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Post Carbon

Post Carbon

Post Carbon Institute provides individuals, communities, businesses, and governments with the resources needed to understand and respond to the interrelated economic, energy, environmental, and equity…

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Cold Fusion and Rossi's E-Cat - The Story So Far

There is a fascinating drama taking place over in Bologna, Italy involving an engineer by the name of Andrea Rossi and a physicist, Sergio Focardi, who say they have developed an entirely new source of cheap, clean, energy. This energy is said to be produced by fusing nickel and hydrogen inside a low-cost, table-top-sized reactor. Moreover, the inventors say this device is already in limited commercial production and is being sold to customers with the first delivery being made to an unknown American buyer this week.

Now, most nuclear physicists believe that fusing nickel and hydrogen is impossible this side of extremely high temperatures, so Rossi's device cannot perform as he claims and some sort of sophisticated fraud is taking place. The claim of unverified cold fusion naturally has become controversial with charges and counter charges being hurled across the Internet. The validity of the claim that an unlimited supply of cheap, clean energy is available now is apparently too much for the mainstream media which has been strangely quiet about the affair.

The problem with the "scam theory" is that for the last 10 months, the developers have been putting on demonstrations of their device before groups of learned physicists and selected members of the press in an attempt to show that their "energy catalyzer" actually works. When the reactor is heated up, so much energy in the form of steam is emitted that, short of fraud, the only answer seems to be that nuclear fusion is indeed taking place. The amount of heat being reported and apparently verified by outside observers is simply too much for any known chemical reaction.

Support for the position that this is a fraud comes from the fact that so far only the inventors and their closest associates seem to know what is going on inside the reactor. Visiting physicists can verify that heat is coming out and that there are no obvious signs of something untoward, but this is not the same as having independent laboratories with full access to the technology declaring that it is for real.

If you are interested in the details of all this, the account in Wikipedia under "Energy Catalyzer" gives a reasonably balanced version of the story thus far.

Following the cold fusion furor of 20 years ago in which the scientific establishment declared that low energy fusion was not believable, scattered pockets of ill-funded scientists continued cold fusion research, while the world of big science continued working on multi-billion dollar fusion projects involving magnetic containment and lasers. From time to time those working on cold fusion reported observing abnormal amounts of heat being emitted when they attempted to fuse nickel with hydrogen, but as nobody could explain what was happening, scant attention was paid to their reports. Focardi was among the scientists performing and reporting on these experiments over the last 20 years.

Somewhere around 2008 Rossi, who appears to be more of an entrepreneur than a scientist, is said to have come to Focardi with an idea of how the fusion of nickel and hydrogen could be sped up to the point where a commercially viable, energy producing, reactor could be built. Three years later demonstrations of such a device began.

Last Friday the story got even better when a demonstration of a larger device designed to produce 1 megawatt of power was held. At the end of the day, outside consultants working for an American firm or organization declared that the test was satisfactory and the working prototype was immediately sold to the unidentified American "customer." Skeptics say this "test" proved nothing as the identity of the testers and the customer were unknown and could be part of the scam which they fervently believe is taking place.

Rossi says more reactors will be delivered shortly. We should not have to wait long find out if indeed a major breakthrough has occurred. Rossi says he will sign research contracts with the universities of Bologna and Uppsala to explore the physics behind production of so much heat.

As anyone who has ever seen the old movies of hydrogen bombs being tested can tell you, gigantic amounts of energy can be obtained from the fusion of atoms. What would be remarkable, if this story pans out, is how energy could come from such a simple device - a container, some powdered nickel, some sort of catalyst (which some believe is electro-magnetic energy), a touch of hydrogen, and a heating element. It should be noted that thus far, nobody has reported any sign of lethal radiation flying out of the reactor or radioactive waste resulting from whatever is taking place inside.

If this development is for real, and we will not know for a while, parts of our understanding of nuclear physics will have to be rethought for it seems there is much more in nature to learn about. Cheap, pollution-free energy could, in theory, reset the clock on global warming for if these devices spread rapidly, the transition away from carbon-based energy might just happen in time to save the earth. Cheap energy would allow for cheap desalinization of water, cheap transport, cheap food, and a lot of other changes.

Needless to say, major industries - coal, oil, nuclear, green, etc. - and economic relationships between nations would be upset by a rapid transition away from increasing costly fossil fuels. What happens to oil in all this is hard to say. Complete transition to nuclear fusion would likely take decades to accomplish. High costs for fossil fuels would be a major incentive, but simply re-provisioning 7 or 8 billion people would be a major job. This would suggest that higher oil prices will remain a factor in our lives no matter what happens with other sources of energy.

By. Tom Whipple

Source: Post Carbon




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  • Anonymous on November 04 2011 said:
    You persist in misrepresenting this story. The reasons you suggest why skeptics doubt Rossi are not the real ones. Here are some:It is easy to get independent testing for Rossi's machine and it would not jeopardize his secret yet in 9 months of posturing around, he has never done it.All of Rossi's public tests are error prone for a myriad of technical reasons. All those problems could be easily mitigated with something called a "blank" or calibration run and by running much longer than the 4 hours he did. He has not done either.Accusation of fraud has nothing to do with not knowing how it works. It has everything to do with bad measurement methods, poor scientific technique during the tests, too short runs (it's nuclear device, remember?) and most of all a complete lack of any independent testing in which Rossi is totally uninvolved.If it's not a scam, why not allow it to be properly and independently tested? THAT'S the issue.
  • Anonymous on November 04 2011 said:
    The problem with Rossi is simple: Even though it would be: simple, cost little, take little time, and put any doubt to rest, he refuses to perform, or allow others to perform any kind of even remotely reliable energy balance test. Rossi has put on a series of shows, including absurd demonstrations that a big trailer full of plumbing can put out 470kW at low temperature in spurts while connected to a 1MW diesel genset. Now Rossi says he has shown all that he will and will show no more. Rossi and Rossi alone chooses not to prove he has the incredible that he claims. This is not the first time Rossi has made incredible claims. He failed to produce results on his claims before. He hasn't produced results proving his claims now. He does make an entertaining show, as do all the gullible people who still think beans are magic because a salesman tells them as much.
  • Anonymous on November 04 2011 said:
    Rossi may be being deliberately deceptive to protect his invention. If everyone thinks it is a hoax, then there is less competition in the short term. He only needs to prove that it works to his 'customer'.
  • Anonymous on November 04 2011 said:
    You seem to have read my mind in every way with this article. I have been following cold fusion since '89 with as neutral a mind as I could muster and E-cat since July 2011. At first I laughed as a skeptic at the claims and then with a review by NyTekic and the Skeptics Society of their data and conclusions I shifted to something of a believer. With the October 6, 2011 demonstration and the October 28 one for the customer, and with the sale of a 1 MW unit to the tune of $2 million, I was convinced. This is from the perspective of a mechanical engineer with the skills to perform an control volume or mass analysis on a thermodynamic system; it works! This is the best overall summary written in as neutral manner of such a Earth moving event I have read to this date. You had better get ready friends as the times they are a'changing.
  • Anonymous on November 04 2011 said:
    These two posts do not address Rossi's core business problem: Confidentiality.He rightly refuses to have his system tested unless the tests are done to his specification, and this is something that he can not seem to achieve. He is "terrified" that, lacking patent protection, his secrets will be stolen, and he will face a competitive situation that he is not financially equipped to handle. Now, since he "knows" that his technology is valid, he does not really care about those who deny his capabilities. Ergo, we will have to wait, and over the next year, we will see what he has.He is not a scientist, and this is the key concept that his critics do not grasp. He is a businessman, hustler and he has history's biggest bull by the tail.
  • Anonymous on November 04 2011 said:
    Well, let's not rag at Rossi so much since Fox News reports his "customer" as none other than the US Navy. If dozens of physicists, 20 years LENR research and the United States Navy have all been bamboozled - it can only be aliens. 8)
  • Anonymous on November 04 2011 said:
    He did have independent testing. His plant was a success. Here is a more in depth article showing the energy analysis from the test. This will be the beginning of a new world. http://pesn.com/2011/11/02/9501943_Rossis_E-Cat_Victory_on_Cold_Fusion_Emergence_Day--E-Day/
  • Anonymous on November 05 2011 said:
    mike: First, a properly conducted energy balance test treats the machine as a black box. What is inside doesn't matter beyond what it weighs and how big a volume it occupies. Second, the moment he supposedly sold his unit, he was barred from filing any new patents in Europe. Third, it is Rossi who since January has sought belief in his audacious claims. If he has been telling the truth he could have at any time proven his claims: simply, easily, quickly, at low cost, with no doubt, and without revealing anything about what is inside his machine. He says he's had a machine heating a factory for years now. No one has reported on seeing that machine.The existence of a customer, their identity, their acceptance testing, their payment are all unconfirmed claims by the salesman Rossi. They differ little from when he sold his phony thermoelectric claims to the US Government. If those were true he would be rich today from those alone. He isn't.
  • Anonymous on November 05 2011 said:
    In the absence of transparency, Rossi's track-record becomes decisive for me.56 prosecutions in 17 years and some jail-time for tax violations lead me to conclude that a fraud is being played out.
  • Anonymous on November 05 2011 said:
    well this is the way a higher intelligence (aliens) would interfere with us: throw in an idea in the hands and mind of an innocuous italian engineer
  • Anonymous on November 05 2011 said:
    I'd like to propse that all those that have one single share or even arms length benefit of any sort of oil industry or Fission Nuclear or other Carbon based industries to not participate in this debate. Thus it is only acceptable to me to hear opinions of those that are honest and above board.
  • Anonymous on November 05 2011 said:
    Juanita, consider the source. PESN is neither qualified with any technical education nor in any way objective in their reporting. Sterling Allan proudly states flat out that PESN repeats (Sterling calls it reporting) any claim they receive of free energy / over unity devices without any fact checking. They call it being in the "exotic energy wild west". http://www.pesn.com/2011/08/15/9501895_Wild_Wild_West_of_Free_Energy_Innovation/ They say flat out that if you want vetted information go somewhere else. PESN has featured and promoted such insane claims as a guy: Bob Boyce who claims a competitor surgically implanted tracking microchips in his shoulder during his sleep, and that those microchips have caused cancers. A couple of years back Sterling passionately promoted a free energy ruse that from a guy who glued magnets to a wheel and spun it with a hidden thread.
  • Anonymous on November 05 2011 said:
    Maryyugo, You challenged, "If it's not a scam, why not allow it to be properly and independently tested? THAT'S the issue."Here are 1/2 million reasons, plus 730 days:“Now that this first customer has signed off on this technology, and Rossi will be receiving funds, he can pay the half million needed for the University of Bologna and Uppsala University to begin doing their tests, which will take 2 years.”http://pesn.com/2011/10/30/9501941_Rebuttal_to_Krivits_Accusation_that_Andrea_Rossi_is_a_Fraudster/
  • Anonymous on November 05 2011 said:
    [quote name="Bruce Fast"]Here are 1/2 million reasons, plus 730 days... he can pay the half million needed for the University of Bologna and Uppsala University to begin doing their tests, which will take 2 years.”[/quote]Another quote from Sterling Allen's blog? It's nonsense. It would take less than two weeks and less than $10,000 (much less with a few common parts and instruments) to test one of the original "E-cats". Both of the universities Rossi has mentioned deny that they have received any money or, more important, any device from Rossi.So far, nobody has been able to buy an E-cat except an anonymous, possibly fictitious client. There is no evidence whatever that the US Navy is a client. Nobody has even received a sales brochure from Rossi or a price list much less a device to test.Rossi acts like his operation is a classical free energy scam. That doesn't prove it is. Rossi can prove it's not but he won't and hasn't. WHY?
  • Anonymous on November 06 2011 said:
    Either we are witnessing the rise of someone who will go down in history as one of the worlds greatest men, or biggest fool. Either way, I'm enjoying the show!
  • Anonymous on November 07 2011 said:
    Why did they need such a powerful generator connected to the system? And why was he never able to disconnect it? He probably put this whole show together to get some attention and perhaps secure some funding for his other research projects. We will probably never hear anymore about his secret (fake) client, and he is probably going to say that the experiment was successful and that future work is no longer under his control... You are an artist Mr Rossi, and I like you for that! :-)
  • Anonymous on November 12 2011 said:
    I'm willing to write futures contracts for E-cat optimists. You'll be able to make scads of money when the E-cat becomes a household, independently verified and bona fide power generator (in a test in which Rossi nor his minions are within 1000 miles). Think of all the extra money you'll make with your E-cat optimist contracts, extra that is in addition to all the money you'll make on nickel futures, you savvy sons of guns.
  • Anonymous on November 15 2011 said:
    Rossi is interested in sales, not in "independent opinion" or "recognition by world society of internet skeptics". From this point of view all these critic points do not make too much sense. maryyugo, I am impressed by your non-stop activity :). It looks you are really on payroll for this investigation :)

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