In 2005, I did not know about Nikola’s motor, now I do and realize we both have been on the same path in different times and different places. I wonder what he would have thought or said if he looked at my version of the motor… Probably a little bit of laughter and surprise and then we would discuss this phenomenon a bit more.
When I was a teenager, I tried to pull a prank on my dad. A schoolfriend showed me a tiny little firecracker which was about 1mm in diameter and 5mm long. We sneaked into a corner of the schoolyard, he placed the firecracker on the ground and enflamed it with a gas lighter. There was no fuse on it just the long round cylindric cracker. It blew up with a hiss and a puff of smoke. Amazing small little beautiful firecracker to put in the cigarette of any person that lights the thing!
So, I exchanged one of his firecrackers for my best boulder because that is what my friend asked in return for that amazing gag. After school, it must have been on a lazy summer Wednesday because every Wednesday school was out in the afternoon. I gave my mom a hug and a kiss and greeted my dad the same way. I started to talk to my dad, explaining my morning at school while I fumbled with his pack of cigarettes. Secretly I planned to take a cigarette from the pack, place the firecracker in the cigarette and fumble it back into its box, sticking out just a bit more than the rest. Eventually I succeeded in my plan and a few moments later offered my dad a cigarette. By surprise, my dad took the right cigarette from the box and lit the damn thing. I started to feel remorse because I then realized that it could injure him when the cigarette bud would explode around the firecracker. It would eject all burning tabaco into a random trajectory away from the cracker in every direction. It was just after I saw my dad’s gentle smiling eye’s that I snitched the burning cigarette from his mouth and immediately placed it in the ashtray, the cigarette went off launching all burning fragments and pieces into the air! I then looked worried at my dad’s eyes again and saw twinkling and tears while he was laughing out loud! He told me he was alright and that he really liked the prank. God rest his soul!
Later that year I found a lighter and lighter flint in the drawer of the kitchenette and saw the resemblance with the firecracker I used before. Living in a mansion in Antwerp gave me the opportunity to make use of seclusion, the stairway gave access to the basement of the mansion, in the old days the place where the coal man dropped his load of coal. In my days, the basement was a tools and boiler room and in the other one the oil tank room. The tools room was the place to be, I needed a pliers to ignite the newly found lighter flint. I took the pliers, and placed the flint between its beaks, and discovered that the flint slightly stuck to the beaks. I understood magnetics a bit from earlier explorations with bicycle magnet-motors and Lego trains, and decided that the pliers was magnetic because I took the flint from its beaks and placed it onto its side and the flint stood tall even when I rotated the pliers, it did not fall off. It was the perfect tool to ignite the flint without burning my fingers, I thought! So, I took the lighter and held the pliers so that I could reach the flint easily enough with the flame of the lighter holding my hands on a safe distance from my face. There was no way I could injure myself and felt confident in my exploration. Suddenly, after some moments heating with the lighter in my right hand, the flint came loose from its grip of the pliers in my left hand and fell straight between my fingers of my right hand. That started my reactive response in dropping my lighter and pliers simultaneously to examine the damage inflicted to my fingers. It left a burn mark of the flint’s dimensions onto my right hand’s middle finger and it stung more than a bee sting.
When I returned to reality from this horrifying moment, and directed my focus back to the flint, it seemed it had regained its capability to stick to the pliers again but it did not explode as I had hoped for. As a matter of fact, no external damage was visible at all. An idea was born…
Discovery in the lab
Throughout the years, I often played with this flint phenomenon and occasionally studied behavior in mental and physical sense, until finally a distant friend suggested it might be a good idea to start real work on one of my ideas, just to regain from a terrible loss in my life, I guess. He funded the first costs for materials and tools. Not too long after that I started to design my first heliostat on the dining table, not to the liking of my wife I should say. It transformed the dining room into a dusty workplace and eventually, I had to move into seclusion again. Our tiny shed in the backyard gave me, aside from working on my ideas, the possibility to keep co-running a happy family in peace and tranquility.
I needed a heliostat to do my further experimental work using only concentrated solar power to drive the main motor. I had no knowledge of dimensions and power need, nor the comprehension of used materials and their capabilities. So, study gave me further deepening and insight into the phenomenon. My first rotor initially consisted of a 58mm round rotor body attached to a small bearing and axle squeezed between a workbench. The rotor had 16 holes in a pitch circle and in those holes stood 16 flints lined up to be zapped. The used heater was a tea light construction placed on a strategic point underneath the pitch circle, and a permanent magnet was used to produce the magnetic field needed to “drop” the flints. My aim was to produce steady rotation of the rotor.
The rotor spun faster than expected and even produced some other magnificent capability: holding the rotor from spinning made it produce an extra effort to work against my grip! And all of nature’s physics is suddenly thrown at me! I had to sit down to regain myself from spinning.
Many years passed by and multiple versions of rotors, burners, and heliostats or even simulation equipment were built to learn and prove that there is more than just the phenomenal energy capacity of a rotor. Compounds like Cerium/Magnesium alloys, Heusler alloys, and materials like Iron, Nickel and Cobalt brought diverse applicable variants of rotors for many purposes, and in every one of those variants, the need for mathematical explanation as a director, and mostly a guide into the total energy capacity of such a system, had been problematic and time consuming.
Putting all the compressed solar energy into a little piece of nickel and have it spin around is one thing, but actually exchanging that accumulated compressed solar energy into a hydraulic system and use that as portable power, is yet another.
What if we can accumulate a really big chunk of that power and just use it for whatever purpose we see fit? How much power could we really harness from direct sunlight? And how much of it could we store over which period of time?