Researchers Announce A Quantum Engine, Mechanical Energy Without Heat

Thanks to Axil Axil for pointing out a video about a new paper that has been published in Nature titled “A quantum engine in the BEC–BCS crossover”

Researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) are reporting that they have built an experimental engine can produce mechanical energy from quantum effects rather than from heat.

A news release was published by OIST and gives a simple explanation about the research (

“In a classical car engine, usually a mixture of fuel and air is ignited inside a chamber. The resulting explosion heats the gas in the chamber, which in turn pushes a piston in and out, producing work that turns the wheels of the car.

In their quantum engine the scientists have replaced the use of heat with a change in the quantum nature of the particles in the gas. To understand how this change can power the engine, we need to know that all particles in nature can be classified as either bosons or fermions, based on their special quantum characteristics.

At very low temperatures, where quantum effects become important, bosons have a lower energy state than fermions, and this energy difference can be used to power an engine. Instead of heating and cooling a gas cyclically like a classical engine does, the quantum engine works by changing bosons into fermions and back again.”

The news release explains that in order for this engine to work, it must be kept very cold, as heat can destroy the quantum effects. This of course presents practical challenges that need to be addressed and overcome if such engines are to be built for practical purposes.

The Nature paper is open access at the link below.

Anton Petrov on YouTube has given an overview of the research in this video: