Would you believe... superconductors?

A reader writes:

Can you do some research on this amazing device, which claims to be a superconductor. Is it for real? If so it is the most advanced scientific device on the market.

Company: KESECO
Device: ULTRA Current Improvement System
This claims not to be Power factor correction, rather it is a superconductor!

It has relevant patents and scientific explanations. I am having a hard time discrediting this, maybe it is for real
Check it out Dan:



Keseco do seem to be using some words having to do with superconductivity, don't they?

They go on to talk about "rotating electromagnetic waves" being converted to and from "far infrared", and the "crystal structure" of the wire. This is all far too advanced for little old me.

(I bet it does wonders for air and musicality, though.)

OK, yes, superconductivity would save power, if you replaced all of the transmission wires with superconductors (as is, very occasionally, actually done). But whatever Keseco say they're doing, that isn't it. Their gadget connects in parallel with your existing wiring.

(Even if you could magically turn all of the conductors in your home into superconductors, while simultaneously sprinkling everything with the pixie dust it'd need in order to still work with zero conductor resistance, you'd save only a tiny amount. Where electricity is lost as heat in the home, it's almost all meant to be lost as heat, either directly as in a toaster, or indirectly in the course of causing some motor, CPU or loudspeaker to work.)

Oh, and no superconductor yet discovered operates at a temperature above -138 degrees Celsius.

But I'm sure these minor quibbles are all thoroughly dealt with somewhere in Keseco's complicated explanations.

The Keseco devices may have an unusual theory of operation - whatever it is - but in appearance and installation they're pretty standard magic energy savers. You just connect the Keseco device in parallel with your existing wiring in the breaker box, and that's it. Whatever it does, it does it to any combination of devices inside the building, without necessarily even being in there itself, much less being electrically coupled or configured to them in any readily apparent way.

Never mind that, though; you can't argue with success. And Keseco's devices are very successful. Just ask them!

Don't ask anyone actually in the electrical-device-analysis business, though. As is usually the case with these sorts of devices, Keseco does not appear to be in any hurry to do any independent tests of their power-saving claims. Neither are these Enerwise people here in Australia, as far as I can see. The Enerwise site uses terms like "proven" and "the results are in!", but the actual evidence is just the usual wall of testimonials. (I eagerly await the publication of Enerwise's "Big Book Of Brag"! Surely that will be where we'll find the long-awaited independent controlled tests!)

Keseco-slash-Enerwise have, of course, apparently been on the news. And as we all know, they won't let you say something on TV unless it's true.

But wait - Keseco's "Certificate" section has an actual "Test Report"! It's reproduced so small as to be almost illegible, but I managed to decipher it!

It's a RoHS test, that certifies that the Keseco products pass poisonous-chemicals tests. Not that they work.

And then, also in the Certificate section, there's some more paperwork, but in Korean.

(This also seems to be par for the course in the miracle-energy-product world. If there are tests, they'll often be from labs in far-flung parts of the world where they don't speak English, even though they're being used to support claims made for products that're sold in English-speaking countries. Even energy-saver companies that are based in English-speaking countries sometimes, somehow, manage to do this.)

For the squinting-and-translating-Korean convenience of my readers, here are direct links to the largest images available from the Keseco "Test Report" page:

page 1
page 2
page 3
page 4
page 5
page 6
page 7
page 8
page 9
page 10
page 11
page 12

In among the Hangul there's what that looks like a statement that... something... used two-point-something per cent less power after... something else happened. But I'm not sure.

None of it seems in any way connected to Keseco's "guarantee" of a 5% power saving.

The "Performance Report" on keseco.com makes bolder claims, and is another entirely typical document for this sort of outfit. Bare numbers, no info on how the test was controlled, and further silence on the all-important question of whether the tester was on the Keseco payroll or not.

This sort of proof-by-assertion is standard for makers of energy savers, magical mileage-improving fuel additives, magnetic anti-arthritis bracelets, ultrasonic pest repellers, literally-magic "money magnets" and so on. There are hundreds - heck, probably thousands - of companies of this sort, big and professional enough to put together a sales package like Keseco's. But even when these companies manage to get large amounts of money from canny investors, they never, ever do the proper tests that would let them actually prove their claims and take the giant step up to their rightful place high up the Fortune 500 list. Instead, they sell (or attempt to sell) their products one at a time, direct to consumers whose own standards of evidence are satisfied by the testimonials presented.

(Often, there's a hybrid middle level between the company-that-should-do-some-proper-tests and the gullible consumers. That level is occupied by the gullible distributor, who liked the product so much he bought a franchise, but who has not yet realised that there's no good reason to suppose the product really does work.)

Keseco's PDF catalogue, and their "Products info" page, also cheerfully claim "Preventing Harmful Electromagnetic Waves" as a feature of their system. I suppose that means your microwave stops working, too. If mobile phones, by some freak chance, do turn out to be bad for you, I suppose your Keseco box will also suck up all of their emissions.

The site and catalogue also say the Keseco boxes "prevent" static electricity. Somehow. Somewhere. And then the catalogue has a picture of what looks like a molecular model of DNA, and then something about Fermi energy. I'd have been completely convinced if only they'd worked in Bose-Einstein condensates and particles with imaginary mass.

The Keseco catalogue also has a number of examples of another standard marker for this sort of business, Irrelevant Certifications Offered As If They Have Something To Do With Whether The Product Works.

There's a Korean patent! A registered design! A trademark! A corporate insurance policy of some sort! Alleged CMA, CE, ANCE, ISO 9001 and RoHS conformance! None of which means the product bloody works!

(Just to make this clear one more time, because it comes up so very, very, VERY often: The Patent Offices in various countries make no attempt whatsoever to determine whether an idea presented for patenting is actually good for anything at all. You don't even have to provide a working model. There's usually some basic screening to keep out blatant perpetual-motion devices {possibly with a caveat that you can patent such a device, but only if you do bring a working model!}, but that's all. All the patent office cares about is whether the idea is sufficiently different from other things that already exist to be worthy of a patent - and most patent offices are so overworked these days that they don't even do this very well. So despite what thousands of crackpots and swindlers have claimed over lo, these many, many years, there is no connection whatsoever between patentability and functionality.)

I remind you, gentle reader, that all of the wonderful effects Keseco products are supposed to cause are, somehow, created by a box that you just stick in or near the building's breaker box, and wire in parallel with the building's circuits. Whatever those circuits are, and whatever business you're in. It would be entirely churlish to suggest that this is analogous to making a "water saver" that hangs off a T-fitting next to your water meter, thereby impeding or encouraging the water's flow in no way at all. So I won't do that.

I suggest, Andrew, that you just put up with your present electricity bill for another year. By then, either Keseco will be a household name, one of the most profitable corporations in the world, with Nobel Prizes in the pipeline for their engineers... or they'll still be grubbing around with all the other retail sellers of worthless "power saving" talismans.

But oh, dear - the proudly-displayed accreditations in Keseco's catalogue go all the way back to 2004! The site itself has been around since 2002!

(It used to have an awesome flash intro.)

And yet still, no Keseco boxes in every electrical substation. No Keseco boxes the size of Winnebagos hanging off the side of every aluminium smelter. No Nobel Prizes.

I just can't work it out.

(UPDATE: More on the Keseco box.)

8 Responses to “Would you believe... superconductors?”

  1. Anne Says:

    Now now, Fermi energy and Bose-Einstein condensates are highly relevant to superconductors - it's how they work, after all. Not, as you say, that superconductors have any connection to this product, but at least their buzzword scattershot did hit some connected terms.

    I have to wonder, though, who sends you these letters. I mean, they're clearly regular enough readers to know that you regularly rip into magic energy devices, and yet they always manage to have that wide-eyed, innocent, "well gosh, it seems weird to me, but maybe it works!" attitude...

  2. mlipphardt Says:

    If someone had pointed me to this page on April 1st I would have thought it was a joke. The explanation of how it works is very nearly the most completely sense-free, utterly and transparently made up thing I have ever read. It's as if they simply took every catchword and pseudo-science phrase they could find, wrote them on scraps of paper, threw them in a box and made a web page out of whatever fell out the bottom. If anyone falls for this, I think they would have to be classified as a sub-human form of life and confined as a threat to society.

    The site is very pretty though.

  3. Buckermann Says:

    From my experience, people who believe that such (and other miraculous )devices actually work, simply don't have the knowledge of the most basic principles of physics. I'm not talking about Fermi energy, Bose-Einstein condensates (which sounds totally badass by the way, I think I'm going to name my next cat Bose-Einstein) or the Meissner effect, but simple things like:
    Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only change forms.

    If you don't know the above line, you are easy prey for con artists.
    These people are (usually) not stupid; only terribly undereducated.

    I blame the society. Which is a nice excuse for my inactivity.

  4. reyalp Says:

    I bet it does wonders for air and musicality, though

    Hey, I think you are onto a business opportunity here. What do you want to bet that audiophiles would be all over a "cable" that was not only ridiculous expensive, but also required a constant supply of liquid nitrogen ? With bubbling dewars and clouds of condensation, it would be the show-off cable to end all show-off cables, and the ongoing service to provide "audio grade" liquid nitrogen would be a nice little earner (you wouldn't use that musicality-destroying grade B praxair stuff would you ? No sir!)

    Oh what's that. A scruple ? Damn you scruples, stop following me!

    Checking to see whether someone less scruple afflicted is already doing it, I note that JPS labs will sell you a "superconductor ®" cable that is not, you know, actually a superconductor, for a mere $999/meter. If I'm not mistaken, honest (but equally useless) HTS wire would cost you significantly less.

  5. mlipphardt Says:

    @reyalp - I'd pay for that! Throw in some lasers to make cool beams through the vapors and I'd use it to wire my house! And I'd dump my wifi to start pulling network cables made of the stuff - I'm sure my data rate would increase, and the tonality of the ones and zeros would be much improved.

    Now all we need is another sub-prime lending scheme to pay for it all, and it would be perfect.

    @Buckerman - if you want to get a good feel for the general grasp of science and tech now current, watch the Discovery or Learning Channel. You will find out all there is to know about the Bermuda Triangle and poltergeists.

  6. FatBigot Says:

    Nobody yet has mentioned the essential problem with increased use of superconductors: That of fault level. All switchgear, circuit breakers and fuses have a rating for the maximum current they are capable of interrupting. During a short circuit fault, e.g JCB digger through an 11kV underground cable, the main thing limiting the current is the resistance of the cables. A few milliseconds later a breaker trips, and the energy dissipation at the fault site is halted. If the breaker has an insufficient fault capability, it too fails [possibly spectacularly], adding to the mess.

    Those who would sell and but superconductor for domestic use fail to realize this. The consequences of domestic circuit breakers failing to clear a minor short circuit because of unexpectedly high fault level is too horrible to contemplate. Even if the electricity suppliers fuse goes, it will only do so after much more energy has been delivered into the fire/Dan's lighting tree/human corpse etc.

  7. Energita Says:

    We are representing Ultra device, made by Keseco in EU market.
    We do agree that claims to achieve superconductivity in wires seem to be unrealistic. And we partly agree with that. However we confirm that we have tested Ultra in various cases: domestic and industrial. We have used Chauvin Arnoux ca 8335 power analyzer to measure w,kva,kvar,Amps, U, harmonics, cos fi, etc. We confirm that Ultra device really works in reducing active power, reactive power, slightly improving cos fi.It reduces total consumption by 5-12%. The saving % depends on a number of factors.It does not turn wires into superconductors, but reduces energy loses in them.Detailed reports can be send upon request. Currently Keseco obtained SGS, TGM reports on saving. The patent they have for energy saving device is real.It is not for design, it is for energy saving.See: http://www.wipo.int/patentscope/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=WO2003061097&recNum=1&docAn=KR2003000104&queryString=AN:PCT/KR03/00104&maxRec=1 . Ultra device really saves energy For more information on research works we have done with ultra,please, send request to :info@energita.lt.

  8. Daniel Rutter Says:

    My reply to Energita's comment is a new post, here.

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