WindTapper's Journal - Grassroots Green Energy Projects

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WindTapper's Blog

Static Electrcity

Positive Idea

I couldn't tell you how many hours I have spent trying to design a magnetic generator for my large whirligig that has been spinning for over a year in the same place in our yard. The problem lies between wind turbulence and the need to control the side-to-side motion of the gig.

I had already decided that a narrower gig was the way to go, but that still requires an anchor which interferes with the space in between, where I want to put the coils. I know. Having a central pole allows access on the sides if the anchor is at the bottom of the pole.

But I still have this large gig. So now I got an idea to make the large gig into a static electricity generator, with its malleable anchor as a hoop over the tall ceramic pipe.

When I dry polyester nightgowns in our electric dryer, with no dryer sheet, I get nasty static sparks upon trying to pull the nightgown apart from itself at the end of the cycle. So the electric charge holds the like sides of the material together. I had been thinking it was a positively charged fabric, but I think, actually, that polyester is negatively charged.

Oops. I was thinking that if I wrap nylon around the hoop, then place a metal screen over another piece of nylon, wrapped around the ceramic pipe, where the two pieces of fabric could rub against each other during the spinning of the gig, then I could get the discharge to flow into the screen. I was thinking of the discharge as negative. But if Polyester is involved and if it is negative, then it is held together by a positive ion.

All I know is that when that nightgown discharges into my chest, it hurts. So there must be some power there. I'll just have to try it.

Making Lists, & Etc.

Making lists of possible collectors, transmitters, and storage devices for electrons and protons garnered from the sun and wind has become a very large task. Some value to this task can be seen as I work through the problem. Concentrating on a single attractant at first is helping me to discern the large number of permutations, at least, of treatments of the single attractant as it relates to the idea of collecting electric charges.

Then there are another set of possible mounting devices, on which I also made some progress today in our yard, but only some. I sawed the 20 foot reinforcement rod in half. Whoopee Do!

I also purchased some new foam that might insulate the rod. The foam is also cut weird. Instead of being purely round it has four notches down its considerable length -- four feet. It can be fit together lengthwise, too. So some other possibilities arise, not only for mounting electron and positive ion attractants, but also for winding coils.

So today I had some fun imagining various sets of variables to experiment on, besides planning how to straighten out our backyard weed and erosion problems.

Not a bad day, all in all....

Weather, Etc.

I love 50 degrees Fahrenheit, with no rain. I think I would very much enjoy Van Couver. My husband, on the other hand, prefers 95 degrees on the Gulf Coast. Ah well. No accounting for taste.

This morning I finally succeeded in splitting our furnace exhaust into two streams so I might perform some Lord Kelvin experiments with some relatively passive voltage production. I already had the parts -- just had to saw one pipe in half and switch a few joints. Probably, however, I start with a disadvantage. It finally occurred to me this morning that all the pipe is PVC, which is inherently negative. The positive ions are probably sloughed off during cooling when the condensation runs off the inside and flows down the pipe to the ground. I will just have to try to keep my negative and positive metal inside sleeves out of the run off at the bottoms of the pipes, I guess.

One thing that I am sure of. Regardless of my success or failure in carbon reduction for the air, I definitely enjoy sending the CO and CO2 away from our kitchen window, our back door, and our back porch. This makes our immediate environment safer for ourselves and our cats -- possibly adding to our collective longevity.

Also, this morning I realized that I already have a supply of carbon. I have been saving all the water purifier filters, which contain activated charcoal. I have a couple quarts of this stuff. It is already containing chlorine, calcium, and perhaps a few traces of metals, but I should do my carbon experiments using this stuff, too, as well as the carbon fibers.

This morning I will run the ignition and conductivity tests on the fiber and activated charcoal. I am still wondering how to mount the test cells, both in wind and in the best sunlight I can find around here. Those are two MORE variables to track.

Tomorrow's Experiments

Tomorrow looks like it will be a good day to start experimenting with collecting electrons and positive ions. I hope to mix up my most potent sounding insulator so that I can pair up the negative and positive sacks to help each other attract more of each item.

When I listed possible ingredients, terminals, and insulators, the matrix of possible combinations grew and grew. Right now I have only plastic bags or acrylic packing tape in which to hold a variety of compounds.

I had been trying to figure out how to attach these to my whirligig, but preliminary experiments don't need to be mobile. I could just hang them in a windy place and insulate their terminals with tape for now.

Wish me luck!

Carbon Fiber Experiment

Getting the material is Step 1. I received some fabric from Soller Composites yesterday. I see now -- from their website -- an alternative form which they call "tape." Its edges appear not to unravel, although, it is not sticky tape, as one might imagine when seeing the word "tape."

I also ran into their business card stapled to a warning and information sheet that must have come with the fabric that I ordered.

They say that the carbon fiber will conduct electricity. For that reason, they warn that I must keep their material away from all electricity. Hmmmm. They warn also that it has a limit of 150 Fahrenheit degrees, and to pay attention to all their safety information. Cutting into it creates dust that is hazardous, and epoxy resins carry their own risks and limits on temperatures, etc., etc.

So anyway, apparently the tape is the way to go in order to provide a stable material for encapsulation experiments. I am not so concerned about temperature since my product will be outside in the wind in a temperate climate, but I would have to be concerned if somebody in a hotter climate were to use it.

Also, the encapsulation materials will carry their own temperature limits, besides the idea that I will indeed be working with electricity -- if at all possible. I suppose I will have to try experiments first using single strands. Each strand is very wide with multiple fibers side-by-side. I should conduct some basic electricity experiments on it, too, testing for conductivity....

I do not expect high charges to be generated, and in fact seek to bleed off all charges continuously and quickly in order to keep the operator and any stray cats, dogs, neighbors, and babies from being zapped in people's yards that have my devices working to create electricity from the wind.

Oh yes. Soller Composites has website links to both spellings that their name's letters generate aurally: and

What If?

Discussing capacitance today with a fellow, he was saying that capacitors are not so great because they give up their power very quickly. I agree that they have their downside in that regard, except when there is very quick build-up and release of charges, as, say, when you have a generator flinging relatively small charges back and forth with AC sent to a rectifier, then to a battery.

Another idea I considered today -- but have no notion of whether it has any merit at all -- is that when one is charging a battery one has a sort of intrinsic voltage control. If the voltage is not high enough to overcome the 12 volts, then the battery won't be charged, but if the voltage builds up to be higher than the 12 - 14 volts on the battery, then the battery will be charged. If the charge is coming from a capacitor, it will be discharged quickly.

If the capacitor is constantly in contact with the battery, then it shouldn't build up too high of a charge, but rather discharge itself when its charge becomes high enough to overcome the voltage of the battery....

Of course, things are more complicated than this. I will have to think long and hard on this idea in order to come up even with something I might test....

Getting too much charge built up is, of course, dangerous on a capacitor since it can discharge so rapidly, so please don't try this at home unless you absolutely know what you are doing!

Later Note (4-15-15): Well, dudettes and dudes, I pretty much blew this one. I googled "voltage regulator,"  chose the "12 v" variety, then the images for circuits and devices. 300 pictures came up on page one. So, my experience with 12 volt batteries is VERY skewed by the existence of voltage regulators already on our vehicles.

Lately I have also been continuing to try to read Tipler's Physics. I am pretty much fooling myself that I am getting anything out of it. You know, when I studied speed reading, they told us to go ahead and read three times faster than you can understand because your comprehension speed would catch up eventually. They also had you read the material at least three times, btw. So I guess this is my first skim through the material in Vol. 3, lol, although I am not speed reading it by any means....

The Beatles and Physics?

I got into a chapter in Tipler's Physics called "Maxwell's Equations." After reading the chapter the song from the Beatles started running around in my head: "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" -- I suppose it could have been named, but I don't know if it was.

The Scotsman Maxwell came up with a sort of magical, silver bullet, whose math "is beyond the scope of this book." I suppose one of the Beatles could have seen or heard the story of a physics student trying to understand Maxwell's equations, and then penned that tune.

I enjoyed both.

You see, trying to compute the current across a capacitor creates the need to come up with the magical -- theoretically relatively "static" state of electricity on one side of the capacitor (which of course does not actually flow to the other side), causing a magnetic field in conjunction with the opposite side of the capacitor (since the opposite side is oppositely charged). So, you see, you have then a "displaced current" which is actually magnetism and is described by the same simple type of equation as the electrical "V = IR" type, only R doesn't exactly exist in a magnetic circuit. Or does it?

Tell THAT to a non-superconductor, heh, heh, or am I going MADD?

"Maxwell's silver hammer came down on" my "head," I guess.....LOL!

[Later Note: I think Maxwell's equations and "displaced current" across capacitors only works with AC current.]

Oh yes. I forgot to tell my reaction to the movie Insurgent which I found to be way better than the first of the series, Divergent. This one at least has a conclusion to it. Who knew it would turn out to make the case for General Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies, and a Liberal Arts education -- all at the same time? And in a post-apocalyptic Sci Fi flick?

I had feared this one would continue the gang warfare theme with actual disintegration of all infrastructure. It is not so hard to take as the first flick was, or that the trailer depicts. The flying building of the trailer is in a simulation, folks.

A Jumble-O-Rama

New ideas came to mind after reading some web stuff (including on basic chemistry as it relates to "electro-negativity." One factoid has the electron reaching a higher energy state when bombarded by light, so I am considering how to get light into my proposed anhydrous silica chamber(s).

I wonder about the availability of electrons. Can wire indefinitely produce moving electrons when cut by magnetic flux, or is there some limit? Would a silica dust chamber run out of electrons?

Studying periodic tables off the web, I got from (I think it was) that silicon is a quasi-metal, or rather, its classification as a semiconductor is related to the idea that it is not really a metal. So perhaps it would not provide as many electrons as I have been imagining.

I am going to read a bunch from the chemguide site, particularly info on electron shells of elements in order to possibly find some sources of electrons. Of course, putting magnets in motion next to wires will free electrons, so I am looking at the idea of putting round magnets inside a shell of wires, coating the spherical magnets with rubber, and letting them naturally be perturbed as they hang and fly around from the lowest level of turbine blades on the whirligig.... But then I have the problem of making a circuit so the electrons would flow, although, static electricity does not exactly require a circuit -- if you catch my drift. Static makes sparks.

The jumble comes from the lack of being able to predict exactly which direction of flow of the electricity produced, but this could be compensated for by placing directional diodes in strategic places....

Merry Christmas!

We are having a lovely Christmas. After dinner I got a chance to work on the ideas I am having for creating an electricity generator. Ideas can be ephemeral so I record them in case they have legs, lol.

This evening I am working on the idea of sending the negative charge through a wire or other metal, up the central pole of the gig, from the negative chamber, eventually to the positive side of a small battery. The difficulties with this are mainly two: 1. Avoiding having the wire or other material break due to swinging and vibration; 2. Keeping the conductor insulated from precipitation, both on entry to the negative chamber, and connection at the swivel.

Using a chain inside the hollow pole and tethering the chamber at its bottom to the wind turbine blade level could reduce wear and tear, but also reduce the production of silica dust. Perhaps if I coated the inside of the pole with silicon, the chain might free some dust? But also want to be very careful to not build a design that generates noise.

Bicycle chain comes covered with a plastic or vinyl. I want to also keep the conductor as negative -- itself -- as possible until it arrives at the positive terminal in order to provide the difference in potential required for the movement of electrons. I need to cover the swivel to keep it out of the wind and rain, therefore. Perhaps a cone of vinyl would suffice for each place: the entrance to the pole as well as the swivel.

Oh. Family calls on Christmas. Merry Christmas!

Rethinking Silica Dust Generation

Perhaps bags of fine sand that are not very heavy, plus made from material that is permeable could be hung inside a rotating, dry chamber. With the vagaries of the wind turning the chamber and swinging it side-to-side a bit in the process -- on the average day -- perhaps the bags of fine sand bumping together would be enough to generate silica dust within the chamber.

The chamber could be lined with aluminum, to catch the silica dust on its surface but insulated from the foil's backing so that the negative charge would not dissipate. The outside of the chamber would be rotating in the wind and precipitation, so it would be naturally positive.

How does this help us?

I could send the charge from the outside of the chamber to ground -- the same ground where the battery's negative terminal is attached. Thus providing "holes" to both ground and the negative terminal of the battery. I wonder if I could send the negative charge from the center or insides of the chamber, up the central pole of the gig, and on to the positive side of the battery, without compromising the dryness of the inside of the chamber?

These opposite charges being supplied to the battery -- I think -- need directional diodes to keep the battery's charge from leaking back out to the gig. These opposite charges are for actually charging the battery and need to be above 12 volts, in order to overcome the battery's intrinsic power pressure, or voltage.

Thinking Through Recent Design Ideas, Out Loud

Take these thoughts with a grain of salt. Salt prevents ants from getting a good bead on you, lol.

1. a. Passive electron/hole collecting:  A bowl of liquid silicon with celery propped up in the middle. The tops are cut off the celery, btw. These two items are within protected, semi-enclosed walls (or one circular wall). The idea is for the silicon to travel by capillarity up the celery and have its H2O evaporate out the top, carrying with it some silicon. The positively charged silicon atoms would naturally sink to the bottom of the container while the lighter -- hopefully anhydrous -- silicon atoms would float to stick to the top of the container which is insulated from, yet close to the outside surface which is naturally positive due to air flow and natural precipitation.

So, theoretically, the mutual attraction between atoms and ions inside to outside the container topmost wall(s) (maybe conical in shape) might be used to provide stability for attracting "holes" or positively charged ions to the outside of the container's topmost surface(s) where they could be

b. actively** scraped off by, let's say, negatively charged, rotating (twice rotating*), "brushes" and transferred therefore to ground through exposed steel wire on the surface of the container.
I am thinking of a pattern of uninsulated wire that goes up and down repeatedly, wound around the container, in order to build up voltage -- rather than using screen (as a collector of "holes") which would necessarily dissipate voltages.

2. Ground is connected to the negative side of an uncharged battery, at first. (I am shopping for a good lawn tractor battery for the least amount of money possible.) With Ground connected to the collector that attracts the most "holes", the collector is like the negative side of the battery in that its terminal is made from negative materials which attract "holes."

*The action of scraping off "holes" to deliver to the negative side of the battery can be accomplished by hanging clothes lint rollers, coated with intrinsically negatively charged fabrics, and attached by a swivel to the bottom level of a whirligig. Thus, these brushes rotate around the gig, and rotate again on their own pivots as they rub against any sort of intrinsically negatively coated, circular container.

**Another active, yet negative atom production facility could be placed inside the whirligig where "diamon" nail files slide across a flat but enclosed surface coated with sand and/or other silicon compounds to scrape silicon into tinier and tinier pieces through friction. Hopefully the separation into positive and negative silicon atoms will occur, allowing anhydrous silicon to float to the top of the inside of the conically shaped container. The natural perturbations of the wind on the centralized, rotating chamber will provide somewhat random "glide paths" for the "diamon" nail files across the silicon. I am still working on how to transfer the negative charge to the positive side of the battery, prior to its first charge for my proposed and very preliminary experimental charging project that I am trying to design here.

A New Alchemy of Air?

The book The Alchemy of Air is waiting for me to read it, but I looked up the names of the two guys featured in it on Wikipedia. They took nitrogen from the air, then ramped up production in order to industrially produce fertilizer for agricultural purposes.

What I am looking at now is the reported fact that air is the most positively charged compound that is readily available. In my research for using static electricity to produce charges that I might harness for the production of electricity consistently, I am seriously considering experimental devices to gather positive charges from the air.

Perhaps polyester fabric hung out in the yard -- insulated from ground but not far from a grounded surface and parallel to that surface. As it has been raining for two or three days, I am reminded that I must try to detect charges under both wet and dry conditions. With rain, I should try to collect the runoff and isolate it ASAP, into a Leyden jar, if at all possible.

So, after experimenting with both positive and negative fabric collectors, I just might be able to write "A New Alchemy of Air."

Courtesy of I present a picture of a Leyden jar that came up on a Google search of images:
This picture reminds me that negative and positive are relative. Notice that the positive side in this picture is grounded.

Most batteries, on the other hand, have their negative sides grounded.

I am fairly certain that this is an old drawing, which is beyond copyright.

I should visit to see what else they have.

Leyden jars do not have to use lead, btw. Aluminum foil is another common metal liner, but any metal that can hold a charge or transmit it will do. Fabric laced with metal is what my collector will use, at first, at least.

Dear Diary -- Christmas Lights, etc.

Christmas lights going up here.

Planted a memorial tree temporarily, for final planting next spring. A dear friend died last August. Her family and I will plant the tree in her honor.

It is raining here. Now I have to wash my coat. I was going to wash it anyway, after putting up Christmas lights in that coat in our dusty garage.

During breaks from the Christmas tree lighting, garage cleaning, and tree planting I think about how to best use the new squirrel baffle for my wind powered static electricity generator. The baffle is so large that perhaps I could put a negative ion generator inside of it, with connections hanging down to brush wires -- both inside and outside of it. I am not fond of brushes, but perhaps some light weight chains could do the job, or bicycle tethers that are insulated.

I know I will be taking patterns off the squirrel baffle. I'll be sure to note the manufacturer's name, btw, once I get started on that project. I could take patterns from both the inside and the outside of it, I suppose using the largest pages of a newspaper. I am looking forward to making the cone shape out of my steel screening which has the advantage of having beaucoup places to hook onto it, or rather, to hang things from it. The screen is not strong enough to fly alone, though, and it certainly lacks the advantage of being waterproof, lol.

But a screen with negative or positive fabric over it could collect the oppositely charged particles, provided it was insulated from yet near enough to the oppositely charged particles.

Making Do

Such great ideas I had! But now I must make do with what I have. 

I acquired a squirrel baffle made in China that cost almost $22. Its being made of metal has made me change my plans. It is also 18 inches in diameter. The ceramic pipe is 14 inches in diameter at its top -- possibly 16 inches at its bottom.

The reason I must "make do" is that my money supplies have run out -- even with a credit card. Now I must see how much potential difference I can generate, given the materials that I acquired today. I got three different types of silicone to try out, btw, and now I have another idea that perhaps KY jelly could produce some airborne silicone after evaporation, with just a tiny bit of bumping....

Vinyl is the next most negative material, after Teflon, on my list of intrinsically positive and negatively charged substances. So, the Chinese squirrel baffle, covered with vinyl, should provide not only a barrier to precipitation, but also, should collect positive ions from the wind.

I could increase the collection rate by 1. Ramping up the vinyl's draw, from below it, by somehow getting powdered silica airborne underneath it, and 2. Bumping its upper surface with flying negative materials that have collected positive ions; 3. Spinning the negative collectors to reduce friction when they bump as they 4. Rotate around the baffle, getting movement, thereby, of ions on the surfaces. This is the negative side of the generator, although it collects positive ions. The positive side of the generator stays inside the pipe, where the positively charged collectors will reside, near to its silicone sources.

All the above are only taking into consideration movements of ions in dry weather. Collectors of water-borne ions should provide a second set of charges, either directly, or during evapo-transpiration to separate and/or concentrate charges.

Clear as mud, huh?

In any case, I feel it is time to take some actual measurements of voltage differences, after I finally build a test rig.

Dear Diary -- Bumpers

I seem to have made a breakthrough designing bumpers for creating silicon dust -- on paper. The larger question arises, which splits collection of negative and positive ions into four parts rather than two, because of the random advent of precipitation. This multiplies by two the conditions under which the negative and positive ions are collected: either as themselves, or combined with rainwater and dust from the air, or with snow and dust.

At first I simply decided to collect the rainwater that had run over the ion collectors, at the bottom of the sides of the ceramic pipe. One collector for the outside surface, and one for the inside surface, at the bottom. However, the longer the ions -- whether combined with water and contaminants or not -- are exposed to the air, the less charge they will have due to contamination, or rather, due to the fact that their charge will attract oppositely charged particles. So, the precipitation-laden ions will need to be collected and isolated ASAP and processed somehow -- their "juicy goodness" harvested -- separately from the ions that are not combined with precipitation.

It is tempting to continue to try to figure out the precipitation problem first, however, it is also quite a bit more tempting to try to build the above mentioned bumper system first in order to get practical experience with geometries and strengths of materials on that front.
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