Steorn: Engadget Interview Highlights

Friday, July 20, 2007

On Orbo Power Output...

Engadget: So that's the company, let's talk a little bit more about the technology that you guys have supposedly developed here. Laws of thermodynamics basically state that you can't achieve 100% efficiency in any apparatus and that there are always transfers of heat and energy in any system. But obviously you guys are claiming 100%+ efficiency. Do you have a statistic or number of what you estimate the energy efficiency level of your machine is? Is it 110% or 150%?

Sean: It varies from configuration to configuration. I think the largest efficiency that we would have physically measured would be about 485%. These numbers can be misleading. For example we might be getting 485% per joule, which means were getting 4.85 J out, but there could be a configuration that's could be delivering 130% efficiency yet delivering 10 joules. So, the technology itself is pretty well researched in terms of punch line efficiency it's 485%, but that wouldn't be the optimum output of the system. Obviously we're more focused on direct power output of a device than the punchline numbers. 485 to 1 is 4.85, but we could easily say, 10 to 12 joules off of a system is going to have a lower punch line efficiency. And power output is obviously the key factor, energy output is obviously the key factor.

On The jury...

Engadget: I understand that some 5,000 scientists applied to be a part of this.

Sean: No, we had 5,000 total applicants. It was an online thing. So when you rule out the Bart Simpsons who had applied we had 1,000 qualified people, of which about 500 who would be qualified scientists, and 500 qualified engineers.And so how many people have actually accepted this challenge and are currently working on this?We've signed contracts with 22 of them. There is a copy of the contract on the website, and 22 of them are involved in an analysis of the technology.

On the failed demo...

Engadget: I'd like to know why you think it failed -- and not the reasons that you've already given. We've definitively heard that it was ball bearings, or it was mechanical failure, it was the heat from the lights. We heard all that. We know. I want to know why you think it failed, in the sense that why did the other two backups that you guys brought not work? Or why were you not able to relocate the demo to another location that didn't have these issues? Or why was it not thoroughly tested enough, and so on...

Sean: I'm not going to tell you anything that if you have read some of this stuff that you haven't heard. The simple fact of the matter, just to state, is that this is not production technology and so you know anybody who works in the prototype world will understand that there are always issues. But with respects to what happened, we brought three systems to us from Dublin, three component systems, we don't move them in their operational way, we stripped them down.

They are very, very simple and there is not huge configuration to them, but they are very sensitive configurations because there are lots of magnetic loads and so on. We got one of the systems working on the Tuesday night which was the Tuesday before we were going live on Wednesday evening. We started to install that in the demo case and began to notice problems. It wasn't working. That being the prime problem.

We then took the classic engineering process of stripping it down and testing, testing, testing, and what we found was that in that prototype was that the bearings, while not visibly damaged but the friction had more than quadrupled in them, which would have been a killer in a this type of system that we were planning to show. And under pressure we just kept plugging in all the spare bearings we had. Now, these are not standard bearings you might buy from your local hardware store.

These are very, very low friction bearings used in the watch industry. Our analysis of what happened is that the heat allowed play in the system that damaged the bearings to the point where the extra friction in the bearings didn't allow the technology to happen. Whether people believe that or don't believe it, there isn't a lot that I can say other then that's what happened.

On the new demo...

Engadget: So do you have a time-frame that you're looking at for the next demo?

Sean: What we've decided to do this time, is rather then beating ourselves with a stick, we're going to get it running in a location and then we are going to announce that people can watch it online. So we are actually physically getting it operating, it will be the same. The principle behind London, which was clearly a failed demo, was that it wasn't for for a sequence of webcams to people to watch, but it was equally physical, so that people could go there. We put in some PCs so they could chat about it and so on.

So the principle will be identical, that it's both a physical location where people can go view it. Obviously not everybody can do that, so people can watch it online and chat directly with people there and discuss theories of where batteries might be hidden and so and so on. It's a deferral, we have decided that we will only announce it when it's actually live and in place this time which is a mistake that we made last time. We should have done that but didn't.

On convincing a sceptical public...

Engadget: So what happens if you can't prove this supposed technology? If you can't figure out a way to convince people.

Sean: But we have. We have. There are lots of tactical things that we'll be doing, such as demos -- and obviously we'll have to respond to the failure of that demo and probably do more than we've intended to. We're a small company and maybe we're slightly overstretched in doing it, but we have to do it. But the jury process is happening, they will have to report -- they will either have to say yay or nay. Ok, so you can say how long will it take? I don't know.

But the point of the matter is that there will be an end to the process and an answer will be provided. Now that answer, if it's what we think it will be, will obviously raise more criticism and so and so on. But we've got lots of other things that we are doing to address that. There is going to be no defining moment in my opinion where people go, "It's true!" Even if these 22 scientists -- who are really top scientists -- turn around and say, "By Jove they've done it!". We as a company will still have to drive that message home in other ways.



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