A Soviet-born Israeli scientist at Ben Gurion University of the Negev has demonstrated the wonders of converting heat to electricity from a power plant with no moving parts. Prof. Herman Branover and his team unveiled the “Etgar 3” (Challenge 3), the first semi-industrial liquid metal MHD (magnetohydrodynamic) generator, last week on the campus of the university.
Branover said his heat-to-electricity process, the result of seven years of scientific research, is “ahead of both the United States and the Soviet Union, who have been working on this principle for 20 years.” Magnetohydrodynamics is the science behind Branover’s unique power plant that can run on any heat source and can save up to one-third on conventional fuel usage.
The development of the generator is financed by Solmecs, a British-Israeli corporation, and Israel’s Trade and Industry Ministry. Peter Kalms, managing director of Solmecs, said he has been in touch with several prospective purchasers with “available funds, current needs and the right attitude towards innovation.” These include Southern California Edison Company, which reportedly plans to use the Branover invention for producing electric power in California.
Dr. Michael Petrick, program director for fossil energy at the Argonne National Laboratory outside Chicago, which cooperated closely in the research for the generator, said it can operate under a wide spectrum of heat conditions, with some 66 percent efficiency — a very high percentage of use of available heat, and far higher than conventional methods. Argonne is one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s major multi-purpose laboratories.
UNIQUE SYSTEM AMONG MHD GENERATORS
The Branover system is unique among MHD generators in that it uses liquid metal flowing between two poles of a magnet to generate electricity at relatively low temperatures of 100 to 300 degrees centigrade. The U.S. and Soviet MHD generators, still in the experimental stage, use ionized gas heated to 3,000 degrees centigrade.
Branover said he sees “Etgar 3”, which generates 10 kilowatts of power, as the final stage before the construction of industrial power plants capable of generating as much as 10,000 kilowatts of electricity.
According to Branover, “The main advantage of the method is its efficiency. Under optimal conditions, it can create a specific quantity of electricity from two-thirds the quantity of fuel required in other methods.” Branover pointed out that power stations already in operation make huge investments to increase efficiency by only a fraction of a percent for vast savings in fuel. In a small country like Israel, saving just one percent in fuel means saving hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.