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.

May 12, 2015

Pub "field test" ends early

Apparently this past weekend's debut of Steorn's Orbo PowerCube wasn't intended to be a public demonstration at all, but rather a quiet field test of the new technology. That plan was thwarted when Slattery's Pub posted about the event on their Facebook page, and the information was picked up and spread by eager followers of the Steorn story. With all the unwanted attention, Steorn aborted their field test, and took back the device.

According to a comment on Slattery's Facebook page:

The device is no longer here. A little too much attention for a quiet field test. I may have gone over the top posting about it so my bad. I'm hoping that we can get her back under more strict media conditions but Slattery's Pub not exactly a quiet pub hence the perfect place to display it.

As usual, Steorn's actions can be read in several different ways.

On the one hand, ending a public demo after a few days is compatible with the skeptics' theory that Steorn is drawing out an elaborate charade, pretending to develop a revolutionary device so as to continue bilking investors. Staging this demo was part of that charade, and it was ended on the false pretense of "too much publicity" when in fact it couldn't last more than a few days, before the "Never-Die Battery's" own internal battery would run out.

On the other hand, the lack of any mention of Orbo's pub appearance by Steorn, the peculiar locale, and the disappearance last week of Steorn's web site, are also compatible with the story that this was never intended to be a demo at all, just a field test of a technology that's not quite ready for market. We know from updates on CEO Shaun McCarthy's Facebook page that Steorn worked with a PR firm a few months ago and developed new logos and slogans. From this point of view, we should soon see a relaunch of the Steorn web site and brand, hopefully accompanied by some genuine demonstrations of their new product (or products... don't forget HephaHeat), and, just maybe, commercialization.

UPDATE 5/14/15

Today's Irish Times business section featured a brief article about the aborted Orbo field test, Self-charging battery causes a stir in Dublin pub test. The article includes a couple of terse comments from CEO Shaun McCarthy:

Steorn chief executive Shaun McCarthy told The Irish Times: “We are not offering any Orbo products for sale, we are just doing some basic field trials.” In addition, Mr McCarthy said the company is not publicising the locations of the field trial units

Not much new there, except for the possible implication that there are multiple Orbo field tests either planned or going on right now.

May 8, 2015

Orbo Power Cube demo weekend updates

This weekend's demo of Steorn's Orbo Power Cube has begun. I'll add updates to this post as they come in.

This demo has received very little publicity -- so far as I know, the closest thing to a public announcement of it has been on the Slattery's Pub Facebook page. There was no mention of it on CEO Shaun McCarthy's Facebook page, or even on the Steorn website itself, which was mysteriously replaced with a blank white page early yesterday.

Friday evening in Dublin, an update was posted on Slattery's Facebook page, with a comment and a short video (see it here). The comment reads:

Our mate ‪#‎ORBO‬ just arrived. This was our first touch. The box has an extra diagnostics kit so normally half the size. We will keep it here and test this revutionary product ‪#‎madeinireland‬ and creatively powered by ‪#‎Guinness‬

The video shows the sleekly designed "Orbo"-branded box, a roughly 5 inch cube that looks like it would be right at home among Apple products. Some men talk enthusiastically as they plug a mobile device into the box's USB port, and, after a few seconds, celebrate as the device acknowledges that it's receiving a charge.

According to the comment, this Power Cube is twice the size of the standard product, so that it can fit some extra diagnostic equipment. Of course that leaves further room for doubt, as there could be enough LiON cells packed in there to charge a few devices without violating any laws of physics. Other possibilities for "cheating" could include taking the device into a back room every so often for "maintenance" or "diagnostics", and switching out batteries; hiding a wire; or even wireless inductive charging through the tabletop. So, this demonstration will not satisfy any skeptics. But then again, satisfying skeptics doesn't appear to be even a consideration this time around; if it were, then besides adding quite a bit more in the way of controls and transparency, they probably wouldn't be holding the demo in a pub.


The demo did continue on through the evening. My source in Dublin stopped by, and had this to report:

I went to Slatterys, the staff were jokey, first saying it was all top secret, then they told me they had built a "nest" about 10 feet above the counter behind the bar so no one could touch it, to house the "never die battery". I could see the nest of green leaves. They focused a light on this nest, and then, accompanied by some ceremonial music, placed an about 4 inch by 4 inch silver paper box marked ORBO into the nest, with a lead out of it, seen to be charging a mobile.

No one, but me was interested.

As far as I know, no one from Steorn attended, but I was gone by 7 pm.

Slattery staff tell me the nest is symbolic, the nest will rot soon, the battery is ever lasting, they say, while it will deplete, Steorn's perpetual energy, presumably Orbo, will regenerate that battery.

I was amazed that there was no journalist that I recognized at Slatterys, but there may have been confusion, there is another Slatterys in Capel St. some miles away, all of the above was in Slatterys in Dublin 4.

I must go back to that local Slatterys within a few weeks to see whether they are still charging phones for free.

While the box appeared to him to be made of silvery paper from several feet away, he agreed that it likely was metal, instead.

Slattery's posted the following update on their Facebook page at the end of the night:

Well tonight was really interesting. We had many people in that sat down in groups and had come in to see ORBO in action. She didn't dissapoint. She charged many phones iPhone and Samsung types some HTC. The recharge speeds were more or less as normal if you used normal plug source. I'm at home now but I will be in at 11 tmrw to plug in a phone and I will let you know how it goes. Orbo will not move from its location. I am as skeptical as anyone out there. If it's still operating like this in a week I know ppl will say that I'm "micro dosing" it with power. There is no way to charge it.To be honest I have no vested interest. If it fails I can slag Shaun about it during a poker game!

Here's a photo From Slattery's, of the Never Die Battery in its "nest" of leaves:

And here's a closer up image, from Shaun's Facebook page:

May 6, 2015

Steorn set to demo Orbo battery Friday, at Slattery's Pub

After a series of failed or unconvincing demos in past years, followed by a long period of near silence, Steorn is set to return to the public eye this Friday with the first public demonstration of its Orbo-powered "Never Die" battery.

If it were to work as promised, this would of course be one of the most revolutionary inventions in history; in unabashed Steorn style, then, they plan on intoducing it to the world at CEO Shaun McCarthy's favorite watering hole, Slattery's Pub.

The sole source for this announcement so far has been on Slattery's Facebook page. It reads, in part:

Come down to Slattery's Pub this week and witness this Black Beauty charge ppl phones or laptops without ever needing a recharge or external power source. Orbo's Power Cube is real magic.

It also features the following photo of the purported magic cube:

More coverage to follow, as events unfold (or else fail to) over the weekend.

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.