The Motionless electromagnetic generator (MEG) is a proposed device which is most notable for claims of over-unity operation, a feat which would violate the first law of thermodynamics. Allegedly, the device can eventually sustain its operation in addition to powering a load without application of external electrical power, by extraction of vacuum energy from the immediate environment. The was granted to inventors Thomas E. Bearden, Stephen L. Patrick, James C. Hayes, James L. Kenny, and Kenneth D. Moore.
The MEG has never been independently verified and there is no known working prototype. Skeptics point out that the device strongly resembles a standard transformer, with the exception of a permanent magnet and two actuator coils being included in the design. They also strongly criticize Bearden's methods and concepts in general.
The MEG appears to be a special type of transformer with a permanent magnet in its main flux path. According to some investigators, this distorts the hysteresis curve enough to cause flux saturation of the core and generates voltage spikes on the output coils (but this is clearly against the stipulations put forth in the patent).
Within the MEG, a set of input coils and a set of output coils extend around portions of the transformer-type magnetic core. A pair of input and output coils are on the right and left of the transformer frame. A permanent magnet is positioned in middle of the magnetic core. A permanent magnet furnishes magnetic flux lines moving from the north pole outward into the core material, resulting in a right and a left magnetic path. These paths extend externally between the north and south magnetic poles. A driving electrical current through each of the input coils (acting as a type of choke coil) reduces a level of magnetic flux from the permanent magnet within the magnet path around which the input coil extends.
A moving magnetic field induces a charge in a coil. When a magnet is placed in between two metal plates, the flux is placed evenly. The permanent magnet is used as a flux battery, making this machine's operation possible. When a current flows through one of the input coils, all the magnetic flux goes to one metal plate, making the total magnetic flux change .5, because .5 of the magnetic flux was changed to the other side. Stopping the current through that input coil and the field goes back to normal, and thus the magnetic flux change is .5 which pulses another current through the opposite input coil. The magnetic flux change is .5. Continued operation results in power used that is only half of the power created.
The MEG's magnetic core is composed of a magnetic alloy (of crystalline grains (or crystallite) of a few nanometers). These are used because of the material's rapid switching of magnetic flux characteristics. Each crystallite is a single-domain particle in magnetic terms. One of the magnetic materials preferred is the alloy of cobalt-niobium-boron; this alloy has a near-zero magnetostriction and relatively strong magnetization. This alloy also has a relatively high mechanical strength and corrosion resistance. Other magnetic materials acceptable to be used can be iron-rich amorphous and nanocrystalline alloys. These materials exhibit a greater magnetization than the cobalt based alloys. An example of this alloy material would be iron-boron-silicon-niobium-copper. Though the permeability of this alloy is limited by its relatively large levels of magnetostriction, the formation of a nanocrystalline material dramatically reduces this level of magnetostriction and favors easy magnetization.
Initially, a sensing and switching circuit connects the switching and control circuit to an external power source. External power sources can include, but are not limited to, a battery. The "switching and control circuit" is connected to an oscillator driver that is the clock input of a flip-flop circuit. The alternate outputs (Q and Q') of the flip-flop are connected through independent driver circuits; such circuits can include a darlington pair or a one-shot circuit (such as the one described in ), to operate the FETs. The FETs alternately drive the input 'choking' coils. After being started, a "sensing and switching circuit" detects if there is a predetermined level of voltage available from a regulator circuit. Once this condition is met, the power input to the switching and control circuit is switched from the external power source to the output of the regulator circuit. After this switching event, the electromagnetic generator operates without an application of external power.
It is notable that, according to the patent, during operation of the MEG the input coils are never driven to the point that the core material becomes saturated. If the core material is saturated, subsequent increases in input current that do occur have no corresponding effect in the magnetic flux and input power is wasted. In the MEG, the switching of current flow within the input coils does not need to be sufficient to stop the flow of flux in one of the magnetic paths while promoting the flow of magnetic flux in the other magnetic path. The electromagnetic generator works by changing the flux pattern; it does not need to be completely switched from one side to another.
The US Patent Office does not grant patents to "perpetual motion machines" without a working model . Because no such model was provided in this case, it must be concluded that either the patent does not imply perpetual motion, or the Patent Office did not understand the specifics of the application.
In an alternative embodiment of an electromagnetic generator, the magnetic core includes annular spaced-apart plates, with posts and permanent magnets extending in an alternating fashion between the plates. An output coil extends around each of these posts. Input coils extending around portions of the plates are pulsed to cause the induction of current within the output coils.
Tom Bearden announced the arrival of the MEG technology on March 26 2002. This device was supposed to be in mass production by 2003, and claimed to produce unlimited energy from the vacuum, to answer mankind's power needs. It was promoted through JLNlabs, Cheniere.org, and an Egroup called "MEG Builders". The device was even written up in Vol. 14., No. 1, 2001, Foundations of Physics Letters. As of May 2008, the MEG was still not in production, and Tom Bearden claimed he needed about $11 million to develop it to a viable commercial form. Bearden also admitted he had no working prototype, stating the 'last working demonstrator was promptly destroyed'.
Electromagnetism does not contain any mechanism allowing for "over-unity" or "free energy" devices. Tom Bearden explains the operation of the MEG with a wide range of alternative theories, including the proposal that all electrical devices, from batteries to electromechanical generators, in reality operate on vacuum energy. However, the theory seems to offer no concrete testable predictions, and is generally dismissed by the physics community at large. Bearden himself has little formal training in physics and one analysis of these theories describes them as "full of misconceptions and misunderstandings concerning the theory of the electromagnetic field".
A point within the framework from Bearden rests on the allegation that during the reformulation of James Clerk Maxwell's original theory (of quaternions) by Oliver Heaviside and Josiah Gibbs into vector notation key elements were lost in the original theory. Also, voltage spikes generated by the machine could be mistaken for over-unity phenomena. The claimed suppression of various aspects of the MEG device and the theory behind it are examples of free energy suppression conspiracy theory.
There is also a controversy on a contending claim to intellectual property. Inventor Joe Flynn was granted a patent that contains an innovation similar to the 'MEG' as a minor subsection of his flux core invention. This is contained in , "Methods for controlling the path of magnetic flux from a permanent magnet and devices incorporating the same" (Flynn, June 12, 2001) in the "Power Conversion" section. Flynn states that,
He also states within his patent that the basic method for controlling flux of a permanent magnet to provide motion (linear and rotary) can also be applied to time varying the static flux from the permanent magnet. Flynn's more complicated construction, though, utilizes four control coils and a single permanent magnet and, in an alternate embodiment, uses two control coils and two permanent magnets. The Flynn prior art was not cited in the MEG patent application, and the intellectual property has yet to be formally tested.