, and then embed heat pipes in a porous stack which has pyroelectric sensors or you could go the magnetostrictive route and use terfenol D. This would work much like the accoustic refrigeration. The vibration would cause changes in temperature and if you also had small slat plate heat exchangers connected to the thermal stacks which have the pyroelectric sensors embeded in them. Then you could have a small package which harvested both the electric field and thermal variations simultaneously. You want it in a ring so the resonance synchronizes all the thermal stacks with the pyroelectric sensors.<br><br>Try it out and you will be surprised. <br><br>Like any type of Stirling engine the higher the pressure the more mechanical energy per stroke, the temp difference sets how many strokes in a given time.<br><br>So whereas with piezoelectric we want to be in the ultrasound region for best power harvesting, with terfenol D you will want higher pressure and a bit lower frequency. If you had a constant source of temperature say the ground at 60 feet then you could couple a heat pipe to the ground and insulate it to an insulated container with a thermal fluid and attache a heat pipe from there to your ring. Then use a refrigerant like ethane and have it at rest at the pressure and temp where one K condense or vaporizes it. This would set you up for the greatest changes in pressure and frequency and rate changes in temperature.<br><br>Pyroelectric like piezo electric want high rates of change. Where as the Seebeck effect wants a large temp differential. With conventional stirling engines we want the highest pressure which yields the greatest mechanical force per stroke and aids in the speed of thermal transport through the gas, and the greatest temp differential so we can have a high number of strokes in a given time period.
Good ideas; so I'll just respond to one. I'm planning to use a box kite to lift 200 m of HV cable into the air. The voltage gradient from an earth ground to a point above ground is ~100 V/m. A cable suspended at that height should supply ~20 kV (on a good day), which is sufficient to power the motor. Will post results as an i'ble when available. Ck out this site for more details: <br> <br>http://www.rexresearch.com/jefimenko/jefimenko.htm
Remember to bias the tips of your antenna, and ground it.<br><br>Jefimenko achieved 1/4 hp it would be interesting to see what you or others achieve using modern materials and different approaches to harvesting the same field. <br><br>As Feynman used to say, attack the problem from a different angle!
I plan to try this on the shore with one lead attached to the HV cable, the other grounded in wet sand (can't get closer to earth than that!).
Hello dear brazilero2008. Did you achieve your project in harvesting air energy?
No, not yet. My box kite for lifting a high voltage cable broke. :&gt;(<br>
Hello Again, dear brazilero2008. <br> <br>After having go though near all comments, still would like to know how much power you get with the motor; what would be its efficiency? <br> <br>Cheers.
I calculated power &amp; efficiency for a similar turbine here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Finishing-Details-for-the-Electrostatic-Turbine-1/. <br>Low quality rotor bearings used in this project wasted energy; also, taping the rotor made the surface uneven causing the electrode gap to be too large. (I think of the design as a nice piece of art, despite its poor performance. :&gt;D)
WoW !! <br>great work. <br>Made one. works as per your specs <br>thanks. <br>(now for some experiments)
Good job, as usual. <br>Oddly enough, a couple of Brazilian Teachers asked me for ideas for School Projects, going to send them this Link, too! :)
I appreciate the + feedback. Stay tuned for some interesting DYI school projects in the near future...
Could you take the wind turbine and convert the spinning into wind energy?If thats what this project is about sorry I am not familiar with this type of electronics.
The project will produce a draft of wind if you attach a prop; but it would just be a fancy desk fan.
Actually I realized that I named the project incorrectly when applying the stencils. It should read: Electric Turbine. It is not related to wind energy.
brazilero2008<br><br>Thanks for the Electrostatic Turbine info, I am from the Pacific Islands and am building one following your instructions. Could you give me some instructions on your power supply to drive the motor?
Sure. I got fair results w/a small VdG generator. Output was 50 kV at 1.5 uA. Performance is better using a hi voltage DC air purifier due to the higher current output. Best performance was w/one of these industrial electrostatic generators (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skgFyaGE5hA)
the blind leading the blind <br>Consider what it has already done <br>such as <br>inspired thought and communitation <br>questions w/wo answers <br>entertainment yes and even dissapointment <br>Bill K <br>
Concerning &quot;inspired thought &amp; communication,&quot; the late Dr. Oleg Jefimenko, the modern day father of electrostatic motors, rarely received enough credit for his ingenious ideas.
I would agree. Like many scientists and innovators before him.<br><br>The consequence of commercial science is that it has become political.<br><br>It has become too easy for some to dismiss new ideas, rather than to examine them from a scientific and experimental standpoint.<br><br>Nano materials today would make Dr. Jefimenko's motors that much better.<br><br>I think any one who builds upon his work using materials science has an exciting future ahead of them.
The thing is it isnt dismissed,I believe it to be more of a threat,the powers that be want us dependent on fossil fuels because of the money they make and the power it brings.They already know how to harvest the power of clean,free energy.The free part is what they dont like. Of course you know that.
Valid point. There are promoters of fossil fuels who say that alternative energy is the energy of the future...and always will be.
When did Dr Jefimenko pass away? I received a copy from him of one of his out of print books in 2008.<br><br>He demonstrated .24 HP electrostatic motor, from the air and the ground.<br><br>Think of the potential using todays material science?<br><br>One should be able to do even more.<br><br>Dr. Jefimenko's work will live on with all those whom he inspired, and his generosity which touched so many.
His work on electostatic motors that appeared in Popular Sciece back in '71 made a lasting impression on me.
Just Blogged it:<br>http://faz-voce-mesmo.blogspot.com/2011/07/turbina-estatiica-e-minerio-pronto.html
Impressive site!
Thanks, I like to share good news...
BTW, the original concept for an electrostatic turbine came from this Russian tech journal published in 09/1957 (fortunately, the graphics are self-explanatory :).
...For you, they're self-explanatory! I never got that far. 8.<br>It's a good deal of work, to take an image and turn it into something that works..<br>
I apologize if this question sounds stupid. I prefer to think of it as ignorant. Why is a power source needed if the whole thing runs on static electricity?
&nbsp;&nbsp; Think of the project as a simple motor. It requires a power source to spin the rotor. The source is a high voltage transformer/multiplier combo (just a mini, DIY room air ionizer) mounted inside of the base.<br> &nbsp;&nbsp; Alternative power sources can be used. The rotor will move (slightly) from static electricity produced by walking across a carpet and touching one of the input terminals when the other terminal is grounded.&nbsp; Van de Graaffs, Wimshursts, <em>etc</em>. would be much better power sources.&nbsp;
What about powering the motor from static electricity in the atmosphere? Clouds, wind, all produce large amounts of electricity... can't you just &quot;harvest&quot; that power with a static motor to say... pump water? Neat instructable, thanks. I will make one!
Atmospheric static should work. Here's a how-to link: <br>http://f3wm.free.fr/sciences/jefimenko.html
Thank you. That does clear that up. :) <br> <br>
BTW, he passed away on May 14, 2009 <br>(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oleg_D._Jefimenko).
This is a total macguiver (sp) pwn! 5 STARS!
That was one of my fav shows too!<br>Thanks for the stars :)
bogus from the beginning - learn what STATIC ELECTRICITY means
No, not bogus at all. Google <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrostatic_motor">eletrostatic motor</a>.<br> <br> You've probably seen electrostatically charged particles being repulsed by an electrode with the same polarity, and attracted by an electrode with the opposite polarity. This motor works on electrostatic attraction and repulsion, just like a regular electric motor works on magnetic attraction an repulsion.<br> <br> Briefly, the high voltage &quot;power rods&quot; deposit an electrostatic charge on the surface of the nonconductive rotor. This charge is then repulsed from the power rod and atracted by the neighboring oppositely charged rod, which makes the rotor turn.<br>
He's pointing out that your definition of static electricity as &quot; high voltage (HV) at low current. &quot; is in error. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Static_electricity for a basic primer on static electricity and how it differs from dynamic electricity) <br><br>It's a nice project, and well described, but errors are errors, you should correct them, rather than get defensive.
Not to piss on your parade, but DO NOT cite the Wikipedia as a valid source for debunking ANYTHING. You can cite it's sources, but people like you and me can see something we think is wrong and change it to suit ourselves. It is not a reliable source, and in this case I think it is wrong.<br> <br> http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/dynamic<br> Dynamic:<br> In Physics<br> a.<br> of or pertaining to force or power.<br> b.<br> of or pertaining to force related to motion.<br> <br> Lightning is static electrical discharge. It can readily fuse sand into glass, and therefore has demonstrable power. It also ran the turbine, and again demonstrated that it can generate dynamic power.<br>

About This Instructable




More by brazilero2008:Finishing Details for the Electrostatic Turbine Improved Electrostatic Turbine Made from Recyclables Simple TC Powered Plasma Globe 
Add instructable to: