A canna’ change the laws of physics

Scotty, The Naked Time, stardate 1704.3, Episode 7

Posts Tagged ‘First Law of Thermodynamics’

A Bad Day at the Office

Posted by apgaylard on February 14, 2008

The BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU) has upheld the main thrust of my complaint about the coverage of Ecowatts’ so-called Thermal Energy Cell by the Breakfast programme.   Just in case you have a life and have not been following this saga, here’s the story so far.

A small UK company called Ecowatts has been hawking around a magic water heater that they claim gives out more (heat) energy than it consumes (electricity). 

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Energy by Motion

Posted by apgaylard on January 5, 2008

 I’ve just come across the concept of “Energy By Motion“.  A Hungarian company (Gamma Manager) is claiming that an electromagnetic motor they have designed produces more electricity than is required to run it.

In fact PESWiki reports that the company “…allegedly has a working 10 MW (continuous, self-sustaining, usable) prototype that is ready to go commercial…”.

They apparantly claim that 10MW of input will get you 15MW of electrical output.

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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…”

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Promoting The Impossible

Posted by apgaylard on October 19, 2007

It would seem that it’s not just newspapers that are prepared to believe whatever wild claims are made by purveyors of whacky technology.  BBC One’s Breakfast News carried a piece about Ecowatts‘ “Thermal Energy Cell“.  It comprised an interview with Ecowatts’ CEO Paul Calver.

To say that this was gentle would be an understatement.  There was absolutely no testing of his claims or remotely challenging questions.  You can see the piece on Ecowatts’ website.

Just compare some of the following statements, made by Mr Calver with what was already in the public domain; thanks to some very credulous reporting in the Daily Mail two days previously and a better article in the Daily Telegraph in 2003.

“… we have had this very carefully checked by a number of key universities to ensure that our measurements are right and our observations are correct…”

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Not Funding The Impossible

Posted by apgaylard on October 19, 2007

I recently commented on the Daily Mail‘s coverage of Ecowatts‘ “Thermal Energy Cell“.  This device was said to violate almost “…every known law of physics ...” and to produce “…150 to 200 per cent more energy …” than is put in without much difficulty.  Nice.  Nobel Prizes to follow in due course then?

Aside from the small matter of the sleight against the first law of thermodynamics, one of the comments in the article that concerned me was: “…The project, which has cost the company £1.4million, has the backing of the Department of Trade and Industry, which is keen to help poorer families without traditional central heating or who cannot afford rocketing fuel bills …”

Now if people want to waste their own money tilting at the first law of thermodynamics, that’s up to them.  However, I do mind if my money (via taxation) is funding their quixotic fantasy.  So, I put in a request to the DTI, under the Freedom of Information Act, (FOIA) for details of the alleged “backing“.

This is what I have been told (Letter dated 15th October 2007):

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The Impossible Dream

Posted by apgaylard on September 25, 2007

Recently the Daily Mail reported on a device, Ecowatts’ “Thermal Cell”, which “… violates almost every known law of physics.”  Basically it’s a water heater powered by an electrolysis cell. 

What laws of physics are allegedly violated?  Well, the article states that the electrochemical reaction “… releases an incredible amount of energy compared to that put in …” and Jim Lyons from the University of York is quoted as saying “…we were getting 150 to 200 per cent more energy out than we put in, without trying too hard ..”

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