Ecowatts: Place your bets!

Ecowatts doohickey

The "Ecowatts Thermal Energy Cell", according to the entirely reliable Daily Mail, produces far more output energy (in the form of hot water) than you have to put into it in electricity.

Ecowatts, according to the Mail, have the support of one Jim Lyons of the University of York, who is a real person with real engineering qualifications and says he's tested the device and been amazed.

Ecowatts say on their site that "the technology has been verified by UK Universities and Measurement Organisations"; needless to say, they don't go on to name any of them. There's not even a mention of Mr Lyons.

Ecowatts gave the University of York fifteen thousand pounds to do the research. The person they were listed as giving it to was apparently not Jim Lyons, though. I doubt this is a plain CorporateWhore situation, but who knows.

There's a lot of room for improved efficiency in most hot water systems. The standard arrangement in which a lot of water is made hot and kept in a tank waiting for use is bad enough. The fact that people then "shandy" the hot water with cold water when they use it for bathing is even worse.

But one place where efficiency really is perfectly fine is the point where, in an electric water heater, the element heats the water.

That stage, like all other electrical heating, is as close to 100% efficient as makes no difference. (A tiny amount of the input energy to a hot water heater element is lost, for instance as sound.)

So a device which, as Ecowatts say, "converts electrical power into heat at an efficiency significantly greater than that of a conventional immersion heater", is by definition an over-unity device. Being able to get "150 to 200 per cent more energy out than we put in, without trying too hard", as Mr Lyons says in the Daily Mail piece, takes the heater straight into the realm of practical perpetual motion.

Because I have a passing knowledge of the 100% historical failure rate of these sorts of things, I am completely certain that this newest device will fizzle out just like all of the others.

I'm hoping for a more dramatic denouement this time, though. Not just the usual sad bilked investors - I want revelations of corruption and academic arguments!

It probably won't be as much fun as Firepower, but it could still be good for a giggle.

UPDATE: The end of the Daily Mail piece mentions that this gadget was previously being hawked by a company called "Gardner Watts". I've found this piece from the Daily Telegraph which talks about it. It's from 2003.

Once again, the claims were apparently verified scientifically - by one Doctor Jason Riley of Bristol University, who is another real person.

And the claims were bigger that time. According to the Telegraph, the 2003 version delivered "energy gains of between three and 26 times what had been put in".

The 2003 Gardner Watts "cell" was going to be on the market "within two years".

But here we are, four years later, and still... nothing. All that time, and not one published paper, let alone a working product.

And not even a nibble from those cynical bastards at the Nobel Institute.

7 Responses to “Ecowatts: Place your bets!”

  1. troglobyte Says:

    To be fair, it is certainly possible to have a device that puts more energy into water than is input via electricity, fuel, or whatever else. Heat pumps do it all the time. Cool the outside air, and you can move that heat inside (plus pumping inefficiency, which in this case actually helps you).

    Of course, the reason they're not used all over is that they tend to be expensive, maintenance-heavy, and workable only in a fairly small temperature range compared to electric elements. Given that this device isn't festooned with radiators, I doubt that it works on the heat pump principle (or any other valid principle, for that matter). However, it is possible.

    I'd bet that this device's "secret catalyst" is the key. It's a reasonably clever way to scam people, because you don't have to worry about concealing a second set of electrical wires, gas plumbing, or anything else, and it can be explained away as necessary for correct operation of the "infinite energy" machine. Meanwhile, it's reacting merrily away and cranking out heat; never mind that the device doesn't work for more than a little while before going right back to ~99% efficiency. If the investors notice it stops working, tell them that it's still an experimental model, you're working out the last problems (but this proves the principle is sound!), and swap in another catalyst cartridge or whatever.

  2. Lord Booga Says:

    If these people put half as much effort into REAL science, we'd all be enjoying our household cold-fusion reactors about now :/

  3. Kess Says:

    Jim Lyons is a real person at York, and uses his engineering credentials to support this product, but you'll see his endorsement of this product in a different light when you read his woo-woo bio entry at

  4. Stark Says:

    Nice link Kess... "emerging new models describing an active Aether" resulted in coffee in my nasal cavity. You'd think I would have been prepared for that phrase by the preceding one: "My research area is in the field of non-locality of Consciousness." but alas no, and now I have a scalded sinus for my trouble.

    You'd think I'd learn to not drink piping hot liquids while reading things like this but apparently I'm a slow learner.

  5. Strike Says:

    really this reports make me to worry tooo ( as I am designing a machine ) Time to change our views guys ,with now a days technology, why can't we make things better than a joke ?

  6. RichVR Says:

    Strike, my guess would be because "now a days technology" can not change the Laws of Thermodynamics. But I may be misreading what you wrote. If I am, I apologise.

  7. RichVR Says:

    Oh, also:

    100 quatloos against the Ecowatts.

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