FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Where does the harvested electricity come from?
The high voltage DC electricity harvested by ion collectors comes from electrically charged ions in the atmosphere produced by multiple sources. Cosmic rays consistently impact oxygen and nitrogen atmospheric atoms producing a particle shower creating electrically charged ions downward along its path through the atmosphere, day and night. In addition to being a conveyance of high voltage electricity, ions play an equally important role causing the atmosphere to be electrically conductive allowing ion collectors to benefit greatly from disturbed weather. For example, when a storm or active cloud formation is nearby, the harvested power can skyrocket many orders of magnitude by reason of the electrical conductivity of the atmosphere provided by airborne ions. This naturally generated energy is collected in a storage medium (capacitors, ultra-capacitors, fuel cells) providing the ability to do work such as power lights, motors or produce hydrogen gas from water. Additionally, the triboelectric effect plays a role in generating electricity through ion collectors. Geographic areas with radon gas can tend to have greater ionic airborne densities due to the gas leaking up from the ground. To a degree not yet defined, man-made air pollution can raise the level of airborne ion densities. Cities with polluted air may prove to enjoy an extra benefit from ion harvesting. Ion collectors harvest atmospheric electricity produced by multiple sources. Ion Harvesting Technology should not be confused with other techniques that harvest manmade radio frequency (Rf) energy.
Depiction to the right of cosmic rays penetrating the atmosphere impacting electrically neutral oxygen and nitrogen atoms creating a particle shower (or particle cascade) producing electrically charged atmospheric ions along its path. This natural process occurs on Earth and Mars day and night (and theoretically all planets with an atmosphere, independent of sunlight).
How does ion harvesting work at night?
Because ions are present in the atmosphere day and night, ion-harvesting can operate day and night and at greater power levels during disturbed weather. Ion harvesting does not require sunlight or strong wind in order to harvest the electric charge of atmospheric ions to produce electricity.
Does ion harvesting work on Earth?
Yes. Useable power has been repeatedly harvested and stored at the Florida test facility producing light and operating motors and producing hydrogen gas from water. However, the power available on Earth is considerably less compared to Mars, thus operation on Earth requires that the ion collectors be located at very high altitude – best provided by aerostats or long-duration aerial platforms (balloons or kites) to provide altitude for the ion collectors. Ion Power Group intends to build the world’s first Ion Power Plant for trail-runs on Earth after adequate funding becomes available.
How much Energy has the Proof-of-Concept system produced?
The record peak electrical power generated by Ion Power Group’s proof-of-concept system harvesting airborne ions in real-time during peak ion periods with the ion collectors at 130 feet above ground level is 1,236 watts (1.236kW). Derived from 41,200 volts @ 30.ma directly measured through a 1000x probe during peak ion periods. A General Electric capacitor bank, rated at 75.uf, has repeatedly been charged up to >29,000.vdc (29.kV) equating to >31,000 Joules (31.kJ) of energy by harvesting the electric charge of airborne ions in real-time during peak ion periods with the ion collectors at 130 feet above ground level. The energy stored in the capacitor bank has been used for demonstrations including powering 32 feet of florescent lights, powering motors, producing hydrogen gas from water and charging ultra-capacitors. Future ion harvesting systems with ion collectors at altitudes higher than 130 feet will be exposed to greater opportunity to harvest more ions in the atmosphere at an approximation of 50-100vdc (+/-) increase per meter in altitude.
Will ion harvesting pollute Mars or the Earth?
No. The process of harvesting electricity from naturally occurring ions in the Martian atmosphere and Earth’s atmosphere is completely passive and non-polluting. No fumes, smoke, toxins, waste or pollution is produced. Ion-harvesting is a clean, renewable source of electrical energy.
Does ion harvesting require wind to operate?
Ground based circuitry maintains the ion collector material at a voltage considerably lower than the surrounding atmospheric ions thereby employing the electrostatic attraction principle causing nearby ions to migrate to the ion collectors.
Ion harvesting for cars?
Ion Power Group has been awarded a patent for applying ion collectors to vehicles for the generation of supplemental electricity to help power vehicles and/or their onboard systems. Early stage R&D tests demonstrate that ion collectors affixed to a vehicle (a truck) generate electricity. With additional development, potential benefits include improved efficiency and greater mileage for electric powered cars and hydrogen powered cars via ion collectors providing supplemental electrical power thus reducing the demand on the vehicle primary power system. Aircraft, drones, water vehicles and spacecraft are also candidates to be equipped with ion collectors.
How can ion harvesting be used to produce hydrogen gas?
Electrolysis is a process employed to produce hydrogen gas and oxygen gas from ordinary water. However, electrolysis requires electricity in order to separate the hydrogen and oxygen atoms that compose water. Ion Power Group’s ion harvesting technology can provide clean electricity to be used in the electrolysis of water into hydrogen and oxygen gas on Mars and the Earth. Ion Power Group was awarded a patent for using ionic electricity harvested from the atmosphere to split water to produce hydrogen and oxygen gas. This is the same type hydrogen gas that will power fuel-cell cars being developed by the world’s largest automakers. A demonstration video clip of hydrogen gas being produced from water powered by ion harvesting technology can be viewed on the Proof-of-Concept Clips page.
Does ion harvesting work during dust storms on Mars?
Much of the electrical activity on Mars is caused by dust storms as well as bombardment of galactic cosmic rays from deep space which cause the atmosphere to be electrically conductive. Because dust storms are a highly energetic source of atmospheric electricity, the power level harvested by ion collectors is expected to increase during dust storms.
How much electricity can ion harvesting produce on Mars?
Power output is dependent on the altitude provided to the ion collectors and the size of the geographic area covered by the ion-collectors. Kilowatt output is feasible depending on the duty cycle placed on the storage medium. Theoretically megawatt output is possible on an industrial scale depending on the duty cycle.
What happens when all the ions are used up?
It is not possible to deplete the atmospheric ions on Mars or the Earth. Nature constantly replenishes the ion population of the atmosphere of both planets. Consistent bombardment by Galactic Comic Rays (GCRs) plus frequent storms are some of the natural forces that replenish and maintain the ion population of the atmosphere. Consistent bombardment by Galactic Comic Rays (GCRs) plus frequent lightning discharges on Earth (4,320,000 lightning discharges each 24 hour period) are some of the natural forces that replenish and maintain the ion population of Earth’s atmosphere. Because Mars has a weak magnetic field, GCRs propagate effectively through the atmosphere producing electrically charged ions along their path. Ion harvesting is a clean renewable pollution-free, environmentally-friendly source of electricity.
What equipment can be powered by ion collectors on Mars?
Ion collectors are designed to charge a storage medium (such as super-capacitors, batteries or hydrogen fuel cells) day, night and during dust-storms. The storage medium can be dawn upon to help power lights, heat, life-support, communication and entertainment equipment, rovers, robots, drones and vehicles. Ionic energy harvested from the Martian atmosphere can be used to melt Martian ice into liquid water (or acquire it from the soil) for drinking and agriculture and also raising fish. Electricity harvested from ions in the Martian atmosphere can be used to electrolyze Martian water into oxygen for breathing and hydrogen gas for rocket fuel.
Do Ion Collectors weigh much?
One ion collector weighs only 0.04 ounces (1.134 grams). 50 ion-collectors weigh only 2 ounces (56.7 grams). This does not include the towers to hold the ion-collectors up in the Martian atmosphere. The telescoping towers will ideally be fabricated by printing interlocking tower segments using a 3-D printer on Mars, or repurposing the metal of used cargo containers or space capsules, or fabricating the towers from materials naturally available on Mars.
So far, international patents have been awarded to Ion Power Group by the United States, China, Canada, Japan and Russia. A priority date has been established in 40 other countries through a PCT patent application filing.
What is an ion?
Electrically neutral oxygen and nitrogen atoms fill the atmosphere. When oxygen or nitrogen atoms are struck by GCRs (Galactic Cosmic Rays) arriving from deep space, sometimes an electron is knocked away causing the atom to become electrically imbalanced or ‘charged’. An atom possessing an electric charge is known as an ion. Ions can also be created when a neutral atom gains an extra electron. An electron imbalance, whether a loss or a gain of electrons, converts an atom into an ion. This is a natural process that occurs day and night on most planets possessing an atmosphere, such as Mars (with different types of atoms).
Theoretical vs Real-World:
There are a number of technical reports and peer reviewed journal articles available for viewing on the internet that do an excellent job of characterizing the Earth’s Electric Circuit addressing fair weather (the load of the circuit) as well as perturbed conditions (the generator part). These reports tend to model the Earth’s Fair Weather Circuit as a ‘whole’ averaging the energy produced by thousands of storms over the entire atmosphere. One might conclude from such reports that the atmosphere offers a maximum of 2 pA/m2 of electrical current. Ion Power Group has oftentimes measured significantly greater power during peak ion periods – many watts of harvested power – as great as 1,236 watts (41,200vdc @ 30ma) with ion collectors at 130 feet altitude.
What accounts for the very wide discrepancy between theoretical models presented by some reports available on the internet and Ion Power Group’s real-world measurements?
Answer: Localized disturbed weather can greatly increase the electrical component of the local atmosphere thereby significantly increasing the level of electricity available to ion harvesting by many orders of magnitude. In addition, for estimating the available power, the voltage increase with altitude, air conductivity (e.g. with respect to Radon emissions from the surface), and characteristics of the instrumentation (conductivity of the material, insulation) need to be considered. Because of these complexities, there are hardly any realistic studies or even measurements on the available power locally outside of research conducted by Ion Power Group. Also, the total power in the electric circuit is still an open research question.
Most researchers who have published reports about the Fair Weather Circuit intentionally do not focus on the local effects of disturbed weather or Radon gas components – some researchers even state this fact in their report. With regard to harvesting electricity from the atmosphere, the absence of modeling the beneficial effect of localized disturbed weather and the effects of Radon gas may lead readers to a conclusion that drastically underestimates the actual electrical power available to be harvested during localized disturbed weather. During real-world testing, Ion Power Group has repeatedly demonstrated that localized disturbed weather greatly increases the electrical power output of ion harvesting technology, many thousands of times greater than 2 pA/m2 when using carbon nanomaterials in the harvesting process. The solution to increasing electrical power is to provide greater altitude to the carbon nanomaterial ion collector, via long duration tethered balloon, thereby increasing the harvested voltage. The electrical conductivity and voltage of the atmosphere increases with altitude, therefore, the effective capture-area is thought to increase as the Ion Collector is raised higher in altitude. Voltage (and sometimes current, depending e.g. on orography) have been observed to increase as an ion collector is raised in altitude. However, assuming a situation in which the atmospheric current stays constant while voltage increases (due to the ion collector being raised to a higher altitude) the result is a net power increase as shown in this formula.
P=VxI. Therefore, if I is constant, as V increases, P increases proportionately
Ion Harvesting Technology addresses the problem of low atmospheric current during fair weather conditions by increasing the altitude of ion collectors thereby increasing overall harvested power. It is noteworthy that none of the reports presently available via the internet address the harnessing of atmospheric electricity for power production based on using more efficient carbon nanomaterials such as Graphite and Graphene. Therefore, present reports do not reflect the most recent advancements in technology for harvesting atmospheric electricity.
For the reasons stated herein, previous reports available prior to Ion Power Group’s research (while most are very good when read in context) should not be considered an accurate representation of the actual electrical power available to advanced Ion Harvesting Technology because the reports do not model available power based on the complex current flow considering the local atmospheric conductivity, potential distribution, and how utilizing carbon nanomaterials such as Graphite and Graphene alter the process.