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You are here: > News > Sept. 21, 2005

Kneider's Sea Wave Energy Propulsion Technology

Francois Kneider has build numerous proofs of concept of wave energy propulsion systems, and believes it could be a feasible system commercially for water craft.  Offers intriguing directions for home experimenters.

by Mary-Sue Haliburton
Pure Energy Systems News
Copyright © 2005

Photo of model boat featuring simple external fins for propulsion.

French Inventor proposes design alternatives

Francois Kneider

After a successful career as an inventor (ref.), a self-taught, instinctive tinkerer, even when retired Francois Kneider is unable to stop inventing. Now in his seventies, he retains a focus on energy efficiency and seeking ways to take better advantage of nature's power. He continues to generate ideas, but as he says in the French idiom, "you cannot catch many rabbits at once!"  The current focus of his attention is a wave-power system for boats.

He is dissatisfied with any technology that involves building power plants and transmitting the power or storing it in batteries. He believes that it will be less costly environmentally and financially to use this power directly wherever and whenever possible.

He has succeeded in the past with concepts that should not be able to work according to more conventional theories and practices. When examining his demonstration of his cold cathode tube, the head of an electrical  company told him, "It should not work!" while admitting that it did.  Kneider compared this achievement to Newton's apple remaining suspended in the air, as opposed to landing on his head. (Ref.)

It is the water's inexorable directional flow, rather than the effect of wind ruffling the surface, which interests François Kneider.

Part of his inspiration for pursuing wave propulsion came from observing powered flight. The forward motion of the engine is converted to vertical lift by the airfoil shape of the wings plus, during takeoff, the added topside curve of downward-tilted flaps (ailerons). This converts forward motion to vertical lift.

Kneider set out to reverse the principle by converting vertical motion to horizontal push.

A Simple Test Version of the Concept

The arrows in the bare-bones diagram show the vertical push of the water, the function is caused by the wave or by strong current, acting on a stern-mounted rigid blade.

Simplifying the representation to stern-mounted blades only, this illustration shows the response of the system to the surface waves:

In fact, this design calls for an additional set of propulsive blades to be mounted well forward on both sides of the hull. In this top-view illustration, graduated tone is used to indicate a flexible-blade system.

The forward and aft blades function independently. When one is pushed down by the waves, the other is forced up. Similarly, the blades on each side of the boat are also free to respond differently as wave forces shift.

Thirty degrees of deviation from level is acceptable, but not over 45 degrees. The curved line indicates a "quadrant" which is a structure to limit motion inward so that the blade would not rub against the hull. As an alternative, some form of hydraulic system might be designed to enable control over the degree of tilt while eliminating this external structural detail. To achieve a more hydrodynamic shape, the goal of design refinement is to minimize the number of exterior-mounted connecting parts which can become fouled with seaweed or other debris.

This diagram shows support struts with a control joint restricting the amount of motion permitted. Flexible blades might not require this type of joint; in that case, the degree of flex would be that permitted by the material used.

In addition to propulsion, this method of capturing and redirecting the energy into forward motion would theoretically mitigate the infamous up-down, pitching and rolling motions that cause to sea-sickness.

Having succeeded with a small model, Kneider would like to experiment with a boat up to five meters long, large enough to take passengers. This could be done by retrofitting an existing vessel using brackets similar to what is shown in the photo of the model.

The following will give everyone a chance to try out the principle at home using cheap, commonplace materials.

A Simple Experiment to do at Home

Using small boards of wood or toy boats, an inexpensive experiment can be conducted by children at home or in an elementary school classroom. Shaping a blunt point at one end of short piece of pine board or other soft wood makes a simple boat. Attach four double blades cut from thin plastic sheets to the bottom at sides and stern with tacks or small screws. These blades can be cut from the kind of plastic used in plastic sleeves for holding documents, and the forward end is folded around a thin strip of more rigid plastic such as a margarine pot lid and glued or taped before nailing.

The above photo shows the experimental wood boat, with pair of spectacles to suggest working size.


Bottom view of experimental wood boat, showing fastening of blades. The thin line is a simple flat keel inserted into the wood. This is not really necessary, but can be added if desired. A small piece of sheet metal or other rigid material may be used.

Shaking the basin of water will cause the blade-enhanced chunk of board to move forward. For the control, make a second wood boat the same size and shape, but without the plastic blades, and place it in the basin. Shake the water as before. The wood chip with no blades will move up and down with the water, but not forward.

If a large basin or tub is available, both experimental and control board boats may be placed side by side. If done in a bathtub, you can create your own wave-pool by rhythmically moving a board or other flat object, the width of the tub, up and down in the water at the starting-point end. Get the children to predict which boat will "win" the race.

Progress Update: Internal Wave/Gravitational Propulsion

Though he registered one simple proposal with the French patent office  in 1990 (Ref.), François Kneider says that he has hatched about ten more possible versions  of a wave propulsion system, one of which has no moving parts outside of the vessel. This would be ideal, as exposure to sea-water can be  corrosive to some materials. He is not willing at this time to disclose  the details of this particular concept. He states:  In practice waves act upon any floating object  – boats, ships, vessels of any type. These objects respond to several kinds of energy, namely:

  • 1)  Potential variation Energy

  • 2)  Kinetic variation Energy

  • 3)  Gravitational Variation Energy (Weight variation of item)

The challenge is to convert from these energies to one-way kinetics energy in a way that is practical, reliable and economically viable. The first stage uses wings, ailerons, blades and /or other structures outside of the ship. This is easy and economical to be realized, and can work for a small tonnages.

While a boat is sailing, an item on scale will exhibit frequent fluctuation of registered weight. This indicates that energy can be extracted and converted to a kinetic horizontal push. 

For large tonnages, it is preferable to exploit the extraction of the energies’ potential and gravitational aspects inside of a ship. This would be more reliable, and more economical. There is also a substantial sheltering of the mechanism from the expanded energies of a large storm. This would be the subject of a patent with a financial partner,

Enter Dr. Evgeny Sorokodum

In early March of 2005, Mr Kneider received an email from Dr. Evgeny Sorokodum, General Director of Vortex Oscillation Energy Ltd., with an offer of co-operation. This Russian scientist is thoroughly familiar with wave propulsion research, which has a long and somewhat chequered history. In Norway 20 years ago, and in Japan ten years ago, several consortia experimented with similar concepts, though all were abandoned. (See article by Dr. Sorokodum)

Because he sees that conventional flight and water transport technology has pretty much reached its limits, this Russian researcher is seeking optimum modes of transportation for all types of air and water vehicles by looking in new directions. An expert in vortical motion in fluids and air, Dr. Sorokodum appears to see some potential in linking his expertise in fluid dynamics with the type of new directions proposed by Kneider. His interest was piqued by Kneider's early diagrams and ideas. With the complex challenge of attempting communication in second languages, and relying on translation software, they have exchanged emails though no specific agreements have been cemented.

Sorokodum's Vortex Oscillation Energy website (Ref.) shows numerous animations of vortical movement of fluids, and analysis and mimicry of the wave motion generated by a swimming fish.

Though he would like to develop his new concepts for the marketplace, Francois Kneider is retired, and under the financial laws of France, he is not now allowed to engage in business. Former business associates and partners are retired, and a few have died. Thus, for these new concepts to have a future, someone must carry them forward. New partners, both financial and experts in design, software and control systems, are invited to contact Mr.Kneider and Dr. Sorokodum with proposals.

# # #




François Kneider <email >

Dr. Evgeny Sorokodum <email >
Member of the World Council for Renewable Energy (WCRE).
CEO Vortex Oscillation Technology Ltd,
Volochaevskaya Street, 40-b, Flat 38, 111033, Moscow, Russia
Telephone/fax: (+7) - (095) -362 80 84

Related Stories

  • Wave Propulsion: Brief History and Remedy - French and Russian proponents of harnessing sea wave energy provide a short history, identifying why the approach has been abandoned by major entities, and suggesting how to revive this yet-to-be-fully-actualized approach. (PESN; Sept. 21, 2005)

See also

Page posted by Sterling D. Allan Aug. 25, 2005
Last updated December 24, 2014





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