Generating electricity from trees - How is this supposed to work?

Via Fark

If these trees are generating some sort of low voltage electricity where is it coming from? Is this just some kind of ground potential effect due to height?Article doesn’t say.

Plugged in: Startup hopes to tap electricity from trees


I’ll be more impressed if it works with a stainless steel nail and a stainless steel earth pole, otherwise it’s just like a lemon clock - not actually generating power from the lemon, but from the corrosion of the electrodes.

That’d give about 2.2 volts, which is in the range of their claims. Without seeing the patent application, which isn’t published yet, I’m leaning strongly towards tree power being battery power.

However, having said that, there is a stream of rising sap within the tree while it is actively growing; electrolyte in motion could be doing something.

But even if it is, a problem for this approach is that the tree will tend to form insulating scar tissue around the probe nailed into it.

Setting aside science for a moment, as it seems MagCap Engineering has, I suspect the power comes from the trees screaming in pain from the nail.

Electricity can be “filtered” and “stabilized”?

I think the biggest stream of rising saps here is his investors.

Seriously, even if he has something, I suspect there would be problems scaling up to any useful level.

Of course it can. Your computer has filters in its power supply (to prevent noise getting in or out) and ‘stabilizers’ to keep a steady supply for the components. The more usual term is ‘regulation’, however.

(bolding mine)

I don’t see anything in the article actually mentioning power or the current available (which would let you know power). I can get thousands of volts by shuffling my feet; I don’t propose crucifixion and bastinado by beaver pelt as a valid form of energy generation.

When I saw the thread title in the list my first thought in answer to the question was “burn them”. :wink:

The only part of the story I fully understand is why a possible investor would want to be unindentified.:smiley:

One can only imagine the number of conmen and the nature of their investment offers to any company associated with this scheme.

Electrochemical potential, not a generator of any kink! (Note misspelling intentional.)

Pseudo-science! at its best/worst.

Yes. All it requires is a diode and a capacitor, which will cost you all of about a buck at Radio Shack. You can maybe get fancy and do some voltage regulation, but if you are charging a small battery the battery will do the regulation for you.

I’d like to believe that the folks behind this are just hugely incompetent, because the only other alternative I can think of is that they are out to intentionally weasel folks out of their money.

Generating voltage is fairly meaningless. It’s power that you want to generate. You can generate a couple of volts just by stringing out a long piece of wire, but you’re not going to get any reasonable amount of current out of it. I don’t see how this tree thing is going to be any different.

There was a thread on this a few years ago. I can’t find it now, but isn’t there a potential across a vertical antenna of a few millivolts per hundred feet?

The company claims it is not galvanic or EMF derived - from the companies website press release and FAQ. However they are clearly talking rubbish as these reactions are very fast and can occur at any pH
FAQ – “Free Unlimited Energy Source” • Is the voltage potential between an electrode inserted in the tree and one grounded both having different electro-potential characteristics due to electro-chemical reactions e.g. Galvanic batteries? In a Galvanic reaction there is metal to metal contact. Henceforth the word “galvanized”. Validation and voltage measurement does not involve metal to metal contact. In addition, a chemical reaction requires a very elevated or very low PH level in order to create this alkaline or acidic condition. Impossibility of this concept is verified by the neutral PH levels of trees. A chemical reaction requires hours if not days to manifest. Voltage per our validation occurs instantaneously upon tree tapping. Consequently, a chemical reaction would result in breakdown of the electrode and thus resulting in loss of voltage. Data collected confirms no electrode breakdown and thus no loss in voltage.
• Do the electrodes and trees act like a Radio Frequency (RF) antenna and thus the electro-chemical reactions of both the tree and ground rectify the RF signal? MagCap Engineering, LLC has performed altitude testing confirming that RF signals are stable and no increase has been observed with increased altitude. In fact, lower resistance and impedance levels were observed to be closer to ground than those observed in elevated levels. Consequently, if RF signals were in play, energy readings would be drastically different in trees of different heights and/or sizes. Data collected confirms that relatively the same power is derived from a two-inch diameter as opposed to a thirty- inch diameter tree varying drastically in height.

Have they tried grasses? If the above is true, the power density of a stand of Kentucky bluegrass ought to be orders of magnitude higher than that of a wooded acreage. :wink: