Wireless Transmission of Power
Related : VAIDEANU
: UV Ray
Electrical Experimenter ( March 1920 ), p. 1118-1119
Wireless Transmission of Power Now
Thomas W. Benson
Recent development tend to fulfill the old, old dream of power
transmission without wires. For years men have labored in vain to
transmit power without wires and thus solve a myriad of
transportation problems, such as propelling vehicles, ships,
trains, aircraft, etc., without having to include a source of
power in their construction. It makes one's head almost reel to
think of the possibilities in such an achievement and now the
dream promises to come true.
By one bold stroke an English genius, Mr John Hettinger, has
unthinkingly opened up the way for its realization. Like numerous
other inventions, the way lay before our very eyes, but we were
all too blind to see it.
While working on a means for transmitting radio waves without
aerials, Mr Hettinger hit upon the idea of using ionized light
beams as conductors. Obviously simple when one thinks about it.
It is a well known fact that an ionized gas is a conductor; in
fact, the conductivity of a gas is a measure of its ionization.
Furthermore, it is possible to ionize a gas by means of a stream
of ultraviolet rays. Working with these facts, Mr Hettinger
devised means to utilize them in the following manner.
As shown in Fig. 1, a source of ultraviolet rays, an arc or
mercury lamp, A, is arranged to throw a beam of ionizing rays
These rays result in an ionized stream of air that acts as a
conductor, the surrounding un-ionized air being practically a
perfect insulator. By making connection to this conducting beam
with a metallic screen or mesh at B, it can be utilized as an
aerial for radio communication.
We are perfectly aware that this ionized beam rapidly loses its
conducting power as the distance from the source increases,
therefore the effective height of such an arrangement is
determined by the intensity of the ray generator. So much for the
idea as applied to radio communication.
But let us consider further. In studying the spectrum we find that
the sunlight on reaching the earth contains few ultraviolet rays
of shorter wavelength than 3000 Angstrom units, yet we are able to
generate much shorter rays with an arc light. It is unreasonable
to assume that shorter waves do not leave the sun, and in view of
the fact that it has been determined that the upper stratum of our
atmosphere is ionized, it is accepted that the shorter rays are
absorbed to cause this ionization.
It will now be apparent that a very good condition exists for the
transmission of energy without wires. As shown in Fig. 2, we have
the earth, a good conductor, surrounded with a blanket of
insulating air about ten miles thick, beyond which, up to about
100 miles, the air is highly rarefied and kept in a state of
ionization by light from the sun and stars.
Hence, we have two good conductors separated by several miles of
atmosphere, practically a perfect insulator, an ideal arrangement
for our purposes. We have but to connect a source of current to
the earth and to the ionized strata of air and energy can be
transmitted entirely around the earth without wires. The energy
could be utilized in any part of the earth by merely connecting to
the pair of conductors.
This condition has been recognized for some time, but the
difficulty lies in making connections to the upper atmosphere. It
is hardly practical to construct towers six or seven high for the
purpose, then again the energy could not be utilized without using
a similar structure at the point of reception, which makes this
scheme hardly feasible for aircraft or moving vehicles.
Return then to the ionized stream for radio aerials. We can easily
construct arcs that will throw a beam 10 or 20 miles. Then why not
make connection to that upper stratum with an ionized stream of
air? Wonderful in its simplicity.
In Fig. 2 the writer attempts to portray a generating station
embodying these principles. In the main building will be housed
the generating units for supplying the current to the arc and the
primary of the high voltage apparatus for transmission of energy.
Supported on the roof of this structure will be a monstrous arc
lamp capable of throwing a stream of UV rays for at least 10
miles. In this beam is supported a conducting screen to make
connection to the conducting stream of ionized air. The
insulation of these parts present no great difficulties to modern
The building will also house a huge stepup transformer, a set of
high voltage condensers, a spark gap either of the rotary or
quenched type and a huge oscillation transformer or Tesla coil.
These instruments are connected in the usual manner and tuned so
that the inductance in the circuit and the capacity formed by the
earth and ionized upper strata will have a well defined
By these means the whole body of the earth will become an
electrified body, energy to be drawn at any point simply by making
metallic connection to the earth and pointing a beam of light
vertically, a screen being used to take the energy that will flow
down the beam. An inductance coil being necessary in the circuit
to ensure resonance with the transmitter at the receiving set.
After once started, the receiving energy can be used to keep the
Ships will have an arc and reflector mounted on the masts,
aeroplanes have two arcs, one on top, the other below, and so on.
This scheme will not interfere with short range transmission, it
being hardly practical for each home to have an arc on the roof
when one arc would serve for a town and several for a large city.
Rather its benefit will lie in the utilization of water falls far
from civilization, now unused on account of difficulties in
transmitting the power hundreds or thousands of miles.
Aside from the transmission of power other advantages may accrue.
Will such stress between the earth and upper air reduce the
presence of dust particles in the atmosphere? Or again, cause the
immediate condensation of fogs and moisture in the air to give us
perfectly cloudless days? Perhaps it will become simply a matter
of changing the frequency or voltage of the current to cause rain
to to prevent it.
Then the question of effect on radio communication: will it make
our present sets obsolete, a transmitter of the future being
connected directly to the power set and acting by superimposing
different frequencies on the power frequency? Or will
radio-telephony work hand in hand with the power system, the voice
currents being impressed on the power circuit and filtered out at
There are a thousand and one things such an arrangement might
effect. Will trees and vegetation increase in growth as
experiments in electrical culture would indicate? What effect
would such stresses have on germs and bacilli? Their numbers will
be decreased by the destructive effects of the UV light. Will man
grow to an unsuspected height and become uniformly healthier due
to the electrical treatment he would be constantly undergoing?
And so on -- conjecture is without bounds, but the scheme is
practical to all appearances; it requires but some financial
genius to give it a trial.
And to think it was all within reach such a short time ago! Had
Tesla but put a gigantic arc on top of the tower of his
experimental station in Long Island accurate data would be at hand
now -- were it but even a promise it would mean another step
towards the final mastery of all matter by man.
Aerial Conductor for Wireless Signalling and other Purposes
( 8 July 1919 )
[ PDF ]
Long beams of ionized air, such as searchlight beams containing
ultra-violet rays, are utilized as transmitting or receiving
aerials for wireless signalling. On submarines the beam b is
projected through a conducting cylinder g, concentric with, and
insulated from, the periscope g<1>, the plate g, g<1>
forming a condenser common to the aerial and the associated
oscillatory circuit. The beam may be reflected by a reflector in
Improvements in and relating to Aerial Conductors
for Wireless Signalling and other purposes
PHOTOGRAPHIC RECORDING OF ELECTRIC SIGNALS
AERIAL CONDUCTOR FOR WIRELESS SIGNALLING
Improvements in and relating to Telegraphic and other
Instruments and Installations.
Perfectionnements à l'enregistrement photographique de
Perfectionnements aux antennes pour la radiotélégraphie, la
radiotéléphonie et autres applications
Perfectionnements aux appareils et aux installations
télégraphiques et similaires
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