Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Another Free Energy Claim

This one came up in a forum that I frequent, but the original article was in Yahoo news. An Irish company called Steorn claims to have developed a free energy technology. Now, they’re challenging the world to prove they didn’t.

DUBLIN (AFP) - 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.

The rule in question, of course, is the thermodynamic principle of conservation of energy: no process produces more energy than it consumes. Steorn claims to have broken that rule, and such a big claim should come with equally big evidence. What evidence is Steorn providing?
Steorn issued its challenge through an advertisement in the Economist magazine this week quoting Ireland's Nobel prize-winning author George Bernard Shaw who said that "all great truths begin as blasphemies".

Sean McCarthy, Steorn's chief executive officer, said they had issued the challenge for 12 physicists to rigorously test the technology so it can be developed.

"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.

"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," he told Ireland's RTE radio.
So far I’m unimpressed. For starters, a magnet doesn’t contain energy (other than the inherent “heat” energy that all matter contains if its temperature is higher than absolute zero). A magnetic field is much like a gravitational field; an object moving through it can exchange energy with the magnet, just as an object moving through Earth’s gravitational field can exchange energy with the Earth. Spinning a coil around a magnet is a standard method of generating electricity, but you have to have some other kind of energy to spin the coil. You’re just changing one kind of energy into another, and losing some in the process due to inefficiency. McCarthy’s description doesn’t sound any different, in principle.

I doubt if physicists will rush to Steorn to test the technology based on this “challenge”. It’s up to Steorn to publish their research in some reputable scientific journals if they want scientific credibility. If they just want to make money, they should keep their discovery to themselves until it’s marketable. Instead of either of the sensible approaches, they’ve come out with a publicity stunt, which never bodes well.

No comments: