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`Energy-producing` motor provokes Web debate

10 February, 2008

A Canadian inventor has caused a stir on the Internet with online videos that appear to show an electric motor accelerating inexplicably under the influence of an array of permanent magnets. YouTube videos showing the inventor, Thane Heins, demonstrating his "Perepiteia" machine have been watched by more than 100,000 people and the demonstration has provoked intense debate in online forums.

Heims and machine

Heins discovered the phenomenon by accident while trying to build a generator by connecting the drive shaft of a motor to a rotor with magnets on its periphery. The magnets were intended to induce a voltage in a coil as they spun past it. When Heins attached a load to the coil, he expected the rotor to slow down, instead of which it accelerated so rapidly that the magnets started to fly off.

Heims cannot explain the effect but thinks it may be something to do with back-emf boosting magnetic fields in the motor. He has shown his machine to several experts and academics without receiving a satisfactory explanation.

Recently, for example, Heims demonstrated his system to Professor Markus Zahn, an electromagnetics expert from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who afterwards told the Toronto Star that he was stumped. "Itís an unusual phenomenon I wouldnít have predicted in advance," he told the newspaper. "But I saw it. Itís real. Now, Iím just trying to figure it out."

If the effect is genuine, Zahn sees potential for it to improve motor efficiencies. "Itís worth exploring all the possible advantages once youíre convinced itís a real effect," he is reported as saying. "There are an infinite number of induction machinesÖ If you could make them more efficient, cumulatively, it could make a big difference."

Heims, who is not an engineer, has set up a company, Potential Difference, to develop and market the technology. He is not calling it a perpetual motion machine, but does believe that it violates the law of conservation of energy.

A lively online discussion about the Heims phenomenon on the Web site has produced several possible explanations including the suggestion that it simply demonstrates a change in the motor`s hysteresis drag that increases the rotor speed without producing any energy.

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