Free Energy or Almost Free Publicity?

Posted by on August 21, 2006 at 6:49 am.

Given the investment potential growing in Florida and elsewhere for alternative energy, and a personal curiosity about Nikola Tesla, I’ve been digging into the energy space for awhile now. With the ethanol bandwagon getting crowded (even I jumped at $33 ADM [Archer Daniels Midland]), I keep looking for that surprise entrant.

That search has led me to a variety of technologies that sound part gold, part snake oil. A local version of that is Clearwater, FL-based Hydrogen Technology Applications and their Aquygen gas derived from water. Heck, the guy has created a hybrid Ford Escort and Ranger running with this stuff. However, it’s not clear whether this is a remarketing of Brown’s Gas or something materially different. In either case, with the world searching for fossil-fuel alternatives, the company has gotten plenty of press.

That leads me to a recent, farther away, version of the wild-energy-claims-equals-press meme. Dublin, Ireland-based Steorn threw down the gauntlet last week in the Economist — challenging the scientific community to test their Free Energy system. That’s right, Steorn is claiming one of those inventions the patent office won’t even allow — a machine that produces more energy than it consumes. They’ve asked for a volunteer jury of twelve qualified experimental physicists to define the tests required to validate Steorn’s claims, select the test centers to be used, monitor the analysis and then publish the results. I wish my companies could get free QA that way. I’ve registered to get the results, but my expectations are not high. Engadget, iCamp and others share a dim view.

I hope our skepticism is misplaced, but if they don’t get rich on energy Steorn could have a future in PR…

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