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    P.N.Correa, MSc, PhD, and A.N. Correa, HBA

    Labofex Experimental and Applied Plasma Physics, Ontario, Canada









    "Our laws of force tend to be applied in the Newtonian sense

    in that for every action there is an equal reaction, and yet, in

    the real world, where many-body gravitational effects or

    electrodynamic actions prevail, we do not have

    every action paired with an equal reaction."

    H. Aspden, 1993

    Anomalous cathode reaction forces varying in proportion to the square
    of the input current were first identified separately by Tanberg and
    Kobel, in 1930, during studies of cathode vaporization in "vacuum"-arc
    discharges (VADs) and stationary cathode spots (1,2). In his original
    paper, Tanberg made a case for the presence of longitudinal forces on
    electrodynamic interactions, which he attributed to the counterflow of
    vaporized cathode particles (1), but K. Compton demonstrated that the
    vapor jet only accounted for <2% of the reaction force's magnitude
    (3). He suggested a different interpretation of the the electrodynamic
    anomaly, arguing for a mechanical rebound, at the cathode, of
    charge-neutralized gas ions that hit the cathode in the course of the
    discharge (bombardment rebound) (3).

    In the 1940's, little work was done on the North-American continent on
    the presence of longitudinal forces in plasma discharges. The notable
    exceptions may have been the self-funded research of W. Reich and of
    T.H. Moray. Reich claimed to have discovered a spontaneous pulsatory
    activity of the space medium in cold cathode diodes sealed at high
    vacuum, and to have achieved oscillatory frequencies that reached 30
    Kc (4). He equally claimed to have designed a motor circuit driven by
    the cyclic discharge in question, but all the details of the circuits
    were kept secret by Reich, and have remained so since the burning and
    banning of his publications by the FDA in 1956. His suspicious death
    in prison followed shortly thereafter in 1957. M.B. King (5) has
    suggested that anomalous lightning balls were produced in corona
    discharge tubes designed by T.H.Moray (6), possibly by tuning the
    plasma diode to resonate with heavy ion acoustic oscillations (7), but
    again the details are scanty. To our knowledge, no one has reproduced
    the vacuum experiments of Reich or Moray.

    German electromagnetic cannons were retrieved by the Combined
    Intelligence Objectives Sub-committee in 1945, which reportedly were
    capable of firing lightning balls into the atmosphere (8), and Dr. H.
    Aspden has drawn our attention to the efforts of Kapitza, in Russia,
    to drive the formation of plasma balls in vacuum tubes with an RF
    source (9). Kapitza apparently realized that the energy densities of
    lightning balls were of the magnitude required to initiate nuclear
    fusion. During the fifties, the US fusion program also investigated
    the suitability of utilizing anomalous reaction forces in exploding
    wires subject to high current surges and in 'axial pinch' voltage
    reactors, to create alternative neutron sources (10).

    Admission of longitudinal interactions has always been problematic for
    the relativistic law of Lorentz (11), as well as for the Bio-Savart
    treatments of Ampere's Law (12). Quantum treatments of (high)
    field-emission, such as the Fowler-Nordheim law (strong fields pull
    out electrons with low energies, ie Fermi electrons) (13), also did
    not take these interactions into account.

    Subsequent research in the 1950's concentrated mainly on the study of
    cathode and anode spots, as well as on cathode erosion by crater
    formation (14-15). Confirmation of Tanberg's longitudinal flow
    hypothesis would have to wait until the 1960's, but mass spectrometric
    studies carried out by several groups (16-19) indicated that the
    atomic particles involved were not neutral atoms, but mostly singly
    and multiply charged ions with energies exceeding the total VAD
    voltage. Measurements performed by Kimblin (20-22) of the fractional
    ion current supplied to the VAD, suggested a nearly invariant
    contribution in the order of 6 to 10% of the total VAD current.
    Combined with the detection of some neutral atom contributions to this
    anomalous reaction flow, these findings caused much initial resistance
    among arc physicists.

    By the 1960's, it had become apparent that the presence of tremendous
    electrodynamic forces acting longitudinally in the direction of the
    discharge could not be accounted for by the Lorentz/Bio-Savart Law.
    Moreover, as Plyutto et al remarked, the Tanberg vaporization
    hypothesis also could not explain the observed dependence of cathode
    reaction forces on gas pressure, nor the high velocity plasma streams
    emerging from the cathode (18). Plyutto's model of an ambipolar
    mechanism, where the electrons sweep the ions forward as a function of
    the anomalous rise of potential in front of the cathode spot, while
    the spot moves backwards, may well explain the dynamic relation of
    these forces, but not their initiation mechanism.

    An understanding of the diverse experimental electrodynamic anomalies,
    and one that could unify disparate observations at that, would not be
    forthcoming however until 1969, when the Journal of the Franklin
    Institute published Dr. H. Aspden's seminal paper on his Law of
    Electrodynamics (23):

    F = (qq'/r3) [(v'.r)v - (m'/m)(v.r)v' - (v.v')r]

    where m'/m is the ratio of positive ion mass to electron mass.
    Analyzing the proportionality of the current quadrature phenomenon
    observed by Tanberg and Kobel in copper and mercury VADs, Aspden
    contended that if one took into account the mass ratio between
    electric particles of different q/m ratios, an 'out-of-balance'
    electrodynamic force would necessarily arise to act along the
    discharge path (23). In 1977, Aspden would file a British patent
    application (24) utilizing thermal conversion of the high anomalous
    acceleration of cathode-directed ions by electrons in VAD plasmas
    (25), but his circumstances did not permit him to pursue the work
    experimentally (26). Aspden's patent for a VAD-based ion accelerator
    and associated energy transfer processes, utilizes advantageously the
    anomalous reaction forces developed during ion acceleration to design
    a thermoelectric generator that would release the "intrinsic energy"
    of the interaction, as well as a coupled cyclotron-type chamber
    (devoid of the characteristic D electrodes) for centrifugal
    acceleration of the released ions (24).

    Mounting evidence for longitudinal electrodynamic forces was then
    emerging from the study of relativistic electron beams (27-28),
    high-frequency plasma spikes (29-32), anomalous plasma heat transfer
    (28, 33-34) and anomalous discharge structures (35). Three possible
    plasma instability mechanisms have been discussed in the literature
    for the explanation of the observed anomalous energy transfers,
    invoking magnetosonic waves (35-36), ion-acoustic plasma instability
    modes (37-38) or the vacuum-field effect caused by the Zero-point
    energy (ZPE) (39-45). More recently, others have suggested that these
    nonlinear interactions, such as the ion-acoustic plasma instabilities,
    high density abrupt electrical discharges, and microprotuberance field
    emission indicate the presence of resonant coherences with the ZPE

    However, all these phenomena were predictable from, and in agreement
    with, Aspden's Law - but this fact was simply ignored, even if the
    Lorentz's Law could not account for the experimental anomalies
    observed when a circuit was closed by distinct fluxes of charge
    carriers of different mass., while Aspden's Law effectively did.
    Particularly vexing to researchers, was the behaviour of cathodes in
    cold VADs and the emergence of the electron distribution required to
    satisfy ion production in the gas (48).

    Since the 1980's, Aspden's theoretical framework has received
    recognition (49-53) and direct or indirect experimental confirmation
    (49-50, 54-55). In the mid-eighties, Prof. P. Graneau and his group
    showed that electrodynamic explosions induced by kilovolt pulsed ion
    discharges in pure water were greater by three to four orders of
    magnitude than expected by established theory (54-55). As Aspden
    pointed out, these results again should be understood in terms of the
    m'/m scaling factor (56-57), but Graneau has rejected this
    explanation. Yet, Graneau's proposed model of the alpha-torque forces
    (58-59), is not warranted by the findings of Pappas, which instead are
    consistent with Aspden's model of electrodynamic action (49).

    More recently still, G. Spence has patented an energy conversion
    system exploiting the electrodynamic mass ratio difference of
    electrons and ions in a magnetic separator and accelerator chamber
    having a basic analogy with Aspden's patent (24), but utilizing a
    different technique for the centripetal capture of the accelerated
    charge carriers, as based on a modification of the betatron principle
    that employs an homogeneous magnetic field (60). Spence's device,
    however, suffered from periodic breakdown, usually after several hours
    of operation, owing to problems believed to be connected with the
    thermionic ion-emitter guns (61).

    During the same decade, investigation of externally pulsed
    electrodynamic anomalies in Russia was in full swing, with the
    objective of harnessing a new source of power (62) and, in 1989, the
    Novosti Press Agency released news of Prof. A. Chernetskii's design of
    a plasma reactor that operated with a "mysterious" regime which was
    termed by Chernetskii the "self-generating discharge", and which
    appeared to serve as a source of overunity energy, as it allegedly
    played havoc with the one megawatt substation driving it (63).

    Despite all these rather significant strides in theory and experiment
    on the investigation of anomalous electrodynamic interactions, little
    in fact has been done, since Tanberg and Kobel, on the investigation
    of cathode reaction forces in parallel or coaxial electrode discharges
    that involve autoelectronic emission, particularly with respect to the
    initiation mechanisms on the unstable region straddling the abnormal
    glow discharge (AGD) and the "vacuum"-arc discharge (VAD) regions. At
    the time that, at Labofex, we were making the first inroads into this
    problem in the wake of our X-ray studies, an interest in this region
    was also kindled by the search for high-power switches that might
    replace flash-over switches (triggered gas gap breakdown switches),
    rotating arc switches and other VAD interrupters.

    For planar electrodes having aligned central holes (the so-called
    pseudospark channel), it has been shown that a different type of
    discharge exists between the Paschen minimum and the vacuum arc
    breakdown, having more characteristics in common with the glow
    discharge rather than with the VAD, and which has been termed the
    pseudospark discharge (64-67). Because of the fast-switching on action
    of this discharge, in addition to power switching applications, the
    triggered pseudospark discharge has also been utilized as a source of
    high-density electron and ion beams, and to generate both laser and
    microwave radiation, as well as X-ray flashes (64, 68-70). Coaxial and
    multigap pseudospark discharge switches have been designed and
    patented which, because of their fast breakdown phase, operate with
    anomalously high cold-cathode emissions much greater than possible
    with thermionic emission devices (71-72).

    Prior to these recent developments in pseudospark discharges, the
    cold-cathode abnormal glow discharge (AGD) region had only been
    utilized for the uniform transport of vaporised organic coatingsin
    vacuo, with externally DC- or AC-pulsed abnormal glow discharges, as
    based on a patent by E. Manuel (73). Manuel, who coined the term
    Pulsed Abnormal Glow Discharge, did not employ auto-electronic 'field'
    emission to trigger the pulsation of the glow discharge - in fact he
    wanted to avoid it, and thereby avoid slippage of the externally
    pulsed AGD into a VAD regime- as he intended that only the organic
    coating of the cathode, but not the cathode itself, be vaporised.

    External pulsation of an electrical field, eg a plasma, may be
    achieved by very different methods that belong to well known prior
    art: in gas breakdown devices (eg Plasma-pinch accelerators,
    Lewis-type or other bombardment engines, and MPD thrusters (74-77)),
    as well as in arc discharges (eg. arcjet engines (78)) this may be
    typically achieved by the advantageous utilization of the Paschen law
    (when the required gap breakdown voltage falls below the applied open
    circuit voltage as a function of admission of the gas propellant) or
    by the utilization of older methods, ie capacitive or high-frequency
    discharges, the latter being apparently Chernetskii's method; the
    utilization of externally shaped pulsed DC or AC input waveforms, as
    in Manuel's patent (73) is another form of externally switching a
    plasma discharge on and off; segmentation of continuous current flow
    can also be achieved utilizing any manner of switches, mechanical,
    electronic, opto-electronic, plasma discharge-based (glow, pseudospark
    or arc switches) or commutators (including contact separation
    switches, relays, rotary commutators, etc); finally, as in pseudospark
    switches, a trigger electrode receiving an external signal is utilized
    to switch on the discharge (71-72).


    "Nietzsche, as a critic of science, never invokes the rights of
    quality against

    quantity; he invokes the rights of difference in quantity against
    equality, of

    inequality against equalization of quantities. (...) What he attacks

    science is precisely the scientific mania for seeking balances, the

    utilitarianism and egalitarianism proper to science".

    G. Deleuze, 1962

    Our point of departure was a serendipitous observation - made while
    studying sustained X-ray production - of quasi-regular discontinuities
    in glow discharges having a minimal positive column at very high vacua
    (10E-5 to 10E-7 Torr) and at low to medium voltages (10-50 kV DC).
    These events, which were associated with X-ray bursts, spontaneously
    originated localized cathode discharge jets that triggered the plasma
    glow in a fashion quite distinct from the flashing of a photocathode
    or from an externally pulsed plasma glow. It would soon become
    apparent that these discontinuities were elicited by spontaneous
    electronic emissions from the cathode under conditions of current
    saturation of the plasma glow, and could be triggered with much lower
    applied DC field strengths. The discharge was distinct from the VAD
    regime in that the plasma channel was self-starting,
    self-extinguishing, and the regime was pulsatory (79). In fact the
    discharge could be mimicked with externally interrupted VADs,
    analogous to chopped current arcs (80-81).

    Pulsation of current saturated abnormal glow discharges (AGDs) was
    originally described by E. Manuel (73) who utilized externally formed
    DC pulses or AC oscillations to drive the cyclic operation of a plasma
    discharge tube in the AGD region (see Fig. 1), but in the absence of
    auto-electronic emission.

    The pulsed plasma discharge regime we had isolated also operated in
    the AGD region, but it cycled autogenously between points F-E (Fig. 1)
    as a function of being triggered by spontaneous auto-electronic
    emissions from the cathode. What characterizes the functioning of the
    Correa reactors and differentiates them from all the foregoing arc
    emitter devices and the triggered pseudospark switches (PSS), as well
    as from Manuel's externally pulsed abnormal glow discharge apparatus,
    is the method of the discharge initiation as much as the method of its
    extinction. The discharge of interest is a pulsed abnormal glow
    discharge, but this pulsation is triggered autogenously at low applied
    field by a spontaneous electronic emission under cold-cathode
    conditions (80-82). Furthermore, this emission-triggered pulsed
    abnormal glow discharge is repetitively cycled in a self-generating or
    endogenous action, thus originating quasi-periodic discharge rhythms,
    whose frequency depends on a host of identified parameters. Both the
    spontaneous electronic emission and the auto-generating aspects of the
    discharge are joint cathode and reactor properties affected by
    multiple operational and physical conditions, foremost amongst which
    figure the metal composition of the cathode (work function), the
    negative pressure range, the magnitude of the input current, the large
    electrode gap distance, the nature of the residual gases and the
    cluster of electrode area effects discovered by the Correas (79-84).

    Given the self-pulsing and self-producing characteristics of this
    discharge, we have termed this veritable regime of plasma discharge we
    have isolated in reactors with diverse geometries designed to
    optimalize it (and its volt-ampere characteristic), the
    emission-triggered Pulsed Abnormal Glow Discharge, or autogenous PAGD
    for short. The PAGD regime is an homeostatic structure (a fluctuating
    order) of cyclically recurring discontinuities. Reactors designed to
    operate in the PAGD region of plasma discharge constitute effective
    plasma pulse generators with diverse applications (85).

    Unlike pseudospark switches, the PAGD events do not need to be
    triggered externally or by the interposition of third (trigger)
    electrodes, though they can be triggered inductively or
    "electrostatically" at prebreakdown potentials. They are in fact
    autogenous events where the observed emissions occur at low applied
    fields for quasi-regular periods, to generate quasi-regular cathode
    current jets. Unlike the PSS, which utilizes intermediate gap
    insulators to prevent the degeneration of the discharge into a full
    fledged VAD, the PAGD regime in the Correa reactors is
    self-extinguishing because of the inability of the discharge to
    complete the channel, as promoted by the synergism of the diverse
    physical parameters we have identified and analysed (79-82, 85).
    Whereas in the PSS switches the discharge channel is formed by the
    electrode holes or guides, the incomplete PAGD channel is

    The autogenous PAGD regime deploys extraordinarily large cathode
    reaction forces, associated with the rebound of anomalously
    accelerated ions striking the cathode and the anomalous ion
    counterflow (vaporized cathode metal and gas ions) being swept forward
    by the emitted electronic flux. The PAGD abnormal reaction forces
    depend on the intensity of the electronic-emission events that trigger
    the abnormal glow discharge, and are thus rather distinct from the
    externally pulsed, emission-independent abnormal glow discharges of
    the Manuel apparatus (73). In fact, these forces are virtually absent
    in externally pulsed flashover glow regimes, be they normal or

    In comparison to VADs, the autogenous PAGD reaction forces also appear
    to be much greater. Whereas the particles leaving the cathode in the
    Tanberg VAD device had average kinetic energies in the order of 80 to
    90 eV (1,18), the particles forming the PAGD vortex have
    extraordinarily high energies that have been calculated to reach
    0.5->1 MeV (86-88)! And they do so with typical power input
    consumptions that are lower by >1 order of magnitude, with cathode
    fuel losses <2 orders of magnitude and with vapor velocities >100x
    those typically observed in VADs. Because of these characteristics of
    the emission-triggered PAGD, the regime transduces anomalous reaction
    forces that are 100x greater than those found in VADs (82, 86, 88), in
    the range found by Graneau's group for arc-water explosions (54-56,
    89). This extraordinary behavior is intimately related to the
    incompressible nature of the medium (56) in which the autogenous PAGD
    occurs, the ratio of the cathode ion mass to the electron mass (26,
    86, 90), and the nature of the plasma regime, particularly the PAGD
    extinction mechanism, which prevents the discharge from reaching a
    steady-state plasma generation (91). In other words, the PAGD appears
    to obey precisely the tenets of Aspden's Law of Electrodynamics.

    Given the self-pulsed characteristics of the autogenous PAGD regime,
    the pulse generator effectively functions as a simple DC inverter
    producing quasi regular large discontinuous "AC" pulses that, once
    filtered from the associated DC signal, can be directly utilized to
    power and control electromagnetic motors, relays and transformer
    circuits. This line of investigation culminated in the patented design
    of basic PAGD motor and other inverter circuits (91-92). This was the
    origin of the Labofex Motor Drive (LMD) which utilizes innovative
    motor principles based upon a total control of the variables affecting
    PAGD production (applied voltage, applied current, residual gas
    nature, pressure, electrode area, reactive gap distance, electrode
    geometry, cathode work-function, etc) (91-92). Similar applications
    would soon follow for transmission of the generated impulses across
    space, the design of DC inverters and of polyphasic systems (91-92).

    Once we had isolated and optimalized this novel plasma discharge
    regime with respect to all of its parameters, we found that our
    measurement instruments indicated the deployment of discharge energies
    greatly exceeding the energy input responsible for the release of the
    charged carriers and the initiation of the discharge (91,93). Through
    the coupling of a secondary circuit to the PAGD reactor, now made
    double-ported, we succeeded in capturing directly, as electrical
    power, the anomalous energy deployed by the ion discharge pulses at
    the cathode. This was the basis of the XS NRG (Excess Energy)
    Conversion System, a patent for which was granted to the authors by
    the USPTO in 1995 (90). We had discovered that the PAGD-based abnormal
    cathode reaction forces could be used for the generation of power, if
    the excess energy that they deployed were electronically captured in a
    system effectively functioning as a power generator. Conversion of
    energy by creation of plasma instabilities with energies in excess of
    breakeven would thus result in the production of power. One arm of the
    closed system performs an entropic operation of loss of energy (this
    energy is spent in the injection of the pulse generator, to trigger
    its spontaneous plasma discharge), while the pulse output is then
    captured by a second arm. On the energy balance sheet, the energy
    accumulated in the second arm of the system consistently and
    substantially exceeds the energy lost by the first arm (88, 90, 93).
    Like all known experimental energy-surplus generating processes, such
    as the thermonuclear fusion process or the Spence machine (60), energy
    has to be spent for energy to be generated through the PAGD plasma
    regime. Unlike any other claim that we know of, for a machine capable
    of achieving breakeven conditions, the XS NRG results are reproducible
    and measurable. In other words, these are experimental results and not
    mere theoretical inferences. In fact, unlike many patents we have
    discussed above, our patents show explicit and extensive results for
    the operation of our energy converter system.

    In accordance with Aspden's treatment of the Law of electrodynamics
    (23, 56, 95, 97), our invention of the XS NRG Power Generation System
    is made possible by the engraftment of the extraordinarily large PAGD
    reaction forces transduced by distinct plasma flows, as a surplus of
    electric energy in closed charge systems. To borrow the language of
    Prigogine, these apparently closed systems give rise to
    self-organizing structures that are in fact transiently open physical
    systems, when they elicit anomalous reaction forces under specific
    conditions of performance. It is as if, through the auto-electronic
    metal/plasma interaction and the self-extinguishing characteristic of
    the PAGD regime, electrical power is directly squeezed out of metal
    'in vacuo', by virtue of a pulsatory interaction with the polarized
    'vacuum' field energy.

    It is possible that, as Aspden has suggested (94), field polarization
    of the vacuum results in reversal of the cyclic motion of the local
    space lattice (the ZPE), the displacement of which, in turn, causes
    transient resonant vacuum-field states in the system. A closed system
    would thus behave as an open system, and it could systematically
    develop out-of-balance forces (94-96). To paraphrase Aspden on this
    subject, it is the correct interpretation of Newtonian Dynamics and
    Newton's 'rule' that prevents us from ignoring the reacting field
    environment of electrodynamic interactions, all the more so, when
    these interactions develop mutual actions that appear to contravene
    Newton's Third Law (97).

    In a speculative fashion, it is indeed interesting to remark that the
    PAGD energies associated with emitted cathode ions are in the range
    needed for electron-positron pair creation. Significantly, the study
    of narrow, nonrelativistic positron peaks and of electron-positron
    coincidences in heavy ion collisions has led to the identification of
    low-mass "photonium" resonances in the 1 to 2 MeV range (lowest
    prediction at ~1.2 MeV (99)), which have been theorized as possible
    e-e+ quasi-bound continuum states of a pure electromagnetic nature
    (98-99), suggesting the existence of a new (ultra-nuclear and
    infra-atomic) scale for QED interactions (99). Lastly, it has been
    formally shown that pair production can be supported by a photon field
    in a nonstationary medium and in a threshold-free manner (ie for any
    electromagnetic wave frequency) (100).

    From the foregoing, the question obviously arises as to whether there
    is any contribution on the part of the locally pervasive Zero-point
    vacuum-field energy to the tremendous events elicited during
    autogenous PAGD or IVAD functioning of the Correa reactors. In his US
    patent (46), K. Shoulders describes an energy conversion system having
    some analogies with our own, in that he is able to generate
    microscopic coherent charge entities (which he terms EVs, for electrum
    vallidum) by a field emission process (utilizing Nothingham heating of
    point cathodes or pure field emission mechanisms). By external pulsing
    of the discharge field, he theoretically obtains energy outputs that
    are greater than the energy input spent in driving the system.
    Shoulders has invoked the Zero-point energy of the vacuum as an
    explanation for the coherent charge behaviour he has identified in his
    studies (46).

    While the microscopic Shoulders' EV entities have minimal and maximal
    values of 10E8 to 10E11 electron charges, and deploy energies in the
    order of 10E7 erg per triggered pulse, the macroscopic energetic
    events of the PAGD regime deploy 100-fold greater energies in the
    order of 10E9 erg per pulse (86-87, 101).

    It is rather likely that the out-of-balance reaction forces observed
    in the PAGD plasma reactors are the result of the interaction of the
    PAGD/IVAD apparatus with the local fluctuations of the dynamic
    vacuum-field. Such behaviour has been described by Aspden, for a
    dynamic zero-point field obeying the principles of Quantum
    ChromoDynamics (94). Aspden has put forth a model for aether spin as
    triggered in response to a radial electric field vector and involving
    "inflow of kinetic energy in the aether itself" (102). He has readily
    recognized the importance of pulsing the glow discharge and
    interrupting the autoelectronic emission, in the context of tapping
    the aether spin while denying return of the kinetic energy fed into
    field system back to the plenum. Aspden writes (103):

    "In other words, what is stored in the spin state as aether input
    energy becomes available as electric field energy which can be trapped
    by drawing power from the electrodes of the Correa tube. To do this,
    it is necessary to have pulsations and here there is an aspect which
    warrants theoretical research, but which seems to have already found a
    practical solution in the Correa device."
    The quantum mechanical treatment proposed by Fowler and Nordheim in
    1928 (13) to explain arc initiation in terms of the pulling of
    electrons from metals by strong or high fields, has provided a
    scientific model for the discrete emission of electrons from the
    working cathode which, in this process, apparently violate the
    conservation laws, if just for an instant, and tunnel through the
    Fermi barrier. However, this quantum mechanical model never adequately
    accounted for the experimental evidence concerning arc initiation at
    fields and currents lower than those predicted, for arc discharges
    which present a Fowler-Nordheim slope. Nor does it account for
    operation of the Correa reactors in the autoelectronic
    emission-triggered low-field PAGD regime, where the experimental
    voltage-current characteristic is the inverse of that obeying the
    Fowler-Nordheim relation for high-field emission (79-82).
    Rehabilitations of the Fowler-Nordheim treatment, where the
    theoretical enhancement factor has been explained in terms of
    breakdown produced by heating of cathode microprotuberances (Joule and
    Nottingham effects), have been proposed to explain the results of VAD
    studies (15, 104), and these findings have been advantageously
    employed by Shoulders, in his design of point cathodes for field
    emission and for what he terms "pure field emission" (46).

    In distinction from quasi-thermionic field emission, the cold-cathode
    autoelectronic emission characteristic of the autogenous PAGD and
    IVADs appears to employ a different initiation mechanism, as it is
    facilitated by large cathode areas rather than points, under the
    appropriate conditions of work-function, pressure, input current, etc.

    It is likely that there is some relation between the mechanism
    responsible for the PAGD regime we have isolated, and its cluster of
    area-dependent effects, with the electrode area-dependent transient
    voltage instability of the glow discharge plasma recently reported in
    low power high-nitrogen/high-helium partial pressure CO2 lasers,
    albeit that this lasing instability is non-periodic (105-106). The
    periodic and current pulse aspects of the PAGD may in fact be what
    explains these nonperiodic lasing voltage spikes, in that their
    fortuitous occurrence probably stems from the PAGD threshold
    voltage-current characteristics: at low input currents, the
    auto-electronic PAGD emission is a rare event (79-82, 91). At these
    levels of activity, the deployed reaction forces are minimal or

    The anomalous PAGD cathode reaction forces are inextricably linked to
    the intermittent ejection of metal plasma jets (from the PAGD cathode)
    under optimal conditions of operation in the PAGD regime and to the
    cyclic plasma instability that develops tremendous field reactions in
    the nonstationary vacuum gap. Independently from whether the PAGD
    singularities result from capture of some of the immense reservoir of
    energy priming the vacuum (107-108) or from some other unknown
    mechanism, cathode spot formation involves a net expenditure of the
    cathode metal per event, thus defining a process of fuel consumption
    (82, 83, 86, 88, 90).

    At our laboratory, Labofex, we have broken new ground in plasma
    electrodynamics and in electron emissions from metals. We believe
    that, with our work in this field, plasma physics has acquired a new,
    practical and affordable significance for power generation, quite
    outside of thermonuclear fusion.

    More recent developments at Labofex have further broadened the scope
    of the XS NRG technology. The design of improved autogenous PAGD
    reactors (83, 109), and of reactors capable of physical commutation of
    interrupted "vacuum"-arc discharges (IVAD) elicited under low-field
    conditions (110-111), has resulted from this ongoing effort.
    Utilization of IVADs in the XS NRG Converter System has several mixed
    advantages: larger input currents are possible (which the
    voltage-current characteristic of the PAGD precludes) with IVADs than
    with the PAGD, resulting, under the necessary conditions of operation,
    in still larger emission catastrophes; separation of the potential
    switch function from the trigger function (which may be
    electrodeless), and of both of these from the pulse output function at
    the collector, permits the utilization of triggered IVADs reactors
    integrated with the XS NRG Converter circuitry (11-113). Utilization
    of multireactor XS NRG Systems operating in either the PAGD or the
    IVAD regimes can be coupled to create modular power plants (84, 112)
    for diverse commercial and industrial applications (114-116).


    "It may be concluded that the resolution of this long-standing problem

    of the true nature of this basic electrodynamic law is not a mere

    academic topic. Some deeper understanding of the law will have

    practical consequences in discharge and plasma control."

    H. Aspden, 1969

    Fig. 1 is an idealized plot of the potential (on a linear but
    arbitrary voltage scale) between the principal electrodes of a vacuum
    discharge tube with increasing current (on a logarithmic scale in
    amperes). Curve A, below its intersection with curve B at point E,
    represents a typical relationship between current and voltage for cold
    cathode discharges, including auto-electronic emissions, whilst curve
    B represents a typical relationship for thermionic glow discharges,
    including thermionic emissions. The high-current intersection of the
    two curves at point E represents a transition into the vacuum arc
    discharge (VAD) region (curve C) with the establishment of a
    continuous low resistance plasma channel between the electrodes. With
    increasing current from very low levels, curve A presents an initially
    rising voltage or "positive resistance" characteristic, through the
    Townsend discharge (TD) region, a flat characteristic through the
    constant discharge (CD) region, a falling voltage or "negative
    resistance" characteristic through the transitional region discharge
    (TRD) and normal glow discharge (NGD) regions, to a minimum, before
    once again rising to a peak at F and then falling to an even lower
    minimum, equal to the sustaining voltage for a vacuum arc discharge,
    through the abnormal glow discharge (AGD) region. The rising potential
    over the first portion of the AGD region is believed occasioned by
    saturation of the electrodes by the glow discharge, which causes the
    potential to rise until auto-electronic emission sets in allowing the
    potential to fall again as the current rises further. In practice, the
    increasing interelectrode potential following saturation, and other
    factors such as electrode heating, leading to thermionic emission,
    will tend in conventional tubes to result in a premature transition
    from the AGD into the VAD regime, following a curve similar to curve D
    shown in Fig. 1.

    Essentially, the autogenous PAGD regime relies on the use of gas
    discharge tubes designed to avoid premature transition from the NGD to
    the VAD regimes, and capable of being operated in a stable manner in
    that region of the characteristic curve of Figure 1 extending between
    points E and F, within the AGD region. The peak F that characterizes
    the abnormal discharge region means that as the applied current is
    increased linearly within this region, the resistance of the 'vacuum'
    medium in the tube first increases with increasing current, only to
    subsequently decrease, still with increasing applied current, down to
    the minimum resistance value corresponding to the sustaining potential
    of a "vacuum" arc. Expressed in terms of resistance characteristics,
    the autogenous PAGD regime spans, as a function of applied current, a
    subregion in which a positive resistance characteristic changes into a
    leading negative resistance characteristic. The pulsed regime of the
    AGD is only sustainable when the intensity of the applied current is
    greater than that needed to rapidly saturate the plates, but not so
    great as to set up a VAD.


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