I did not realize that I was missing a controversy until a good friend (thanks Cameron) asked me what I thought about Steorn’s claim to have discovered a way to create “free” energy.
I did a quick Google search and found some interesting reports about a small Irish company that claims to have found a way to produce energy from permanent magnets and a rotor. Though I am not a physicist nor a registered engineer, that method sure sounded familiar – magnets and moving cores (normally rotors) are the basic components of all electrical generators.
After reading several stories, viewing the company web site, and watching an informative video from Sky.com titled Race On To Prove Free Energy, I think I can safely keep working on the Adams Engine.
I am not a curious enough person to want to figure out exactly what is going on as Steorn’s highly polished and balanced rotor steps between positions where Steorn engineers have carefully placed permanent magnets. I might even decide to push my “I believe” button and accept that the device produces more energy than it takes to move the rotor from position to position. There might be a source of cosmic or space energy of which I am not aware.
However, my base reaction is “so what do you do now?” The carefully balanced and machined rotor and permanent magnets used in Steorn’s device are certainly not available for free, and it appears that Steorn has been working for at least three years to try to increase the power output of its device. There is no indication or claim in their Economist advertisement or on their web site that indicates just HOW MUCH energy each device will create. My guess is that the power output is still tiny. My question is how long will the device have to run before the useful energy that it produces makes it worth the cost of the device?
In many ways this device has a lot in common with wind and solar power – the cost is not in the energy source but in the devices that must be built to collect and process the diffuse energy to make it useful for changing human lives.
My warning to Steorn and any potential investors is to remember that patents have no value at all if there is no one that wants to build the device that is patented. The right conferred by a patent is the right of the originator of an idea to prevent others from using that idea (without some kind of agreement that normally includes a licensing fee) for a period of time. It is a government granted monopoly with the payback to the government of increasing the overall understanding of the world.
(P.S. I apologize for not including a link to Steorn’s web site, but you can find it easily enough. I just could not bring myself to help the poor lads increase traffic to their web site.)