Steam heat

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Shock waves and steam heat

For more than two years debate has raged on the Internet about an ordinary-looking metal drum sitting on the concrete floor of a factory building in Rome, Georgia, 50 miles from Atlanta. Its inventor, the man about whom the Internet debate is raging, is James Griggs, an industrial heating engineer.

The invention that has brought Griggs such notoriety is a device that he began developing in 1987, that he calls the 'Hydrosonic Pump' and that many of his supporters believe is over-unity, in that it generates around 30 per cent more energy as heat than is put in as electricity.

To the skeptics, the Griggs Gadget is, at best, a case of self-delusion on a grand scale, and, at worst, a case of scientific fraud. To his supporters, the pump is the first unequivocal public demonstration of undoubted over-unity.

Jim Griggs told me, 'the pump is based on a theory of what takes place when a shock wave is created in a fluid. We know that when you create a shock wave in a liquid there is a minute amount of energy released into the fluid in the form of heat.'

'Most of the previous studies had been done in how to eliminate that shock wave, instead of putting the heat to a useful purpose. We've designed a system to take the shock-wave heat energy, capture it, and produce hot water or steam.'

Griggs believes that his device works on perfectly normal principles and violates no laws of physics. Just what happens when the Hydrosonic pump is filled up with water and switched on is described by over-unity investigator Jed Rothwell who conducted a detailed engineering investigation of the device in January 1994.

'During one of the demonstrations we watched,' he says, 'over a 20 minute period, 4.80 Kilowatt Hours of electricity was input, and 19,050 BTUs of heat evolved, which equals 5.58 Kilowatt Hours, or 117 per cent of input. The actual input to output ratio was even better than this, when you take into account the inefficiencies of the electric motor.'

But if there are kilowatts of excess heat available, why doesn't Griggs simply use the steam to turn a turbine-generator and connect the output to the input -- thus getting a perpetual motion machine?

One reason is that converting steam into electricity is an extremely inefficient process. You would be lucky to convert 5 per cent of the output heat energy back into electricity -- and 2 per cent might be nearer the mark. The Hydrosonic pump would therefore have to be massively over-unity before you could recover enough energy to make it self-sustaining, and at present the margin is a 'modest' 30 per cent.

More importantly, the excess energy does not actually appear at the output steam pipe for a constant input of energy. What happens is this; the pump is started and after five or ten minutes reaches a steady state where it is converting water at room temperature to steam. Once this steady state is reached, the pump, according to Griggs, goes into an over-unity mode where the output temperature is maintained, but the amount of energy needed at the input to maintain it, drops by 30 per cent.

Griggs has been working with a number of physicists and engineers to try to get to the bottom of just how his device works. As well as Jed Rothwell's consulting engineering firm in Atlanta he has worked with Professor Keizios, dean emeritus of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology and past president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Professor Keizos supervised the design of the instrumentation that measures the energy input and output of the Griggs Gadget.

In a second test, during which the over-unity effect was measured, the adjusted co-efficient of power was a remarkable 168 per cent -- the machine produced 1.68 times the energy that was input. A third test did nearly as well with a Co-efficient of power of 157 per cent.

If the only evidence for these claims were the colour brochure printed by Griggs's company, Hydro Dynamics Corporation Inc., and reports of his supporters, then most observers might be inclined to side with the skeptics: Griggs's claims seem fundamentally improbable. Yet surprisingly, Griggs has not only patented his device and started manufacturing a commercial version on a small scale, he has also sold and installed devices to users in the Atlanta area.

The customers include the Atlanta Police Department, a fire station, a dry cleaning plant, and a gymnasium. Interestingly, the Hydrosonic pump was installed in the public buildings by the county engineer after evaluating the device. The buildings are using the device mainly for heating purposes, and they have been running for more than a year. The customers have bills from their local electric utility company showing a year on year decrease in bills equivalent to 30 per cent.

What precisely causes the claimed excess heat? Griggs himself rejects the popular idea that his pump has something to do with so-called 'cold fusion'.

'We have kind of been lumped into the cold fusion field', he says wryly, 'because we have experienced excess energy out of the pump. As far as cold fusion goes, we don't believe that we're accomplishing any type of nuclear reaction within our system. We feel that it can be explained through the theory of cavitation or sonoluminescence.'

Griggs's gadget has been examined by a steady stream of investigators, both friendly and skeptical. So far, they have all gone away mystified. Unlike most 'over-unity' devices, however, you can buy and install a hydrosonic pump in your own home.



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