Discussions surrounding the notion of "free" energy almost always devolve into polemics when one of the participants derides such an idea as pseudoscience and "utter nonsense" because obviously you cannot violate the vaunted laws of thermodynamics (aka conservation of energy and law of entropy). I will argue here that this point of view is outdated and emblematic of a truncated point of view. What skeptics are failing to grasp is that the first and second laws of thermodynamics only hold in Closed Systems.
Skeptics often downplay problems associated with models that have become, in many ways, antiquated. For example the Big Bang demands a violation of conservation laws a priori. Just because its inherent complications are explained away by Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle does not make its energetic origins any less mysterious. Also, 70% of energy in the Universe appears "Dark" and seems to be increasing. Theoretically speaking we know conservation laws are statistical in nature, and there is some speculation that symmetry laws in general are merely special cases (albeit ubiquitous) that break down on the cosmological scale. In that sense the universe may be asymmetrical and prone to conservation violations by nature.
One of the clearest experimental indicators that there still remains a treasure trove of new physics left to be unveiled is known as Low Energy Nuclear Reactions. LENR (aka Cold Fusion) is perpetually ignored and/or dismissed, despite having been proven beyond a doubt experimentally --- in countless cases worldwide since 1989 --- and being underwritten by a diverse array of theoretical explanations (for example MIT's Peter Hagelstein; Los Alamos' Edmund Storms; Nobel Laureate Julian Schwinger; Retired MIT-Nanotechnologist Ken Shoulders). What is most significant is that CF-LENR appears to violate majority opinion in regards to how energy conservation laws might work. It would appear from countless tests that both electrolytic cells and gas-driven reactors output significantly more energy than is put in to them (Rossi's E-Cat; Defkalion Hyperion; Brillouin Boiler; JET Energy NANOR).
Even though the standard model has taught us that nucleons possess a huge amount of stored energy, effectively liberating that energy has always been the tricky part. Most scientists believe that such a feat can only be achieved in a high temperature, high pressure system that mimics the Sun. Achieving nuclear-type reactions that produce nuclear-level excess heat within such a relatively low-temperature chemical environment simply goes against standard atomic theory -- but the experimental results appear undeniable.
But is there any solid proof for "Over- Unity" electric and/or magnetic motors? While there is yet to be demonstrable proof of a "sure thing", and though much surrounding the notion of exotic free-energy devices is not yet well understood or as developed as CF-LENR, there are some promising candidates worth mentioning. For example, simplified models of the Bedini Motor (aka Bedini SG) have been replicated by a respectable number of Open-Source Enthusiasts. These motors seem capable of both powering a load and recharging an auxiliary battery at the same time.
Similarly, an inventive engineer operating under the pseudonym UFOPolitics has sparked a flurry of activity at energeticforum.com amongst fellow Grassroots Technologists by making available his Asymmetric Motor Specs. Functionally similar in ways to the Bedini SG, this electric motor model runs cool, generates unusually high torque, and appears able to recharge its batteries by making use of its Back-EMF.
Dr.'s Alexandra and Paulo Correa of Canada patented an over-unity plasma motor in the 90s' called the PAGD. Based in principle on the exotic plasma-tube technologies of inventor T. Henry Moray, the PAGD was held in very high regard by both Dr. Eugene Mallove, a former aerospace engineer and science journalist at MIT, and Dr. Harold Apsden, who held the position of lead patent attorney at IBM for over twenty years. Unfortunately both men are now deceased, and the Correas have not garnered the same attention since their passing.
Also worth mentioning is the Yildiz Magnetic Motor which appears to generate mechanical energy with no input. It is believed to be making use of neodymium magnets to generate its power. It has the backing of Professor J.L. Duarte, who has evaluated the device on a number of occasions and has claimed to have found little indication or possibility of fraud (though it cannot be completely ruled out). The device has been demonstrated at a number of Universities, and was recently showcased publically at the Inventors Exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland.
If such a device is ever demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt, the million dollar question remains: What can possibly account for such an anomaly? To answer this we must first understand the difference between an Open System and a Closed System. Most theorists envision the Universe in its entirety as a closed system; meaning it is self-contained, energetically finite and tends toward a state of equilibrium (maximum entropy and disorder). Many of our technologies mirror this flawed principle in that they are designed to intake a finite energy source (petroleum for example) and inefficiently dissipate it in exchange for work. This always results in a Coefficient of Performance (COP) less than (<) unity (1.0 or 100% input/output ratio).
Open systems on the other hand operate much differently. Take for example technologies such as windmills, solar cells, or water wheels. They take their energy from environmental sources that can be considered infinite for all practical purposes, and can therefore operate at COP > 1.0.
Open systems, through their perpetual intake of an outside energy source, are able to defy the countervailing force of entropy for prolonged periods of time (aka Negentropy and/or Spontaneous Self-Organization). For example every organism in the biosphere exhibits this principle as a result of their energetic coupling (aka Feedback) with the environment. What are often labeled as free energy systems, if they indeed work as advertised, likely operate according to an almost identical principle.
The bottomless source of energy that underwrites our Open Universe (in the thermodynamic sense) has been tagged with various names throughout recorded history. In Eastern mystical traditions it was known as the Akasha. Within the 19th century physics community it was labeled as the Luminiferous Aether. More recently many theorists have come to identify it as the virtual Zero-Point Field. Unfortunately at the turn of the 20th century most members of the scientific community dismissed the idea of a static (passive/material) Aether in the wake of the Michelson-Morley interferometry experiments. By the 1920s Einstein's Relativistic Space-Time Manifold had been adopted in the Aether's stead.
However all of this seems rather erroneous in hindsight considering that not only did Michelson-Morley not disprove a dynamic-kinetic Aether, more thorough work conducted by Dayton Miller (the preeminent physicist of his day) in the 1930s, and others since, seems to refute the findings of Michelson-Morley entirely. Therefore we are on firm ground in stating that the Aether was not disproven, it simply went out of fashion.
In the 21st century the Aether paradigm is alive and well within a number of theoretical frameworks. For example, Wallace Thornhill (Electrical Engineer and founder of the Electric Universe paradigm) and Konstantin Meyl (German Physicist/Engineer) conceive of the Aether as an ocean of energy-rich neutrinos. Harold Aspden (British Physicist/Engineer) envisioned the Aether as a Liquid-Crystal continuum consisting of charged particles he referred to as quons. Paul LaViolette (American Physicist/Systems Theorist) on the other hand has modeled the Aether as a kinetic, cross-catalytic potential field (aka Model-G) that gives rise to all the fundamental forces and particles in Nature, in which material particles naturally arise as self-stabilizing patterns within the alchemical Aether. And of course there is the oft-referenced Zero-Point Field seething with virtual electron-positron flux (derived from QED and extended by SED).
Disregarding their differences for the moment (in the interest of keeping this essay concise), let me focus on the most vital factor uniting all of these Aether models: They all represent a realistic source of abundant, cheap, clean energy (and perhaps have applications to space-propulsion as well). While it does seem to require (cost) a small amount of work (input) to tap this environmental plenum, because it meets the criteria of a dynamic open system, it can be considered "free" energy for all practical purposes. As Marcin Jakubowski (Founder of Open Source Ecology) once said, “Instead of our lives being more based on leisure time and actually doing things that are most meaningful, so we can improve ourselves as people and learn to get along, we are struggling with basic resource scarcities”. I could not agree more. Undoubtedly free energy, conscious evolution, and the post-scarcity era will all develop hand-in-hand.