Free Energy From Thin Air!

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Introduction: Free Energy From Thin Air!

About: I am a tech maniac; from media, marketing and design to alternative energy and more. Check out my website for links to all my projects.

"Free energy from the air?, Yea, right!" Sardonic skepticism was my first reaction to this unusual concept, as well.

Though, its not so far out there, in fact. Light can be converted to DC current with solar panels, electricity can be converted to magnetism as I did in my last article, in a microphone sound waves are converted to an electrical signal (by vibrating a magnet near a coil), solar rays can even be focused and converted to heat in awesome devices like this! When we think about it, energy is all around us and can be harvested in an enumerable many of ways.

Today, we are going to take a rather novel approach. We are going to build a device specifically designed to sense and capture a particular band of energy which is all around us.

The earth is magnetic and anyone who has ever used a compass knows this. Magnetic bodies in motion produce electricity, we can see this in any alternator, like the one in your car. So, therefore the earth is electric as well as magnetic, by definition.

Can we detect this energy? Yes, we sure can! Ever turn on a radio in the middle of nowhere and heard static? That is your radio picking up naturally occurring energy in the RF spectrum!

Can we use this energy to do work? Absolutely! This has been known for a long time. Crystal radios have been around since before the 1930's and can run with no input energy other than the radio signal. Even when completely isolated, but from the atmosphere, a crystal radio will produce a voltage in the earpiece resulting in a sound (albeit and undesirable one).

Well, this is where it gets interesting...

Can we replicate this effect? Yea, and with modern components like the high quality crystals found in germanium diodes, we can even increase efficiency. By applying this concept as a Crystal Energy Receiver we can take advantage of a wide range of energetic frequencies rather than tuning in to just one.

Can we scale it up? Definitely. Things like micro germanium diodes, high efficiency antennas and compact contemporary capacitors make the components that are required to build a crystal receiver fit in the palm of your hand. While there may or may not be a more efficient way, this renewable energy solution is simple to employ and can be scaled up, or down, indefinitely.

It sounds like we can build a Crystal Energy Receiver. Let's give it a shot...

Step 1: What You'll Need

One of the reasons this particular renewable energy harvesting method is so viable is the relatively few and easy to obtain materials required.

The simplest crystal receiver design needs no power and can be built with only three parts: a coil, a crystal and a resistor. We're going to optimize that design in order to produce a cleaner and more reliable output signal by first polarizing the input amplitude, then rectifying and filtering the signal. Then we'll add an antenna, case and connections.

Get the circuit diagram here
Get the kit here

The parts for the circuit include:
(1) Circuit Board
(1) 10-18 gauge Copper Wire
(2-12+) Ceramic Capacitors (matched)
(2-6+) Electrolytic Capacitors (matched)
*note various types of capacitors can be used
(4) Germanium Crystal Diodes (1A+)

Total Unit Cost: +/- $0.40 (USD, scaled for volume of 1,000+ units )

In addition, you'll probably want to get:

(1) Project box (optional)
(1) Antenna (a loop antenna or elevated antenna is recommended and can be made with copper wire)

The tools you'll need are:
Soldering Iron/ Solder (optional)
Multimeter
Oscilloscope (optional)

That's it. Yup, that's all. Once we've got it all, let's begin.

Step 2: Build the Circuit

We're going to build the simplest version of this circuit variation in order to understand how each component interacts and as a proof of concept.

There are three simple systems at work in the circuit that are composed of capacitors, which store energy, and diodes that direct it.

Energy in the band of radio waves, among others, will vibrate a wire antenna on an atomic level, sending a discernible signal to its lead. This signal will then meet the junction between two ceramic capacitors wired in series. This junction will force positive charge from the wave to travel in one direction and negative charge in the other direction which, when collected again, makes the signal uniform and polar. Connecting the two capacitors in series creates leads on each end; the now positively charged side of one and the now negatively charged side of the other creates a two cell battery.

This next stage of the circuit takes a signal with a net value of zero, adds the absolute values of the positive and negative amplitudes with respect to the origin and produces a positive integer. This concept can be thought of as taking:

(+1) + (-1) + (+1) + (-1) = 0

and converting it to:

| [(+1) + (+1)] | = 2
+
| [(-1) + (-1)] | = 2
= 4

Isn't math fun?

To each of these leads from our two capacitors in series, we will connect two crystal diodes, one facing each direction, to form what is called a bridge rectifier. A bridge rectifier is a configuration which will convert an alternating current to a direct one by cleverly rerouting the signal.

By connecting the bridge rectifier as shown in the circuit diagram, this direct current from the diodes then charges the electrolytic capacitors. This stage normalizes the amplitude, making the current constant and usable.

Components can easily be twisted together for testing and then soldered to a circuit board to secure.

Step 3: Test and Optimize Your Circuit

To test and analyze our circuit, we'll be using a digital voltmeter and oscilloscope.

By connecting a voltmeter to the output, we'll immediately begin to see a small voltage climbing in the 10-100mV range. If not, we'll want to check our connections and make sure the circuit is not isolated from the environment by taking it outside to a clear area.

Then, by connecting an oscilloscope to the outside leads of our two ceramic capacitor bank, we will see the the polarized signal being captured from the air around us. We can then connect after the diodes to see our varying direct current and then to after the electrolytic capacitors to see a normalized, usable direct current at our output.

We can then optimize the input resistance in two ways. Firstly, we can add additional ceramic capacitors in parallel to our original two and make sure our soldered connections are consistent and thick in this area.

We can optimize the circuit's capacity by adding electrolytic capacitors in parallel to our original two which will allow this circuit to charge slightly when not in use. For this purpose, a charging circuit can also be added here in order to incorporate an optional battery bank.

We can optimize the antenna by attaching loops and coils of copper wire in various positions, store-bought antennas or by stringing some wire up to the highest point you can reach.

We don't have to stop there, either. We can now connect multiple circuits in series to increase voltage or in parallel to increase current. This can be done indefinitely.

Step 4: Add a Case and Antenna

After choosing an antenna in the last step we'll now want to permanently wire it. Whether you choose a compact antenna for portability or a tall fixed antenna for power and range, we will wire it in the same manner according to the diagram in the previous step. Note that the input on the configuration here is grounded to the metallic case, and thus the users hand, and incorporation of longer antennas will require proportionally more substantial grounding.


We will then attach a terminal to the output to allow us to connect this circuit to an electrical device or charging circuit and battery bank.

Next, we will add a case, making sure to isolate exposed leads with non-conductive material especially if mounting in a conductive case. A piece of cardboard secured with glue is sufficient for the circuit's bottom and shrink wrap or electrical tape can be used in the case of any additional exposed leads. Drill two holes in your enclosure, one for the antenna or antenna lead and another for your output terminals. You can then insert your components, fasten the enclosure and your device is ready to use!

Step 5: Your Crystal Energy Receiver Is Complete!

Your Crystal Energy Receiver is now complete and ready to use!

I built a portable version, for proof of concept and demonstration purposes. However, you can go as big as you want- to passively charge batteries or run equipment remotely; or go as small as you want- to power sensors, RFID devices, small electronics and more.

I used this harvested energy to easily power a low-consumption quartz clock, a digital chronograph with integrated circuits and LCD and was even able to momentarily rotate a small dc motor.

Because of its simplicity this device is a durable, efficient and reasonably effective method of harvesting radiant energy in a simple, replicable and sustainable way. I humbly hope that the contributions made here, and by those reading, can be one day used by people worldwide to conveniently capture free energy.

Thanks for checking out my project and I look forward to seeing everyone's variations, suggestions and improvements!

Renewable Energy Contest

Participated in the
Renewable Energy Contest

Sensors Contest 2016

Participated in the
Sensors Contest 2016

1 Person Made This Project!

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278 Comments

0
johnrottingliver
johnrottingliver

2 months ago

Hey the link to the pcb layout and drewpaul design urls are dead...

0
kid_whizz
kid_whizz

6 months ago

I was surfing the internent when i discovered this, genius!!!!!! i was goung to make one because i have a lot of pcb board so can you please give me the size of a pcb board additionally could you give me a size of the project box and antenna i would like to see how big they are thank you so much.

0
mrsensenig2000
mrsensenig2000

Question 11 months ago

Where do you connect the ground?

0
Drew Paul Designs
Drew Paul Designs

Answer 11 months ago

The ground can be wired at the electrolytic capacitor bridge between the outputs, opposite the antennae.

0
chuckr44
chuckr44

Question 4 years ago on Step 1

How much can the specs on the capacitors vary? I want to use a 20-30ft wire on a PVC pole as my antenna, and might get 100v or so. Should I just increase the voltage rating of the caps to about 100-150volts?

0
Drew Paul Designs
Drew Paul Designs

Answer 11 months ago

Fellow scientist, you are on the way!

Your estimate may be correct and I would like to help as much as I can.

So, yes. You will probably land around 110v but this is highly influenced by your environment. At this scale you will want to optimize components for your application. I am a proponent for the trial-and-error method in this instance.

Capacity is an important factor at this scale as well. Insufficient capacity and charge rate can result in large bleed offs. I'd perhaps look in this direction: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supercapacitor

Lastly, your 20-30ft antenna will want to optimized as well, for best results. Try spiraling the antennae around the PVC. Lastly, pay equal attention to the substantiality of your ground as to your antennae. Each can be a path of greater resistance, a bottleneck.

It sounds like you are on the path to some substantial power production. Keep me updated! drew at drewpauldesigns.com

0
mrsensenig2000
mrsensenig2000

Answer 11 months ago

You will not get that much power out of only one. It would take at least 28 of these.

0
Drew Paul Designs
Drew Paul Designs

Reply 11 months ago

You're right and now that we have familiarized ourselves with this astounding concept, we can scale it up.

After we scale up our antennae and ground, we can start to run these in series and parallel to increase our results. Better yet though, we can scale up our components.

By introducing industrial capacitors, supercapacitors, antennae towers with deep-earth grounding we could sequentially scale this circuit up, by orders of magnitude, to the size of a power plant.

0
mrsensenig2000
mrsensenig2000

Tip 11 months ago

Here is my diagram if it helps.

Helpful.png
0
chuckr44
chuckr44

Question 4 years ago on Step 1

I see the 4 diodes. Does this output DC voltage? If I make a 30ft copper wire antenna, will that increase the voltage?

0
utopiaproject2019
utopiaproject2019

Question 11 months ago on Step 5

Hi,
I copied your schematics but the output dc voltage seems to be jumping up and down..


I'm trying to get 4.8- 5volts as the output so I can run an arduino off the grid..

Is the only way to just add each circuit in series until the required voltage is present?
Or can the circuit fit on 1x pcb board?
Some advice would be greatly appreciated.


Thank you

0
Drew Paul Designs
Drew Paul Designs

Answer 11 months ago

Ok, I am here to help.

Voltage fluctuations can be due to anything from loose or unreliable components to fluctuations in ambient RF energy. Try isolating each variable and you will find the solution.

Run an arduido off grid! That is one of the applications which I always had in mind!

Yes, add them in series. Bingo! And, for sure, they can all be built on the same circuit board, if you're clever (and you obviously are!) Just be sure to integrate a comparatively tall antennae and a sufficient ground to supply the current.

I hope this helps and you can also contact me through my website any time.
www.DrewPaulDesigns.com

0
xpider78
xpider78

Question 1 year ago

If you scale it up, what could the maximum out put possible?
Is there a way to try to collect, receive, catch the maximum wave's range (fm, am.. electrostatic )
Thanks so much for this article, i'm amazed

0
tantonj
tantonj

1 year ago

When scaling this circuit in parallel and/or series are multiple antenna required? And for clarification, the input connection (where the antenna attaches to the circuit) is ground, correct?
I've attached what I think the appropriate circuit diagram would be for a 2s4p configuration. Could you please correct any errors I may have made?

rfgen.png
0
Drew Paul Designs
Drew Paul Designs

Reply 1 year ago

Time to scale it up! Thanks for taking interest in my project. I am so happy to see it still getting attention.
I see some adjustments are indeed necessary to tour circuit diagram however. Firstly, no, the antennae and ground should not be connected except through the circuit (otherwise the charge will bypass the circuit by taking the path of least resistance. Connect the antennae, as is, connect the ground to the points between the output capacitors. That should so it.
Feel free to send over a revised circuit diagram and I would be happy to review it for you.

0
tantonj
tantonj

Reply 1 year ago

Yes, I had realized that and already uploaded a revised circuit (look at my other comment). Thanks for the assistance.

0
tantonj
tantonj

1 year ago

Okay, I think I was confused about ground. I've attached a new circuit diagram of a 3s2p configuration. I used the ground symbol instead of connecting each component to a common ground to make it easier to read. The ground is connected to the point between the two electrolytic capacitors. Please confirm if this is correct Drew.

rfgen2.png