Searsmont inventor talks testing results for heating device
Searsmont — A heating device invented by a Searsmont resident has undergone its first round of testing at the University of Southern Maine.
John Foster said his device, which has no flame or heating element and doesn't give off any emissions, was tested by staff and students at USM. The device uses friction to generate heat and is powered with a small drill press motor that Foster had readily available in his shop.
The purpose of the testing at USM was to determine how much heat the device could generate versus how much power it consumes, Foster previously told The Republican Journal. On Wednesday, Sept. 18, Foster said the test results determined his device is about 30 percent efficient.
As a comparison, Foster said the average mobile home heater is about 60 percent to 70 percent efficient.
However, it was noted that the device's efficiency could be increased by using different materials and making other adjustments. Foster said he built his proof of concept device out of aluminum, which he said has an emissivity of between 0.02 and 0.2.
Emissivity is a calculation that determines how well a material holds or dissipates heat, Foster explained.
He said if he built the device out of steel, which has an emissivity of 0.74, the device would be more efficient. Foster commented that he would also add radial fins to his invention, which would increase the surface area of the device and would enhance the transfer of heat to the surrounding air.
As a final step to improve efficiency, Foster said he would install the device in an insulated enclosure. Foster previously told The Republican Journal he envisioned the completed version of his invention would be a group of six of the heating devices installed in an enclosure that would be about the same diameter as a water heater, but about half of the height.
“They [USM] recognize it's a bare-bones proof of concept,” Foster said.
The test report provided to Foster indicated that while the device has relatively low efficiency rating for heating air, it could be modified to generate heat using wind or hydraulic power.
Foster said the testing results also indicated the device could be used around combustible materials or for heating water.
One aspect of the testing conducted by USM that particularly interested Foster was when his device is turned on, it's energy consumption spikes, but after its start up it uses an average of 550 watts with surface temperatures on the device recorded between 200 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
Foster noted his heating device takes about one hour to cool down from 225 to 114 degrees Fahrenheit, so the device is still producing heat even when it isn't powered.
The next step for Foster is to make improvements to the device before he has another round of testing done on his invention.
“Overall, it's very good news for me and this project,” Foster said of the first round of testing that was completed by USM.
Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.
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