A Theory Of Single Wire Power Transmission

Theory of SIngle Wire Power Transmission

The article proposes a theory to explain why single wire electrical power transmission works, and why the currents in the single conductor seem to defy basic electromagnetic laws.

According to this theory, which is based on the original writings of Michael Faraday, J.J. Thomson, and Oliver Heaviside, the single wire currents propagate longitudinally along the conductor, rather than transversely through it, and have their magnetic lines of force pointing in the direction of propagation, which is why minimal magnetic force is measured, only a tiny electron current is established in the single wire, and close to no Joulean losses occur.


Over 100 years ago, Nikola Tesla performed countless experiments which definitively showed that electrical power can be transmitted over a single wire without a return.

This led him to declare the need for closed circuits as an “old notion”, yet closed circuits are what we solely use today.

Since then, many hobbyists have replicated Tesla’s experiments and shared the results on blogs and in YouTube videos.

In Russia, scientists like Avramenko have written papers about-, and received patents for single wire power transmission circuits.

In fact, the Russian ministry for Energy and Agriculture (VIESH) has been investing heavily into further developing this technology so it can be used to upgrade Russia’s outdated power grid, as can be read in this 2018 paper they published.

Besides allowing power to be transmitted over a single wire, the currents present in these open circuits have several curious properties that seem to defy basic electromagnetic laws, like Ohm’s Law and Kirchoff’s Laws.

The current in a single wire circuit can neither be accurately measured by thermocouple ammeters, nor by magneto ammeters, yet kilowatts of power have been transmitted using this method, suggesting that moving charges and a magnetic field are negligible or even absent.

The wire also does not heat up from the current, and series resistors, inductors, and capacitors have no significant effect on the power output –effectively creating a room-temperature superconductor– yet an incandescent bulb, itself a resistive load, can be lit from the single conductor.

Since the experimental evidence is overwhelming, and the implications massive, it seems about time that a coherent theory is put forward that attempts to explain not some, but all of the extraordinary experimental results.

For this, I went back to the roots of our current theory of electromagnetism.

By synthesizing the original thoughts of Faraday, Maxwell, Heaviside, J.J. Thomson, and Nikola Tesla, a theory started to emerge that could explain why single wire power transmission works, where the amps are hiding, and why resistance seems to disappear.

In this article I explain this theory in detail.

On Faraday’s Tubes of Force

In the picture above, you see the magnetic field lines around a bar magnet visualized by iron filings.

These physical lines of force were first postulated by the visionary experimenter Michael Faraday, and also exist around a current carrying wire, as can be seen in the picture below.

The magnetic field exists at right angles to the conductor, or more accurately, at right angles to the direction of the current flowing through the conductor.

This movement of the magnetic lines at right angles to themself is what creates a magnetic force, according to J.J. Thomson in his seminal work “Electricity and Matter”.

We see that it is only the motion of a tube at right angles to itself which produces magnetic force; no such force is produced by the gliding of a tube along its length.

J.J. Thomson

Note how Thomson describes the lines as “tubes”, giving them not only a length, but also a width.

He then makes a striking analogy.

We suppose in fact the tubes to behave very much as long and narrow cylinders behave when moving through water; these if moving endwise [longitudinally], i.e., parallel to their length, carry very little water along with them, while when they move sideways [transversely], i.e., at right angles to their axis, each unit length of the tube carries with it a finite mass of water.

When the length of the cylinder is very great compared with its breadth, the mass of water carried by it when moving endwise may be neglected in comparison with that carried by it when moving sideways; if the tube had no mass beyond that which it possesses in virtue of the water it displaces, it would have mass for sideways but none for endwise motion.

J.J. Thomson

The quote above contains the key to explaining why single wire currents seem to have negligible magnetic fields.

HYPOTHESIS: Single wire currents have a magnetic field, but exert only a negligible magnetic force, because the lines of force are pointing in the direction of propagation

According to Thomson’s water analogy, if the magnetic field lines move in the direction of propagation, only a negligible amount of “water” is carried by them, and so no significant magnetic force will be present.

This lack of magnetic force explains why a magneto ammeter is only able to measure a fraction of the current one would expect, as the method of operation of such a meter depends on electromagnetic induction, which in turn requires a magnetic force.

Here it becomes important to realize that electrical power is transmitted, even though traditional meters are unable to register a conduction current.

This can be shown by adding a receiving device which transforms the single wire current back into a regular conduction current.

Two known ways to achieve this transformation are:

  1. Using a resonantly coupled receiver, like a Tesla Coil
  2. Using an Avramenko diode plug

Longitudinal Waves

Staying with the water analogy, oceans contain both transverse surface waves, where water moves up and down, as well as longitudinal pressure waves underwater, like in a tsunami.

When it comes to electromagnetism, though, scientists have somewhere along the line concluded that only transverse EM waves exist.

Radio waves are an example of transverse EM waves.

The great mathematician Oliver Heaviside, who simplified Maxwell’s 20 original equations into the four still used today, mentioned that…

“There are no ‘longitudinal’ waves in Maxwell’s theory.”

Oliver Heaviside

Maxwell in turn refers back to Faraday, saying…

“The conception of the propagation of transverse magnetic disturbances to the exclusion of normal ones is distinctly set forth by Professor Faraday in his “Thoughts on Ray Vibrations.”

James Clerk Maxwell

However, in the previous section we read that J.J. Thomson, describing Faraday’s work, said that longitudinal “disturbances” do exist, but that these simply do not exert a significant magnetic force.

The physicist Hermann von Helmholtz had “a rival electrodynamic theory, which predicted longitudinal waves in addition to the transverse waves predicted by Maxwell.”

Heinrich Hertz was a student of Helmholtz, and is also thought to believe in the existence of longitudinal waves.

Modern researchers and experimenters, like Avramenko, Zaev, Kasyanov, and Dollard, all conclude that the single wire currents are in fact longitudinal in nature.

HYPOTHESIS: Single wire currents are longitudinal in nature

This hypothesis fits with the previous idea that the field lines are moving longitudinally, in the direction of propagation, causing minimal “drag” and therefore minimal magnetic force.

Longitudinal waves require an elastic medium to propagate, so either the aether exists after all and the infamous Michaelson & Morely experiment was flawed, or electricity itself is a gaseous or fluid medium that can be polarized.

Tesla researcher Ernst Willem van den Bergh believes the latter is the correct view, and said that electricity is a gaseous medium that clings to matter.

Energy Outside The Wire

We usually speak of electricity “inside a wire”, but what if the energy is in fact stored and transmitted outside of it?

“[magnetic fields] are supposed to be set up by the current in the wire. We reverse this; the current in the wire is set up by the energy transmitted through the medium around It.”

Oliver Heaviside

“On starting a current, the energy reaches the wire from the medium without.”

Oliver Heaviside

“[Energy is] being delivered into a wire from the dielectric outside.”

Oliver Heaviside

The above quotes from Oliver Heaviside paint an interesting picture, where energy is stored in the fields around a conductor.

HYPOTHESIS: Electromagnetic energy is contained in the fields surrounding the wire, and doesn’t flow through the wire, but along and into it.

So an electron current is not the cause, but the effect of a transverse movement of the medium around a conductor.

It is also worth mentioning displacement current here, which was proposed by Maxwell to explain the transmission of AC through a capacitor.

Displacement current is not an electric current of moving charges, but a time-varying electric field.

Since the displacement current between two capacitor plates also travels outside of a solid conductor, it could have properties similar to the longitudinal waves we have been discussing here, or even be one and the same.

This possibility becomes especially enthralling when you consider that by transmitting power between two Tesla Coils, we essentially transmit between two capacitor plates, namely the top loads of the two coils.

A Simple Thought Experiment

According to the single wire current theory so far, we hypothesize that:

  1. Magnetic lines of force point in the direction of propagation
  2. Transmission is longitudinal
  3. Energy is contained in the fields around the wire

Lets put these together and make some inferences using a simple thought experiment.

Imagine a wire (the conductor), with around that a bead (a unit of electromagnetic energy).

If we move the bead transversely (up and down), the wire will experience stress, since it is bending and resisting the movement of the bead.

This stress creates friction, and this friction creates heat (Joulean losses).

If we instead move the bead longitudinally, along the wire, there is no stress on the wire, so no friction, and no heat.

In other words, the superconductive properties attributed to single wire currents by other researchers are hereby explained.

Transverse waves interact significantly with the conductor by having their magnetic field cut through the conductor, inducing an electron current, and causing ohmic losses.

On the other hand, longitudinal waves simply use the conductor as a waveguide, and their magnetic field does not cut through, but is guided along it, resulting in zero skin depth, no resistance, no heating, no conductor current, but only a displacement current in the surrounding dielectric.

This also explains why adding large series resistors, capacitors, or inductors to a single wire line does not significantly alter the amount of power at the receiving end.

The Curious Case of the Incandescent Bulb

So far, the proposed theory fits with the experimental evidence.

However, one curious case stands out:

If these single wire currents generate only negligible electron currents and therefore no real heat, then how can experimenters still use these currents to light up incandescent bulbs?

It seems like Nikola Tesla has the answer for us.

“There seem to be no other causes to which the incandescence might be attributed in such case except to the bombardment or similar action of the residual gas, or of particles of matter in general.”

Nikola Tesla, On Light and Other High Frequency Phenomena

If this is correct, this would mean we should possibly even be able to light up an incandescent bulb with a broken filament.


Based on the theory put forth in this article, we can make several predictions, which can then in turn be confirmed or falsified by experiments.

  1. Due to minimal Joulean losses, megawatts of power can be transmitted over a single wire only a couple of millimeters in diameter
  2. Due to the minimal magnetic force, only a resonantly coupled coil will work as a receiver in a single wire transmission system
  3. Incandescent bulbs with broken filaments can be lit up using single wire currents of sufficient voltage and frequency to cause significant molecular bombardment
  4. While single wire currents have superconductive properties, they cannot be used in superconductive magnets, due to their lack of magnetic force

Closing Thoughts

In this article I have endeavoured to lay out a theory, built on the words of the pioneers of electromagnetism, that explains the curious results of the many single wire power transmission experiments that have been performed by researchers from around the world.

While this theory could easily be completely wrong, I still find it important to put it out there, even if it was just to start a discussion and to organize my thoughts, as I am yet to find a competing, substantiated, coherent theory.

It is also important to heed Nassim Taleb’s warning:

“Mere absence of nonsense may not be sufficient to make something true.”

Nassim Taleb

So use this theory as a starting point for your own research, but know that it is most likely flawed.

And if you do find any flaws, please let me know in the comments, so we can start a discussion.

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  1. You can exchange the single copper wire with a thin cylinder of highly dielectric material, and given necessary high voltage as excitation from one end, a wave of voltage reaches the other end. We experimented this and it worked, opening still more room to justify Tesla’s World System alltogether, and not single wire itself. This is why Tesla apparently didn’t bother introducing a single wire system for commercial purposes based on a copper wire, either suspended or buried: because it is superseeded at the start by the dielectric-only way of transmitting longitudinally.

  2. Other sparse thoughts:
    – it is important to notice that electron current in wires is always longitudinal. It’s the fields that are considered transverse. Given enough voltage and proper excitation, like in the single wire method by Tesla (and not in SWER or in the B-LINE you mentioned in an earlier article), the electrons *should* drift in the conductors in peculiarly different way with respect to DC and low freq AC. They drift in highly concentraded lumps followed by rarefaction and concentration and rarefaction, and so on, longitudinally. The fields in this case are longitudinal as well, but I won’t think that the magnetic is coaxial with the propagation. It’s the electric field which is, but I may be wrong. I just had these thoughts from a feeling, that can be wrong.
    – here comes the interesting consequence: if in front of the high voltage of the excitation source, you put a metal wire, you get longitudinal one wire energy propagation. But if you put a dielectric, an insulator so to speak, you get displacement current as you pointed out. The one that takes place in a capacitor. So if the excitation is a high voltage, you maybe choose a copper wire as a single wire, and be able to make those free electrons to drift in the metal in a longitudinal fashion. But if the excitation is a EXTREMELY high voltage, a more uncommon situation so to speak, then if you put ahead a dielectric you will obtain a polarization wave which is probably the very same thing we consider displacement current inside a capacitor. It is a general phenomenon that we have inscribed only in a subset of situations, and it ended being only a capacitor thing, which is not! THAT is the real deal. Propagation of displacement in dielectrics. This absolutely can be the real thing that Tesla wanted to do using ground as a dielectric, and shooting a big displacement wave in the planet able to reflect back for the whole distance.