Valery Maisotsenko — professor, doctor of technical sciences, one of the outstanding scientists of the USSR, whose know how of obtaining energy from the air was not accepted by the state. His air movement use project, or M-cycle, was called an absolutely unscientific idea, contrary to the laws of thermodynamics. He did not receive support in his homeland and was forced to emigrate to the United States. Until now, the introduction of its developments in industry is associated with difficulties around the world, but he already has over 400 patents and experience in 40 countries. In interview with Invest-Foresight Valery Stepanovich spoke about the features of the new air conditioner, the application of his know how to preserve the environment and made forecast about who can become a global technology leader in the near term.
From “unscientific ideas” to international recognition
— Was your know how in the USSR in demand? Could you get benefit from it?
— My know how was used in the military industry, for example at the Malyshev plant in Kharkov: air conditioners for tanks were produced there. And it was used at Rostselmash to cool harvesters’ cabins as well as in tower cranes at the Krasnoyarsk plant. I got an international USSR patent for water desalination, and I was included in the list of 11 best inventors of the country. Our laboratory in Odessa was visited by Ivan Silaev, deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers.
But my invention was never recognized by official science in the USSR. All public agencies when asked to implement my know how into production told me “no.”
The idea was called crazy and going against the laws of thermodynamics. I tried to break through to the leadership of the country: I wrote a letter with proposals to use my know how. The feedback was — your ideas are unscientific and not negotiable. This answer hangs in the box today on a wall next to similar letters from the US Department of Energy. This is a strong motivation for new inventions and projects. Interestingly, in one of the responses to our first grant application the US Department of Energy called us fraudsters who violate the laws of physics. And through four years this department issued a report recommending the use of air conditioners M-cycles in federal buildings.
— What did you manage to do after moving to the USA?
— When I was forced to leave the country in 1992, I lived for four months in Singapore, which became interested in my patents, and then moved to the United States. There I settled in Denver, Colorado, and began to implement my achievements. For 10 years, I’ve been looking for investors, demonstrating to them an experimental model of an air conditioner without a compressor and freon refrigerant.
The device was assembled from improvised materials: a cardboard box with plates of evaporation material and plastic sheets. The technology turned out so unusual that at first it was rejected even by Nobel laureates in the United States. But then it attracted three brothers who were farmers. They risked a lot: to invest $15 million in incomprehensible development, they had to sell their ranch. But thanks to them, Coolerado Corporation and Idalex were launched. And in 2015, my partners successfully sold the company to an international manufacturer of climate equipment and made huge profits.
Working in the USA, I invented Coolerado HMX and HAR heat and mass exchangers, and I developed manufactured air conditioners operating on water and cooling air to dew point temperature. Now my cycle can reach and surpass the theoretical Carnot cycle in heat and cold production as well as real Brighton and Renkin cycles in energy production, cold and heat recovery.
Now I, my son-in-law and our international Russian-speaking team have created the device of third generation, Gen3. When tested, it demonstrated the average results between the premium Global Energy and Guinness Book of Records. I am now, like 20 years ago, hopefully confident in the success of my “grandchild” technology in terms of investors’ and industrial partners’ attention.
— What are you working on now? What are the possible prospects for applying your current developments?
— Over the past four years, we have developed and patented Gen3 technology, we created industrial model of the new air conditioner. This is the third generation of M-cycle technologies in conditioning. Our new air conditioner cools air from 160 F (71° C) to 55 F (13° C) — so cooling exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or 58 degrees Celsius. At the same time, no compressors, refrigerants, chemicals, moving parts are used and practically no electricity is consumed. With a power of 1.55 kW, the device gives 300 cubic meters of air and consumes 84 watts of electricity per hour. This volume is sufficient for conditioning of a 15 square meters room and energy consumption is less than an incandescent lamp consumed before.
But most importantly — in addition to a tenfold decrease in energy consumption and reduction of emissions, it is also 10 times cheaper. This is a great alternative for conditioning in western China, India and Southeast Asia.
In addition, we conduct research and design work on the heat pump and universal heat and mass exchange apparatus and have several prototypes and demonstrators for obtaining alternative energy and water from air, as well as for desalination, and heat recovery.
In September 2020, we received an international patent for a piston engine based on fundamentally new thermodynamics of the Maisotsenko cycle, M-Power Engine. Engines and turbines, using the Maisotsenko cycle with discharged pressure, can be made from composite materials and plastic; they are capable of operating at low temperature and pressure, without organic fuel. This is not an eternal motor or Tesla’s fuel-free generator. It provides mechanical operation on the difference of enthalpy of dry and humidified air with supply of solar or waste heat.
First, my cycle can be applied in numerous types of equipment. Devices using the M-cycle can be used in the production of cold, heat, energy, fresh water, during heat and energy recovery (partial return of waste energy in the production process) and in fundamentally new engines and turbines. Such devices are not harmful to the environment, being economical in the consumption of resources, available, comfortable, useful for people.
In general, initially I developed my know how in order to reduce the negative impact on the environment by reducing emissions. As a result, for example, air conditioners Coolerado operating on the M-cycle are environmentally friendly compared to other cooling devices: only outdoor fresh air is used for cooling and humidification — without recirculation and viruses, water is used as a coolant, there is no freon. Besides, they consume energy 10 times less, being simple and technological: only a fan is needed, there is no compressor, there is no need to use materials that withstand high pressure and vacuum.
Today, air conditioners using M-cycle technology are used in 40 countries. But not without difficulties: in America and around the world, we are still facing opposition.
Renewable natural energy benefits consumers of technological devices, but increases competition between manufacturers of old models and organic fuel. Therefore, representatives of traditional automotive, gas and oil companies are not interested in promoting and implementing my — more energy and resource efficient — technologies. In Australia, India, China, Japan, Europe all is much easier — energy is more expensive, and ecology is more important, and high demand exists for innovation.
Problems of Russian science
— After you worked in the USSR and the USA, in your opinion, what, first of all, does the level of science and technology in the country depend on? What would Russia and Ukraine need to add?
— The level of science and technology depends on the desire for leadership, the demand for innovation, system of government support, startup ecosystems, venture capital financing. Also important drivers are training, entrepreneurship development, acceptance of failures of startups, creation and preservation of scientific schools, conditions for young scientists. And of course, minimization of red tape, bureaucracy, reporting, paperwork. In fact, all this is heavily needed for progress in Russia and Ukraine.
— Do you now maintain any business or scientific ties with Russia or Ukraine?
— So far, unfortunately, not to the extent I would like. M-cycle is studied and investigated most in China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Great Britain, Australia and with the participation of scientists from these countries in the world’s leading universities. An international group on promoting environmentally friendly M-cycle technologies exists, with more than 50 of my like-minded people. Its representative in Russia is co-founder of the Council for Environmental Construction (GBCRu) Alexey Polyakov; representative in Ukraine is Head of the Department of the Institute of Technical Thermophysics of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine Academician Artem Halatov.
Hopefully it will help me get started over time at home too. I dream to implement technologies and products based on my inventions in Russia and Ukraine. For example, based on international patents and technologies, you can make Russian heat pump and Russian engine made of polymeric materials and provide fresh water for arid areas of Crimea. There are interesting developments in Ukraine on air humidification and wet fuel combustion with academician Boris Soroka, a scientific group on engines and turbines still exists.
— In your opinion as a specialist: what are the strongest areas of research in areas close to you today in Russia?
—From the USSR there were several scientific schools with which I worked already in times of “Odessa refrigerators” (Institute of Cold, Cryotechnology and Eco-Energy named after V. S. Martynovsky, where V. S. Maisotsenko worked with A. I. Kalina – inventor of thermodynamic cycle. — Ed.). Now I have sent out our international publications, ideas for joint developing and proposing cooperation in several scientific schools, but constructive discussion did not work. With the participation of Rosatom, you can create a water cooling system up to dew point temperatures, its cooling capacity increases with rising temperature — in emergency or summer heat. Or a system for cleaning water from radiation pollution due to evaporation on the M-cycle and solar heat — right now it is needed on Fukushima NPP in Japan to eliminate the consequences of the 2011 accident.
Environmental Protection and Technology Leadership
— What is your opinion as a scientist on the problem of global warming and what are the most promising ways to solve it?
—The first time climate change has been at the forefront of global attention considering depletion of the Earth’s ozone layer over Antarctica. chlorine and fluorine-containing freons were called the culprits. Restrictions on the Montreal Protocol stopped ozone layer sprawl and reversed the process. The most important thing here is the possible big interests of one manufacturing company that produced good refrigerants, then after their ban new ones were implemented, created and patented by the same company.
We paraphrase the famous phrase — only business, nothing climatic. Now carbon dioxide is claimed guilty in the new global warming campaigns, although there are many stronger greenhouse gases. But climate change, its “nervousness,” are clear and obvious. Problems caused by regular waves of abnormal heat and potential climate refugees can be tackled for a long time, countering climate change. However, it will be possible to achieve the goal significantly faster and more effectively through the replacement of traditional air conditioners based on compressors and refrigerants with water-based evaporators.
Traditional air conditioning is now increasingly cited as one of the important reasons of climate change. Bill Gates protested steam compression cooling in new book about climate change in February and Time magazine did the same in an editorial in July. Formerly Sir Richard Branson was the face, ambassador and sponsor of the World Air Conditioning Competition, that set the task of reducing the negative impact of air conditioning on the climate by 5 times. Elon Musk criticizes cryptocurrencies for energy consumption for mining by computers and cooling farms with air conditioners. A year ago, Musk announced plans to create a new climate technology – energy efficient, environmentally friendly, healthy one, working from the sun panels or on heat recovery.
— Sometimes you can read that due to warming air conditioners will absorb more energy, than heating systems. Could you comment on this opinion?
— In the M-cycle, there are equally energy-efficient air cooling solutions at the expense of water evaporation and heating due to moisture condensation. Two sides of the process in one apparatus. Plus, energy efficiency is added to the cost-effectiveness of resource consumption, environmental friendliness to minimize the negative impact, as well as sociality of accessibility, comfort and human health. Therefore, safe air conditioners can be made for the planet.
— There is an opinion that scientific breakthroughs (for example, nuclear power or hadron collider) belong not to one person, group of people or country, but to the whole of humanity. Do you agree with him? Is your project just your work? How do you feel about patent system?
— Newton, Tesla, Einstein, Jobs owned insights. However, Westinghouse and Wozniak, people in laboratories and garages were required for the implementation of leading ideas. Space breakthroughs of Gagarin, Armstrong and Mask created huge labor collectives and finances of the whole countries, international space stations were the result of cooperation of several countries, flying to Mars will be the achievement of all mankind.
A small group can implement the most elementary technology, for example conditioning. But physical phenomena that were found along the way require research and explanations by whole institutions. And technically more complex engines and turbines require multidisciplinary work and interindustrial expertise.
The patent system is a whole world. From the Soviet salary increase at the expense of rationalization of proposals and inventions to priority disputes around Popov and Marconi, modern patent trolls and wars between Samsung and Apple. Legends live that the patent archive of Nikola Tesla was immediately classified by the FBI after his death and that the ideas of one theory were born when the discoverer was patent attorney.
— Do you see the possibility that China will become a global technology leader in the coming years? Which countries have the greatest chance of leadership?
— Of the 60 world universities studying and researching the M-cycle, more than half are Chinese. Plus, a huge number of ethnic Chinese in R&D teams in other countries. Quite consciously in China they study not only conditioning, but also heat recovery, engines and turbines, thermodynamic cycles, production and cooling of water (cooling towers). One of our colleagues work at the Chinese University of High Temperature Heat Recovery, cools the gas by evaporating water at temperatures well above the temperature of water boiling — when it evaporates, but does not boil. When party and scientific officials learned about the first results, they created the conditions for additional research very quickly.
In China, there are many minds, hands and money that are invested not only in industrial and infrastructure projects worldwide (especially in promising Africa), but in R&D and innovation. They are able to attract the best personnel. Ratings show leadership bias from the US to China in many areas, including technology, innovation, patents, financing, startups. China’s separation from Germany, Great Britain and Europe, Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Asia is growing. Symbiosis of capitalist economy and party governance is capable to create miracles, although there are inflections with a restriction on the growth and influence of Alibaba and Jack Ma, the ban on cryptocurrencies, restrictions on the business of IT companies. Therefore, the golden billion of the planet may well be replenished not only by the yellow gloss of gold, but also by the color of the face.
Interviewed by Kristina Firsova