Italian inventor Andrea Rossi's LENR Energy Catalyser (E-Cat) machine claims to use a small amount of energy to start a fusion reaction between nickel and hydrogen (at room temperature) which then produces massive amounts of energy (more than 10 times) in the form of heat, and a small amount of copper by-product. It is the ultimate solution to the world’s energy problems!
But wait, atoms don’t just fuse together. There is an electric force of repulsion called the Coulomb barrier between all separate atoms, and huge amounts of energy are needed to overcome this force. Physicists are adamant that cold fusion is impossible. Even so, at least 15 reputable scientists from around the world, as well as government officials and investors, have watched live demonstrations and all have declared it to be a success.
Last April Rossi showed his machine to a pair of Swedish physicists, who now vouch for its legitimacy. They said that only 400 watts were put into the machine, yet over the next two hours over 12,400 watts of energy were generated, "the only alternative explanation is that there is some kind of a nuclear process that gives rise to the measured energy production."
Yet still, what should be heralded as the scientific breakthrough of the millennium is instead welcomed with criticism and scepticism … Maybe for good reason.
Rossi and his E-Cat machine are fast becoming global stars, but as with all stars there are those doubters and sceptics who want to bring them back down to Earth. Well, an Australian engineer may just have found the way in which to do this with another, simpler and physically possible, explanation for the excess heat produced during the “cold fusion” reaction.
In December Rossi approached Dick Smith, an Australian entrepreneur, asking him to invest in the E-Cat machine. Unbeknown to Rossi, Smith is a supporter of the Australian Sceptics group, and asked a fellow member, aeronautics engineer Ian Bryce, to investigate the machine. Good old sceptics can find an alternative theory to most things if they have a mind to, and so it is with LENR.
Bryce found that in all tests of the E-Cat, something as simple as a misconnected earth lead could account for the excess energy. There were no meters measuring electricity flow through the earth wire, and due to a faulty connection as much as 3000 watts could have been flowing into the generator long after the other “official” wires had been cut off from power.
Smith explained that, "if one of the wires in the three-core power lead was accidentally misconnected, the actual measurements of current witnessed by the two Swedish scientists would not be the total power going into the reactor, and there would be an apparent power gain. One of the scientists who observed an earlier test has now agreed this could be so."
When confronted with this postulation Rossi angrily retorted that, "the cables (all of them) have been checked with attention, and the absence of any cable except the ones of which the (current) have been measured has been carefully checked. This guy is insulting the professionalism of all the scientists who made the tests."
Steven Krivit, editor in chief of the Nuclear Energy Encyclopaedia and a journalist specialising in cold fusion, said that this is not the first time that the wiring of Rossi’s machine has been called in to question. Mats Lewan, a Scandinavian technology writer also admitted, after witnessing an E-Cat demonstration last year, that, “he failed to check all three wires, and he admitted the possibility (of faulty wiring).”
Smith is convinced that this new explanation is the true reason behind Rossi’s success. He suggests that if an independent study of the E-Cat machine were concluded, and the current in all wires were measured, "that this will show that it was a misconnection of the wires that resulted in the seemingly unbelievable power gain which Mr. Rossi attributes to cold fusion."
At the moment those who believe this alternative explanation are giving Rossi the benefit of the doubt and talking of “inadvertent misconnections”. All except Peter Thieberger, senior physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory, who explains that, "not only would the plug need to be 'accidentally' miswired, but an equally unlikely 'mistake' would need to have occurred inside of the E-Cat." Suggesting that if this is the case it is more likely an intentional connection rather than a mistake. The problem is that Rossi will let no one look inside his machine, claiming that the technology is still not patented; so the wiring cannot be checked.
Another doubt has been raised over the E-Cat machine, that of its copper by-product. Sven Kullander, chairman of the Swedish Academy of Science’s Energy Committee and a professor at Sweden’s Uppsala University, analysed the copper and found that it had exactly the same composition as naturally occurring copper from a copper mine. He said that the copper from such a reaction as LENR between nickel and hydrogen would create a compound composed of a different ratio of isotopes.
Yet for all the sceptics and critics there are so many believers. Does this mean Rossi could be a top quality con artist?
In the 1990s he announced a similar “miracle” to the world. He professed that his company, PetrolDragon, could convert toxic waste into oil. Another perfect solution to a global problem, get rid of unwanted toxic waste and produce incredibly valuable oil. He amassed 70,000 tonnes of waste … and then left it to rot on-site. He was sent to prison, but 10 years later acquitted by the Italian government.
Whether you are a doubter or a believer, Rossi claims that his E-Cat will soon be available to buy on the market, so any “sceptics will be free to buy them and make all the tests they want.”
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com