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1. WO1996031696 - BUOYANCY MOTOR

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[ EN ]


This invention relates to a system of producing energy which utilises rising and falling 'weights', such as balls.

Various devices and systems are known which purport to generate energy using balls which pass through a cycle of being raised to acquire potential energy and then falling under gravity to transfer such energy to an energy conversion device. In some instances the raising of the balls is accomplished by the use of a column of water into the bottom which successive balls are received so as thereafter automatically to rise through the column by virtue of buoyancy. A proposal of this type is disclosed on pages 104 to 107 of Arthur W. J. G. Ord-Hume, "Perpetual Motion -The History of an Obsession" 1977, George Allen & Unwin. However it is considered that the arrangement disclosed therein would not function, in that as the tubular body is air and water-tight it would be impossible for the necessary displacements of water to take place.

The present invention has as its object the provision of an energy production system in an effective form, and particularly in a form which does not harm the environment.

According to the invention an energy production system comprises a multiplicity of weights circulating, in use, around the system, means for guiding the weights including an upright or upwardly sloping main guide part and a lower guide part, the main guide part having a column of liquid therein, the level of which is maintained constant or substantially so, and having an upper end in communication with atmosphere, the lower guide part having an open upper end in communication with atmosphere, from which open end the lower guide part extends downwardly to a lower end of the main guide part for the passage of weights from the lower guide part into the main guide part, and energy conversion means at least partly by which risen weights are returned to said lower guide part, the arrangement being such that in circulating around the system, the weights rise buoyantly in said column of liquid, leave said column, fall under gravity in atmosphere and return to said column, the return of weights by said energy conversion means
converting the energy of the weights into a different form of energy.

The invention will now be described, by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figure 1 is a schematic side view of a first embodiment of an energy production system of the invention,

Figure 2 is an enlarged, fragmentary side view of part of the system of Figure 1 , showing a water trap slide valve in a closed position;

Figure 3 shows the valve of Figure 2 in plan,

Figure 4 shows the valve of Figure 3 in an open position,

Figure 5 schematically shows to an enlarged scale, a control arrangement for operating a water trap slide valve,

Figure 6 is a schematic view, like Figure 1 , in fragmentary form of a second embodiment of an energy production system of the invention, Figure 7 is a view of a modified version of the system shown in Figure 6, and

Figure 8 is a view of a further modified version of the system shown in Figure 6.

The energy production system shown in Figure 1 is formed with a one-piece tubular guide made up of three parts or sections, namely a main, straight section 10, which is vertical in use, a lower straight section 1 1 , and an upper straight section 12. The sections 1 1 and 12 extend from the same side of the section 10 at the lower and upper ends thereof respectively. The section 1 1 is angled upwardly away from the lower end of the section 10, being integrally connected thereto by a relatively tight U-bend 13a, and has its free upper end 14 open to atmosphere. The section 12 slopes slightly downwardly from the upper end of section 10, being integrally connected thereto by a relatively shallow U-bend 13b and having its free lower end 15 open to atmosphere. Typically the lower section 1 1 extends upwardly at approximately 40° to the
horizontal, whilst the upper section extends downwardly from the horizontal at approximately 5°. The sections of the guide are supported by props or other suitable means indicated at 16, which rest on the ground or other surface.

Between the free ends 14, 15 of the respective sections 1 1 , 12 is disposed a wheel 17 rotatably mounted on a horizontal shaft 18. As will be described, energy imparted to rotate the wheel 17 is converted into a different form of energy, for example electricity. Typically such
conversion is effected by way of a drive belt 19 driven by the shaft 18 and driving a smaller shaft 20, which can form part of an electrical generator.

Carried around the periphery of the wheel 17, in a equi-spaced
arrangement, are a plurality of pockets or cups 21 , each for receiving and carrying therein a weighted hollow ball 22, as will be described.

In use, a head of liquid 23, normally water, is maintained in the main guide section 10, the water column extending into the section 1 1. At the bottom of the section 10 there are, in this illustrated embodiment, two water trap slide valves 24, 25, respectively spaced one above the other. A further water trap slide valve 26 is disposed at the section 1 1 , just below the level of water therein. Each water trap slide valve can be of the form shown in Figures 2 to 4, namely with a casing 27 of the valve extending through the guide section and containing water from the guide. Each casing contains a valve head 28 carried on a stem 29 which extends out of a rear of the casing, the stem being attached to the outer end of a coiled tension return spring 30 disposed around the stem. The valve head is shaped and arranged so that in its position shown in
Figures 2 and 3, namely with the valve closed, it sealing engages in a complementarily shaped part of the casing, so as to prevent flow of water through the casing, and more importantly to prevent passage of a ball 22 through the trap formed by the valve. Figures 2 and 3 show the valve head over the main guide section 10.

It will be understood from Figures 2 to 4 how the spring 30 biases the valve head to its closed position, the spring being stretched under tension when the valve head is moved to an open position, as shown in Figure 4. In the embodiment illustrared in Figure 1 the lower valve 25 in section 10 and the valve 26 in section 1 1 are synchronised to open and close together, whilst upper valve 24 opens when valves 25, 26 are closed and vice versa.

Figures 1 and 5 show one form of control gate 31 for valve 26, this control gate also possibly being linked similarly to open and close valve 25 simultaneously with valve 26,

The control gate is formed with a guide platform 32 pivotal ly mounted on an upright post 33 at a position below the lowest part of the wheel 17. The platform has a main flat part 34 which, as will be described, is biased to lie horizontal, as shown in full lines in Figure 5. Adjacent its pivot axis, the platform is formed with an upwardly curved end part 35 extending integrally from part 34. To the underside of the part 34 is secured an arcuate leg 36, the arc of the leg being part of a circle struck about the pivot axis of the platform. To the free end of this leg is attached a wire 37, which passes around part of a roller 38 on post 39, and is secured to the end of the stem 29 of water trap slide valve 26.

As shown in Figure 1 , the control gate 31 is positioned relative to wheel 17 and section 1 1 such that, in use, as a cup 21 with a ball 22 therein reaches the lowest point of its travel as the wheel rotates, the ball automatically falls out of the cup to contact the end part 35 of the platform 2. The curvature of the end part 35 causes the ball to roll off said end part, and as the ball rolls along the part 34 its weight causes the platform to tip about its pivot axis, as shown in dashed lines in Figure 5 and in full in Figure 1. The control gate is arranged such that when tipped by the weight of a ball 22, the end of the part 34 is disposed at the top of the open end of guide sections 1 1 (Figure 1 ). The ball is thus automatically transferred from the wheel 17 into section 1 1.

Moreover, as the platform 32 tips, the curved leg 36 moves therewith to pull the wire upwards, as shown in Figure 2. This pulls the valve head stem 29 downwardly against its spring bias, thereby opening the water trap slide valve 26.

As well as the valve 26 in section 11 the section also includes a control stile 40 allowing passage of one ball at a time down section 1 1 , the stile operating solely by the weight of a ball on one of its four arms spaced 90° apart around the stile pivot. At the level of water contained, in use, in section 1 1 , is a water pump 41 in communication with the interior of the section, the pump being connected by suitably arranged pipework 42 to discharge into a top-up/feeder reservoir 43 disposed at the top of section 10 for feeding water therefrom into the section 10 to top-up the level of water therein so as to maintain a constant or substantially constant height of water. In this way, any excess build-up of water in section 1 1 is used to replenish reservoir 43, so that the water levels in sections 10 and 1 1 are maintained.

A control gate 44, of a similar form to control gate 31 , is disposed adjacent the free end of the section 12, to feed balls leaving section 12 into the cups 21 on the wheel. The control gate 31 is disposed below the free end of section 12 and just to the left, as viewed in Figure 1 , of the uppermost part of the wheel 17. A guide platform 45 tips as a ball received thereon rolls along it for delivery into a cup which has just passed through the highest point on the wheel. The tipping can be used to operate a water trap slide valve, for example, valve 24 or valve 25, depending on which valve is required open at the time of delivery of a ball onto the wheel.

In use, water is supplied to the guide, and the water trap slide valves 24 and 25 operate so that a column of water having a height almost to the top of guide section 10 is held in said section by valve 25 or 25 in its closed state. In section 11 , the water level is just at the height of the inlet to the water pump 41. The reservoir 43 is also supplied with water.

The weighted hollow balls 22 are then fed into the guide at the end 14 of section 1 1 where they pass over the stile 40 and build up on the water trap slide valve 26, with the first ball almost wholly submerged. When the section 11 above the valve 26 is full, this valve is opened, either by manually tipping platform 32 or by means of alternative electronic control of the valve. This allows the weight of the balls above the valve 26, to force successive lowermost balls therein into the part of the section 11 below the valve and around the U-bend 13a. During this opening of the valve 26, the valve 25 is kept closed.

As balls continue to be fed into section 11 through its open end 14, a position is reached where the section 11 is filled with balls, both above and below the valve, as shown in Figure 1, with the valves 25 and 26 closed. The priming of the system is then continued by opening the valves 25 and 26, with the valve 24 being closed. This allows the ball immediately below valve 25 to move through the valve casing as a result of its buoyancy, until it contacts the closed valve 24. Simultaneously the weight of balls upstream of valve 26 is such as to force the lowermost ball above that valve downwardly into the section 11 below valve 26, to replace the ball which has buoyantly risen to engage valve 24.

The valves 25, 26 are then closed and valve 24 is opened, with the result that the ball contacting the previously closed valve 24 now passes through the casing of valve 24 and buoyantly rises freely upwardly through the column of water held in section 10, until it reaches the upper level thereof, where it floats.

By continuing the feeding of balls into open end 14 of section 1 1 , together with the sequential opening and closing of the valves, as described, a number of balls each rise buoyantly upwardly in section 10 until the upwards force on the uppermost ball is sufficient to push it around the U-bend 13b, whereupon it rolls down section 12. At the free end 15 of section 12, the displaced ball engages the curved end of guide platform 45, thereby tipping the platform, so that the ball is guided down into a cup 21 , the wheel having been rotated to position a cup ready to receive this first ball.

This displacement of balls form section 10 then continues, with the displaced balls being received in the cups and weighting one side of the wheel, so that it rotates clockwise, as viewed in Figure 1. Eventually said first displaced ball reaches the lowermost part of the drum rotation, with the result that it is released onto guide platform 32, which it tips, so that the ball is guided automatically into section 1 1. The manual infeed of balls to prime the system is then stopped and the transfer of balls around the system continues as schematically shown in Figure 1 with the balls in the pockets/cups at the right hand side of the wheel 17 causing it continuously to rotate, thereby rotating the energy take-off shaft 20 via the drive belt 19.

The operation of the water trap slide valves can be controlled as described, by means of the control gates 31 and 44, or
additionally/alternatively some form of electronic control can be used to operate the valves sequentially as required. The power required could be taken from the energy generated by the rotation of the wheel, the rotation of the stile, or even the rising of the balls in section 10. Such energy can also be used to provide the motive force for the water pump 41.

It will be noted that the water in the section 10 is of constant or substantially constant head, the level being maintained constant or substantially so by replenishment from the reservoir, this compensating for water lost from section 1 1. This reservoir is supplied, in this example by the water pump, which pumps water displaced upstream of valve 26 as balls enter the water in section 1 1. Although the valves 25 and 26 can open together, the valves 24 and 25 must always be out of phase, i.e. one must be closed whilst the other is open, in order to maintain the water level in section 10. However provided the operation of valves 24 and 25 is so arranged, other combinations of valve openings could be used. Thus the three valves could open one at a time, or valves 24 and 26 could open together.

In this way, a ball entering section 1 1 bears on the other balls upstream of the valve 26, as shown in Figure 1. When the valve 24 is opened, a ball previously held at said valve rises buoyantly through section 1 1 until it contacts the bottom of the column of balls waiting at the upper end of section 1 1. The force of this new ball is such as to cause the upwards movement of the column, resulting in the uppermost ball 'toppling' over the U-bend 13b and rolling down section 12. Meantime, when valves 25 and 26 open, with valve 24 shut, the ball contacting valve 25 rises buoyantly to contact the valve 24, and all the other balls move down, due to their weight, with the stile rotating one quarter turn, with a further ball entering the top of section 1 1.

There need only be one of the valves 25, 26 instead of both, and the stile could also be omitted. Preferably if only one valve 25 or 26 is provided, it is disposed below valve 24 in section 10.

Instead of the relatively large number of balls shown, a lesser number could be used, particularly if the water level in section 1 1 is much nearer the U-bend 13a. In this case, one ball entering the water in section may be sufficient to push the preceding ball around the U-bend 13a, thereby causing it to rise buoyantly in section 10.

To maximise the energy produced by the system, the evacuated balls should be of the maximum weight which will float. Typically the balls will be of lead or steel, and with a diameter of 13.97 cms (5.5 inches) for travel in a guide having a diameter of 15.24 cms (6.0 inches).
However the balls could be formed of plastics material, e.g. pvc, and filled with water or other liquid. To increase the buoyancy of the liquid in the guides, salinated and/or mineralised water can be used therein. A typical displacement of liquid by a ball is 1 litre per kilogram. Instead of the circulating weights being spherical, they could be of cylindrical form.

Instead of the system being primed manually, as described, it could be effected by electrically powering the wheel, having balls in its cups, to rotate, and such electrical power could also initially drive the water pump and effect the required synchronised openings of the valves. This powering of the wheel would continue until a ball has travelled through one circuit of the system.

Instead of a single wheel, a series of wheel could be provided between the ends 15 and 14, so that the balls would drop by being received in respective cups on successive wheels one above the above.

The embodiment of the invention shown in Figure 6 shows an energy production system which operates on the same principle as that of Figure 1. However the wheel is relatively larger and the guide relatively smaller than in Figure 1. As a result of the smaller guide, less balls are used, and, in the example illustrated, only three cups on the wheel are used at any one time to receive discharge balls and transfer them from the top of the upper free end of the guide to the lower free end thereof. For the same or equivalent parts as in Figure 1 , identical numerals are used. This differently sized arrangement produces much increased torque as compared to the Figure 1 embodiment.

From Figure 6, it can be seen that the stile in section 11 and valve 25, both shown in Figure 1 , have now been omitted. The section 11 is less steeply angled, so that the water level therein is lower relative to section 10. The control gates 31 , 44 are not shown, but they could be provided. Alternatively the valves 24, 26 can be open and closed by
electrical/electronic control.

Figure 7 shows an embodiment of the invention where the Figure 6 system is modified by the use of flowing water, such as a river, stream, waterfall etc. As shown in Figure 7, the flowing water 46 feeds the reservoir 43 and its energy can be used to power the water pump 41 , which can discharge water removed from section 1 1 into the flowing water. Alternatively as water displaced in section 1 1 is not required to top-up the reservoir 43, the pump 41 can be omitted, the displaced water merely draining away from section 1 1. The water 46 could also be utilised to increase the energy generated, by contributing to the driving of the wheel 1 7. Although the flowing water is shown at a position generally above the reservoir, the system could be arranged at any level relative to the flowing water.

In alternative arrangements wave power, i.e. a tidal flow, or a
hydroelectric water flow could be used in the system of the invention as part of the energy generation means.

The embodiment of the invention shown in Figure 8 is very similar to that of Figure 6, differing only in that the valve equivalent to valve 24 is positioned higher up in section 10, whilst valve 26 is now located at the U-bend 13a, to release one ball to lie between the two valves, so that as valve 24 opens, said one ball floats upwardly in the column of water in section 10.

Although the guide is shown and described with an upper section 12, this could be omitted, with the balls discharging from section 10 falling freely into a cup/pocket 21. Moreover, the section 1 1 need not be joined to the section 10. The section 1 1 is provided primarily
positionally to guide balls to the bottom of section 10, ready for ascent upon suitable opening of valve(s).

The energy conversion means need not be circular and instead of a wheel, the energy conversion means could be an upright conveyor with cups or equivalent ball receiving means on its conveyor belt, movement of which rotates a shaft or the like, such rotation being converted into another form of energy. Other, possibly non-rotational, forms of energy conversion means could, however, be used.

In practice, the available energy of the system, wholly or largely generated by the weights rising buoyantly in section 10, is sufficient to maintain operation of the system, namely to drive the wheel 17 (or equivalent) and overcome any friction losses without the circulation of the weights coming to a halt.