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Irish Company Claims Free Energy 1125

Posted by samzenpus
from the and-a-robot-in-every-house dept.
raghus writes "An Irish company has thrown down the gauntlet to the worldwide scientific community to test a technology it has developed that it claims produces free energy. The company, Steorn, says its discovery is based on the interaction of magnetic fields and allows the production of clean, free and constant energy — a concept that challenges one of the basic rules of physics." I can't wait until I can use this free energy to power my flying car and heat my aquarium of mermaids.
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Irish Company Claims Free Energy

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  • don't think so... (Score:5, Informative)

    by professorhojo (686761) * on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:22PM (#15950460)
    This is ridiculous that anybody is taking this seriously. Look at the team bios or company history - they provide no information that lets you actually look into the history of the company or any individual's work history. Every single person was "at an Irish technology company" or "at a big 4 accounting firm", but never enough to actually do a Google search on them.

    However, they did leave some clues. If I look up the domain registration, the two addresses on the domain registration actually exist. One appears on a patent application from 6 years ago for credit card systems. The application was rejected for failing the "nonobvious" criteria and being too vague. This fits with their story of being a (apparently failed) technology company doing transactions.

    (The other address, by the way, is now the Gay HIV clinic in Dublin - I suspect that the CEO just used to work out of there, and it is now used for another purpose).

    So I'm with this either being a wacky publicity stunt. The names are too perfectly chosen so that nobody can actually research them, and the people look too much like actors...
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:22PM (#15950465) Journal
    I read about this many days ago and tried to register on their site as an academic tester. I never received log in information so I could not partake in reading their white papers. They had posted the challenge in the Economist and on their website, they claim three accomplishments which define their "free energy":
    1. The technology has a coefficient of performance greater than 100%.
    2. The operation of the technology (i.e. the creation of energy) is not derived from the degradation of its component parts.
    3. There is no identifiable environmental source of the energy (as might be witnessed by a cooling of ambient air temperature).
    I hope the coefficient is greater than 0.0001% over 100%. Although all their technology page says is that this alleged free energy solution has to do with magnets. Not much else.

    Furthermore, they claim they approached universities and educational institutions about validating their findings and recieved little or no support from them. Why wouldn't a university be eager to attach their name to it? Is it because of the patent?

    If you're interested in reading their patent, here is the application [freeenergynews.com] (pdf warning). If you just want to get the gist of it, visit the Pure Energy Systems Wiki [peswiki.com] complete with diagram. It looks like a way to block and unblock a strip holding magnets, thus creating magnetic flux around a piece of metal (driving the current I believe).
  • Is it marketing (Score:3, Informative)

    by amliebsch (724858) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:26PM (#15950496) Journal
    Could this be a viral marketing gimmick? I couldn't help but notice that the "o" in the company logo (that is also the website icon) looks rather familiar in shape and color to the Xbox 360 spiral [wargamer.com].
  • The process (assuming it work as described based on their publicised info) appears to have a simple energy source, magnetic fields.

    Of course, any first year electronics or physics student should be able to tell you that when you pull/use energy from a magnetic field, it still comes from somewhere else rather than being created from nothingness.

    In an electrical transformer, that source is the current passing through the wires and creating the magnetic field. In a rare earth magnet, the energy has been used to properly line up the atomic structure and gradually demagnitizes the source as it's used up. In the case of the very weak Earth's magnetic field, the main source is the Earth's rotation and the magnetic contents that are thus flowing/rotating inside. The Earth's magnetic field has decayed about 10-15% over the last 150 years, so I wouldn't count on that as a long-term source of free energy anyway.
  • by sterlingda (732011) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:42PM (#15950659) Homepage Journal
    Steorn to Push Tipping Point for Magnet Motor Technology [pesn.com] - To solidify the credentials of a radical, new energy approach, Irish Company intents to select jury of 12 hard-core skeptics with high academic qualifications to review existing data, then design testing procedure, test, and publish the results.

    Very nice guy. One of the most impressive groups I've encountered in my quest for legitimate free energy technlogy.
  • by Ironsides (739422) on Monday August 21, 2006 @04:00PM (#15950826) Homepage Journal
    It's believed to be due to an upcoming polar switch (North and South switch polarities). It's nothing new, it's happened many times in the past.
    National Geographic [nationalgeographic.com]
    NG#2 [nationalgeographic.com]
    CNN [cnn.com]
    Space.com [space.com]
    New Scientist [newscientist.com]

    Oh yeah, magnetic north (and probable south as well) is moving at an accelerating rate. The Magnetic North Pole is leaving Canada on it's way to Siberia.
    CNN [cnn.com]

    Enough sources for ya?
  • Re:Coefficiency (Score:5, Informative)

    by Otto (17870) on Monday August 21, 2006 @04:11PM (#15950920) Homepage Journal
    Most car AC units have an energy coefficiency of somewhere around 400% - for every one watt of power used four watts of heat are removed. So having greater than 100% isn't impossible.

    No, AC units (heat pumps) are not more than 100% efficent. This sort of incorrect statement is a mistake of terminology.

    A heating unit has a "Coefficent of Performance" (aka COP), which describes the ratio of heat output to the energy input. A resistive heater (say, your toaster) has a COP of exactly 1. Every bit of power going into it comes out of it as heat.

    Your heat pump (a car AC unit is just a heat pump, pumping heat out of the car) has a COP of 3 or 4, thus leading to the "400% efficent" terminology. It's not 400% efficent, it's just 4 times better as producing heat (or rather, moving heat from one area to another) than a resistive heater would be. The reason is can do this is that moving heat around requires a lot less work than producing it does.

    My point is that the terminology is not comparable. This sort of thing is claiming to produce energy without doing work, or at least, to produce more energy than the amount of work actually put into it. Not really the same thing at all.
  • 2) If it's true, someone will patent it and it won't be free - on the contrary, it will still somehow cost me as much as energy does now, as greed seems to outpace progress these days.


    If "it" is a natural phenomena, it is not subject to patent in the United States. Manual of Patent Examination Procedure - Section 2106 [bitlaw.com] If "it" is a machine that converts a natural phenomena into traditional energy like electricity, then that machine could be patented but nothing stops you from developing improvements to it or an entirely different machine. Regardless, the patent for that machine would expire 20 years from its filing date and would then become public domain.

    If you have a computer system on your desk, there are probably at least 100 different patented products on your desk. That hasn't barred you from owning and enjoying the technology, however. There would be an incredible demand for "free" energy, and therefore market forces would provide ample incentive for competing scientists to develop non-patented devices to harness that energy. Sure, there might be some nasty legal battles, but in the end the original inventor will be able to patent at best what he has contributed to the technology.

  • Interesting that most the comments are by scoffers and trolls. Anyways...

    I met a graduate-student/physicist some years back who was researching fusion physics. Cold fusion. He was really excited about his work, and said something about having to slightly change a paper he'd written because of results from a hot-fusion experiment that had recently been published. No major changes, because the hot-fusion experiment came out (failed?) just like he thought it would, but he had to mention it.

    There was a story a month back: The Energy of Empty Space != Zero [slashdot.org]. Cosmologists now say that matter-as-we-know-it only makes up between 4% and 7% of the universe. The rest is "dark matter" and "dark energy", "dark" because there's no appropriate candidates in the standard physical model. To me, this means that the standard model needs some serious revision, especially if there's no entry for 93-96% of the "stuff" in the universe.

    "Free Energy" devices such as the one referenced in the article are simply a way of tapping into the dark energy that interpenetrates everything. They're hard to get right because we don't have a very good understanding of the principles involved, and the institutions that derive their power from the Energy Wars (The Exxon-Mobil/BP/Shell wing of the Military-Industrial complex) use their might to suppress any innovation which might make them irrelevant.

    The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe [amazon.com] goes into the history of research into "Zero Point Field".

    Mizuno has often talked about the prehistory of cold fusion. Most great discoveries are visited and revisited many times before someone stakes a permanent claim. People sometimes stumble over a new discovery without even realizing what they see. Mizuno did his graduate and post graduate work on corrosion using highly loaded metal hydrides. His experiments were almost exactly like those of cold fusion, but they were performed for a different purpose. In retrospect, he realized that he saw anomalous events that may have been cold fusion. At the time he could not determine the cause, he did not imagine it might be fusion, and he had to leave the mystery unsolved. No scientist has time to track down every anomaly. I expect many people saw and disregarded evidence for cold fusion over the years. Mizuno makes a provocative assertion. He says that long before 1989 he wondered whether the immense pressure of electrolysis might produce "some form of fusion." He says: "This kind of hypothesis would occur to any researcher studying metal and hydrogen systems. It is not a particularly profound or outstanding idea. It never occurred to me to pursue the matter and research this further." He appears to downplay the role of Pons and Fleischmann. Perhaps he exaggerates when he says "any researcher" would think of it, but on the other hand Paneth and Peters and others did investigate this topic in the 1920s. ...

    -source [world-mysteries.com] (emphasis added)


  • by Alan Hicks (660661) on Monday August 21, 2006 @04:57PM (#15951248) Homepage
    In modern society, the best and easiest way to acquire large sums of money is to inherit it.

    While inheriting wealth is certainly the easiest way to be rich, it isn't the "best" way as the vast majority of wealthy people did not inherit their money. From a quick google search I found this from globalpolicy.org [globalpolicy.org].

    The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose 24% last year, while many overseas markets rose even more, accounting for much of the gains for the wealthy. In the U.S., the Bush tax cuts, which included a reduction in the top tax rate, as well as reductions in taxes on estates, capital gains and dividends, also helped bolster the fortunes of the fortunate. A 2002 study by Capgemini found that more than half of the high-net-worth individuals in the U.S. were "new money," or self-made millionaires. Inherited money is declining as a share of wealth in the U.S., according to the study, accounting for less than 20% of high-net-worth individuals in 2002.
    So 80+% of all millionaires in America are "new money".
  • by Forge (2456) <kevinforge@NOSPAm.gmail.com> on Monday August 21, 2006 @05:11PM (#15951331) Homepage Journal
    Ohm... When you burn Hydrogen in air the "waste product" is water.

    That's what makes this virtually free energy. At the end of the process you get back the water you started with.
  • by the Brightside (945745) on Monday August 21, 2006 @05:24PM (#15951423) Homepage
    Terry Pratchett's Discworld books, I think, is where it comes from.
  • Mod down odious twat (Score:4, Informative)

    by Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) on Monday August 21, 2006 @05:27PM (#15951452) Homepage

    I'm not going to follow in your footsteps by making any assumptions about your nationality, twerp, but here, for your edification... [wikipedia.org]

    Thats a list of credits that includes Boyles Law, high speed photography, modern electrocardiogram, X-ray crystallography, Boolean algebra, the basis of all modern computer arithmetic, the induction coil and discovering the principle of the dynamo, leading a team that discovered a treatment for leprosy, 'Fitzgerald-Lorenz Contraction', 'Stokes Theorem' and Stokes-Navier Equations', the hypodermic needle, Kelvin, aaaaand naming the 'electron' and measured its charge.

    Here is your ass. You're welcome.

  • by bgog (564818) * on Monday August 21, 2006 @05:39PM (#15951538) Journal
    They say they NEED scientific validation in order to get this into peoples every day lives. WHY? If you create a laptop battery that never goes dead, people will buy it. Let them question how it works later. I mean really. Sell me something that can run my car forever for free and people will buy it. You are just copping out because the scientific community is never going to accept this until you simply prove it by releasing a product. It is too far from accepted scientific fact.
  • by lbrandy (923907) on Monday August 21, 2006 @05:46PM (#15951601)
    If you could create a small (as in portable) device that can separate Water molecules into the atomic components and burn the resulting Hydrogen for energy, cool.

    Except that we're destroying the planet's water supply to get it.

    Uhm, hello? My name is high school chemistry:
    2H2 + 02 = 2H20

    Please note that "burning" hydrogen doesn't "destroy" the water supply. It creates it.
  • by stunt_penguin (906223) on Monday August 21, 2006 @05:58PM (#15951688)
    Okay skipping the whole thing about the fact that you have to separate the hydrogen and oxygen before burning them, and totally ignoring the fact you have no idea what you're talking about, I'd like to point out that 500MW is a unit of power (1 joule of energy produced/consumed per second), not energy (which is measured in joules).

    You might get 500 megajoules out of a kilo of hydrogen, but (very roughly) that's nowhere near enough to last you through the day.

    1 liter of petrol (gasoline) contains 34.3 million joules of energy. If I hand you a barrell of the stuff will that do you for the rest of your life?

    The only way of getting enough energy out of a kilo of hydrogen to get anyone through a full day is fusion, and they're working on that, very hard in fact.
  • by wurp (51446) on Monday August 21, 2006 @06:05PM (#15951724) Homepage
    A magnetic field doesn't get "used up" by applying force to charged particles. I mean, it is possible for a magnetized object to become demagnetized by either the small magnetized bits ceasing to be aligned (in permanent magnets) or by the cessation of current (in electromagnets). But a particle moving through a magnetic field experiences a force at right angles to the motion and the field, and that force doesn't use up any energy from the magnetic field. (Work is done by a force acting over a distance, and when the force is at right angles to the movement it causes. This is the same reason no energy is taken from the earth's gravitational field (if that even means anything) by an object in orbit.)

    My problem is not that you're claiming that a magnetic field can go away, and yield energy when it does - that's true. But that has nothing to do with the inability to extract infinite energy from moving something around in a magnetic field.

    Another note - charged subatomic particles (and some uncharged) have a magnetic field that is utterly constant. This wouldn't be possible if "magnetic energy" was used up somehow by a magnetic field applying force to a charged particle.

    When you "pull energy from a magnetic field", it generally comes from energy of motion of the objects involved, not from some kind of energy in the magnetic field. E.g. the energy of motion of electrons is confered to move some axle in a motor, or energy of motion of permanent magnets is confered to move electrons in a generator.
  • by susano_otter (123650) on Monday August 21, 2006 @06:25PM (#15951883) Homepage
    Sorry, I'm not sure where you're seeing hostility in my reply.

    I certainly didn't feel hostile when I wrote it, only helpful.

    Why the paranoia?
  • by electroniceric (468976) on Monday August 21, 2006 @06:28PM (#15951911)
    Also for those who LOVE hydrogen as a fuel, remember, water vapor is a greenhouse gas.
    ... with a 10 day or so residence time. I think your warning is legit, but for different reasons than the ones you cite. While I'm not holding out for a hydrogen economy any time soon (far too much infrastructure would need to be changed), I think the environmental problems you see would be mostly local - the relative humidity in places like Phoenix has already been driven up by the use of swamp coolers in people's house - waste steam replacing CO2 would take that to a whole new and likely detrimental level. But the variability of the hydrologic cycle and the short residence time make water a lot less powerful lever for pulling on the atmosphere than carbon, with it's much more stable cycle and long residence time. Confusion over this what allows people to make the bogus case that because water vapor is the most prevalent greenhouse gas, carbon-driven global warming can't possibly be anthropogenic.
  • by It'sYerMam (762418) <thefishface@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Monday August 21, 2006 @06:29PM (#15951918) Homepage
    Slashdot didn't "fall" for it; if you read the blurb at the top there is an equally skeptical slant. Slashdot simply reports the presence of certain unlikely claims.
  • by furriskey (157207) on Monday August 21, 2006 @06:34PM (#15951957)
    What a comic! You should give up your day job as a troll!

    Science and Technology graduates per thousand in the 20-29 age group.
    Ireland 23.2
    France 19.6
    UK 16.2
    USA 10.2
    Germany 8.2
    Portugal 6.3
    Netherlands 5.8

    Source - IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook, 2006
  • by JourneyExpertApe (906162) on Monday August 21, 2006 @06:35PM (#15951970)
    Nevermind the fact that the idea of burning H2 generated from water to generate energy is ridiculous. Burning H2 in air isn't totally pollution free. Some of the nitrogen in the air will oxidize to produce nitrogen oxides, which in turn form acids when they dissolve in water. Fuel cells, on the other hand, generate electricity by oxidizing hydrogen at low temperature, and don't pollute.
  • Not impossible (Score:4, Informative)

    by elgatozorbas (783538) on Monday August 21, 2006 @06:47PM (#15952041)
    "What we have developed is a way to construct magnetic fields so that when you travel round the magnetic fields, starting and stopping at the same position, you have gained energy," McCarthy said.

    This is quite possible, since the magnetic field is not conservative (=the energy energy is only determined by the position). Example of a conservative field: gravitation, because if a mass goes up and down a hill it has a net energy gain of zero.

    Not so for movement in a magnetic field. You can compare this to a whirlpool: if you drop something in it will spin round and round faster and faster, so clearly its energy is not detemined by the position alone.n In fact this is more or less how electromotors/dynamos work (or could work).

    "The energy isn't being converted from any other source such as the energy within the magnet. It's literally created. Once the technology operates it provides a constant stream of clean energy,"

    This, however is bollocks: classical mechanics and electromagnetism form a pretty closed system. I'm not saying the conservation of energy principle cannot ever be broken (though this would be surprising) but in any way it can never be broken withing the classical system, i.e. using only mechanics and electromagnetism.

  • by moonbender (547943) <moonbenderNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday August 21, 2006 @06:54PM (#15952090)
    Also for those who LOVE hydrogen as a fuel, remember, water vapor is a greenhouse gas.

    True. And it's released by normal combustion, too. That's what happens to the hydro in hydrocarbon... Water vapor release is mostly a problem when it's done at high altitudes, ie. by airplanes.
  • Nice guy. NICE GUY?? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ayanami Rei (621112) * <rayanamiNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday August 21, 2006 @07:13PM (#15952184) Journal
    That's all you have to say in his defense?
    Mod this down on principle, thanks.

    I'd like to see the field equations where they show you being able to end up with more potential energy than you started with. You know, a time-parameterized finite element analysis in three-dimensional space with suitable boundary conditions. They say they accomplished this on paper "in software".
    WELL THEY COULD JUST VERY WELL RELEASE THOSE RESULTS

    But no. No. They want to do a "demo" with a "jury".

    That's what magicians do in Vegas.

    Utter bullshit. MOD THIS DOWN.
  • by BlueCoder (223005) on Monday August 21, 2006 @07:55PM (#15952403)
    You said it. From which they will select twelve, their 12. Not famous nobel winning scientists with something to lose. Hence their tech will be confirmed and enough people out of the people that register to recieve the results will be duped into developing the tech. Classic fud.
  • by electroniceric (468976) on Monday August 21, 2006 @08:13PM (#15952478)
    Two reasons:
    One is that it shows that water vapor is a feedback, not a forcing. If the supply wasn't constantly being refreshed it would fall out in a matter of weeks. That's basically saying it's a transient phenomenon representing an adjustment to equilibrium. This is unlike carbon, where if the supply wasn't constantly refreshed it would fall out on timescale far longer than those of present interest to humans (and as far as we know this essentially requires biota to sequester it, hence the Gaia hypothesis). This timescale distinction is frequently used to distinguish between forcing and response in a system (waves generally being considered response, and other changes forcing).

    The second is that on human-centric timescales there is a clearly a large-amplitude "sink" of water (i.e. lots of water leaves the atmosphere). The amplitude of the natural sink of carbon is much lower and therefore we can accumulate a meaningful amount more easily.
  • FWIW (Score:3, Informative)

    by jspayne (98716) <jeff@payAUDENnesplace.com minus poet> on Monday August 21, 2006 @08:18PM (#15952502) Homepage
    Apparently, someone on Engadget (who posted this story [engadget.com]two days ago) claims [engadget.com] that a UK University put this device to the test - and it appears to do as it claims:

    Hi, Let me tell you a little story - I am based in the Phyiscs Dept of a UK Uni (nameless as there are Non Disclosure Agreements in place), but we were asked to test this Steorn system - Now I wasnt working myself on this but was asked to look at the results - Simlpy put there was an "anomaly" in the results that we were at a lost to explain - this "anomaly" was that the design of the test system, (where we were given Steorn designs but purchased all components ourselves, biult it, tested, etc,) was that there appears to be a net energy gain when you move through the magnetics fields... We stated to Steorn that this "anomaly" required further examination. this was 6 months ago and we cannot find where this excess energy in the system is coming from... We are at a lost to explain it... But magnetics is admittently a bit of a grey area, we know the capabilities of electromagnetism but this is an area that hasnt had the same level of academic research as for example DNA sequencing, astrophysics, etc... the scientific community and industry knew how to create electricity and we left it at that - magnetics is a neglected part of our natural world and the Steorn "anomaly" has left our Dept quite baffled as we are left at a loss to explain it in Classical terms... I await what the rest of our community says when they have an opportunity to see this Steon system... S

    Could be Astroturfing, but then again...you never know...

  • by Sage Gaspar (688563) on Monday August 21, 2006 @10:08PM (#15953003)
    I'm not going to link up everything, especially since the page seems to be well and down just recently, but here's the plot thus far: company formerly specializing in tech promotions and stuff (not any actual development from what I've read) goes underground for a couple years and resurfaces on April 1 for a Guardian article as per their website. This article does not exist in the online archives of the Guardian. Other press releases are all listed as being announced today, even though they ostensibly happened since last Christmas -- this is one ramshackle website for a long-established tech company to be announcing a major technology on.

    There is a website SteornWatch.com that came up seemingly hours after the initial press, was linked to in the forums available on the steorn website (why do they have forums again?), and contains absolutely no useful information or any popular theories about steorn.com. Steornwatch has a disclaimer saying they are not affiliated with steorn, Citigate D.R., or any of their subsidiaries. Who is Citigate D.R.? You'd have no idea from the steorn.com website, but "Citigate Dewe Rogerson is the leading international consultancy specialising exclusively in financial and corporate communications. Its work for clients, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups, focuses on developing and building corporate brands and actively managing corporate reputations, with all stakeholder groups from capital markets to consumers." How does steornwatch.com know about this firm, and why would they put it in the disclaimer and not mention what it has to do with steorn on their steorn exposé page?

    Where are the actual people who came up with this? Did a group of marketing agents and publicists put their heads together and decide to create a free energy device someday? None of their "key players" is touted as being any kind of scientist or having come up with the machine itself.

    All of this smells fishy even if they had something that wasn't an incredibly controversial scientific breakthrough up for grabs. And with people probing the viral marketing a lot now, this kind of thing is bound to come up. Burden of proof is on them, and so far I'm not impressed.
  • by StikyPad (445176) on Monday August 21, 2006 @10:23PM (#15953055) Homepage
    The third is this thing called "relative humidity," and whenever you approach 100%, it tends to do things like rain.
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday August 21, 2006 @10:32PM (#15953089) Homepage
    Their patent application number is 20060066428, which you can look up at the USPTO site. The title is "Low energy magnetic actuator"

    "A low energy magnet actuator allows magnetic fields to be turned on and off using a small amount of energy. The magnetic actuator according to the invention generally includes a base suitable for the support of a plurality of magnets. An actuatable shield is positioned in relation to the plurality of magnets so that it effectively blocks the magnetic field when it is positioned over at least one of the magnets. The magnetic fields of the plurality of magnets interact in a manner that allows low energy actuation of the shield."

    It's just a thing for shielding a magnet with another piece of metal. The patent application does not claim an energy gain.

    I was really hoping they'd claimed an energy gain, which might trigger the USPTO's answer to perpetual motion machines. The USPTO has the right to ask for a working model, but they very seldom exercise it. Except for perpetual motion machines and antigravity machines.

    The application has been assigned to an examiner, and is in routine processing.

  • by Fordiman (689627) <fordiman@gmCOLAail.com minus caffeine> on Monday August 21, 2006 @11:53PM (#15953369) Homepage Journal
    Actually, the common way to separate water is:

    2(H2O) + (elec) > 2(H2) + O2

    Which is then burned via the reverse reaction:

    2(H2) + O2 > 2(H2O) + Heat

    (Not, of course counting the starter heat, and not specifying the electrical charge necessary.)

    Here's a fun related project:
    http://www.instructables.com/id/E0CW2Q49SAEPORT5QF /

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