|Style over substance|
Steorn was a Dublin-based Irish private limited company founded in 2001 by CEO Sean McCarthy as a dot-com business that "[provided] programme management and technical assessment advice for European companies engaging in e-commerce projects". In 2006 it changed its business model from e-commerce to
handheld portal guns perpetual motion, and gave cagey demonstrations of various devices for ten years without publishing any peer-reviewed papers.
In 2016 the company closed its doors, its CEO saying "We took their money. We raised their expectations and it fell flat on its fucking face. They've a right to be angry about that." before taking up a career as a professional online poker player.
In 2006, Steorn announced to great fanfare with a very expensive full page advert in the Economist newspaper that they had developed an over unity device capable of generating unlimited free energy. Some vague details were released about the device they were later to dub "Orbo" which, like many such crank devices before it, was alleged to work using a system of magnets and rotors. The advertisement claimed that they were seeking a panel of experts to evaluate their claims.
A flurry of media speculation followed. Many noted that the Steorn company had previously been a design consultancy and that this may have been a highly successful exercise in guerrilla marketing for something entirely different. However, as time wore on and Steorn broke promises about releasing information and cancelled demos, speculation grew that the company was attempting to run some kind of investment scam.
In June 2009, the panel of experts that Steorn alleged to have recruited turned out to actually exist. They delivered their verdict: the Steorn "Orbo" technology did not in fact produce energy and the claims of the company were unjustified. The conclusion that must be drawn from this is that Steorn themselves must have honestly believed their own claims, and that Orbo was an impressive example of self-delusion. Steorn issued a press release in the wake of the evaluation panel's report, essentially stating that "well, it works now!", along with a misguided video ad that showed the Orbo happily whirring away as harsh quotes from the jury were shown. Keep reaching for that rainbow, guys.
(Not-so) Triumphant Return
After years of relative silence, Steorn made a blip on the news again in January 2015 with an article in the Sunday Business Post, which claimed that despite some €20 million in losses, they'd been chugging away at new inventions (such as the "HephaHeat" overunity water heater, which was eventually taken up by a spinoff company that has been decidedly quiet) and reworkings of old ones. McCarthy's Facebook page lit up with new announcements, including a field test for the brand new Orbo Power Cube at a local pub (unsurprisingly, it was cut short due to "too much publicity").
The big news, however, came in October 28th of that year on an online webinar/press release. In it, McCarthy stated that the Orbo was finally going to be for sale that December, with the first units to be shipped before Christmas. With an initial price tag of €1200, the "Orbo O-Cube" was said to be composed of the Orbo device, a lithium-ion battery that is continually trickle-charged by the Orbo device, and a 2.1 amp USB output. Steorn claimed that the Orbo O-Cube was able to fully charge one tablet or 2-3 smartphones per day. A leaked technical demonstration showed that rather than magnets, the new Orbo was composed of a chemical sandwiched between two "dissimilar" metals (Hey, that sounds like a battery, doesn't it?!), and relied on the system's generation of an electric field in response to heating and cooling. Steorn's claims were notably more reserved than in the past, including the anticipation of a high failure rate with the first units, and being somewhat pessimistic regarding scalability potential, saying "we don't see a lot of opportunity at the larger scale" and claiming that they were only in the mobile electronics business.
The company was liquidated in 2016.
- Steorn Liquidates by Michael Ferrier (November 13, 2016) Dispatches from the Future.
- "All great truths begin with blasphemies" Steorn advertisement in The Economist (reproduced on Dispatches from the Future)
- New video reveals internals of Orbo PowerCube by Michael Ferrier (October 2015) Dispatches from the Future.
- Much-scorned Steorn is refusing to admit defeat: The Irish technology company ridiculed in the world press for its promise of perpetual free energy is still developing products by Barry J Whyte (Jan 25, 2015) The Business Post.
- Steorn's Orbo power cell products available for sale (December 3, 2015; 21:30 GMT) Pure Energy Systems.
- New video reveals internals of Orbo PowerCube by Michael Ferrier (October 29, 2015) Dispatches from the Future.