The turbine was constructed from the following items: plastic tubes and drinking straws, nylon spacers, cardboard, sheet metal connecting and mounting hardware as well as a HVDC power source used in place of the earth’s electric field. The turbine features a clear plastic housing that reduces the risk of accidental HV contact while permitting an inside view of the turbine for classroom and science fair demos. When operating the turbine in a darkened room, corona discharge produces a ghostly, blue-violet glow that illuminates the inside of the housing. A side-by-side comparison of an earlier version of the EST shows the smaller, more streamlined profile. I used simple hand tools and an electric drill for construction.

Caution:This project can produce ozone gas and should be operated in areas with adequate ventilation. Work gloves are recommended when working with sheet metal due to sharp edges. Lastly, HVDC is not always user-friendly, so act accordingly!

Step 1: How Does the EST-3 Work?

Picture of How Does the EST-3 Work?

The EST has 6 foil electrodes with razor sharp edges that encircle a plastic rotor. There are 3 series-wired, hot electrodes that deposit charged particles on the rotor’s surface. Hot electrodes alternate in polarity with 3 grounded rotors (in this case: Hot-Gnd-Hot-Gnd-Hot-Gnd). The hot electrodes spray the rotor with like charges, which the electrodes then repel, causing the rotor to spin. Through the process of induction, each hot electrode attracts the rotor segment that was electrically neutralized by the preceding ground electrode. The rotor has a sheet metal backing to optimize the electric field gradient between each electrode’s leading edge and the rotor’s surface.

The action of hot electrodes spraying ions on the rotor coupled with ground electrodes on clean-up detail enabled the unloaded turbine to reach 3,500 RPM using an industrial grade ionizer. The sketch shows a prototype EST with 8 electrodes which was a miserable failure due to internal arcing between electrodes placed too closely together.

Take-away Lesson: Make sure electrodes are properly insulated and/or spaced apart before using a high output power source; otherwise, your turbine could be reduced to a smoking hot mess!

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