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Bill Gates Patents Plasma Injector, for Your Car

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 42 comments

Bill Gates' vision is part of most home PCs, laptops, netbooks, and even cell phones with the Windows operating system. Now he wants to redesign how cars work.

Earlier today, a patent filed with the US Patent & Trademark Office was made available for public viewing, detailing an electromagnetic engine that could very well replace the traditional combustible engine, paving the way to energy efficient automobiles of the future. Among the ten inventors listed in the patent--as Searete LLC, part of Intellectual Ventures--is none other than Mr. Windows himself, William H. Gates, III, and Microsoft's former chief technology officer, Nathan Myhrvold. The group originally filed the patent back in October 2007.

As the patent states, the electromagnetic engine "converts mechanical energy of a piston to and from electrical energy during each piston cycle." However, the group also applied for two additional variants of the concept: free-piston and opposed-piston. While the free piston patent uses the same definition, the opposed piston electromagnetic engine is defined as an "engine [that] includes a cylinder having a two pistons slidably disposed therein, a port arranged to admit a reactant into the cylinder between the two pistons, and a converter operable with at least one piston to convert mechanical energy of the piston to electrical energy."

While the patent mentions a "reactant," that doesn't necessarily indicate fuel used today. The patent talks about a liquid reactant injector and a carburetor that would deliver the reactant mixture to the first port of the engine. Another interesting note was the patent's use of a "plasma injector," a terminology widely used in the Star Trek universe. This device--whether its in the form of a spark plug, catalyst, particle beam igniter (that's in there too), or the plasma injector-- is referred to as a reaction trigger, an electrical igniter configured to initiate a chemical reaction in a reactant disposed between the first piston and the closed end of the first cylinder; the reaction trigger is located at the top of the cylinder.

But how does this engine actually work? The electromagnetic engine apparently doesn't need alternating pistons, but rather a set of pistons fitted with electromagnets to speed up the recovery process. With magnets on both ends, the piston is pulled up and down the cylinder. Once the piston reaches the top and fires, it is immediately pulled back down into the cylinder by magnetic force, and then repeats the cycle. According to the patent, the pistons can use either electromagnets, permanent magnets, or a magnetically susceptible material such as an iron core. The energy generated from the reaction trigger could be stored in a battery, capacitor, or some other energy management system.

With that said, there's a good chance an automobile using this type of engine will run on electricity and utilize a rechargeable battery. If the engine is capable of storing energy as the patent suggests, the automobile may not even need an alternator. That may be incorrect of course, however, there's no mistaking that Bill Gates is once again trying to change how things work in everyday things: first with DOS, then Windows, and now with the electromagnetic combustion engine.

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  • 13 Hide
    Scotteq , April 10, 2009 5:31 PM
    HA!! Found it!


    IF MICROSOFT BUILT CARS.....

    1. Every time they repainted the lines on the road you would have to buy a new car.

    2. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason, and you would just accept this, restart and drive on.

    3. Occasionally, executing a maneuver would cause your car to stop and fail and you would have to re-install the engine. For some strange reason, you would accept this too.

    4. You could only have one person in the car at a time, unless you bought "Car95" or "CarNT" Group Licence. But, then you would have to buy more seats..

    5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was much more reliable, five times as fast, twice as easy to drive - but would only run on 10 percent of the roads.

    6. The Macintosh car owners would get expensive Microsoft upgrades to their cars, which would make their cars run much slower.

    7. The oil, gas and alternator warning lights would be replaced by a single "general car default" warning light.

    8. New seats would force everyone to have the same size butt.

    9. The airbag system would say "are you sure?" before going off.

    10. If you were involved in a crash, you would have no idea what happened.

    11. We'd all have to switch to Microsoft (tm) Gas.

  • 13 Hide
    g-thor , April 10, 2009 5:16 PM
    An interesting news note, but I have to ask - what is up with these double titles that I've been seeing lately?

    "Bill Gates has invaded most home PCs, laptops, netbooks, and even cell phones with the Windows operating system. Now he wants to redesign how cars work."
    "Bill Gates' vision is part of most home PCs, laptops, netbooks, and even cell phones with the Windows operating system. Now he wants to redesign how cars work."
  • 12 Hide
    belardo , April 10, 2009 5:53 PM
    Once you add the Flux Capacitor, it'll all make sense.
Other Comments
  • -6 Hide
    born2rock4life , April 10, 2009 5:16 PM
    For some odd reason something that's combusting fuel designed by the same person who gave us our computing favorite past times (Blue Screens), isn't my idea of a reliable vehicle.. I think KIA just might buy into it!
  • 13 Hide
    g-thor , April 10, 2009 5:16 PM
    An interesting news note, but I have to ask - what is up with these double titles that I've been seeing lately?

    "Bill Gates has invaded most home PCs, laptops, netbooks, and even cell phones with the Windows operating system. Now he wants to redesign how cars work."
    "Bill Gates' vision is part of most home PCs, laptops, netbooks, and even cell phones with the Windows operating system. Now he wants to redesign how cars work."
  • 6 Hide
    Scotteq , April 10, 2009 5:27 PM
    Year?? 2050

    Car?? Ford XP~lorer

    Suddenly stops working on the highway, requiring the driver to operate the key, gearshift, and windshield wipers all at once. For some reason, people accept this.
  • 3 Hide
    shushikiary , April 10, 2009 5:30 PM
    o_0 is it just me or is this less efficient than a normal car engine.... the coupling of a magnetic coil like he's using is FAR less efficient than spinning a normal generator or alternator. You might as well just use a normal engine to spin an alternator to power an electric motor..... which is less efficient than a hybrid. ANY time you have to convert the energy from one form to another you LOSE efficiency. This whole thing just looks like a bad idea to me.
  • 13 Hide
    Scotteq , April 10, 2009 5:31 PM
    HA!! Found it!


    IF MICROSOFT BUILT CARS.....

    1. Every time they repainted the lines on the road you would have to buy a new car.

    2. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason, and you would just accept this, restart and drive on.

    3. Occasionally, executing a maneuver would cause your car to stop and fail and you would have to re-install the engine. For some strange reason, you would accept this too.

    4. You could only have one person in the car at a time, unless you bought "Car95" or "CarNT" Group Licence. But, then you would have to buy more seats..

    5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was much more reliable, five times as fast, twice as easy to drive - but would only run on 10 percent of the roads.

    6. The Macintosh car owners would get expensive Microsoft upgrades to their cars, which would make their cars run much slower.

    7. The oil, gas and alternator warning lights would be replaced by a single "general car default" warning light.

    8. New seats would force everyone to have the same size butt.

    9. The airbag system would say "are you sure?" before going off.

    10. If you were involved in a crash, you would have no idea what happened.

    11. We'd all have to switch to Microsoft (tm) Gas.

  • 12 Hide
    belardo , April 10, 2009 5:53 PM
    Once you add the Flux Capacitor, it'll all make sense.
  • -3 Hide
    Anonymous , April 10, 2009 6:02 PM
    @scotteq;

    I can agree with you on everything but the Mac part. See I've owned Macs and PCs and they each have their own problems. My theory is the same one that applies to people that say airplanes are safer than cars. There are fewer airplanes than cars, and thus there are fewer airplane crashes. There are fewer Macs than PCs, and thus there are fewer reports of problems...
  • 7 Hide
    belardo , April 10, 2009 6:05 PM
    Ah the "If Microsoft built cars".... we need to update it from Windows9x era to Vista.

    12. Before making certian exits off the freeway, the UAC will ask you to access or deny... twice.

    13. Removing the Microsoft(tm) radio or other standard Microsoft(tm) equipment and replacing with aftermarket hardware will cause Microsoft(tm) Genuine Advantage to confirm your car is still Microsoft(tm) certified and will require re-activation from an authorized MSCE dealer. If upgrades are done at home, car will be non-functional after 3 miles, and you'll need to call geeksquad for towing.

    (Hey, its a start)
  • 0 Hide
    Silluete , April 10, 2009 6:28 PM
    @scotteq;
    dude you forgot about the turbo(gaming,GPU) :p  .
  • 1 Hide
    vladtepes , April 10, 2009 6:45 PM
    shushikiaryo_0 is it just me or is this less efficient than a normal car engine.... the coupling of a magnetic coil like he's using is FAR less efficient than spinning a normal generator or alternator. You might as well just use a normal engine to spin an alternator to power an electric motor..... which is less efficient than a hybrid. ANY time you have to convert the energy from one form to another you LOSE efficiency. This whole thing just looks like a bad idea to me.

    Maybe there is less friction involved in this concept engine
  • 0 Hide
    knutjb , April 10, 2009 7:01 PM
    Given the basic drawing it does look crude. That being said, some are missing the simplicity of it. It has fewer parts and potentially less friction than a conventional engine spinning a generator. It's packaging appears to be a small foot print giving it an advantage on placement and configuration, i.e. multiple cylinders operating independently based on load could be more efficient than a crankshaft based motor. How well it works remains to be seen.
  • -1 Hide
    Regected , April 10, 2009 7:09 PM
    This would be a more efficient way of converting the chemical energy into electrical energy as compared to a typical hybrid system. Even a efficiency of 40% would be greater than the current way of doing things.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 10, 2009 7:14 PM
    I thought Bill gates resigned as chairman of MS; does he still work there?
  • 2 Hide
    stradric , April 10, 2009 7:21 PM
    Didn't Xerox really invent windows? Well, at least they invented the GUI.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , April 10, 2009 7:25 PM
    Hehe,Let's build a truck around that smart's engine! Then slowly upgrade it to a dual engine, or quadengine because a single engine isn't capable of dragging the weight!
    Ow,and let's build a pool into the truck and take a microwave in it, together with a second generation fridge! (those bulky big ones, with an ice cube maker in).
    You could later get the latest from the updateshop! Purchase aerodynamic wings for the truck to stay on the road, and buy a big gas tank.. yes, the one that's not available right now.. Let's wait another 3 years before mass production of those 500gallon tanks come out!
  • 0 Hide
    FlayerSlayer , April 10, 2009 7:34 PM
    More double titles? Annoying, if benign, bug on your site these days.

    But really, since when is Gates a mechanical engineer?
  • 5 Hide
    FlayerSlayer , April 10, 2009 7:41 PM
    stradricDidn't Xerox really invent windows? Well, at least they invented the GUI.
    Tim Paterson wrote DOS, Xerox created GUIs and the basic mouse tech, Douglas Engelbart and later PARC created windows, Tim Berners-Lee and later Mosaic/Netscape created web browers.

    But now, thanks to cutthroat (and brilliant) marketing and business practices (of questionable ethics), all we hear is: MS-DOS, MS Windows, Internet Explorer, etc.

    Microsoft doesn't innovate, it acquires and integrates. But the end IS a fairly decent suite of products that really work fairly well, even if third-party software may outperform and be more feature rich.
  • 0 Hide
    frozenlead , April 10, 2009 7:59 PM
    Maybe when my check engine light comes on, I can go to update.powerwindowsandlocks.com and download a patch to fix the issue - without having to stop driving.

    Ha.
  • -4 Hide
    eddieroolz , April 10, 2009 7:59 PM
    FlayerSlayerTim Paterson wrote DOS, Xerox created GUIs and the basic mouse tech, Douglas Engelbart and later PARC created windows, Tim Berners-Lee and later Mosaic/Netscape created web browers.But now, thanks to cutthroat (and brilliant) marketing and business practices (of questionable ethics), all we hear is: MS-DOS, MS Windows, Internet Explorer, etc.Microsoft doesn't innovate, it acquires and integrates. But the end IS a fairly decent suite of products that really work fairly well, even if third-party software may outperform and be more feature rich.


    The start menu. Innovation in its own right, my friend.

    That's just one example.
  • 1 Hide
    Greatwalrus , April 10, 2009 8:21 PM
    I'm just going to go ahead and say that I believe this was a very well-written article from some of your past, recent ones Kevin. There seemed to be none of that fluffy weird intro and conclusion stuff, and you explained the patent/technology very well.

    In my opinion, Bill Gates has led an amazing life; he designs an operating system, runs a huge charity foundation, and is working to develop new technologies like this for our cars. Bravo.
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