The appliance of science: Steorn chief executive Sean McCarthy at at a photo call last year

Steorn, the controversial Irish company which claims to have defied the basic laws of physics by developing "free energy" technology, secured over €8m in funding from a range of investors to continue its research in 2006, the Sunday Tribune has learned.

Its most recent accounts for that year also reveal that it had accumulated losses of €5.9m by that year, but continued to pay out hundreds of thousands of euro in remuneration to its two directors.

Despite doubts within the scientific community about the validity of its claims, the company is vowing to press ahead with its plans to bring it to the marketplace.

Their "free energy" invention, called Orbo, was the subject of a major public relations embarrassment a year ago after plans to demonstrate it to the assembled world media in London went wrong due to "technical problems".

According to its 2006 accounts, which were provided by the company, Steorn's two directors, CEO Seán McCarthy and Michael Daly, shared over €350,000 in remuneration in 2006. Wages and salaries for 13 staff, including the directors, totalled a further €988,000.

It says that the €8.1m investment, which took the form of loans which were converted to shares this year, came from existing investors and that due to the "contentious nature" of its technology, it has sought no further funding during the process of validation.

"When we went public with the claim we knew that there would be large elements of the public/media who would attempt to paint the claim being made without technical details as a fraud," a spokesman said.

"Hence we made it clear from the outset that the publicity that we sought was not in any way an attempt to raise funds but was a genuine attempt to seek validation from the scientific community."

According to Steorn, its challenge to the academic community to independently validate Orbo is continuing.

It anticipates a full launch before next summer, and says any further public demonstrations of the technology will now coincide with the commercial launch.

The company claims the technology can generate substantial amounts of excess energy by using a particular system for constructing magnetic fields. If proven, it says Orbo could allow for the creation of infinite amounts of clean, free and constant energy.

It has selected a worldwide jury of 22 scientists to examine its claims, and says validation of the technology is happening in "several forms", including this process.

Asked why it is taking so long to complete, a spokesman for the company said the process is a "complicated one, and has been affected by continued development of the technology by Steorn".

He added that no details of those involved in the jury process will be released "until the process is complete".