Why perpetual motion free energy machines don't work

It still amazes me that with all our posts dedicated to trying to help homeowners save energy, our most popular posts are on free energy scams (mainly magniwork and hojo motor).  I've gone back and forth with the energy ignorant in the comment section of these posts, but I've never written a post dedicated to explaining why these products just won't work.  This post is speaking to those who are confused about perpetual motion devices that claim to create more energy than they consume.  If you notice in the title, I state they "don't" work, not that they "won't" work.  They don't work according to the existing laws of physics.  The future is unknowable. Perpetual motion devices have been attempted for as long as man started making complicated machinery. The goal of many unfortunate inventors  has been to create a machine that will produce useful work in a closed loop system, or in a system without any external forces.  Donald Simanek maintains an excellent history at attempts to create perpetual motion devices in his Museum of Unworkable Devices. In scientific terms, perpetual motion devices are impossible under the current laws of thermodynamics.   Being humans with tiny little brains, our understanding of the universe is limited, so there is always the possibility that the laws of physics will expand and/or change over time.  But as the laws currently exist, the two that are most frequently cited regarding perpetual motion devices are the first and second law of thermodynamics.  In summary (quotes attributed to C.P. Snow):

  1. First law of thermodynamics - Conservation of energy.  Energy can be transformed from one form to another, but it can't be created or destroyed.  "You cannot win (that is, you cannot get something for nothing, because matter and energy are conserved)."
  2. Second law of thermodynamics - Entropy. Systems always flow to a state of disorder.  "You cannot break even (you cannot return to the same energy state, because there is always an increase in disorder; entropy always increases)."{C}{C}{C}{C}{C}{C}

Wikipedia classifies the different categories of perpetual motion devices as follows: "One classification of perpetual motion machines refers to the particular law of thermodynamics the machines purport to violate:

  • A perpetual motion machine of the first kind produces work without the input of energy. It thus violates the first law of thermodynamics: the law of conservation of energy.
  • A perpetual motion machine of the second kind is a machine which spontaneously converts thermal energy into mechanical work. When the thermal energy is equivalent to the work done, this does not violate the law of conservation of energy. However it does violate the more subtle second law of thermodynamics (see also entropy). The signature of a perpetual motion machine of the second kind is that there is only one heat reservoir involved, which is being spontaneously cooled without involving a transfer of heat to a cooler reservoir. This conversion of heat into useful work, without any side effect, is impossible, according to the second law of thermodynamics.

A more obscure category is a perpetual motion machine of the third kind, usually (but not always)defined as one that completely eliminates friction and other dissipative forces, to maintain motion forever (due to its mass inertia). Third in this case refers solely to the position in the above classification scheme, not the third law of thermodynamics. Although it is impossible to make such a machine, as dissipation can never be 100% eliminated in a mechanical system, it is nevertheless possible to get very close to this ideal (see examples in the Low Friction section). Such a machine would not serve as a source of energy but would have utility as a perpetual energy storage device."

In summary, here are reasons why perpetual motion energy generation devices don't work:

Conservation of Energy - Say the law of conservation of energy wasn't a law.  You create a perpetual motion device that somehow overcomes all of the external forces mentioned above and you have a device that can operate itself perpetually (similar to the perpetual motion machine of the second kind listed above).  Now, your device can operate forever, but how can you extract any work from it?  If you take energy out of your machine, you will slow it down!  And no, magnets don't "create" energy, they just create a propulsion force.  To make magnets do work you have to add energy (i.e. spin them). I'm not sure I can spend too much time on this one point, because this is ultimately at the heart of perpetual motion energy generation machines.  If someone claims they can get energy out of a system, that energy has to come from SOMEWHERE!  It can come from the sun (nuclear), wind (which is created by the sun), gravity (one way trip), coal/natural gas/oil (dead organisms initially powered by sun), nuclear, humans (powered by food which is powered by sun), etc.  ENERGY HAS TO COME FROM SOMEWHERE. There is no free lunch. Now, there is this tiny little issue of dark energy (also mentioned at the end of this post), but it is outside the scope of this discussion because I don't know too many inventors claiming their perpetual motion device operates on dark energy.

Friction and external forces - This is really an expansion of the law of conservation of energy. Friction occurs when molecules of one thing come in contact with molecules of another thing.  Rub your hands together and feel heat generated.  That heat is energy leaving your body.  Anything operating on Earth will encounter external forces. Thought exercise time!  Think about driving your car down a flat highway.  Bring your car up to speed.  Go ahead, whatever speed you want, there is no speed limit here.  Now take your foot off the accelerator.  What happens?  You car is going to slow down and eventually stop because of air resistance (or friction between the air outside and the body of your car), rolling resistance between your tires and the road (or friction between asphalt and rubber) because gravity (external force) is pulling your car towards the earth, and the internal friction between all the working parts of your car (pistons, wheel bearings, crank shaft, etc.). Ok, we're done with the cute little thought exercise.  Now imagine that car is some perpetual motion machine.  Guess what, all those external forces are still there!

Entropy - This is the hardest to explain but it is also the most obvious.  Basically, everything in the universe wants to go to a state of disorder. Buildings don't build themselves, and when they're built, they eventualy fall down.  Heat always flows from hot to cold. Everything dies.  Everything falls apart.  Maybe one day the universe will start collapsing in on itself, time will reverse itself, and this won't be the case.  But in the known lifespan of the universe (13.75 billion years) entropy has always (100% of the time) increased.   A perpetual motion machine would result in no net disorder, which has never happened in 13.75 billion years.  Not a fan of history dictating future, that's fine, how are you going to get past conservation of energy? Michio Kaku (who graduated first in his Harvard physics class, received his doctorate from Berkeley, and taught at Princeton) addresses perpetual motion machines in chapter 14 of his excellent book Physics of the Impossible.  In his book, Kaku breaks down "impossible" into three classes (summarized below):

  • Class 1 impossibility - impossible today but do not violate known laws of physics
  • Class 2 impossibility - technologies that sit at the edge of our understanding.  If possible, they may be realized thousands or millions of years in the future
  • Class 3 impossibility - technologies that violate the known laws of physics.  If possible, these technologies would represent a shift in our understanding of physics

Kaku labels perpetual motion a Class 3 impossibility (teleportation and telepathy are Class 1, time machines are a Class 2).  He states in the closing of chapter 14 on perpetual motion:

Because creating a true perpetual motion machine may require us to reevaluate the fundamental laws of physics on a cosmological scale, I would rank perpetual motion machines as a Class III impossibility; that is, either they are truly impossible, or we would need to fundamentally change our understanding of fundamental physics on a cosmological scale in order to make such a machine possible.  Dark energy remains one of the greatest unfinished chapters in modern science

Do you understand why I'm referencing this?  An expert in theoretical physics labels perpetual motion as 1 of only 2 class 3 impossibilities in all of theoretical physics (the other being precognition). Finally, I must address a claim that I see all the time regarding free energy devices.  Conspiracy theorists claim that the big bad energy companies are suppressing free energy devices because it will destroy their profits.  This is complete and utter rubbish. Let me tell you how I would get around this issue if I had stumbled on the greatest discovery in all of history:

  1. Chronicle my discovery in exhausting detail.  Paper, electronic, pictures, videos, etc.  Create hard copies and store them with trusted love ones.  Email electronic copies to email addresses I make up on multiple different hosts.  Take out multiple safety deposit boxes in many different states/countries and store identical copies of my research in each one.
  2. Create a company whose purpose is to build and sell my device or power from my device.  Make sure to find a good attorney to ensure all legal work is in proper order.  Getting a good attorney is critical.
  3. Go to investors/universities/press and demonstrate my findings.  Sell shares of my company if capital is needed.  Venture capital guys are pretty good at making money on any kind of idea, there is no need to go to the energy companies.
  4. Become the richest and most famous person in the world while alleviating many of the world's problems.

How could the big bad energy companies hurt my plan?  They couldn't.  Nobody can stop someone else who has a powerful idea.  Sure, the person who created the idea could be murdered, but if step 1 is followed properly, the idea still lives on. Would you really fear death if you had the idea to change the lives of 7 billion people?  Blaming large energy corporations is the cowards excuse for why his/her favorite perpetual motion device won't work.  Of interesting note is Andrea Rossi and his cold fusion energy generator.  Rossi seems to be following the steps above, and is in the middle of step 3.  We'll see if the device (which is not perpetual motion, but is cheap, clean energy) works or not.  Hopefully he reaches step 4. Hopefully you now understand why perpetual motions machines won't work according to the existing laws of thermodynamics.  Could the future change and could dark energy provide unlimited power?  Sure it can, but until then, machines will never operate perpetually, much less create free energy. End of story.


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Zurich; I'm suspecting he uses a magnetic generator same as Troy Reed's. I found this statement on Wikipedia: "Magnetic field(section Quantum electrodynamics) A magnetic field is a mathematical description of the magnetic influence of ... particles associated with a fundamental quantum property , their spin . ... 83 KB (11,932 words) - 18:28, 18 February 2012 "
The guy used what is called energy storage technology, which is also quantum. He implemented capacitor banks with low discharge capability. He is of course not going to tell you all the components he used because he wants to make money and also look smart like the scientists, but any electrical engineer with knowledge in prototyping of electrical equipment can do the same. The process involved modifying the generator with permanent magnets so that it can generate more power than its nameplate rating. The second process is to have the capacitor bank to hold enough energy during the switch-over (cutting off of power source into the motor). The capacitor bank must be able to hold that needed energy to power the motor during the time. Note that no other load was exerted on the system until it became self running. That is no magic. The whole system used both converter and inverter technology. The converter was used to convert the AC voltage to DC voltage for the DC motor used. The inverter was used to invert the capacitor bank's DC voltage back to AC to become the power source for the motor. The juju is all in the type of capacitors used, and the modified generator. All that is needed is a little calculation and component sourcing. Perpetual energy has lived with us for ages, anyone ready to brake free from slavery, who also has some electrical engineering knowledge can create a perpetual system.
ckmapawatt's picture
Zurich, you are wrong. Perpetual energy has not lived with us for ages. If so, why hasn't Siemens or GE Energy created one of these devices and sold it to the power companies? Surely there market cap wouldnt still be under Apple if that was the case. You seem like a smart person, please dont pass things along as factual when they are not.
I said my point, I landed on these pages for 2 reasons 1 is to see if anyone else has built the supposely unbuildable like myself and 2 I have a new project I am working on. Forums like this is what makes a guy come out of the cave. You guys can all talk and talk but try to walk than talk. Use your hands and try some of these ideas. Failing and failing at projects only makes you think many other ideas to get things to work. if it doesnt work tweak it and try something different even if its the tiniest bit differnt.I am not giving up what I have conquered to a bunch of people that call each other ignorant. Hard work and dedication pays off. I normally keep to my self and am quiet and never comment on these forums. I happy with what I have created. Similar plans are all over the web. now get out to the shop put your thinking hat on and stop thinking everyone out there is ignorant cause what they believe in. wer'e all human.
Chris, where was I wrong? In my description of the technology/procedure the guy used to build his generator or in the fact that perpetual energy is doable? I hope you are not a theoretical scientist alone, who only works on postulations and what is written in the textbooks. Good that you noticed and acknowledge that I have in-depth know-how of the steps that the guy used to build that machine only by watching the video. If you have worked in the field of product development and manufacturing, you will realise that giving the market too much free hand to decide what they get is not in the interest of the service/product providers and manufacturers. Companies want to be in business for years, not just for breaking some barriers which will send the company out of business immediately. There are many breath-taking breakthrough that are been suppressed because they can cause the companies to go bankrupt if used. Timing is essential, notwithstanding the importance of the technological breakthrough. Think about it. Why do you think Apple and the others keep giving the market one or two updates at a time, but not all the new available technologies at once? They need your money for as long as you are willing to be fooled (buying their products). If you can and know how to build your own perpetual power, do it and be free.
how do I unsubcribe from your sight ! All I get is the same old crap over & over agine,it's making me sick !if your sight was set up to shoot down all free Elc. posabilitys you suceeded enuff now take me off your sight, thank you
Chris, you make some interesting points. But first let me address Mr Carvers issues. BULLSH.... Tell it to Edison or Bell. I watched a scammer bilk thousands out of a friend of mine on a get rich venture that sounded good on paper. I laughed as I cried. Investors do and can see promise. Look into nano technology. They will invest if you have a good business plan, you have to be documented and show how and when the investment will be returned. Without that, the best ideas are just dreams. Now on to the second point Chris. After reading about all these wonderful perpetual motion machines I came up with some ideas for frictionless bearings, and low loss energy transfer. I will not be able to hit perpetual motion, but will be close enough for my dark matter converter to be efficient. The big issue is if things go awry, the machine will consume the universe, and that is why I cannot get government grants. Physics as we know it, is the key here. I guess I have read too much sci fi and have not closed off my thought process completely at this point. It could happen sooner than one thinks, as television was the single greatest technology to date, the transfer of people into a little box from a remote location, without wires. Same goes for other technologies like my wireless speaker system, that uses microwave to stimulate the nerve endings at the inner ear. Just cannot find test subjects. Any way, thanks for your blog posts, it's been fun.
You cannot be serious. "This Dude" is the guy selling the snake oil. His user name is "HojoEnergy".
Heck; the magnetic motor is not free energy lads! It IS stored energy in the form of magnetizm. Eventually the magnets loose their charge with the motor's long it takes I personally don't know. It's similar to how any stored energy peters out....Coal burns away, uranium rods eventually die out and have to be replaced too. Heck; it's simple. Now....are we all done here?
The patent office has granted thousands of patents for devices that dont work !& the greedily takes $30k for each, knowing fully that people will die from them. the government spends trillion$ on what ?(enslaving your children & there s) For about $20 bucks you can build a Vgate/Vtrack and see for yourself.Why cant anyone get a pat. for perpetual motion or a cure for Cancer ! ? New Zealand uses pineapples in a way thats 265% better than Kemo (sp?).YOU CAN GET MORE WORK OUT OF A BLOCK & TACKLE / LEAVER & FULCRUM THAN YOU PUT INTO THEM etc...


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