Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Energy: No Such thing as a Free Lunch

This is the first in a series of posts about free energy scams.  I've given several talks on the topic, one of which can be found here.  I'm hoping that writing these posts will get me back to that book on the subject that I keep saying I'm writing.

What do I mean by "free energy"? Although lots of people use the term, but there's no official definition.  For the purposes of this discussion, I'll use the term to refer to supposedly transformative technologies which:

  • will dramatically reduce one's cost of energy for transportation and/or domestic use, say at leastFor example,   factor of four or more.
  • do not require significant capital costs up front, usually paying for themselves in a year or less.
  • don't involve a major change in lifestyle

Of course, it's not impossible that some great new technology will be discovered, but it's not likely going to be done by someone working in their garage.  The last discovery with a profound implication for energy was the discovery of radioactivity - over 100 years ago.

We'll go through some specific examples, but the fact is cars don't run on water, motors don't run on permanent magnets, and cold fusion isn't being covered up by the oil industry; it simply doesn't work.