- Thermal Audit
Hidro - James Kwok's Perpetual Motion Machine
According to the patent application, PCT/AU2011/000430, this device uses hydrostatic pressure gradients to generate electricity. First, there are a few things to keep in mind -- provided you believe in modern physics.
If you have a box that generates electricity, that energy must come from somewhere. For example:
- If you have a box of radioactive material that gets hot and you harness the heat to make electricity, that energy comes from the radioactive decay inside the box. The Voyager 2 spacecraft's radioisotope thermoelectric generator is a good example.
- If your box is a hydroelectric generator, the energy comes from the mass of water flowing through the penstocks and the vertical drop or static head. You can take it one step further too and imagine the box the size of Earth. In that case the energy comes from the sun, which evaporates the water and drives the weather systems that feed the river.
- In no case is it possible to have a closed system or box that outputs energy without that energy coming from somewhere else. The energy either has to enter the box from outside, or be stored within, like a battery. Once the battery or springs or compressed air is drained, or the external inputs (like a river) stop -- the device stops. Forever.
One of the most unusual aspects of this device is that the inventor has built a very large prototype. Someone could look at the drawings in the patent application and build a small prototype to see if it works (it can't work) rather than spend substantial sums on an oversized test version. That would lead some to believe that the inventor is a) on to something big b) delusional and obsessed or c) this is a very elaborate and calculated scam designed to defraud investors.
The screen capture above is the control logic, probably for opening and closing valves. The capture below is the inside of the chamber. I've built complex equipment and can tell you that this is a lot of work and expense.
What you wont see is it running continuously or outputting more power than it consumes in electricity for the controls and compressed air. Given that the inventor has filed for a patent, his rights are protected, and there is no commercial risk in letting external engineers, high school physics teachers, university professors etc. (and without signing a non-disclosure agreement) from verifying its continuous operation without external inputs. That won't happen of course, because no machine can produce energy without external inputs. Apparently there are now two completely different designs of the Hidro but the design details do not matter. All that matters is that he can show a device that generates more energy than it consumes. Since this is impossible - I wish him luck.
You can apply for a patent on anything. It doesn't matter if it works or even makes sense. Here is an example of a perpetual motion machine patent, WO/1996/031696, published in 1996 which also implements a buoyancy motor. A patent in no way is an endorsement that a device works as advertised or has been tested. Most patent authorities however try not to grant patent protection to perpetual motion machines. The US Patent office specifically states that devices which are "Not useful (such as perpetual motion machines)" are not patentable. They continue to slip through the cracks though -- especially obfuscated descriptions of machines with sufficient complexity to confuse the patent adjudicators.
The diagram below is from the Hidro patent application. If you have the patience, you can read through the 43 page application for details. There is also an excellent analysis of similar, unworkable, buoyancy motors at the Museum of Unworkable Devices.
There is a video on YouTube where the inventor, James Kwok, shows cylinders in the two columns moving up and down. Once a cylinder sinks, compressed air is used to evacuate it so that it again floats. There are also some photos near the end of the video that appear to show two high pressure tanks at the bottom of the water column. This is akin to a submarine blowing its ballast tanks so that it can float to the surface. The air is released at the surface and the cylinder sinks again. The energy used to power this cycle is the compressed air used to evacuate the cylinder. A tank of compressed air stores a great deal of energy and can run power tools - so a compressed air tank is like having a battery in the device. As another point of reference for the energy content of compressed gas, consider that a 5 horsepower scuba tank compressor requires about 20 minutes to fill a tank (see previous link and scroll down for a chart).
Most of the Google hits on Hidro are articles that are quite nice to Mr. Kwok and give him the benefit of the doubt because he is an engineer with credentials. He may be a very good mechanical engineer in terms of designing structures and parts, but he is totally deluded. Hidro is a perpetual motion machine. It cannot be used as a power source. He has no working prototype that outputs more energy than it consumes yet he promotes a million watt (1,300 horse power) power module. Mr. Kwok surely knows his prototype isn't producing energy -- even if it does move. It is totally inconceivable that any expert witness (e.g. university professors with advanced degrees or research scientists employed at government funded institutions) would tell a court otherwise. The same goes for anyone with a degree in physics. They may be too polite to call it insanity -- a more likely statement would be: The Hidro claims are not possible nor has Mr. Kwok provided any evidence to the contrary.
The Hidro+ device is now being promoted through multiple companies, including Centium Electric (ASX) in Australia and Renewable Utilities UK in the UK. Online filing with ASX show that Centium has AU$200,000 in working capital and seems to be active recently. The site sharescene has an interesting thread on this company, and is numerous names which include Village Life Ltd (VLL), Fig Tree Developments (FTD), FTD Corporation (FTD) and most recently Centium Electric Limited (CUI). Investors beware - demand proof of performance just as you would if I claimed I had a cape of invisibility or could walk through stone walls unharmed. If any company attempts to sell you one of these machines, you can report to North American anti fraud groups and it will end up in international police databases. National Consumers League’s Fraud Center (on-line complaint form) Federal Trade Commission (on-line complaint form), Canadian Anti-Fraud Center (they share with US authorities) FBI Tips (on-line form). In Australia you can submit to Australian Competition & Consumer Commission.
In 2007, The Australian Securities and Investments Commission stated "Mr Kwok was sentenced in the Sydney District Court today after being found guilty, following a two-week trial in October 2006, of dishonestly using his position as a director under the Corporations Act. ASIC alleged that Mr Kwok acted dishonestly while a director of Envirostar Energy Limited (Envirostar), a publicly listed company, by not disclosing his interest in two parcels of land leased by Envirostar. The leases over the land commenced in mid-2000 but Mr Kwok’s interest was not discovered until August 2002 when he tendered his resignation from the Envirostar Board. Envirostar had paid rent of approximately $30,000 per month for the land."
Here is a juvenile message left by James Kwok regarding a rather tame review on the PES wiki. I wouldn't let my parrot get anywhere near him. I can only imagine what colorful things he'll have to say about this page and the ladies and gentlemen who wrote it -:)
Note to the free energy community: I understand that you want to keep an open mind and support potential break through technologies. This however, is not one of them. Fortunately, the technologies you need to live comfortably in a post industrial, sustainable world already exist. In no particular order they include: agricultural land reform (reallocation from corporate landowners to homesteads), solar passive homes built from local materials, organic farming techniques, drip irrigation in dry areas, bio diesel for tractors, small scale wind with axial flux alternators that can be hand built and maintained, solar hot water heating, evaporative air conditioning, geothermal wells, behavioral adaptations like siestas, worker owned industrial cooperatives, local currencies and thoughtful town and rural planning. None of this benefits big business or those in positions of wealth or power so you'll have to fight for it -- especially land reform.