For a discussion of the science of Townsend Brown, his experiments and his ideas.


Postby Chuck » Wed Feb 22, 2006 1:12 am

I am constructing a petrovoltaic battery per design info on the townsend website. I am wondering if parrafin wax would be a good substitute for the carnuba wax that the townsend battery was made with? I have a 35,000 volt variable dc power supply to align atoms as they cool in the wax. Just concerned about the fine tungsten carbide powder igniting with the parrafine wax both of these ingredients can be quite combustable under the right circumstances I will be applying the high voltage to this mix and a molten metal fireball would be a bad way to start off this experiment. Any Ideas out there for a safe and succussful experiment?

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Making a Petrovoltaic Battery

Postby Chris Knight » Wed Feb 22, 2006 3:43 pm


There were a number of different designs Brown used - the best used naturally occurring materials such as Koolau basalt, and silica-based rocks. Another of his favorites was litharge and glycerin.

That said, carnuba (carnauba) wax is a very good electret. An electret is a "solid electrically insulating, or dielectric, material that has acquired a long-lasting electrostatic polarization. Electrets are produced by heating certain dielectric materials to a high temperature and then letting them cool while immersed in a strong electric field. An electret is an analog of a permanent magnet." A decent description from Keely net. I believe the polarizing voltage is about 100 V/um, but confirm that.

Materials such as glycerin, paraffin, glass, and other ionic crystal structure materials transfer electric charge through ionic conduction (the charge carriers are ions). As a result, they tend to be somewhat "leaky" and run down after awhile (lose there conductivity).

Metals transfer charge through electronic conduction, where the charge carriers are electrons.

Carnauba wax is an electronic polymer (in the electrostrictive, electrostatic, piezoelectric, and ferroelectric grouping) that has a very high resistance and can charge to a very high voltage, albeit with a low amperage output. Brown was concerned primarily with the change in voltage over time, so the low output was not a factor.

Check out "How to Make an Electret" by C.L. Strong in "Scientific American" Vol 203 (Nov 1960) p202 - 210 is a practical description of how to make an electret using carnauba wax.

Also check out the link: ... ct-pol.htm


Your second question involves the ignitability of tungsten and wax. Just about anything is flammable in an oxygen-rich environment when dispersed as a powder form - tungsten, flour, Kool aid, etc. When in an oxygen-poor environment, you will get sparking if you go above the dielectric stength of the mix, but a fireball would surprise me (and you too, I suspect !). Just use high voltage precautions.

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