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Karpen’s Pile, Nicolae Vasilescu Karpen was a scientist, engineer, physicist

Karpen’s Pile, Nicolae Vasilescu Karpen was a scientist, engineer, physicist and Romanian inventor

Nicolae Vasilescu Karpen was a scientist, engineer, physicist and Romanian inventor / photo credit:

Nicolae Vasilescu Karpen was a scientist, engineer, physicist and Romanian inventor / photo credit:

Nicolae Vasilescu Karpen (born November 28, 1870, Craiova – died March 2, 1964, Bucharest) was a scientist, engineer, physicist and inventor Romanian. Among his greatest achievements include cable telephony is far away. But that is probably most famous invention is the “Karpen’s Pile”, or “K pile” works using ambient heat exclusively.


Fuel cell is today the National Technical Museum “Dimitrie Leonida” and works without interruption from 65 years. Nicolae Vasilescu started working on the theory of fuel cells that generate energy indefinitely, even before the First World War. He received the patent in 1922. In its first phase of Nicolae Vasilescu-Karpen drafted in 1922 theoretical work about “cell will provide electricity indefinitely using only the heat from the environment”.


After the theory was written, set to work. Vasilescu Karpen wanted to demonstrate through a prototype was that everything had calculated correctly. Reactions from the scientists of his times (physicists Jean Perin and Marie Curie) the invention does not have immediate. For starters, Romanian physicist was discouraged by their criticism. Later, however, will resume research and will demonstrate the viability of his theory by the prototype in the 50s.


Nicolae Vasilescu Karpen was an example of determination and ambition. All research before him say that what wants to prove it was impossible. He took the impossible and made it possible. It created a perpetual motion not only in theory but one that fascinates the scientific community even today.


He worked every day, he was not discouraged and succeeded! Unfortunately you will not find the name of Nicolae Vasilescu Karpen on the list of great inventors of the world or the most memorable of scientists of the past centuries. His invention – pile Karpen can not study nor can be see being locked in a safe place with documents containing technical data of the object at the museum “Leonidas”.
For us it is an example of thinking without limitations, without preconceptions indoctrinated. It is proof that the impossible can become possible even though not all can understand how (yet).
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Nicolae Vasilescu-Karpen, patriarch of the Romanian science and technical education

Nicolae Vasilescu Karpen / credit photo:

Nicolae Vasilescu Karpen / credit photo:

He joined then National School of Bridges and Roads in Bucharest which he graduated in 1891 as valedictorian. He was not yet 21 when he started working at Service Public Works in Bucharest where he made outstanding contributions in achieving communication equipment and the design and construction of a tunnel of 3 km from Bereşti on the track Galati-Barlad. In 1899 he went to Paris to continue their education at the Higher School of Electricity, which he graduated in 1901 and in 1902 graduated from the Faculty of Sciences in Paris earning a BS in physics, mechanics and mathematics. In 1904 he obtained his PhD thesis at the Sorbonne University Research.


From the commission was part of the famous physicist and mathematician Henri Poincaré. By the theoretical foundation of the thesis but also through experiments made, Nicolae Vasilescu-Karpen clearly a controversial issue among the physicists of his time. Here’s what said the teacher Berget in his book “La vie et la mort du globe”, “transport phenomenon is a consequence of the tasks, phenomenon discovered by Rowland, long time discussed, and which, beautiful and classic experiences of the Romanian Vasilescu- Karpen, have verified the existence and measured the greatness in a definitive way.”


He started teaching at the University of Lille where it works as a lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering, where he was noted for his pedagogical talent.


Great Achievements

An embodiment of inestimable value represents Pila Karpen, or cell K, which operates using only ambient temperature. By their design Vasilescu-Karpen from Craiova has made an outstanding contribution to the achievement of the necessary technical achievements required to the flight to the Moon in particular the energy source, ie fuel cells. He began working on the theory of fuel cells that generate energy indefinitely even before the First World War, but patents obtained in 1922. The paper refers to theoretical dimensions that must have the apparatus and materials to be built. Vasilescu-Karpen argues in this paper that he invented cell will provide electricity indefinitely.


Once the theory was ready, it was set to work. He wanted to prove with a prototype that was what had calculated correctly. The prototype was ready in 1950. He made two fuel cells connected in series, which supplied a galvanometer minimotor. This, in turn, move a paddle connected to a switch. Every half rotation palette opens the circuit, because the second half of the rotation to close. Time rotation was calculated so as to have time to recharge cells or restoring polarity between how the circuit was opened. The engine and the blades were intended to demonstrate that cells provide electricity.


Unusual is that a fuel cell, that is the ancestor of today’s batteries can not work more than 5-10 years, as one of the electrodes corrode and replace it means, in fact, a new electric cell. Pila Karpen, that is at the Technology Museum of the Bucharest works even today, after 59 years from construction.
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GO2 Romania Team / Freelancer / office(at)

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