Engineering Dead-Ends: A Gallery of Perpetual Motion Machines

Sept. 13, 2016
Perpetual motion machines can do work indefinitely with zero energy input. Unfortunately, they don't exist.

Perpetual motion machines can do work indefinitely with zero energy input. If one existed, it could turn a wheel or raise water, thereby generating energy without needing fuel of any kind—a useful device. And in Medieval times, the scientists and engineers of the day thought it was possible, if you were clever and ingenious enough, to design and build them. Then, the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics came along and proved such devices were not possible.

This did not deter everyone. There are still con artists who try to fool people into believing they’ve come up with a foolproof design; they just need funds to build a working prototype.And then there are the “mad scientist” types who truly believe they’ve found a loophole in the Laws of Thermodynamics.

Unfortunately, these true believers were doomed to failure before they ever started on their quest. There are also some academics who enjoy the mental challenge coming up with ideas and drawings of machines that look like they should work, to the uneducated eye.

Here is a collection from the past of various schemes put forth as perpetual motion machines. For more on this subject, check out the Museum of Unworkable Devices.

Sponsored Recommendations

The entire spectrum of drive technology

June 5, 2024
Read exciting stories about all aspects of maxon drive technology in our magazine.


May 15, 2024
Production equipment is expensive and needs to be protected against input abnormalities such as voltage, current, frequency, and phase to stay online and in operation for the ...

Solenoid Valve Mechanics: Understanding Force Balance Equations

May 13, 2024
When evaluating a solenoid valve for a particular application, it is important to ensure that the valve can both remain in state and transition between its de-energized and fully...

Solenoid Valve Basics: What They Are, What They Do, and How They Work

May 13, 2024
A solenoid valve is an electromechanical device used to control the flow of a liquid or gas. It is comprised of two features: a solenoid and a valve. The solenoid is an electric...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Machine Design, create an account today!