United States Patent 3781601

An optical generator of an electrostatic field at light frequencies for use in an electrical circuit, said generator having a pair of spaced apart electrodes in a gas-filled tube of quartz glass or similar material with at least one condenser cap or plate adjacent one electrode and a dielectric-filled container enclosing the tube, the generator substantially increasing the electrical efficiency of the electrical circuit.

Application Number:
Publication Date:
Filing Date:
Ecotrol Inc. (Columbia, MD)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
96/80, 313/313
International Classes:
H01J17/04; H05B41/04; (IPC1-7): H01J17/04; H05B37/00
Field of Search:
55/123,139,152 313
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US Patent References:

Primary Examiner:
Lake, Roy
Assistant Examiner:
Dahl, Lawrence J.
Parent Case Data:

This application is a continuation-in-part of my co-pending application, Ser. No. 5248, filed Jan. 23, 1970 and assigned to the same assignee, now abandoned, of which copending application, Ser. No. 206,605, filed Dec. 10, 1971, is a continuation.
What is claimed

1. An optical generator of an electrostatic field at light frequencies in electrical circuit means including a power load, said generator comprising:

2. a gaseous discharge tube including a pair of spaced electrodes, an enclosing envelope permitting the transmission of light frequencies therethrough and an ionizeable gas therein;

3. at least one relative condenser plate adjacent one of said electrodes but spaced therefrom;

4. a dielectric surrounding said gaseous tube; and

5. an electrically conductive envelope enclosing said tube and dielectric but insulated from said electrodes and forming with said tube and condenser plate an absolute condenser.

6. An optical electrostatic generator as defined in claim 1 wherein said electrodes in the gaseous discharge tube have a conical shape.

7. An optical electrostatic generator as defined in claim 2 wherein said electrodes have 60° conical ends.

8. An optical electrostatic generator as defined in claim 1 wherein relative condenser plates are adjacent each electrode.

9. An optical electrostatic generator as defined in claim 1 wherein the electrical circuit is a series connected lighting circuit containing at least one fluorescent lamp.

10. An optical electrostatic generator as defined in claim 1 wherein the electrical circuit includes an electrostatic dust percipitator apparatus.

11. An optical electrostatic generator as defined in claim 1 wehrein the conductive envelope is grounded.

12. An optical generator as defined in claim 1 wherein an increase in gaeous pressure in torrs in the gaseous discharge tube causes an increase in the efficiency of the circuit containing said generator.


This invention relates to improved electrical circuits, and, more particularly, to circuits utilizing an optical generator of an electrostatic field at light frequencies.

The measure of the efficiency of an electrical circuit may broadly be defined as the ratio of the output energy in the desired form (such as light in a lighting circuit) to the input electrical energy. Heretofore, the efficiency of many circuits has not been very high. For example, in a lighting circuit using 40 watt fluorescent lamps, only about 8.8 watts of the input energy per lamp is actually converted to visible light, thus representing an efficiency of only about 22 percent. The remaining 31.2 watts are dissipated primarily in the form of heat.

It has been suggested with lighting circuits having fluorescent lamps to increase the frequency of the applied current. While at the normal operating frequency of 60 Hz. the efficiency is 22 percent, if the frequency is increased to 106 Hz, the efficiency would only be about 25.5 percent. Also, the efficiency would only be 35 percent if the frequency was increased to 1013 Hz.


The present invention utilizes an optical electrostatic generator which is effective for producing high frequencies in the visible light range of about 1014 to 1023 Hz. The operation and theory of the optical electrostatic generator has been described and discussed in my co-pending application, Ser. No. 5,248, filed Jan. 23, 1970. As stated in my co-pending application, the present optical electrostatic generator does not perform in accordance with the accepted norms and standards of ordinary electromagnetic frequencies.

The optical electrostatic generator as utilized in the present invention can generate a wide range of frequencies between several Hertz and those in the light frequency. Accordingly, it is an object of the present invention to provide improved electrical energy circuits utilizing my optical electrostatic generator whereby the output energy in the desired form will be substantially more efficient than heretofore possible with standard circuit techniques and equipment. It is a further object of the present invention to provide such a circuit for use in fluorescent lighting or other lighting circuits. It is also an object of the present invention to provide a circuit which may be utilized in conjunction with electrostatic precipitators for dust and particle collection and removal, as well as many other purposes which will be apparent to those skilled in the art as set forth hereinafter.


FIG. 1 is a schematic layout showing an optical electrostatic generator of the present invention utilized in a lighting circuit for fluorescent lamps;

FIG. 2 is a schematic layout of a high voltage circuit incorporating an optical electrostatic generator;

FIG. 2a of the drawings is a sectional view through a portion of the generator; and

FIG. 3 is a schematic sectional view showing an optical electrostatic generator in accordance with the present invention particularly for use in alternating current circuits, although it may also be used in direct current circuits.


Referring to the drawings and to FIG. 1 in particular, a low voltage circuit utilizing an optical electrostatic generator in accordance with the present invention is shown. As shown in FIG. 1, a source of alternating current electrical energy 10 is connected to a lighting circuit. Connected to one tap of the power source 10 is a rectifier 12 for utilization when direct current is required. The illustrated circuit is provided with a switch 14 which may be opened or closed depending upon whether or not direct or alternating current is desired. A switch 16 is provided and closed when the circuit requires alternating current, in which case switch 14 is open. When switch 16 is open and 14 is closed, the circuit is operating as a direct current circuit.

Extending from the switches 14 and 16 is a conductor 18 which is connected to an optical electrostatic generator 20 in accordance with the present invention. The conductor 18 is passed through an insulator 22 and connected to an electrode 24. Spaced from the electrode 24 is a second electrode 25. Enclosing the electrodes 24 and 25, which preferably are of tungsten metal or similar materials, is a quartz glass tube 26 which is filled with an ionizeable gas 28 such as xenon. The gas may be of any other suitable ionizeable gas such as argon, krypton, neon, nitrogen or hydrogen, as well as the vapor of metals such as mercury or sodium.

Surrounding each end of the tube 26 and adjacent to each electrode 24 and 25 are condenser plates 30 and 32 in the form of caps. A conductor is connected to electrode 25 and passed through a second insulator 34. Surrounding the tube, electrodes and condenser caps is a metal envelope in the form of a thin sheet of copper or other metal such as aluminum. The envelope 36 is spaced from the conductors leading into and out of the generator by means of the insulators 22 and 34. The envelope 36 is filled with a dielectric material such as transformer oil, highly purified distilled water, nitrobenzene or any other suitable liquid dielectric. In addition, the dielectric may be a solid such as ceramic material with relatively small molecules.

A conductor 40 is connected to electrode 25, passed through insulator 24 and then connected to a series of fluorescent lamps 42 which are arranged in series connection. It is the lamps 42 which will be the measure of the efficiency of the circuit containing the optical electrostatic generator 20. A conductor 44 completes the circuit from the fluorescent lamps to the tap of the source of the electrical energy 10. In addition, the circuit is connected to a ground 46 by means of another conductor 48. The envelope 36 is also grounded by lead 50 and in the illustrated diagram lead 50 is connected to the conductor 44.

As set forth in my previously identified application, the condenser caps or plates 30 and 32 form a relative condenser with the discharge tube. When a high voltage is applied to the electrode of the discharge tube the ions of gas are excited and brought to a higher potential than their environment, i.e., the envelope and the dielectric surrounding it. At this point the ionized gas in effect becomes one plate of a relative condenser in cooperation with the condenser caps or plates 30 and 32.

When this relative condenser is discharged the electrical current does not decrease as would normally be expected. Instead, it remains substantially constant due to the relationship between the relative condenser and an absolute condenser which is formed between the ionized gas and the spaced metal envelope 36. An oscillation effect occurs in the relative condenser but the electrical condition in the absolute condenser remains substantially constant.

As also described in the co-pending application, Ser. No. 5,248, there is an oscillation effect between the ionized gas in the discharge lamp and the metallic envelope 36. The oscillation effect between the ionized gas and the envelope 36 will be present if the condenser caps are eliminated but the efficiency of the electrostatic generator will be substantially decreased.

The face of the electrode can be any desired shape. However, a conical point of 60° has been found to be satisfactory and it is believed to have an influence on the efficiency of the generator.

In addition, the type of gas selected for use in the tube 26 as well as the pressure of the gas in the tube also effect the efficiency of the generator, and, in turn, the efficiency of electrical circuit.

To demonstrate the increaed efficiency of an electrical circuit utilizing the optical electrostatic generator of the present invention as well as the relationship between gas pressure and electrical efficiency, a circuit similar to that shown in FIG. 1 may be used with 100 standard 40 watt, cool-white fluorescent lamps arranged in series. The optical electrostatic generator includes a quartz glass tube filled in with xenon, with series of different tubes being used because of the different pressures tested.

Set forth in Table I is the data to be obtained relating to the optical electrostatic generator. In Table II the lamp performance and efficiency for each of the tests set forth in Table I is shown. The following is a description of the data set forth in each of the columns of the Tables I and II.

column Description B Gas used in discharge tube. C Gas pressure in tube in torrs. D Field strength across the tube measured in volts per cm. of length between the electrodes. E Current density measured in microamps per square mm. of tube cross sectional area. F Current measured in amps. G Power across the tube, calculated in watts per cm. of length between the electrodes. H Voltage per lamp, measured in volts. K Current measured in amps. L Resistance calculated. M Input power per lamp, calculated in watts N Light output, measured in lumens. ##SPC1## ##SPC2##

The design of a tube construction for use in the optical electrostatic generator of the type used in FIG. 1 may be accomplished by means of considering the radius of the tube, the length between the electrodes in the tube and the power across the tube.

If we let R be the minimum inside radius of the tube in centirmeters, L the minimum length in centirmeters between the electrodes, and W the power in watts across the lamp the following formula may be obtained from Table I.

R = (current [A]/Current Density [A/mm2 ])/π

L = 8R

W = L(V/cm)A

For example, for Test No. 18 in Table I, the current is 0.1818 A (column F), the current density 0.000353 A/mm2 (column E), and the voltage distribution is 122.8 V/cm (column D); therefore

R = (0.1818A/0.000353 A/mm)2 /3.14 = 12.80 mm

L = (12.80 mm) (8) = 102.4 mm or 10.2 cm

W = (10.2 cm) (122.8 V/cm) (0.1818A) = 227.7 VA or 227.7 Watts

The percent efficiency of operation of the fluorescent lamps in Test No. 18 can be calculated from the following equation:

% Eff. = (Output Energy)/(Input Energy) × (100)

Across a single fluorescent lamp, the voltage is 60 V and the current is 0.1818 A; therefore, the input energy to the lamp 42 is 10.90 W. The output of the fluorescent lamp is 3,200 lumens which represent 8.8 W power of light energy. Thus, the one fluorescent lamp is operating at 80.7 percent efficiency under these conditions.

However, when the optical generator is the same as described for Test No. 18 and there are 100 fluorescent lamps in series in the circuit, the total power input is 227.7 watts for the optical generator and 1,090 watts for 100 fluorescent lamps or a total of 1,318 watts. The total power input normally required to operate the 100 fluorescent lamps in a normal circuit would be 40 watts times 100 or 4,000 watts. Thus, by using the optical generator in the circuit, about 2,680 watts of energy are saved.

Table I is an example of the functioning of this invention for a particular fluorescent lamp (40 watt, coolwhite). However, similar data can be obtained for other lighting applications by those skilled in the art.

In FIG. 2 a circuit is shown using an optical electrostatic generator 20a similar to generator 20 of FIG. 1. In generator 20 only one condenser cap 32a is used and it is preferably of triangular cross-sectional design. In addition, the second electrode 25a is connected directly by a conductor back into the return conductor 52, similar to the arrangement shown in my co-pending application, Ser. No. 5,248, filed Jan. 23, 1970.

This arrangement is preferably for very high voltage circuits and the generator is particularly suited for direct current useage.

In FIG. 2, common elements have received the same number indicators as in FIG. 1.

In FIG. 3, still another emboidment of an optical electrostatic generator 20b is shown. This generator is particularly suited for use with alternating current circuits. In this embodiment the condenser plates 30b and 32b have flanges 54 and 56 extending outwardly towards the envelope 36. While the utilization of the optical electrostatic generator has been described in use in a fluorescent lighting circuit, it is to be understood that many other types of circuits may be used. For example, the high voltage embodiment may be useable in a variety of circuits such as flash lamps, high speed controls, laser beams, and high energy pulses. The generator is also particularly useable in a circuit including electrostatic particle precipitation in air pollution control devices, chemical synthesis in electrical discharge systems such as ozone generators, and charging means for high voltage generators of the VandeGraff type, as well as particle accelerators.

To those skilled in the art many other uses and circuits will be apparent.