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Free Energy for the Downcast -- "One Man's Trash..." Revolution Commencing
Dallas inventor, Donald Bell, has three technologies he's rolling out
to make energy more affordable; and he's using discarded items as his building
material to give away to Dallas County residents a free CFL lamp with 75-W
incandescent output equivalent that runs for 5 days continuous. He also has a
home lighting package and a self-charging cell phone that harness power radio
Dallas inventor and electrical engineer, Donald Bell, phoned me last week to tell me about three products he has come up with and is in process of making available to his black community in Dallas, Texas. He said he will be posting an advertisement in a Dallas paper this week.
One product is a CFL lamp that will run for 5 days continuous while putting out the equivalent of a 75-Watt incandescent bulb. That one he is giving away free to Dallas County residents (elsewhere will incur a small shipping and handling fee), with the expectation that people will come back to him to get refills for the battery base that powers it.
"I left three of these lamps with my sister. When they had a general grid failure, she activated these CFL lamps, and people were wondering where she was getting lights from."
A key principle he is using is re-configuring the circuitry going into the CFL bulb so they don't consume nearly as much energy while putting out as much or more lumens of light, running on a small DC voltage. He takes a standard CFL bulb and then eliminated the rectification circuit and hooks up to the DC portion of bulbs, installing his circuit at that point to power it with direct current.
It's not a novel approach. Many others have been demonstrating this on the web for years, and there are even some product lines available that use this same principle.
Another product he's developed is a Tesla generator system to harness radio signals to power the lights in a home. He calls it Radio-Enabled, Small-Signal Electricity, or RESSE, in which he tunes into the NIST radio station, WWDB, because it is always on. These are tapped to float-charge a battery using Farfield effects. The battery then powers the CFL lights.
For a $200 set-up fee and $40/month lease for two years, he says he will retrofit a home's lighting wiring. He says that at this rate, people will be saving money on their monthly electrical bill; and after two years, the power is free. At 19c/kw-h, the average Dallas resident is paying $50-150/month just on lighting. The system will also be fitted with a remote control switch to enable it to be shut off if the customer stops making their lease payments. (Bell said he designed such a system for the Yellow Cab service in Dallas.)
I'm not sure how he plans to rewire the lighting in a home and install his system for only $200 (plus some revenue from the monthly lease), but he seemed confident that it could be done. He's been an electrician for years and knows what's involved. Of course the best scenario would be to install the system in new builds.
The third device is a self-charging cell phone system.
He is using all these technologies himself, powering the lights in his house for three months. He mailed me one of his free lamps.
One of the things that enables Bell to make these things available at such a low price is his resourcefulness. His manufacturing model is something you might see in a third world situation, but he thinks the poor in the U.S. are ready for something like this.
Rather than manufacture everything new, as typical in the developed world, he recycles discarded items to make them work for his devices.
The "lamp" that he sent me is comprised of a CFL bulb tucked inside an emptied spice container. The container even has a little crack in it; but it is strong enough to still serve its purpose. The battery base is made of a reconfigured coffee lid. All free. And he has found a very inexpensive source for the AA batteries that are tucked inside the base. I almost laughed when I pulled it out of its packaging that was made of discarded grocery bags. He told me plans on making 10,000 of these right away.
I love it. I'm not at all in favor of the "planned obsolescence" mentality of western production. I love resourcefulness. My mom is a genius this way, spurred in part by growing up during the first depression. Now that we're in another depression, it only makes sense that such resourcefulness will again become the norm.
He's taking garbage and putting it back to good use. Truly, "one
man's trash is another man's treasure."
Bell says that people have shown a lot of interest in what he has. "I have a large amount of black people in Dallas, who get lights cut off, who are constantly beating my door for these lamps."
"Many people tell me, 'Man, you waste your time selling to people in Dallas.' No, you're wrong. These people are making it possible for me to live like a king here. Buy education for my kids, do things for my children I wouldn't be able to do."
"When my family first moved to Dallas from Tulsa, we were extremely poor. My mom, two older sisters, lived in a shack for over a year, with no electricity, gas, running water. We had to cook on the ground. I have learned over time that all things are possible. I look back now, and I ask myself this question: 'How did you all live under those conditions'?"
"In America, there are many people, like me, who have lived a life of sacrifice -- hidden in the woodwork. We know how to do without. We look at big picture, keep our eye on that, deal with psychological pain with what we're doing; waiting for our time to come. There's no way I'm not going to succeed with this project."
My kids love playing with the lamp Bell sent me. They've taken it outside while playing "no ghosts are out tonight", and last night they slept out on the porch and used the light in a little tent they made out of blankets. I noticed that the connector is not very robust and that the light flickers on and off as I'm running around with it chasing the kids. That's something Bell can address in upgrades. They don't seem put off at all by the fact that it's made of what normally would be considered trash.
Depending on how the Dallas roll-out goes, I suggested to Bell that he consider franchising his approach to other big cities around the world.
Bell thought of these things back when he was a ham radio operator and noticed that at the end of his antennae there would be voltage. "I didn't buy my ham equipment, I took TV tubes, radio tubes, and built all my equipment."
Bell has thought of other things too. He said that in 1990 he came up with the Video On Demand concept. He said he has also been featured in Who's Who.
"I'm 67 years, never smoked a cigarette, or drunk beer, never done dope or been in a club. I've seen people who indulge in these things, and they don't have anything."
He's also had a career in dealing with the public as a campaign director, working locally for Reagan, Dole, Ford, Clinton. "Despite all that 'high-level contact', my real expertise is electrical engineering."
Back when he worked for Texas Instruments, he said he used to talk about the threat to electrical components from an electromagnetic pulse, but most people just looked at him like was crazy to think that would ever be an issue. Now he wants to create a lighting system that would help render people immune to the effects of an EMP attack or solar flare.
I set up Bell on a conference call with Tesla system expert, Karl Palsness, which we recorded, so you can
listen to it, in which Bell described his system to Karl.
Karl confirmed that the principles Bell is using are genuine and will work, but he said that it is not yet a Tesla type of system. It's closer to a crystal radio principle. He recommends that Bell do some research on the Joule Thief work being done by many experimenters around the world, which does pull energy from the ambient, not from radio waves.
Bell's technologies may not be overly exotic like cold fusion or overunity magnet motors but they demonstrate true ingenuity, and the ability to make useful items out of materials that many would consider trash. He is focusing on a market composed of people who care little about a product's looks or construction, but are mostly interested if it will allow them to have a light to read by at night!
If the economy does not turn around, his market will continue to grow. In fact, in a worst case scenario, individuals that can make useful devices from scrap could be what allows civilization to continue.
On October 3, a guest contributed the following in the comments below:
I work a lot with high efficiency lights and batteries. The numbers in this article are all wrong.
It is plain that bulb your daughter held in the picture did not put out hundreds of lumens. If it were, your daughter would have to had to have been blind to hold it so close to her face without experiencing intense pain as the light burned her retinas. From the looks of the picture, the light was putting out less than 10 lumens.
A 75W incandescent bulb typically puts out 1100 lumens not 760. A good quality 75W incandescent equivalent CFL consumes 13W. In five days, that bulb consumes 1.6kWh. That will cost $0.31 at Texas rates of $0.19/kWh. At very high wholesale quantities, AA alkaline cells go for $0.20 each. Those AA cells each have a total energy capacity of less than 1/400th of a kWh. You'll need $80. of those batteries to get the same 1 kWh that the power company sells for $0.19. You'll need 640 of those batteries to run a 13W CFL for five days continuously.
Typical house lighting represents only about 15% of home electricity usage. $40 a month lease for 15% of power is equivalent to an electric bill of more than
$250 / month. That's more than most power companies charge.
Repurposing ordinary AC house wiring to carry DC violates the NEC because it creates an arc fire hazard. Violating the NEC invalidates many fire insurance policies.
The far-field idea doesn't fly either. The field strength isn't there. If it were, you would get a continuous shock anytime you touched a piece of metal of any size, like your refrigerator, or clothes washer.
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