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PowerPedia:Joseph Papp's Noble Gas Engine

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Joseph Papp invented and demonstrated a pulsed plasma discharge automotive style piston engine that ran on sealed charges of noble gas mixtures in the cylinders. Electric arc ignition triggers far greater output than input.

Brief History

Joseph Papp, a Hungarian native, emigrated to Canada in 1957 around the time of the Hungarian Revolution. Joseph was a pilot in the Hungarian military and was also a microfiche technician. He supposedly received information from scientists behind the Iron Curtain who did not want the Soviets to get this information that he took to North America. In Quebec, Papp built a one-man submarine that received considerable bad press and Papp emigrated to the USA in 1967 and settled in Los Angeles. There, he found a machinist named Roser who helped him build his first piston engine known as the Papp engine.

This engine is a multicylinder piston and crank design like today's car engines, but each cylinder is sealed with a charge of helium, neon, argon, krypton, and xenon. It has no intake or exhaust ports, nor even a radiator. Multiple electrodes of complex design produce what is believed to be a very hot electric discharge plasma in the noble gas mixture that reaches unusual conditions that liberates energy from some yet unknown source that is about 100 times greater than the energy put into the electrodes. Roughly 1kW is needed from an alternator to run the engine controls and over 100 hp comes out. Two and four cylinder engines were built over the years from 1968 until Papp died of colon cancer in 1989. Three US patents were issued to Papp, two specifically for engine designs. The most noteworthy is 4,428,193. Papp claimed the gas mixture must be treated, or polarized as he said. An elaborate treatment process is described in the stated patent. The engine could run smoothly down to 100 rpm and developed hundreds of horsepower at only 1000 rpm. It had torque in the hundreds of foot pounds and must be built as robustly as a diesel engine.

Papp was a paranoid person, concerned that others would steal his ideas. Roser wanted the engine to be displayed to the public, but Papp did not. Papp eventually agreed reluctantly. Papp and Roser had a few heated disagreements and Papp decided to thwart Roser and one result was Papp's uncooperativeness to take the engine to commercial success. Papp had his money; why should he help his partner he despised? Like some inventors, Papp was his own worst enemy, so it seemed. This mistrust ran through all his business dealings and complicates the incredible story. The inventor was a jerk but his engine was real.

The public display of the Papp/Roser engine in Roser's parking lot in Torrence, California, in 1968 attracted Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman. The modified four cylinder Volvo engine on a test stand in the parking lot was controlled by engine electronics run from a 120 VAC extension cord plugged into the building 100 feet away. Feynman saw the extension cord and thought he knew the source of the hoax he was so convinced it was. Feynman pulled the plug, but the engine continued to run. After about two minutes, the engine had not slowed down (running about 3000 rpm, as evidenced by the fan left on the engine to produce a visible effect) but started to run rough. Papp grew nervous and argued with Feynman to plug it back in. Feynman refused, so Papp yanked the cord from Feynman and plugged it in. The engine exploded, killing one bystander. Feynman accused Papp of placing explosives in the engine so it would be destroyed before legitimate testing could be done, in order to keep the hoax alive. Since a fatality occurred, the FBI got involved. No evidence of explosives was found. Papp sued Feynman and Feynman and Caltech settled out of court. If it were a hoax, there is no way Caltech would have settled out of court. It was done so Feynman and Caltech could save face.

Papp spent a few years developing a new type of engine control that was more stable. By the early '80s, Papp found a new engineer to work with, Bob Rohner of West Liberty, Iowa. Papp settled in Florida. Several working engines ran during the Rohner years, which lasted until Papp died in '89. During this time, his third patent application was met with a USPTO request for a working model. Papp refused to not only take an engine to Washington DC, but also to leave it with anyone for any length of time. The USPTO then requested a dynamometer affidavit. A diesel engine test group associated with the University of Oklahoma agreed to come to Florida to test the engine. The affidavit was accepted by the USPTO and they issued the patent, listed above.

Heinz Klostermann, a retired X-ray industry salesman and engineer, took up the task of detective to pull together all the threads of information regarding the Papp engine saga around 2000. Heinz assisted a splinter group known as Infinite Horizons, in San Jose, CA, and obtained 3.5 million dollars of investment money for them. The money was poorly spent. Heinz and the investor had a serious argument and Heinz resigned from this Sabori Group.

Heinz located Bob and Tom Rohner who built Papp's engines for him and virtually all the people who participated in the engine development over the years. He formed Clean Energy, Inc., in Palo Alto, CA. There, with an investment partner and Bob Rohner, proceeded to systematically recreate the Papp engine. Initial funding was small and did not last long enough to find more investment. CEI went into hibernation after only 10 months of research. Funding, as of this writing in October of 2005, has come back but no advancement is reported yet.

Overview by Eugene Mallove

At the end of his 2004 interview with George Noory, Dr. Eugene Mallove addressed the subject of the Joseph Papp engine.

  • Beginning at time stamp 0:49. (YouTube; posted Feb. 15, 2010)


Plasma Energy Controls Inc.

  • Featured: Papp engine / Plasma >
    Plasma Expansion Motor Could Revolutionize Renewable Industry - Nobel (inert) gas engine patterned after the Papp Engine, would cost 1/3 what a comparable output engine would cost, while its fuel would cost a few dollars per month -- negligible; totally revolutionizing the renewable industry. Six test engines expected to be completed soon. (PESWiki; Dec. 26, 2008)

Clean Energy Inc

Heinz Klostermann's company.

Papp Variants

Internal explosion engine and generator having an explosion chamber, a movable member forming one wall of the chamber, a charge of non-combustible gas sealed inside the chamber, means for repeatedly igniting the gas in an explosive manner to drive the movable member from a position of minimum volume to a position of maximum volume, means for returning the movable member from the position of maximum volume to the position of minimum volume, and means coupled to the movable member for providing electrical energy in response to explosion of the gas. In one disclosed embodiment, the movable member is a piston connected to a crankshaft, and it is returned to the position of minimum volume by a flywheel on the crankshaft. In another, two pistons are connected back-to-back in a hermetically sealed chamber to prevent loss of the explosive gas. In one embodiment, the electrical energy is produced by a generator connected to the crankshaft, and in the other it is produced by a coil positioned near a magnet which moves with the pistons.
  • Video of Jimmy Sabori's Papp Engine Variants - A two-cycle engine demonstrates power output up to 500 HP on a dynamometer; and a one-cycle engine with Plexiglass cylinder shows ignition of noble gas in vacuum process, which current physics says is impossible. Ken Rauen says the 2-cycle engine in the Sabori video was made by Papp, not Sabori.

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- PowerPedia main index
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