When things get tough, people get desperate. Desperate people will grasp at straws for solutions to their problems. Consider the worthless remedies obtained (sometimes at ruinous cost) by people with cancer. Laetrile and "psychic surgery" just begin the list. The money spent on these nostrums has made some of the scammers wealthy.
When the problem is lack or excessive cost of energy, the list isn't constrained by regulators preventing the unlicensed practice of medicine. People still sell "fuel-line magnets", and apparently have buyers. Even the legend of the 200 MPG carburetor appears to have new life in it.
In areas served by gas-fired electric generators, both heating fuel and electricity are becoming very expensive and even scarce. With North Sea gas declining steeply, one harsh winter could leave Britain in crisis. It shouldn't be too surprising that the inevitable worry this engenders has produced "solutions" of questionable merit.
Steorn (http://www.steorn.net/frontpage/default.aspx) is touting a new version of the "free energy from magnets" scam. The history of failure behind these devices discourages them not at all; they claim:
We have developed a technology that produces free, clean and constant energy.
This means never having to recharge your phone, never having to refuel your car. A world with an infinite supply of clean energy for all.
Our technology has been independently validated by engineers and scientists - always off the record, always proven to work.
(Emphasis in original.)
It should make one wonder, though: why "always off the record"? What's wrong with their invention that nobody will back the claim of verification with their own reputation?
The obvious conclusion is that Steorn is a scam. The reason you should know it's a scam is because electromagnetic devices work according to Maxwell's equations. Maxwell's equations are conservative (any energy coming out has to have been put in somewhere, and by known means); if anyone found a violation of them it would have been Nobel prize material from the moment of discovery.
Nobody's collected that Nobel. No papers have been printed. Nobody's even declared an anomalous phenomenon (like the inability of gravitational contraction to explain the apparent lifespan of the Sun, which was finally explained by hydrogen fusion after the discovery of E=mc^2).
All Steorn has done is issue a "challenge" to scientists. They want to "choose twelve and negotiate terms", which is a code phrase for picking the credulous instead of the thorough. Producing one working example and letting it do the proving for them appears to be beyond them.
If they can't even make one, what makes anyone think they could possibly make enough to save the world?
Hold onto your wallet. Save your money for something like John Cooper's direct-carbon fuel cells. You might note that he is not afraid to tell the world how they work. That's the difference between invention and fraud.
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