- 1 Background of technology, including the basic science foundation
- 2 Current state of the technology
- 3 Required inputs for energy generation
- 4 Organizations/researchers working with this technology
- 5 Reasons why the science and technology has not moved forward
- 6 Costs of facilities, production, now and projected future costs with improvements
- 7 Intellectual Property surrounding technology
- 8 Ability to be scaled
- 9 Environmental impact
- 10 Risks associated with a prize in this space
- 11 Positive energy tests to evaluate this technology
- 12 References
Background of technology, including the basic science foundation
The ability to generate an electric current by passing a magnet through a coil of electrically conductive wires is well known, and commonly referred to as the Michael Faraday effect.The use of wires wound around a rotating bank of magnets is a common practice in the manufacture of electric motors and electric power generators.It has long been a common practice to use naturally occurring mechanical power to generate electricity. Hydraulic generation of power uses water currents to turn turbines; wave's motion has been proposed to generate electricity; new wind-driven propellers are now making electricity and solar energy can be captured and converted to electric energy by using solar panels.All of these devices convert an external physical force or energy into electricity. The biggest problem with such devices is that the source of energy is not always constant. Water currents, wind and solar energy often-times are not predictable and, in the case of solar power, it is not available during the night.It is, therefore, an objective to develop electricity from a source that is relatively constant and predictable.
The earth's core has a large molten mass of iron. The motion of solid earth's crust around the molten iron core by earth's axial rotation is believed to create geomagnetism. The energy created by this magnetic field is often visible in the northern sky, called the Northern lights or Aurora Borealis. Permanent magnets likely draw on the earth's magnetism to sustain their magnetism. Unlike solar power, which needs sunlight to generate power, and therefore is limited to daylight hours for power generation, geomagnetic fields are a substantially constant source of continuous power available as long as the earth's core remains molten and the earth continues to rotate on its axis. Permanent magnets, over a very long time, will lose some of their power in terms of their magnetic field strength; however, even this can be recharged by exposure to high intensity magnetism. Accordingly, the earth's magnetic field energy provides a constant source equivalent to a trickle charge to maintain the permanent magnets field energy over long periods of time, hence the name permanent has been applied to these magnets.The present invention as described below, rather than creating free energy, actually taps into the enormous hidden potential of energy from mother earth. First, the magnet is used to convert magnetism to electricity and, the magnet itself is deriving its power from earth's magnetism (Geomagnetism). Next, by using the earth's gravity in conjunction with “air coils” to provide momentum, momentum being a product of mass and velocity, means that by moving permanent magnets into coils provides a source of electricity. We contend that gravity augments the momentum imparted by the mass of the magnets and the velocity of the magnets coursing through the coils. The momentum is an important actor in the present invention as it helps sustain the motion of the magnets themselves. The above notion (that of adding gravity into the mix) is a novel assumption by the present invention.
The current scientific principles describe momentum as the product of mass times velocity. Our contention is that gravity augments the momentum as described below. If one undertakes a thought experiment in which the experimenter travels at the same velocity as on the surface of the earth, but in a spaceship far away from the influence of any celestial body (i.e. near zero gravity and in the vacuum of space) an abrupt braking will not result in any momentum. Since the mass and the velocity had not changed, one can infer that here on earth the presence of gravity plays a dominant role in imparting momentum. It is a further object to create a device that can generate electricity with very few losses in efficiency while having no adverse effects on the surrounding environment.The following described preferred invention uses a magnetic repulsive force generated when two like poles are in close proximity to maintain motion while also converting the moving magnetic force fields into electricity to generate a power supply. The provision of a larger number of windings on one end of the coil is designed to boost this repulsive force to advantage, while minimizing any drag on the system by any opposing attractive force.
Current state of the technology
Electric Power Generation from Earth’s Rotation through its Own Magnetic Field
-By Christopher F. Chyba and Kevin P. Hand.
-Posted in Physics Review Applied, a peer-reviewed scientific journal.
This article discusses the fact that there is a proof that shows that this kind of power generation is not possible. However, it goes on to mention a loophole they have identified in this proof, which will "show that voltage can be continuously generated in a low-magnetic-Reynolds-number conductor". They say that this power generation would be available globally, but that more testing needs to be performed in order to understand if it can be scaled to provide emission-free power generation in a practical matter.
Gravity-assisted geomagnetic generator (patent)
-Invented by Puthalath Koroth Raghuprasad
This patent describes a geomagnetic generator that "has a guide means, one or more moving permanent magnets, a plurality of coils and a battery or series of batteries". It discusses how using this as a power source is superior to solar, wind, and water current generated power due to it being more predictable than all three and available around the clock, in regards to a downside of solar power. The magnets used are considered to be permanent; even though they lose some power, it is over a very long time period and can be recharged.
Why Can't Magnetism be Used As A Source of Energy?
This article is from MIT's "Ask An Engineer" part of the school of engineering discusses why there are issues with Earth's magnetic field being used as an energy source. It states that magnetism is a force, but has none of its own energy. However, they also mention that it is good at converting energy types and this concept is used in power generation from fossil fuels, nuclear, wind, and other sources that are used already. It also discusses the fact that there are studies being done about the use of rare earth magnets.
Electrodynamic Tethers for Energy Harvesting and Propulsion on Space Platforms
-Part of AIAA Space conference
This article discusses a power generation idea that has been tested and geomagnetism was involved. Electrodynamic tethers provide power for spacecrafts. They have been shown to be effective at both small and large scale sizes. One part of this process uses an electromotive force that is generated along a wire that is part of the tether. This electromotive force generation happens because of "the Lorentz force on the electrons in the tether as the system travels through the geomagnetic field". They recommend further study on the topic to understand the extent of its uses.
7 years ago the Spanish engineer, D. Antonio Romero, developed and patented an electromagnetic generator capable of producing electricity without any form of energy intake based on Nikola Tesla’s Electro Magnetic Resonance invention. This self-powered and autonomous electricity generator is the OMEGA Electromagnetic Generator RF-5000, manufactured by TechnoKontrol, a Belgium company. [The reference provides no technical details of how this is supposed to work; perhaps mechanical input (energy) is required to turn the generator? The video suggests rotational motion - like traditional generators.]
This machine is estimated to be capable of generating 1 MW (1,000 KW) of 100% clean electricity, or higher, with absolutely no emission or pollution or fuel consumption of any kind whatsoever. The electromagnetic characteristic of this machine derived from the use of permanent magnets makes it super efficient with unlimited power and entirely free from any pollution and expensive maintenance costs.
It is estimated that the generator can work continuously for 50 years with low cost maintenance. This electromagnetic electricity machine can easily be scaled down for the average home providing electricity use of 20 KW, or 30 KW, at a very affordable price.
There are truly countless benefits of this electromagnetic electricity generator, which requires absolutely NO external fuel of any kind, no air, no water, no electricity, no fossil fuels such as oil, coal, natural gas or toxic nuclear fuel. There’s no threat of accidents or health hazards.
Required inputs for energy generation
A physicist could calculate this based on the strength of the magnetic field, and the speed at which the conductor passes through those lines of the magnetic field.
The inputs for any energy generation process can be represented as shown in the System Representation.  The efficiency of the system is represented by the output energy divided by the input energy. Note that all energy inputs should be accounted for. Essentially any solution is turning kinetic energy (input) into electrical energy. So it would make little sense to expend energy by launching, or flying, structures from the Earth's surface.
However, a potential futuristic solution might be possible - see Positive energy tests.
Organizations/researchers working with this technology
AESOP Energy LLC
Aesop Energy LLC is one company that is working with this technology. They are developing prototypes of geomagnetic generators. This article about them mentions that while power is needed to operate geomagnetic generators if they are using an electromagnet in place of the opposing magnet in the generator, the output is much higher. They predict that this technology will be able to replace fossil fuels quickly. Additionally, they say that they are cost-competitive, though exact figures are not provided.
"AESOP Energy LLC is a start-up technology development Holding Company affiliated with the non-profit AESOP Institute in Sebastopol, California, USA, designing revolutionary, clean, effective, and economically viable 24/7 alternatives to existing mobile and fixed power generating equipment that can supersede intermittent solar and wind systems. Initial technology includes Fuel-Free engines and Geomagnetic Generators."
Reasons why the science and technology has not moved forward
A potential futuristic solution might be possible - see Positive energy tests.
Costs of facilities, production, now and projected future costs with improvements
Reliant on the costs associated with an active space-based construction, and maintenance, industry; which might emerge in the 2020s or 2030s.
Intellectual Property surrounding technology
- (Gunderson, 2006) US 20060163971 A1 Solid state electric generator A solid-state electrical generator including at least one permanent magnet, magnetically coupled to a ferromagnetic core provided with at least one hole penetrating its volume; the hole(s) and magnet(s) being placed such that the hole(s) penetrating the ferromagnetic core's volume intercept flux from the permanent magnet(s) coupled into the ferromagnetic core. A first wire coil is wound around the ferromagnetic core for the purpose of moving the coupled permanent magnet flux within the ferromagnetic core. A second wire is routed through the hole(s) penetrating the volume of the ferromagnetic core, for the purpose of intercepting this moving magnetic flux, thereby inducing an output electromotive force. A changing voltage applied to the first wire coil causes coupled permanent magnet flux to move within the core relative to the hole(s) penetrating the core volume, thus inducing electromotive force along wire(s) passing through the hole(s) in the ferromagnetic core. The mechanical action of an electrical generator is thereby synthesized without use of moving parts... "means of magnetically modulating said core is achieved by exposure to an externally generated magnetic field, such as the Earth's magnetic field".
- (Raghuprasad, 2010) US 20120098272 A1 Gravity-assisted geomagnetic generator "The present invention relates to an apparatus that generates electric currents through a plurality of coils to power or charge a battery using one or more moving permanent magnets passing through coils. This power generation is sustained by the persistence of magnetism in the permanent magnets for long periods, perhaps indefinitely. This persistence of magnetism, we contend is because the magnets are constantly being re-magnetized by proximity to the magnetic field of the earth (Geomagnetism)."
- (Raghuprasad, 2012) US 20120313457 A1 Gravity-assisted geomagnetic generator "A geomagnetic power generating apparatus has a guide means, one or more moving permanent magnets, a plurality of coils and a battery or series of batteries. The movement of the one or more permanent magnets generates an electric current in the coils to charge the battery. The moving magnets generate electric currents within the coils causing a major propulsive magnetic field to act on the magnet augmenting its momentum along the guide path."
- (McCrady, 2013) US 20140285047 A1 EcoCharge The earth's magnetic field has not been mined as a source of energy for electric vehicles. With average field strength of 0.5 Tesla around the world it is easy to understand why it has been overlooked. A disruptive technology is needed to mine the earth's magnetic field for powering electric vehicles. Such a technology, graphene, is now at an early stage of development with excellent properties in the form of high conductivity, low resistivity sheets that are durable, light weight, and low cost. Electrical properties of multiple sheets of graphene provide a significant multiplier to earth's weak magnetic field yielding a feasible source of ecologically clean power for electric vehicles. Graphene based EcoCharge systems can be mounted on a vehicles drive shaft and axles putting graphene in motion to mine the earth's magnetic field. Estimates show that EcoCharge can generate 15.1 kW at 60 mph while weighing only 10 oz.
- (McCrady, 2015) US 20150280540 A1 EcoCharge Power Plant The earth's magnetic field has not been mined as a source of energy. With average field strength of 0.5×10−4 Tesla around the world it is easy to understand why. A disruptive technology is needed to mine the earth's magnetic field. Such a technology, graphene, is now at an early stage of development with excellent properties in the form of high conductivity, low resistivity sheets that are durable, light weight, and low cost. Multiple sheets of graphene provide a significant multiplier to earth's magnetic field yielding a feasible source of ecologically clean power. Graphene based EcoCharge units can be driven by electric motors putting graphene in motion to mine the earth's magnetic field. Estimates show that 150 EcoCharge units driven by 15 electric motors using 905 kW of input electrical power will generate 504 MW, the output power of a standard coal fired power plant.
- (McCrady, 2016) US 9539906 B2 EcoCharge powered planes and drones In general, EcoCharge units comprising the plane and drone implementation will be mounted in the gondola or fuselage and wing orthogonal to one another to maximize the conversion of the earth's magnetic field to electrical energy. Conversion of magnetic to electrical energy is a maximum when the graphene sheets and the earth's magnetic field are oriented at 0° with respect to one another and the orthogonal orientation of the two EcoCharge units maximize this process...
- (Almeda, 2014) EP 2997648 A2 Magnetic power generator "A magnetic power generator is powered by the Earth's magnetic field, also known as the geomagnetic field. The power generator includes at least one rotor assembly configured to rotate about a rotational axis, such axis typically disposed at an angle from the horizontal so as to be in alignment with the Earth's magnetic field."
- (De'Wana, 2014) US 20160190906 A1 Geomagnetic Device A portable and/or stationary device that yields enormous amount of clean energy. With a twist of the wrist the machine is capable of producing energy that will sustain the average modern household electricity needs and/or modified will be a power plant's energy source. The utility gadget is extremely cost-effective and durable as well as perdurable. A precisely leveled linear torque design maximizes energy production and efficiency of parts.
- (Loveshin, 2015) US 20160016476 A1 Systems and methods for collecting, storing and using electrical energy from the earth magnetic field Methods and systems for using the Earth's magnetic field to power a machine having a motor, the system including a computer, a plurality of wires, a plurality of energy storing devices, all in controlled electrical communication with each other, wherein the plurality of wires can collect electrical energy from the Earth's magnetic field while the machine is put in motion by a power source powering the motor, wherein the collected electrical energy is stored in the plurality of energy storing devices or used to power the motor.
Ability to be scaled
Scalability of this technology will depend critically on power density, i.e. kW/kg obtained. Furthermore, if rare-earths are essential then this could quickly become a limiting factor. If McCrady's projections about using his system in drones and aircraft prove to be correct, then some optimism about scalability may be warranted (aircraft are among the most difficult vehicles to power, since weight and volume are critical parameters).
The energy generation process can be represented as shown in the System Representation. For this technology to be scaled up consideration needs to be given to the logistics of scaling up of the input energy and/or input materials, and to the environmental impact arising from pollutants, waste, and land use.
A potential futuristic solution might be possible - see Positive energy tests. However, we are in uncharted territory here (literally). It requires an assessment of the above factors within the context of a space-based construction, and maintenance, industry; and we might not have that until the 2020s or 2030s.
There is no known harmful environmental impact by using geomagnetism to power geomagnetic generator.
Energy technologies can be broadly categorised using the Sustainability Scale. This takes into account all aspects of the technologies life-cycle, including its dependencies. A potential futuristic solution might be possible - see Positive energy tests. However, we are in uncharted territory here (literally). It requires an assessment of the the environmental impact within the context of a space-based construction, and maintenance, industry; and we might not have that until the 2020s or 2030s.
It seems likely that masses in orbit will eventually decay and come crashing toward Earth, hopefully burning up in the atmosphere. Calculations would be required to determine how frequently this would happen, and how much mass would fall to Earth; which would be dependent on the scale of the deployment.
Risks associated with a prize in this space
Risks are associated with all radical innovations, and that can be due to several factors. A good technology might not succeed in the marketplace due to poor marketing and promotion.
The perceived safety and environmental impact of a technology is also important to successful adoption.    Dragging massive asteroids into Earth orbit would probably raise a few eyebrows, and stimulate recollections of Armageddon asteroid impact movies.
Poor implementation of a technology can also prevent successful adoption of a good technology. The implementation of this is dependent on an effective and efficient space-based construction, and maintenance, industry; which we do not yet have. These are risks that come into effect after the awarding of an energy technology prize, but perhaps the associated challenge can provide post award support to ensure that these risks are reduced. Contacts in the space industry would be useful, but the timing might be inappropriate [perhaps towards the end of the 2020s might be more appropriate].
In addition, of course, there can be risks associated with the technical efficacy of the technology itself, and the logistics surrounding its development, operation and decommissioning. Decommissioning in this context perhaps means crashing objects towards the Earth and allowing them to burn up in the atmosphere.
It might be a viable technology, at some point in the future; but not now, perhaps. [Energy XPRIZE 2 ?]
Positive energy tests to evaluate this technology
This is especially crucial for technologies that are as yet untested, or have not yet generated large amounts of verifiable performance data. What conditions would need to be met for this technology to be considered unequivocally “verified” or “validated”?
The electromagnetic effect of changing magnetic field lines in a conductor is well known - nearly all power station generators use the effect. Attention here might need to focus on the energy required to assemble and maintain the (large) structures, and how that energy consumption compares to the energy generated.
The space tether experiment
An archived report on the NASA site describes an experiment that did not go to plan, but it did produce some data.  "The space tether experiment, a joint venture of the US and Italy, called for a scientific payload--a large, spherical satellite--to be deployed from the US space shuttle at the end of a conducting cable (tether) 20 km (12.5 miles) long. The idea was to let the shuttle drag the tether across the Earth's magnetic field, producing one part of a dynamo circuit. The return current, from the shuttle to the payload, would flow in the Earth's ionosphere, which also conducted electricity, even though not as well as the wire."
"The instruments aboard the tether satelite showed that this plasma diverted through the pinhole about 1 ampere, a current comparable to that of a 100-watt bulb (but at 3500 volts!), to the metal of the shuttle and from there to the ionospheric return circuit. That current was enough to melt the cable."
So that seems to suggest that 3500 W, or 3.5 kW, of power was produced, before the tether broke.
This suggests one wire of length 20 km produced 3.5 kW. So, it appears that 0.175 W/m per wire (3500 W / 20,000 m) could be generated.
Imagine a cube occupying a one metre cubed volume with wires spaced at one cm: 100 wires per plane and 100 planes: 10,000 wires. That might generate 1750 Watts (1.75 kW) per metre cubed. So a structure 100 m by 100 m by 1 m (one hectare) might produce 17500 kW (17.5 MW) of continuous power (until the orbit decayed). It might be possible to pack the wires much closer together: one per millimetre. That leads to 100 times more output: one hectare might produce 1750 MW, or 1.75 GW which is comparable to a good sized power station!
If all of the above is correct then that sounds quite promising.
A solution to the catch
Sounds to good to be true?
Using the law of conservation of energy we know that the electric energy comes from somewhere and that is from the kinetic energy of the structure in orbit. So launching a massive structure from Earth might not be the most effective use of our energy reserves.
However, directing a nearby asteroid into Earth orbit gives us a large energy source (kinetic energy) for relatively little energy expenditure. (The momentum of the asteroid is used to drag the constructed structure around in orbit.)
- Gravity-assisted geomagnetic generator US 20120098272 A1
- Electric Power Generation from Earth’s Rotation through its Own Magnetic Field
- Why Can't Magnetism be Used As a Source of Energy
- Electrodynamic Tethers for Energy Harvesting and Propulsion on Space Platforms
- Omega RF5000 1 MW Autonomous Magnetic Generator
- Bostock A. (2017). System Representation, Energy Wiki
- Geomagnetic Generator: 24/7 green power?
- Sustainability Scale
- Slovic and Weber (2013). Perception of Risk Posed by Extreme Events, Regulation of Toxic Substances and Hazardous Waste (2nd edition) (Applegate, Gabba, Laitos, and Sachs, Editors), Foundation Press, Forthcoming
- Michael Siegrist, Heinz Gutscher & Timothy C. Earle (2006). Perception of risk: the influence of general trust, and general confidence, Journal of Risk Research: Volume 8, 2005 - Issue 2
- Linda Steg and Inge Sievers (2016). Cultural Theory and Individual Perceptions of Environmental Risks, Environment and Behavior: Vol 32, Issue 2, pp. 250 - 269, First published date: July-26-2016
- The Space Tether Experiment