Centrifugal Acceleration Gradient - 12/24/97
used in the Orffyreus wheel?

The following information is from the excellent book, 'The Third Industrial Revolution' by G. Harry Stine.

Centrifuges can be used to produce acceleration gradients.

This is because the acceleration caused by the rotation of a centrifuge depends on how far you are from the center of rotation.

On the end of the centrifuge arm or wheel, the acceleration caused by centrifugal force is greatest.

As you move in toward the center of rotation, the acceleration becomes less and less. In free-fall, you would be in a weightless condition at the center of rotation. Thus, there is a difference of gradient in the acceleration.

A steeper gradient can be created by making the centrifuge smaller and spinning it at a higher rate. Thus, for example, it would be possible to have a space centrifuge with a normal, one-g, Earth-surface type of acceleration on its end or rim while several feet inward toward the hub, the acceleration could be half that amount.

Nobody has really given too much consideration to the fact that it is possible to obtain acceleration gradients in space for industrial purposes. It's not really possible to get an acceleration gradient from one-g down to zero-g here on Earth because of the Earth's gravitational field.

So we haven't even developed or considered any industrial process possibilities that might make profitable use of this unique potential of the space environment.

What can industrial engineers do with acceleration gradients made to order? They could, for example, create a combined fractional distillation process where solids of different densities are centrifuged out of the process at different points in the distillation scheme.

It is very difficult to conceive of such future applications, however, because we are still attuned to thinking of processes only in a one-g field here on Earth. Once engineers get out into space and begin to live with these new conditions on a daily basis, we will begin to see some totally unexpected new products.

The centrifuge principle, of course, can be used as a separation process in space where there are no density-driven separation mechanisms.

Here on Earth, if you want to separate milk and cream, all you have to do is let it sit for a time; the cream, being of less density, comes to the top where you can skim it off for coffee or butter or ice cream.

You can do the job faster with a centrifuge that creates a higher acceleration and a steeper acceleration gradient.
In the Orffyreus wheel, shifting weights move in towards the axle on the ascending side and out to the rim on the descending side.

The idea is to produce an increased 'leverage' of the weight directed toward the axle on the descending side and a decreased 'leverage' applied to the axle on the ascending side.

Perhaps this acceleration gradient, centrifugally created is used to cause the increases and decreases of leverage applied to the axle. Remember, this wheel and all its internal components rest solely on the axle.