Is a Free Energy Source on the Horizon?

Steorn's marketing campaignSteorn's marketing campaignFrance is known for its artists, Germany for its conductors, Italy for its opera singers, England for its thespians, and Ireland for its literary giants. Names like James Joyce, Seamus Heaney, Maeve Binchy, and William Butler Yeats roll off the tongue when we discuss that brilliantly contemplative, Guinness-drenched country.

However, Ireland may soon take its place on the world stage as the next scientific wonderland. In the 1990s, it made a name for itself as the technology capital of Western Europe; and now, budding from kernels planted in the era of the Celtic Tiger, is a new discovery that could potentially overhaul everything we think we know about science. Free energy: free energy that breaks the first law of thermodynamics and will turn the world on its head if the rumors are true. (Click here to read the Gizmag article.)

Steorn logoSteorn logoDublin-based company, Steorn, was founded in 2000 to develop e-commerce sites. That market soon took a dip and Steorn expanded its services to include forensic research for the Irish government. In the process of developing a more economical micro-generator in 2003, engineers and scientists at the company apparently stumbled upon what looks to be a scientific anomaly. They claim their experiments show dramatically higher energy yields than the input will allow under current scientific thinking. The first law of thermodynamics is essentially:

output = input – work or dU = dQ – dW.

As we might remember from ninth grade science class, the law of the conservation of energy states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only change form. Well, according to Steorn, their tests involving magnetic fields display output that is up to 400% greater than the input minus work. In other words, energy is created. Quite a bit, in fact.
Steorn CEO Sean McCarthySteorn CEO Sean McCarthy
In August 2006, Steorn issued a full-page ad in “The Economist” magazine challenging the scientific world to evaluate their findings. The company is in the process of choosing a 12 person panel composed of the most qualified of the thousands of bidding scientists. That panel should be established and announced within the next couple of weeks. Once it’s in place, three phases of testing will ensue that Steorn hopes will establish its place among the pioneering elite.

But scientific glory doesn’t seem to be everything to this team. Their promotional video (see it on hints at a social awareness of what free energy might mean to the developing world. There’s also a keen awareness that, if their technology is proven solid, they’ll have a multi-billion dollar energy industry coming at them full-steam. Innovators, particularly in the automotive industry, who brave tackling that beast regularly find their work suppressed.

Steorn’s not the only player in the free energy game. A California-based company called Magnetic Power, Inc. has been working on a similar technology for the past few years. Their web site says, “Our own laboratory results confirm what Steorn is saying.” The online letter from Magnetic Power Inc.’s chairman and CEO lends enthusiastic support to the Irish company. There seems to be camaraderie in facing scientific skeptics and economic giants.

Free energy would be convenient, easy on the wallet, and environmentally safe. No more gas station stops, no more laptop recharges, no more high heat bills, no political arguments about emissions standards. But if it turns out our paradigm for how the laws of thermodynamics operate is turned on its head, there will surely be other consequences in all realms of study. Historically, when a scientific law is challenged and overturned a new understanding of humanity’s place in the cosmos emerges. But that’s another story for a future blog, if indeed Steorn triumphs. For now, we’ll pray the luck of the Irish lends itself to this revolutionary company as it dips its toe in a charged global discussion.

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Nov 7, 2006
by Michelle
Michelle's picture

Fixed it...thanks for the

Fixed it...thanks for the comment

Nov 10, 2006
by Anonymous (not verified)

fairly sure this was shown

fairly sure this was shown to be a hoax.. as if anyone irish even knows how to spell the word science.

Dec 2, 2006
by Pentcho Valev (not verified)


"If the second law of thermodynamics were false, a ship would be able to travel at the expense of the heat of the ocean." This argument is typical of the era of Postscientism in which science is just money. The argument is invalid: if the second law is false travelling would still be impossible since the ocean and the ship would be at almost the same temperature and in such almost isothermal conditions the heat exchange would be extremely slow.

In another era (or in a different world) the question would be: Are isothermal heat engines possible, although no money can be extracted from them? In our world the silent but unanimous answer is: Who cares. In the other world aliens would study isothermal heat engines diligently and may even find a way to resolve the slow-heat-exchange problem and ease the energy crisis.

Pentcho Valev

Dec 8, 2006
by Pentcho Valev (not verified)


Heat never flows spontaneously from cold to hot. In Clausius' 1850 language this statement would take the form:

X: It is impossible, without any expenditure of force or any other change, to transfer heat from a cold to a hot body.

X is a true statement and therefore its negation, not-X, is false:

Not-X: It is possible, without any expenditure of force or any other change, to transfer heat from a cold to a hot body.

If not-X is a corollary of the statement Y, then Y is false and not-Y is true. So in 1850 Clausius deduced a version of the second law of thermodynamics:

Not-Y: Reversible heat engines working between the same two temperatures have the same efficiency. (Y: Reversible heat engines working between the same two temperatures have different efficiencies.)

The problem was (and still is) that not-X is NOT a corollary of Y. Clausius did not deduce anything. He just laid the foundations of the huge edifice of irrationality that crushed science but proved extremely profitable for the builders.

Pentcho Valev