(WINDSOR, ON) – Those interested in buying the part of Hydro One that appears to be up for sale might want to look into the outfit’s future. There may be other alternatives to its product that might be had for free.
Inventor Nikola Tesla, who contributed to the design of alternating electric current (AC), had dreamt of being able to transmit electricity without wires. To test his idea, he built a large tower but, in the end, it didn’t work.
Although there are those who say he did at least invent radio.
When Guglielmo Marconi transmitted radio signals for the first time he apparently did it by employing a number of Tesla patents.
In any event, radio sparked a communications revolution that saw its waves used not only for mass broadcasting but also, later on, for personal use with cell phones. In the end, the very waves they produce might prove Tesla was on to something with his wire free electricity.
An Ohio company, aptly named Nikola Labs, says it can efficiently convert radio frequency signals, “… like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and LTE into DC power using its proprietary energy harvesting circuit. The result is usable energy that can provide power to mobile devices wirelessly.”
As Stephanie Mlot reported May 5 in PC Magazine, more than 90 per cent of a phone’s transmitted energy is lost to the environment. Nikola reduces, reuses, and recycles that energy, converting it to electricity.
It won’t, she says, “… magically recharge your device in a matter of seconds, nor does it promise to restore your device’s battery to factory perfection. Instead … its power-converting rectifier circuit will extend the smartphone’s life by only about 30 percent. And it will do so quite gradually.”
What this could mean is the next power revolution could be radio wave generated electricity. There are also other uses for the waves, including improving green energy.
A July 30 article by Abigail Klein Leichman, on the revolution-green website, admits that the batteries used for solar and wind energy cannot store the resulting electricity, “… well enough or cheaply enough to make it available around the clock on a mass scale.”
Scientist Sonya Davidson, she reports, might have solved the problem.
Her company, H2 Energy Now, uses hydrogen gas for energy storage. The gas, “… is obtained by converting the power plant’s generated energy into radio waves, which in turn separate, or dissociate, water’s fused hydrogen and oxygen molecules.”
It is a promising technical breakthrough that might lead to lower electricity prices. Although, even without this advance, some utilities are already dropping their prices because of the efficiencies of these new generation technologies.
In Detroit, by decreasing its rates, DTE energy is giving the Motor City a competitive advantage in the attraction of job creating auto assembly and parts plants. Ontario, oddly enough, plans to continue to make electricity more expensive and, by doing so, is giving industry an excuse to vacate the province.
How could DTE lower its prices when Ontario seems unable?
There are a number of reasons, including finding the costs of operating and maintaining its fleet of wind turbines to be much less than expected. As it explains on its website, this and other cost cutting methods has allowed it to drop its rates by some $300 million, in each of the last two years, “… saving the average residential customer, using 650 kilowatt hours per month, about 10% or a total of nearly $120 on electric bills.”
At the beginning of May, Ontario power rates went up about 4% with the new peak rate at 16.1 cents per kilowatt. Another increase is expected in the fall.
In the meantime, experiments into scavenging radio frequency continue.
The results are minor, but this is the beginning of a possible new era in free, wireless electricity. After all, Rome wasn’t electrified in a day.
The Element 14 website, on January 30, 2013, talked of how experiments, “… using the transmission bands from a TV station half a kilometre away from the test site have yielded hundreds of microwatts of power.”
This was sufficient to run a temperature sensor but multi-band systems are expected to generate a milliwatt or more. The group is planning another demonstration where a microprocessor-based microcontroller would be activated simply by holding it in the air.
Imagine pulling electricity out of thin air. Granted, a milliwatt is not much power; about what it takes to run a hearing aid. However, its greatest value is it costs nothing and that could be a real game changer.
Take that, EnWin.
Robert Tuomi can be heard at 8:30 pm every Monday evening and noon every Wednesday co-hosting Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor on CJAM 99.1 FM. Listen on demand to previous episodes or catch the discussion live and join in. Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor is broadcast every Monday and Wednesday to the Windsor and Detroit listening area and streamed online at CJAM.