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Tesla's Fuelless Generator

In the 1880's, Nikola Tesla invented the alternating current system we use today. By the 1890's, he
was working on a new type of electrical generator that would not "consume any fuel."

This paper documents where in his writings the description of this new generator is found, a theory
of how a fuelless generator could work and a suggestion as tohow Tesla's new device might have


Oliver Nichelson
333 North 760 East
American Fork, Utah 84003 USA
© 1991

Ten years after patenting a successful method forproducing alternating current, Nikola Tesla
claimed the invention of an electrical generator that would not "consume any fuel." Such a
generator would be its own prime mover. Two of Tesla's devices representing different stages in the
development of such a generator are identified.

While in college Nikola Tesla claimed it should be possible to operate anelectrical motor without
sparking brushes. He was told by the professor that such a motor would require perpetual motion
and was therefore impossible. In the 1880's he patented the alternating current generator, motor, and

During the 1890's he intensively investigated other methods of power generation including a
charged particle collector patented in 1901. Whenthe New York Times in June of 1902 carried a
story about an inventor who claimed an electrical generator not requiring a prime mover in the form
of an external fuel supply, Tesla wrote a friend that he had already invented such a device.

Fuelless electrical generation raises the same objection of perpetual motion as did the generator in
use today when it was first proposed.Research Nikola Tesla carried out during his second creative
period and the resulting devices that were the basis for his assertion of fuelless electrical generation
will be examined. Whether Tesla's fuelless generator was a "perpetual motion scheme" of the sort
his teacher warned him against, or a creative application of recognized natural phenomena will be
In The Brooklyn Eagle, Tesla announced, on July 10th, 1931, that "I have harnessed the cosmic rays
and caused them to operate a motive device." Later on in the same article he said that "More than 25
years ago I began my efforts to harness the cosmic rays and I can now state that I have succeeded."
In 1933, he made the same assertion in an article forthe New York American, November 1st, under
the lead in "Device to Harness Cosmic Energy Claimed by Tesla." Here he said:

This new power for the driving of the world's machinery will be derived from the energy which
operates the universe, the cosmic energy, whose central source for the earth is the sun and which is
everywhere present in unlimited quantities.Dating back "more than 25 years ago" from 1933 would mean that the device Tesla was speaking
about must have been built before 1908. More precise information is available through his
correspondence in the Columbia University Library's collection. Writing on June 10th, 1902 to his
friend Robert U. Johnson, editor of Century Magazine, Tesla included a clipping from the previous
day'sNew York Herald about a Clemente Figueras, a "woods and forest engineer" in Las Palmas,
capital of the Canary Islands, who had invented a device for generating electricity without burning fuel.
What became of Figueras and his fuelless generator is not known, but this announcement in the paper prompted Tesla, in his letter to Johnson, to claim he had already developed such a device...
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