In addition to his role in the invention of alternating current and insight into magnetic fields, Nikola Tesla also invented a valve that allows fluid to move in one direction but restricts flow in the other. New research shows that it is particularly effective for oscillating input, but this still does not mean that Tesla’s idea of using cosmic rays will work. Public domain unknown to the artist, shared resources via Wiki.
Nikola Tesla has gone from an overlooked genius to an inventor whom folk heroes and modern engineers want to connect with. Nevertheless, his ideas are so diverse that many are not well known, including what he calls “valvular catheters.” Research on this device that uses vibration to pump fuel or other fluids found that its potential has not yet been realized 101 years after it was patented.
Just as the inclined barb allows a solid object to move in one direction but hinders its removal, a device now called a Tesla valve uses a series of circuits to let fluid flow in one direction while preventing backflow. Because there are no moving parts, Tesla valves are more flexible than standard check valves. The original design inspired many imitating, improving efforts, and Youtube videos explaining how it works, but it seems that these may not have grasped the full scope of this seemingly simple patent.
Dr. Leif Ristorph of New York University said in a statement: “It is worth noting that this 100-year-old invention is still not fully understood and may be useful in modern technology in ways that have not been considered.”
Ristorph led a series of experiments with a prototype machine designed to match Tesla’s original design as closely as possible, trying to pass liquids in two directions at different speeds and liquid viscosities. In Nature Communications, Ristorph and co-authors report that at low flow rates, fluids are equally easy to pass through the valve in various ways. However, reverse flow exceeding a certain speed is almost impossible, and if the pressure is appropriate, the flow rate of the forward flow can be much higher.
“It is crucial that this opening is accompanied by the generation of reverse turbulence, which can’clog’ the pipes with eddy currents and disturbing currents,” Ristoph explains. “In addition, for more standard-shaped pipes, the turbulent flow rate is much lower than the velocities previously observed-20 times lower than the traditional turbulent flow velocity in cylindrical pipes or tubes.”
Many technologies work well in a stable flowing environment, but fail in the face of oscillating forces. This is part of the reason why many innovative ideas for collecting wind or wave energy fail in the real world. The Tesla valve is just the opposite. When fluid enters in pulses, it actually works better, converting a changing input into a stable output.
“We think this is what Tesla thinks about the device because he is considering using electric current for similar operations,” Ristoph said. “In fact, he is best known for inventing AC motors and AC-DC converters.”
Compared to the faster motion that Tesla seeks to promote, fluid physics is very different for small volumes and high viscosity operations, such as for diagnostic equipment. The author believes that this may be part of the reason why Valve’s potential has been overlooked for a long time.
Ironically, Ristoph’s verification of Valve may coincide with his belief that some of its uses are declining and being replaced by a company named after its inventor. Ristorph believes that valves can; “Use vibrations in engines and machinery to pump fuel, coolant, lubricants, or other gases and liquids.” There is no doubt that such opportunities still exist, but with the most widespread use of engines, they will soon be used. Electric motors replace, Valve may have missed the best time.
Post time: Jun-03-2021