The Irish company Steorn claims to have developed a revolutionary technology for generating free energy: Orbo. Find the latest updates below, or get the story from the beginning here.

March 23, 2015

Steorn back in the news; more pictures of HephaHeater

Thanks to the alert reader who let me know about this article in the Irish newspaper, The Sunday Business Post, from January 2015:

Much-scorned Steorn is refusing to admit defeat

Not too much new there, but it does give some insight into where Steorn has been getting its investment money lately, and reiterates Shaun McCarthy's confidence that they'll finally be putting out a product soon.

Meanwhile, Shaun has posted a few more HephaHeat related images on his Facebook page. These include this image, of what appears to be a pair of HephaHeaters in nearly finished condition:

Almost ready to ship?

For more pictures, check out this article on e-catworld or visit Shaun's Facebook page. There, you'll also find a video posted March 22 testing out several potential "Orbo" logos.

July 21, 2014

Orbo Nearly Ready for Market?

These days, every two years seems to be just about how often we need to peek in on Steorn in order to find anything new or interesting going on. Whatever they're up to, it's been slow and plodding work... or maybe, as some believe, a prolonged development period designed to bilk investors, where the next milestone remains always just around the corner.

There's been no new official word from Steorn itself for several years now, and its website has remained unchanged. However, trickles of intriguing information having been dripping out through CEO Shaun McCarthy's Facebook stream over the past few months. That's all we've got to go on for now, beyond Sterling Allen's visit to the Steorn office back in 2012, so I'll summarize these tidbits below.

This new series of Steorn related information began back on February 24th, 2014, with this posting:

Sometimes stuff takes longer than you want.... it's going to be a LOT of fun in the next few weeks, a lot

Comments in response to the post asked Shaun to expand on the topic, which he did:

Hehe, life is about to get fun again... and it takes time, but it's been a roller coaster ride and at some point you jump off it with a BIG smile on you face
Better suited to this time and this place - going to enjoy every minute of what 2007 should have been - I am a purist OU man, no wires

Soon after, on Shaun's March 6th birthday, he posted the first new video of what looks like a simple original-style magnet motor Orbo in motion.

Steorn's new, old-school Orbo -- no wires.

Shaun wrote:

Some birthdays are better than others, even when you are just playing with bluetac!

Then on April 11th, Shaun posted an image of what appears to be a AA battery, with a "Steorn" label.

The prototype "Never Die" battery.

Here are a few excerpts from that post:

Shaun: Hehe, what a great Friday it is!!!
Commenter: Is that AA size?
Shaun: Nope - its no real kinda size, but it is still seriously dead cool - love Fridays!
Commenter: But it's a battery, right?
Shaun: Yep it's a never die battery
Commenter: Shaun - a never die battery? Seriously?
Shaun: Yep - never die, its a nice one!
Commenter: Is this a prototype? How far away from being able to buy one?
Shaun: Just prototype - no idea when we will make it available, but for sure not this year
Commenter: Does the prototype shown use any of the Orbo tech principles, or is this something new?
Shaun: It's all Orbo Craig no chemicals just magnetic

Taken at face value, it looks like Steorn has been working on more than just water heaters, and trying to fulfill their early vision of Orbo as a source of electricity for mobile devices that never needs recharging.

On April 24th Shaun posted a photo of a conference room filled with empty seats.

Ready to give a demo.

The post reads:

Two weeks on the road demoing the never die battery and I could use a recharge myself - last one, roll on Friday

The comments give scant further information:

Commenter: could you post the demo on Youtube?
Shaun: We are not videoing these demos, they are pretty hands on - probably get something out in a wee while
Commenter: What kind of response are you getting from the people you give these demos to, Shaun?
Shaun: Other than 'what took you so long' the response has been brilliant

On June 29th a short but interesting video was posted that, if Shaun is to be believed, shows workers using sand molds to cast parts for HephaHeat units.

Casting a HephaHeat unit.

Finally, on June 30th, Shaun posted an image of what he claims to be a HephaHeat unit in its case.

First glimpse of a HephaHeat unit in its case.

These recent updates have been increasingly frequent and seem to show a product in the end stages of development. It's difficult to imagine that Steorn and its manufacturing partners could make it this far without realizing that they're deluding themselves about the reality of their technology, if in fact they are. Could this mean that Orbo-based products will finally be released in the near future? Or is this some kind of drawn out charade designed to string along investors? Only time will tell, and hopefully a lot sooner than in another two years.

October 13, 2012

Can we nail the coffin shut on Steorn yet?

Since the last time I wrote about Steorn, nearly two years ago, they haven't proven their Orbo free energy device to the world. They haven't even attempted another public demonstration. To the contrary, they shut down their online forum and development club, stopped releasing updates on their site, and Sean McCarthy (uncharacteristically) started keeping quiet. Their own hand-picked jury of international scientists gave up on Orbo, claiming they were shown nothing that indicated it generates energy. Steorn redesigned their company website, taking some of the emphasis off Orbo and moving it on to something new, a water heating technology called HephaHeat. The HephaHeat page mentions nothing about Orbo or free energy, appearing to present itself as only a modestly more efficient water heater.

So, the great mystery was left hanging: Did Steorn have a revolutionary free energy technology? Or were they simply mistaken, due to a mix of shoddy measurements and wishful thinking? Worse yet, were Sean McCarthy and perhaps others at Steorn perpetrating a nefarious con, bilking first naive investors and then engineers worldwide through their development club?

As time stretched on with no new Orbo developments from Steorn, I was slowly climbing down the "fence" separating the believers and skeptics, and concluding that Orbo was at least an incompetent mistake, and possibly a scam. It seemed that Sean McCarthy & Co. may have finally realized that their goose was never going to lay its golden egg, and had moved on to some more pedestrian heating technology so they could continue paying the bills.

But it suddenly seems that this conclusion may be premature; it may be too early to climb off that fence. Recently Sterling Allen of the site completed a worldwide tour of companies that claim to generate energy through unorthodox means. On this trip Sterling stopped by the Steorn offices in Dublin, and what he found there wasn't the defeated remnant of a company that I expected he'd find, busying itself with incremental innovations after having set aside its spectacular delusions. What he found was Sean McCarthy and company, testing white hot Orbo burners, and sitting on signed contracts worth tens of millions of dollars to provide their energy-out-of-nowhere to the largest water heater manufacturers in the world.

Sterling Allen's full report on his interview with Sean McCarthy can be found here. According to Sean, once they had developed the solid state, electromagnetic versions of the Orbo (as opposed to the original, mechanically rotating version that they could never keep stable long enough to demonstrate), a major problem was that the device would generate a lot of heat. It required a power source, but then would put out a lot more energy than it took in, with a significant portion of that energy being put out as heat. This was seen as an obstacle to be overcome, because Steorn's focus was on producing mechanical energy that could be used to generate electricity. But then they made the conceptual leap of deciding to utilize the excess heat, rather than working to eliminate it. This new approach was developed into their HephaHeat technology. A HephaHeat water heater would plug into a standard power outlet, but would transfer several times more heat energy into the water than it uses in electricity.

Does HephaHeat work? Steorn isn't showing their new devices publicly, but Sterling Allen was shown signed contracts with two companies, the largest water heater manufacturers in North America and Europe (whose names Steorn will not announce yet). These contracts together are worth 25 millions Euros per year to Steorn, plus royalties on the sales of products. When will these products be hitting the market? Sean estimates 18 months to 3 years from now.

Once again, Steorn's story is, "amazing things are coming. Just wait a while longer." All the options remain on the table; they may be delusional (though maintaining this delusion for 8 years now would be quite a feat), or scamming investors, or they may still be working on something revolutionary. Only time, eventually, may tell.

November 1, 2010

Build your own Orbo... for only $550

With Steorn, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Back in April, Steorn opened up membership in their developers' club, the SKDB, to the public. For the first time, anyone who was willing to pay several hundred dollars up front could find out all of the secrets of the Orbo. The idea, according to Steorn, was that soon many independent replicators would be building their own Orbos and proving to the world that free energy is possible.

That hasn't happened. According to posts on various forums (such as Energetic Forum and MoleTrap) as well as a video posted by Steorn, one or more engineers may have followed Steorn's build instructions well enough to produce a device that shows the same pattern of scope traces that Steorn has shown off in demos, which they interpret as representing energy gain (an interpretation that others contest). But the real test, the only measure that matters to anyone other than argumentative engineers, is whether the Orbo can do work. That means light a light, warm a radiator, or lift a weight — anything that actually uses more energy than the device itself started with. As far as I know, no one has claimed to build an Orbo that can do this, yet. That is why I haven't posted to this blog for several months; lots of people have been blowing smoke, but we have yet to see an Orbo do something.

This week Steorn is pulling back the curtain even further — or renewing their efforts to separate hopeful engineers from their money, depending on how you'd like to look at it. They are now offering for sale the Orbo Evaluation and Development System, an all-inclusive do-it-yourself free-energy starter kit that will let you (if you are an electrical engineer, that is) "prototype and develop products driven by Orbo Technology". It even comes with a year's membership to the SKDB, all for the low, low price of only €319 (about $550).

Every few months since 2006 there has been some big new event in the saga of Steorn. But they all really just fall into two patterns. Before April 2010, the story was always "We'll reveal Orbo — soon." Since April, the story has been "We'll reveal Orbo — for a price." But we still haven't seen any evidence of Orbo actually doing anything that proves free energy has been produced. In my opinion Orbo will be worth talking about only when, and if, the story changes.

April 1, 2010

Steorn finally reveals all (for a price)

Many new developments from Steorn today.

First, they've finally opened up their developers' club (the Steorn Knowledge Development Base — SKDB) to the public, and have reportedly released to club members more information on how to build and test Orbo devices. All of this comes for a price however; joining the SKDB costs €419.00 ($613.00).

Possibly the more interesting development is the reveal of a new, third type of Orbo device, the solid state Orbo (ssOrbo). This follows the original permanent magnet Orbo (pmOrbo, the failure of which caused the July 2007 demo to be canceled) and the the rotary electromagnetic Orbo (eOrbo) which was shown (flaunting its required, and controversial, D-cell battery) in the recent Waterways public demonstration.

Steorn's newly revealed solid state Orbo has no moving parts.

The ssOrbo is said to be based on the same principles as the other two Orbo implementations, but is potentially much more convenient both to develop and to package with products, because it involves no mechanical motion. Instead, it "gains energy via control of a material's inductance and domain rotation". Further development of the ssOrbo is described as the primary goal of the SKDB and its members.

Finally, Steorn released various papers and test results, including information on calorimetry testing of the eOrbo and a more detailed explanation of how the original pmOrbo works than any we (outside the SKDB) have received yet. According to this paper, what separates Orbo from other attempts at building magnet motors is what's called "asymmetric non-linear MH". The paper describes (and shows) exactly what this means in terms of how the magnets are arranged, and compares this type of configuration with other configurations that lack these properties (ie., that are either symmetric or have linear MH), showing test results that purport to demonstrate that only the combination of these properties results in the output of excess energy.

The effect underlying the original perpetual motion Orbo is said to require specific configurations of 3 magnets (of two different types).

It seems to me that this is the day that Steorn really introduces itself to the world. The Economist ad, as well as years of conversation, promises, demos and flashy videos, might as well have never happened. Today is when they make their case, and leave it up to independent developers to validate or disprove their claims. The events put into motion this April 1st will soon show us who's been played for fools: Steorn and the people who took them at their word, or the skeptics who've dismissed their claims out of hand. What happens — or fails to happen — in the coming weeks and months will either mean the end of the road for Steorn, or the beginning of a new road for humanity.

February 18, 2010

February update

On January 30th, Steorn finally demonstrated free energy. Or at least, they say they did. What they showed was a couple of lines on an oscilloscope that, according to Sean, demonstrates to their target audience of potential technology developers that more energy was coming out of Orbo than was going in. As for the qualified engineers debating the demo on the forums, it doesn't appear to have changed anyone's opinion one way or the other about whether Orbo is the real thing. The full final demo can be seen here: Part 1 Part 2.

What happens next? As usual, Steorn has set deadlines for themselves, only to then push them further and further back. The current calendar is as follows:

February 1 — 28:
— The Orbo is available through the 26th for third-party testing by anyone who has booked an appointment to do so.
— The SKDB has been opened to a select group of potential developers.
— Calorimetry testing of Orbo by an independent group continues.

March 1st or later (probably later, given Steorn's track record):
— The SKDB will be opened to anyone willing to pay €419.00 ($613.00) to join.
— Calorimetry and other test data will be publicly released, as well as information about successful replications that have supposedly already taken place.

It's become increasingly apparent that Steorn itself is not going to prove that Orbo produces free energy. Once again, this could be taken in one of two ways: Either as evidence that Orbo doesn't produce free energy, or as acknowledgment that no matter what kind of spinning contraption they show, even if it didn't involve a battery, there would still be room to doubt their claims. Instead, if Orbo does put out more energy than it takes in, it will be up to an army of engineers to prove it, as they develop Orbo for commercial applications.

As usual, the more that's revealed the greater the mystery becomes. Steorn may have already demonstrated free energy, we just won't know until it's repeatedly verified over the coming months (and maybe years), or once this verification fails to occur. For now, the only perpetual motion Steorn's shown is the ability to perpetuate this process indefinitely.

January 30, 2010

Steorn to prove free energy today?

Steorn's previous two January demos were aimed squarely at the engineering community, and flew well above the heads of us non-engineer-types. Even still, the engineers who saw them seemed to come to no consensus about their meaning.

However, Steorn is advertising their final demo, to be held today (Saturday, January 30th) at 4pm GMT (11am US Eastern, 8am US Pacific) as the coup de grace, the demo that finally proves that Orbo puts out more energy than it takes in. The demo can be watched live on their home page and will be available later on their YouTube channel.

January 12, 2010

Steorn plans to demonstrate overunity today

Steorn has announced that they will be presenting the second in their series of live Orbo demonstrations today at 5pm GMT (noon eastern time, 9 A.M. pacific in the U.S.) at the Waterways building in Dublin. The talk will be streamed live on Steorn's site.

The title for this talk is "Orbo Electromagnetic Interaction COP > 1". COP refers to the "coefficient of performance", the ratio of the energy output from a system over the energy input to the system. By proving that Orbo's COP is greater than 1 (or "overunity"), Steorn hopes to show that they've developed a way to get more energy out than was put in — that is, to generate free energy. This is the most important claim being made by Steorn, and how seriously they will be taken depends entirely on how well they can demonstrate this claim.

December 18, 2009

Sean McCarthy to discuss Orbo online tomorrow

According to Steorn's site, and an e-mail update they've been sending out to those of us who've subscribed (on their home page), Sean McCarthy will be presenting a talk about the principles that make Orbo work, tomorrow at 5pm GMT (noon eastern time, 9 A.M. pacific in the U.S.) at the Waterways building in Dublin. The talk will be streamed live on Steorn's channel 1.

The title of the talk is "Introduction to an Orbo Electromagnetic Interaction - Part 1", and the description is "Sean McCarthy, CEO of Steorn, will discuss and demonstrate cancelling Back EMF in Orbo electromagnetic interactions."

In other news, several sites and media outlets have published stories relating to Steorn's demo over the past few days:
Rupert Goodwins at ZDNet
U.K. Press Association

Steorn also ran its recently released ad on the Arab news network Al Jazeera, perhaps hoping to attract wealthy Arab investors who don't want to be left out in the cold in the post-oil economy:

Orbo ad on Al Jazeera

Speaking of which, in the opinion of some, the most stimulating revelation to come out of Steorn's demo so far has been the song used in their ad. Turns out it's called Hallucination, by the Dublin-based band Delorentos.

December 15, 2009

Steorn's demo begins — but seeing isn't believing

Steorn's public demo of their Orbo technology, claimed to produce unlimited free energy, began this morning at 10am local time at the Waterway Center in Dublin, Ireland. Live streaming video of the event, as well as related videos, can be seen from Steorn's homepage.

For those interested in seeing Orbo up close and personal, the exhibit will be open daily from December 15th to the 23rd and from January 5th to the 31st, between the hours of 10am to 7pm. Information and directions can be found here.

Two men inspecting a spinning Orbo, live from Dublin.

For over three years, since Steorn first went public with their free energy claims, the company has acted as a sort of Rorschach test; different observers interpret what they're doing in vastly different, and often opposing, ways. Every action they've taken can be interpreted as part of a massive fraud, or as following from a prolonged delusion that they have something fantastic when all they really have is measurement error, or as an earnest step toward launching a genuine technology so revolutionary that the normal means of bringing a new technology to the attention of others capable of developing it further, simply fall short.

Today, however, is the big reveal — a spinning Orbo can finally be viewed up close by any Dubliner who wishes to wander by, or by anyone else on the planet with a web browser. This should be the moment that changes everything, right? Wrong. Amazingly, today's demo doesn't clear up the picture one bit.

The reason for the continued ambiguity is a simple battery. The Orbo device being demoed today is not the same as the version that was (almost) shown in the aborted July 2007 demo. The 2007 Orbo was made up of a simple arrangement of permanent magnets, that supposedly resulted in a perpetual motion machine. Orbo 2009 is similar in its basic design, but the outer ring of magnets are now electromagnets rather than permanent magnets, and these electromagnets are fed by a battery. That battery, it is claimed, is constantly recharged by a small electrical generator attached to the spinning Orbo. The net result, says Sean McCarthy, is that the Orbo produces some three times the energy it uses. The energy that isn't cycled back to the battery is dissipated as heat.

Sean's claim may be true — the Orbo may be generating three times the energy it is using, right in front of our eyes. Or, it may not be; there's no way to tell without being an experienced engineer and hooking the rig up to a lot of complex testing equipment. Because there's a battery in the loop, there's just no telling how much energy, if any, Orbo is actually generating. So Steorn may have what they claim. Or they may be lying about it as part of a scam. Or they may honestly believe they have it, but be wrong. There's still no way to tell.

Schematics of the demo Orbo, showing a generator at top to recharge the battery, at bottom.

The skeptics will be emboldened to discover that Steorn also today announced the opening to the public of the Steorn Knowledge Development Base (SKDB), a club of engineers privy to information about how Orbo works. It will be open to students, academics, hobbyists, and anyone else... who is willing to pony up €419.00 ($613.00). Sorry, no refunds. This sounds like the capstone of the scam, the part where they finally get around to cashing in on all their deceptions. But then again, how many people will have the necessary confluence of wealth, enthusiasm and gullibility to plunk down that much money on a technology that hasn't been verified? 100? 200? Even if 500 of these memberships are sold, Steorn still only makes some $300,000; chump change for even a company of their size. Even if Orbo is nothing but a scam, selling a few memberships and a smattering of testing equipment to those members can't be a profitable endgame.

So, once again, nothing has changed. But then, Steorn hasn't claimed that the demo should be what proves Orbo to be real. In the future supposedly imagined by Steorn, the demo attracts attention; engineers join the SKDB and learn how to build their own Orbos. Eventually people all over the world are replicating the technology, testing it, and finding out that it really does produce more energy that it consumes. That's when Orbo is proven — gradually, over the course of weeks and months, as a distributed effort spread out all over the world.

Three Orbo devices arranged around a plexiglass column.

Today may be the most eventful day for Steorn since they introduced themselves to the world with an ad in The Economist in the summer of 2006. But for the rest of us, it ends just the same as every other day Steorn has made a great reveal — we have no clearer a picture of what Steorn is really all about, and we have a new point in the future to wait for and look forward to. On February 1st 2010 many more people will be able to learn how Orbo works. Then at some point in the weeks, or months, or years after that, someone may replicate it, someone may demonstrate that it produces more energy than it uses. Then someone else, and then someone else. Or, maybe not. We'll see.