The quest to build a perpetual motion machine has been around for at least 400 years; for a perpetual motion machine to be “perpetual”, it has to generate more energy than it consumes – if it did not, the energy lost in overcoming friction and in heat generation would leave insufficient energy to drive the machine and it would stop. The problem is, a perpetual motion machine violates the first and possibly the second law of thermodynamics, two foundational laws of physics.
An early effort to generate a perpetual motion machine was the Water Screw.
It was a dismal failure.
In fact all attempts at a perpetual motion machine have been dismal failures and, today, no one bothers to try – we all believe those laws of thermodynamics.
Everyone, that is, but an Irishman call Sean McCarthy, CEO of Steorn, who claims to have discovered some hitherto unknown property of electromagnetism that allows a generator to produce more energy than is fed in to power it, essentially creating a free energy source. The only tiny problem is that the generator violates the first law of thermodynamics – meaning it is impossible.
Early attempts to demonstrate a working model of this Orbo – as it is called – machine failed in 2007 to howls of derision from sceptics. The Orbo generator is fed from a battery which it, in turn, recharges; with an intact 1st law of thermodynamics, less energy must be generated than consumed and so the battery will run down and the machine stop. Not so for Orbo, says Sean McCarthy because it uses “time variant magnetic interactions, i.e. magnetic interactions whose efficiency varies as a function of transaction timeframes.” No, I have no idea what that is either, but Steorn attempts to explain:
It is this variation of energy exchanged as a function of transaction time frame that lies at the heart of Orbo technology, and its ability to contravene the principle of the conservation of energy. Why? Conservation of energy requires that the total energy exchanged using interactions are invariant in time. This principle of time invariance is enshrined in Noether’s Theorem.
The time variant nature of Orbo interactions can be engineered using two basic techniques. The first technique utilizes a method of controlling the response time of magnetic materials to make them time variant. This is achieved by controlling the MH position of materials during permanent magnetic interactions.
The second technique decouples the Counter Electromotive Force (CEMF) from torque for electromagnetic interactions. This decoupling of CEMF allows time variant magnetic interactions in electromagnetic systems.
That didn’t help me, much, but I know from the comments on my blog that most readers are much brighter than I, so I expect someone will understand.
Wired had some critical things to say about the initial 2007 demonstration and seems to be convinced that there is a “man behind the curtain” making the allegedly successful 2009 version of the generator work. You can see it for yourself as a live stream on the Steorn website along with some other experiments and talks.
There is a December 2009 experiment that can be viewed and a January 2010 experiment still to come. The December experiment shows a more or less conventional DC motor with a permanent magnet rotor and a stator wound with toroidal coils; this is an odd choice since toroidal wound coils produce a small external magnetic field and so make very inefficient motors. Nevertheless, it does appear to run and, unless the whole exercise is a hoax, produces no back EMF – something else that should be impossible.
So, Sean McCarthy is either a conman busy making a useless 21st C perpetual Water Screw, or is about to be everyone’s hero – except Al Gore’s whose green energy companies would lose billions; for that reason alone I am cheering on McCarthy.
Watch the videos – they are interesting. Here’s the Orbo for dummies video: