At 09:14 PM 03/08/2001 -0500, Sally Khudairi wrote:
>I don't know about the Today show, but it was featured in the Boston Globe
>yesterday. I just paid $N.NN to access the archive, but the article's been
>CUT OFF. Heck, here it is anyway:
Here's the rest ;)
New Hampshire inventor Dean Kamen, who sparked worldwide excitement in
January when word leaked of his mysterious new invention, code named
"Ginger," appears to be working on a revolutionary engine that could
introduce an era of cheap, efficient power.
Investigative journalist Adam Pennenberg, author of a book on industrial
espionage, said yesterday that he has found clues that prove Kamen is
working on a Stirling engine, a device that engineers have been trying to
perfect for more than a century.
In November, Kamen's company registered the Web site name
"stirlingengine.com," said Pennenberg, who describes the results of an
investigation into Kamen in the next issue of Inside magazine.
If Kamen, a well-respected inventor, has made a technical breakthrough that
would allow him to create small, relatively inexpensive Stirling engines,
engineers said, the effects would be far-reaching. In theory, every home
could generate its own cheap power with a device the size of an air
conditioner that uses natural gas, drastically cutting down on the waste
inherent in the electric grid.
An advanced Stirling engine could have wide applications and could
literally change how humans use power - bringing its inventor incredible
"If you can release a product that makes the electric grid obsolete, that
would change industry and the world," said Brent Van Arsdale, who reviewed
a patent Kamen holds on a Stirling engine improvement, and who is the
president of American Stirling, a company that uses model Stirling engines
as an educational tool. The patent and the "stirlingengine .com" name, Van
Arsdale said, suggest that the mysterious Ginger invention is a Stirling
engine, possibly used to power a scooter.
Stirling engines have been the focus of enormous effort, and many inventors
have thought for a time that they were close to a major breakthrough. But
the engines can be extremely complex, and nobody believes that Kamen has
solved all the technical problems that stand between an inventor and a
workable Stirling that is reliable, safe, inexpensive, and easy to
manufacture. Kamen, however, has an impressive track record - including a
National Medal of Technology.
The Inside magazine article reports that Kamen has created a company called
ACROS that plans to make "motorized, self-propelled, wheeled personal
mobility aides, namely wheelchairs, scooters, carts, and chariots." Kamen
has also registered the domain names "stirlingscooter.com,"
"stirlingscooter.net," "stirlingscooter.org," and "mystirlingscooter.com,"
according to the article.
Stirling engines run on heat, which can be created by any fuel, and rely on
a design that differs from the ubiquitous internal-combustion engine. The
engines' design can make them extremely fuel-efficient and very
clean-running, features that have long attracted engineers. But Stirling
engines can also be expensive, slow to warm up, and hard to operate at
Stirling engines are already used to create power in remote locations, but
in the past they have been too expensive to be used in most homes, Van
The buzz around Kamen's invention began in January, when the online version
of Inside magazine reported that Kamen was part of a $250,000 deal for a
book that would tell the story of a top-secret invention. The proposal for
the book included testimony from a number of prominent technologists who
had seen the invention, including one who said it could be bigger than the
On the Web, and in the media, a frenzy ensued. Pictures of a scooter, taken
from a patent Kamen had filed, quickly circulated. But many technology
watchers doubted that a scooter - even the kind of advanced, self-balancing
one Kamen is thought to be working on - would have the likes of Steve Jobs
oohing and aahing so loudly.
"People are transfixed by the scooter, but they are missing the bigger
picture," said Pennenberg, who is author of "Spooked: Espionage in
Inside reports that ACROS purchased property near Kamen's Bedford, N.H.,
home in December and broke ground for a factory, but that the building has
been stopped by local opposition.
Few people know what Kamen has accomplished, or how close he might be to
the breakthrough he plans to turn into a book. But the clues uncovered by
Pennenberg would seem to indicate that the goal of the secretive Ginger
project is both more important, and less sexy, than it first seemed. Kamen
could not be reached for comment yesterday.
"I'm sorry it's not a levitating scooter or 'Beam me up, Scotty,' " said
Van Arsdale, who is quoted in the Inside article. But "what really might
change the world here is distributed power generation."
-- B.K. DeLong Research Lead ZOT Group
work 617.542.5335 ext. 204 cell 617.877.3271 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.zotgroup.com
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