Friday, November 9, 2012

The 888-USP Recharge as you Drive gizmo and Faraday's law of Induction

What if an electric car could generate electricity while it's driving down the road?  This question is frequently asked about electric cars, but it would tend to violate some fundamental principles of physics.  There is this effect called Regenerative Braking which gathers electricity by slowing the car down without using mechanical braking.  Regenerative braking fits within these fundamental physics principles by converting inertia to run the electric motor as a generator and gather some electricity.

Today's perpetual motion video shows a different method of capturing electricity while driving an electric car.  It's presented by Lionel Kools, a Belgian who's living in Australia.

He claims to have been working on "Recharge as you drive" technology since 2006, and has unveiled the following video to explain the "888-USP" Recharge as you drive technology.  Details are at

The drive shaft is the rod in the center, the disc on the drive shaft is the flywheel.
Magnets are located around the edge of the flywheel.
The two cylinders on each side are the pistons.

The basic method is to attach extra equipment to the drive shaft of a vehicle, between the electric motor and the wheels.  This is a flywheel with high power magnets on the outside, and there are pistons next to the flywheel also with high power magnets.  As the flywheel turns the magnetic force drives the pistons in a frictionless means, and then the pistons are used to generate electricity.

It sounds wonderful, and the animations look like it'd be trivial to build.  However the first clue should be that he does not show a working prototype.  The second clue should be that at the end the video goes on and on about how it can be applied to any field.

I don't know the exact way to describe the physics, but the problem with his design has to do with the force required to push two magnetic fields together.  Take two magnets and play around with them, and depending on their polarity they'll either stick together strongly, requiring force to pull them apart, or repel each other, requiring force to push them together.

As the gizmo he describes turns, the magnets on the flywheel and pistons will be continually moving in and out of those two relationships.  It means as the driveshaft/flywheel turns, it'll be continually having to spend some of the force traveling down the drive shaft moving the magnets through attraction and repelling phases.  I tried to understand what the Magnetic Flux page on Wikipedia says, but over on the page describing Faraday's law of Induction describes magnetic generators and says
The energy required to keep the [generator] moving, ... is exactly equal to the electrical energy generated (plus energy wasted due to friction, Joule heating, and other inefficiencies). This behavior is common to all generators converting mechanical energy to electrical energy.
Watching the video I had the feeling that this was so simple, looked so easy to build, I could see a way to retrofit this on my own electric car, but that surely a physicist or two would have already thought of this and tried it out.