A canna’ change the laws of physics

Scotty, The Naked Time, stardate 1704.3, Episode 7

Something Else That Doesn’t Add Up

Posted by apgaylard on December 30, 2007

Ben Goldacre’s review of his 2007 ‘Bad Science’ stories prompted me to check up on Ecowatts and their preposterous Thermal Energy Cell (TEC).  The claims made for this device range from violating the first law of thermodynamics to tapping in to an unknown source of energy within hydrogen atoms.  Either way, if true, someone should be booking flights to Stockholm.

Checking their website they have a terse press release responding to the ‘Bad Science’ coverage.  In part it says “…In July 2007, the power input measurements of the technology which was the subject of the Mail on Sunday article and BBC report, were verified by the National Physical Laboratory funded under a grant from the then Department of Trade and Industry…”

I had sought reassurances from the DTI’s sucessor organisation that this nonsense had not been funded from the public purse.  The UK’s Minister for Science and Innovation,  Ian Pearson, sent me a nice letter (dated 4th November 2007) outlining the involvement of the DTI’s energy group with Ecowatts.

It says that officials met with Ecowatts and explained to them the government funded programmes that were potentially available.  The letter concludes:

“…It was explained that for both programmes project proposals were assessed on their merits, against published criteria, by a panel of independent assessors.  I can confirm that, to date, no such project proposal has come forward from either “Ecowatts”  or “Gardener Watts” for funding and therefore they are not receiving funding support under these programmes

Now something doesn’t seem to add up here: If the Ecowatts TEC had been tested by the NPL in July why wasn’t this mentioned in the subsequent press coverage?  Where are these potential Nobel Prize winning results published?  How come the DTI claims not to have given funding support to Ecowatts?

Perhaps Ecowatts wanted to keep their best verification tests secret; perhaps the funding came from the DTI to NPL directly and was spent at their discretion; still, something here doesn’t seem to add up.  For a change it’s not just the TEC‘s energy balance.

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