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You are here: > News > July 18, 2009

How the "Plasmic Transition Process" motor system works

The PlasmERG noble gas motor is not, just as the original Papp engine was not, a 'pulsed plasma motor'. Plasma is not retained and 'pulsed'. The plasma is recreated with each power stroke and returns to a steady state, a gas, on each return stroke, thus the name Plasmic Transition.

With edits by Sterling D. Allan
Pure Energy Systems News

The PlasmERG motor design.

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Nobel Gas Engine

Imagine an engine that could run on very small quantities of an abundant noble (inert) gas mixture using a process that turns the gas to plasma with each cycle of the engine, like live steam power, yet it is sealed, creating no pollution and minimal noise. Now, imagine driving your car, day to day for a year on less than $50 for fuel.

The Plasmic Transition Process is the subject of various patents pending byPlasmERG Inc. of Iowa. John Rohner founded this company in 2008 to be the means to disseminate, develop and license this technology to other motor manufacturers for their own use. 

This process originally called the "Papp Engine" did run in 1982 and was then lost until John, and his partner Haik Biglari rediscovered it and applied modern science to the system to explain the process and filed their patents, presently pending. The original process was based on information originally patented by the late Joseph Papp, whose patents are now expired. 

John Rohner, a well-known new product design engineer, was originally contacted in 1979 by Robert Rohner, his brother, with a schematic for the controller Papp had designed. Unfortunately, John was busy with several other projects so he turned it over to his brother Tom. That controller, or a best guess at it, is shown in the schematic below.  It is a simple crude system, by today's standards but very modern for 1982, and easy to understand. It was the key element to the motor running, at that time.

PlasmERG has designed two motors for OEM use. One is an opposed 2 cylinder, 120 cubic inch engine and produces a maximum of ~300 HP. The second is a 6 Cylinder 360 cubic inch engine and produces a maximum of ~1500 HP. (Ref.)

The motors are also being co-developed with a sister company in Canada. John Rohner has personally fronted the total investment for this development thus far. As the company moves toward manufacturing they are seeking investment partners by trading stock for investment. Their first "real" manufacturing plant will cost about 10 million dollars. The alternative is to simply go as they are and create licenses from automotive and truck motor makers until they can get OEM production up.

The current plan is to provide 500 to 1000 test sites in underdeveloped nations for water pumping and power generation as "humanitarian" test sites. This should allow the time needed to get production understood and patents completed. 

The company believes the Plasma Transition Process motors will create a direct replacement for the internal combustion engine, with no pollutants and greatly reduced noise. "It is PlasmERG's dream to make the world a better place to live without having to use Petroleum or even Biofuels," says Rohner. 

The expected run time of a motor from a single cylinder charge is over 3 months continuous, so significant money can be saved as well by not having to purchase fuel except rarely. To relate that to a typical consumer, this is about the same amount of time they drive now in a year, and the fuel should cost less than $50 per refuel. 

How it Works

John Rohner stresses that the PlasmERG motor is not, just as the original Papp engine was not, a "Pulsed Plasma motor".  Plasma is not retained and "pulsed" as others have supposed. The plasma is recreated with each power stroke and returns to a steady state, a gas, on each return stroke, thus the name Plasmic Transition. Creation of the initial power and creation of plasma, for expansion, is derived from a fusion event with a side affect of a limited "chaotic" fission event causing a Plasmic Transition, contained in a sealed two-cycle rotating crankshaft motor system. This motor is a power system that crosses the previous borders of nuclear physics utilizing elements of each to advantage in the result.

There are two parallels to explain this Plasmic Transition and power production of this motor in our world. First is natural lightning, which uses an almost identically similar Plasmic Transition Process; and the second is live steam which provides the same torque over rotational speed event characteristics. There is nothing in the ordinary internal combustion motor's operation that is comparable to either of these processes. 

The most crucial part of PlasmERG's motor operation is the Electronic Control System (ECS), comprising the following elements: 

  • Programmable micro computers; 
  • Radio frequency power generator; 
  • HV spark coil initiation driver; 
  • Various electromagnetic coil voltage switches providing base (resting) or variable (engine speed) voltages for all cylinder or reaction chamber electromagnetic coils; 
  • On-controller DC to 12 volt DC converter; 
  • Engine speed DC voltage (accelerator) to programmed variable voltage DC converter, 
  • Inter controller communications port; 
  • Instrument support for user panel and action port which receives commands from the user comprising by not limited to things like Run, Start, Throttle position, Hold speed, Brake application, Brake hard, various motor inputs and fuel container information. 

Figure 2, below, is a block diagram of the PlasmERG developed Electronic Control System used now to make the motors work using the above elements.

Using such a programmable and flexible automatic controller allows the use of many mixtures as well as allowing for many reaction chamber variations, volumetric adaptations and gas fuel mixtures. PlasmERG has copyrighted over a dozen gas fuel mixtures thus far, in trade secret manner similar to the formula for Coke.

Operational Sequence

To start the PlasmERG engine: 

  • The key (operator motor on/off switch) is turned on, thereby energizing the Electronic Control System. 
  • At this time the ECS comes alive, does a systems check and readies itself for operation. 
  • Once the base system is set, the system will accept the signal from the key being turned to the "start" position.
  • It will then supply the voltage to the starter motor and starts turning the motor over. 

Top dead center (TDC) is the closest the piston gets to the head. As in internal combustion motors it is the point of conversion from fuel to power.  Bottom dead center (BDC) is the farthest point the Piston can move down the cylinder from the head.

As the piston completes its upward stroke, the piston 1 TDC position is acquired by the microcontroller from the crank shaft mounted reluctor, or similar timing device, and the internal position clock is synced and locked. The startup/run RPM data is then loaded into the timing subsystem within the controller. In the 1982 schematic this was used to reset the multivibrator.

The motor function is dependant on a number of design variables, including chamber design, electro magnetic design and the gas mixture characteristics, but as a generality, here is how it works:

  1. At about 30 degrees before TDC the cylinder containment coil(s), around the cylinder, is provided a speed related voltage to "squeeze" the gas mixture slightly. This electronically reduces the cylinder volume available. In the original electronic controller on the Papp motor, this voltage was set by the operator on a wire type rheostat. In PlasmERG's controller this voltage is set by a digitally programmable DC voltage source to follow the operator speed analog input, similar to the way of a modern accelerator. 
  2. At about 10 degrees before TDC the reaction voltage is applied to the reaction chamber electromagnetic coil to further initiate the ionization process of the gas mixture within the reaction chamber. In the Papp motor this is roughly equiv to Coil One. This voltage is set by a digitally controlled voltage source based on the RPM requirement in the PlasmERG controller. 
  3. At about 7 degrees before TDC a radio frequency, with frequency based in run speed (10 to 38 MHZ), is applied to the loop antenna within the reaction chamber ionizing the gas mixture and warming it. In the Papp motor this has to actually happen early because of the in-chamber interface. Also in the original electronic controller this was changed by the operator. In PlasmERG's controller it is adjusted by a digitally programmable RF Generator and Linear Power Amplifier as needed for the engine speed requirements.
  4. At 2 degrees before TDC the HV Spark coil(s) is pulsed and this continues at 30 Hz, or as allowed by the coil, until released. In the Papp motor this had to actually happen early because of the in-chamber interface. PlasmERG redesigned the entire reaction area. Because it is still in a patent pending state, this can't be described in detail. Suffice it to say, PlasmERG, like Papp, creates an arc. But, unlike the Papp reaction system there are no radioactive components involved. 
  5. This continues until 12 degrees after TDC or the presence of a HV Pulse is seen by the controller from the chamber pulse sensor. This sensor also is used by the automatic refueling system and instrumental feedback to the motor status unit within the ECS. This is for efficiency as the requirement is only two atoms and the sensor makes that happen. In the Papp motor there was no control but the resistance of the system had much to do with it not going astray. 
  6. The resulting high voltage charge, 60 to 240 KV, is applied to the reactor electrodes causing a continuous arc across the small reactor space to ground in the Papp, and something similar in the PlasmERG motors. 
  7. This arc flowing through the ionized gas mixture causes the Helium in the gas mixture (or hydrogen in large volume mixtures) to join, fusing, together. Most efficiently this typically is a two atom event, as that would cause the controller, via the chamber pulse sensor, to release the trigger arc to save reactant. In the Papp this is a degree position dependent timing.
  8. This reaction event creates:
    • a very high temperature, roughly 5 times the surface of the sun, 
    • very high power equivalent,  
    • and as a side effect, a white to white bluish light. 
    This high temperature, several times that of the sun, frees protons and electrons, power and such. This then causes the gas mixture to start a chaotic fission event which releases more electrons, and transitions the gas mixture creating a plasma. This Plasmic Transition will continue to grow as long as ionized gas is available for conversion to a plasma, acting similar to live steam on a piston in a steam engine. One note about the heat . . . , the fusion event time is measured in billionths of a second. Typically, it is the catalyst that starts the plasmic transition. Thus the heat is dispersed between reactions and is not a cumulative factor. It is NOT needed to maintain the process as the ionized gas will continue as long as it is excited to do so. It is the plasma transition, which increases the volume, as steam does, that provides the continuing push to displace the piston toward BDC. It is this fact that makes it possible to change speed by simply changing, electromagnetically, the cylinder volume. The smaller the column the quicker the fill and the sooner the piston moves down toward BDC
    and removal of excitation.
  9. This Plasmic Transition process multiplies the volume within the cylinder as the new plasma elements created require space. This expansion, as the gas transitions to plasma, drives the piston in a downward, linear, direction -- just as in a steam engine, which explains the torque delivery being flat across RPM.
  10. This downward push is applied through the commonly understood reciprocating motor system through the connecting rod to the crankshaft turning it and passing energy across the crankshaft, storing this mechanical energy, kinetically, in the flywheel, or load, as mechanical energy via torque, measurable in foot-pounds. 
  11. At about 15 degrees after TDC, the RF energy excitement is released as it is no longer needed. In the PlasmERG controller this is also varied based on the motor RPM. On the Papp motor it was fixed.
  12. At about 17 degrees after TDC the ionization voltage provided to the reaction chamber electromagnetic coil is reduced to the resting state voltage as it is no longer needed either. The plasmic transition will continue for an instant more in the PlasmERG motor. In the Papp there may not be an equivalent. The Papp chamber magnetics are very complex and difficult to simplify for explanation. In that motor several coils are switched in order to maintain a control element overall. 
  13. At about 155 degrees after TDC, before the piston reaches bottom dead center, the containment coil(s) voltage is reset back to the resting voltage state. This is done to release the linear pressure internally within the Cylinder and allow the plasma state, which is nearly done expanding, time to finish. The majority of the power transfer is already done.
  14. After the piston reaches its maximum volume or bottom dead center (BDC) position, the gas mixture will reverse the Plasmic Transition to revert and recombine back to a steady state form -- gas -- creating a partial vacuum. Remember that the plasma is a creation from the "normal steady state" gases and sustained by the excitation of them. All reactions that create a different state will return to the best "steady" state, like ice to water. So it is with plasma returning to gas. Thus the small vacuum reduces to the one-atmosphere it was at initially. 
  15. The opposing cylinder will follow its sequence independent of Cylinder 1 and 180 degrees out of phase, as controlled by the electronic control system.

The same volume of gas mixture is used for reaction over and over again for an extended period of time. Loss of gas mixture is not considered because of the increased pressure during the power stroke and the vacuum during the non power stroke. So any gas leaking past the sealing rings of the pistons will be very small. The PlasmERG controller also has a refuel action to keep this from being a field problem. PlasmERG's fuel cans look like the air conditioner refueler "freon " cans used to refill a car air conditioner. They are screwed in and used as needed.

PlasmERG has defined many mixtures that will provide this same Plasmic Transition Process and result, but each mixture requires different control parameters or motor volumetric conditions.

What About Heat Dissipation?

PlasmERG sets the maximum rotational speed of a motor to 2800 RPM. The reason for that is every time the reaction occurs, there is a very large side product of heat -- five times the temperature of the sun -- but for only about a billionth of a second. So that heat gets dissipated easily, if it is not repeated too quickly. PlasmERG simulations show that the point where heat starts to accumulate is at 3000 RPM, or 50 cycles per second. At high RPMs it would take 30 minutes to get up to 10°C over ambient. Unfortunately, the warmer the chamber the more power is required for reaction. As the temperature builds up, the efficiency of the process reduces, so it would be counter productive to allow this heat build up to occur. This is why the controller has a 2800 RPM limit. 

Comparing the Old and New Controllers

Here is a look at the heart of the process: The Controller:

click on image for enlargement

In this 1982 Electronic Motor Control (Figure 1 above) a single signal is provided at top dead center (TDC) of the cylinder 1 piston by the crankshaft position sensor. This synchronizes the multi-vibrator that pulses the input to the binary counter at a frequency which is divided to create a binary number that addresses the read-only memories, and which switch on a signal, or signals, to drive the coils, igniter, speed or run voltages and all others based on a specific programmed one time fixed timing as required for this piston's cycle. Operational parameters are static, pre programmed into the PROMs memory, so they are not flexible to motor operational requirements. 

As you can see, the PROMs are connected to various switched points on each of the two cylinders. 

The timing is strictly relative to degrees of rotation of the crank as related to the cylinder 1 piston position in the operational cycle. 

The switching table, to create the proper sequencing, is programmed for each cylinder's operation into that cylinder's programmable read-only memory. PROM 3 is for Cylinder 1 and PROM 2, with all value 180 degrees out of phase, is for Cylinder 2 and show affects all the electrical changes needed to make the engine work and keep the signals synchronized with the positional data. 

This schematic is a best guess by John Rohner using the Papp original schematic, as supplied way back in the 1970s timeframe, along with pictures, videos and discussion with persons who were familiar with it.  He thinks that this is an adequately close approximation to the electronic control for the 1982 Papp Motor that was certified and that PlasmERG has historical videos of running.  He says it has been checked, simulated and could probably work.

Below in Figure 2 is a advanced electronic version, using today's standards. However, this first controller was very modern for its day and was a big improvement on what Papp originally had. "No matter how you look at it, if it had it not been for Tom's controller [above], this motor would have never been of interest or worked properly," says John Rohner. "This was the single most significant part of the historical running Motor. This, not some gas mixture, was why it worked. Hats off to Tom. Had it not been for him, this process would have remained a toy.".

The Modern Controller

Given their Electronic Control System, in Figure 2 below, PlasmERG claims to have proven the motor hardware design, as well as proving that the gas mixtures can be many things.

They say this ECS is many times more powerful and flexible than the 1982 unit above; it provides for more flexible control of the process; and it more easily adapts to various gas mixtures, reaction chamber designs, volumes and process reactions. 

PlasmERG's controllers sense the reaction and can cut the arc excitation to save fuel and extend life. 

In the original electronics, a single CB RF frequency was used. In PlasmERG's controllers they tune this RF energy over a range from 10 to 38 MHz to best optimize the excitation per the motor's speed. 

In the original, there had to be multiple batteries for "Run" voltages. PlasmERG solved that with a programmable DC to DC converter. So their controller runs from a single battery source creating the voltages it needs to operate. 

They also sense cylinder reaction power output, so they know when to "refuel"; and they expect to be able to do this automatically on the run. 

They also communicate with other ECS systems as well as the user. This is important in multiple cylinder motors to keep the cylinders in sync and balance power sharing across the complete system.

The Electronic control systems are fully programmable to take advantage of all new lessons learned as PlasmERG progresses with their objective of replacing internal combustion motors, as well as finding uses that have not yet been conceived.  "Plasmic Controls, Inc.", a sister company, is the focal point for any innovative thinking along these lines.

Plasmic Controls works with Plasmic Fuel Inc to verify operational characteristics as well to maintain the best overall fully integrated experience. 

Figure 2. A modern Electronic Engine Control System from PlasmERG, by it's controller development company: Plasmic Control, Inc. 

PlasmERG has made many modernizations and brought the technology up to current science. This is all represented in their patents, pending etc. 

They invite interested parties to come and see what is happening as they ready their manufacturing plant. 

Some horsepower charts are found on the website, showing the HP delivered by the 2-cylinder motor and, theoretically, motors of 4, 6, 8 and 10. cylinders. They are actively developing a 6 cylinder motor for a heavy equipment customer that will provide over 1200 HP without cooling equipment, radiators etc. 

Feel free to contact John or PlasmERG if you have any further interest in using one of their motors or would like to license the technology to manufacture one of your own.

"Let's all cut the dependency cord from the oil companies and get the world back to a green state," says John.

Visit their website at for more information.

# # #


  • Feel free to view or add your own comments to the publication of this article at 

Related PlasmERG Coverage

See also

Page posted by Sterling D. Allan July 18, 2009
Last updated June 17, 2011




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