Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Kanzius and "burning water": ten years later and no energy breakthrough

Certain "inventions" garner much publicity, such as the work of John Kanzius on treating cancer and "burning salt water", which made its way to "60 Minutes" in 2008 after much discussion in 2007. BUT "where we are now" is not exactly the place envisioned by "60 Minutes." A brief review of some events since 2007 is given and the key patent application, after many years of prosecution, was allowed to go abandoned in 2014.

Almost 10 years ago, in late 2007, Popular Science discussed the "burning water" claim of John Kanzius:

Last winter, inventor John Kanzius was already attempting one seemingly impossible feat-building a machine to cure cancer with radio waves-when his device inadvertently succeeded in another: He made saltwater catch fire. TV footage of his bizarre discovery (check out the video below) has been burning up the blogosphere ever since, drawing crackpots and Ph.D.s alike into a raging debate. Can water burn? And if so, what good can come of it?

Some people gush over the invention's potential for desalinization or cheap energy. Briny seawater, after all, sloshes over most of the planet's surface, and harnessing its heat energy could power all sorts of things. Skeptics say Kanzius's radio generator is sucking up far more energy than it's creating, making it a carnival trick at best.

link: Turning Water into Fuel

There were many issues with the "60 Minutes" piece, which were raised at the time, but largely ignored.
For example
Stahl's "60 Minutes" piece on Kanzius: patents and conflict matters?

One relevant patent application of Kanzius is US 20090294300, titled
Rf systems and methods for processing salt water with abstract:

Systems and methods for processing salt water and/or solutions containing salt water with RF energy. Exemplary systems and methods may use RF energy to combust salt water, to produce hydrogen from salt water or solutions containing salt water, to volatilize a secondary fuel present in solutions containing salt water, to produce and combust hydrogen obtained from salt water or solutions containing salt water, to volatilize and combust secondary fuel sources present in solutions containing salt water, to desalinate seawater, and/or to carry out the electrolysis of water are presented. An exemplary system may comprise a reservoir for containing a salt water solution or salt water mixture; a reaction chamber having an inlet; a feed line operatively connecting the reservoir to the inlet of the reaction chamber; an RF transmitter having an RF generator in circuit communication with a transmission head, the RF generator capable of generating an RF signal absorbable by the salt water solution or the salt water mixture having a frequency for transmission via the transmission head; and an RF receiver; wherein the reaction chamber is positioned such that some of the salt water solution or salt water mixture is positioned between the RF transmission head and the RF receiver.

There is a lengthy file history for US 20090294300 ( 12/398,646. Earliest provisional 60/865,530 11-13-2006 ), with a non-final rejection on 6 January 2014, and an abandonment of the case on 15 August 2014. There were rejections for indefiniteness and for obviousness. [In passing, as one irony compared to The Medicines/Angiomax case, the examiner cites to In re Van Geuns, for the proposition that limitations from the specification are not read into claims, which is exactly what did happen in The Medicines case.)

Also, as to the patent realm, note the 2008 IPBiz post
Some Kanzius patent applications
, concerning US 20070250139.

Of prior art, note the IPBiz post "Burning water, before Kanzius," which includes discussion of United States Patent 4,265,721
Hackmyer May 5, 1981.

From the 2008 IPBiz post
Kanzius, and burning water, again
, about a question put to Kanzius:

Q What is happening with research at Pennsylvania State University about using the device to "burn" saltwater? There has been debate on the subject that it takes more energy to heat the saltwater than the chemical reaction releases.

A Everyone says it's all about "energy in, energy out" but (Rustum Roy, a Penn State professor who is leading saltwater-to-energy research on the device) said it costs $1.35 to make a gallon of ethanol and nobody complains about that and the fact it has more carbon releases in it than gasoline. Everyone says this is green. This is the way to go. (Roy) said, "Wouldn't you rather have something that gives off pure drinking water as a by-product and may be nearly as efficient as ethanol?"

If you got the idea that Kanzius didn't answer the question, you are right. It would take more energy (which, in the US, comes mostly from fossil fuels) to make the electricity to make the hydrogen than one gets out of the hydrogen. That's a net negative.


Mass confusion on burning water?


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