E=mc² is probably Einsteins most famous equation and basically states that all matter is made up of pure energy. The energy levels within atoms are not small either. Theoretically simple atoms are the perfect power source. They are stable, massively abundant and can produce huge amounts of energy with no by-products. Current nuclear power plants produce power via a fission reaction whereby atoms are split apart to produce energy, radiation and “radioactive waste”, but there is another form of nuclear reaction, which is fusion. In a fusion reaction the atoms don’t split, but fuse together, producing energy and no harmful radiation or waste. Obviously fusion seems the better option, however it is incredibly difficult to replicate on earth because it requires enormous amounts of pressure and heat, of the kind normally found within stars. However, the Italian Scientist Andrea Rossi appears to have produced the first working “cold” fusion device, with his Energy Catalyser machine, in which a nuclear fusion reaction is achieved and sustained, but using atoms at room temperature.
Cold fusion was originally theorised in the 1920’s by Austrian scientists Friedrich Paneth and Kurt Peters who hypothesized a form of nuclear reaction that doesn't produce radiation, and gained mainstream attention in 1989 with the experiments of electrochemists Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons; however no one has been able to produce any successful results following these first few experiments. In fact the American Physical Society declared the field dead, the U.S. Patent office rejects all patents on the subject, and a significant lack of funding has considerably hampered any research.
Although, that’s not to say that research is not still conducted, and the reason that scientists struggle on despite the lack of support is the size of the goal at the end. Cold fusion would transform the world! It could produce clean, safe and virtually free energy in huge amounts....the perfect solution to our current energy dilemma.
Therefore, Rossi’s discovery should have been heralded as the scientific breakthrough of the millennium, but instead has been welcomed with criticism and scepticism. His 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 (more than 10 times the energy that was put in)of energy in the form of heat; and it is this process that attracts the criticism. 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.
But just as the size of the prize means that scientific study continues in this field despite criticism, it also means that there are people willing to believe in any advances despite scepticism; just in-case it proves to be true. In fact Rossi already claims to have sold 13 E-Cat units since his demonstration in October and was in the U.S last week talking with state senator Bruce Tarr about the possibility of building a cold fusion reactor in Massachusetts.
Tarr said "My thought process was pretty simple: If it works, I want this technology to be developed and manufactured in Massachusetts.” Rossi also spoke with MIT, Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts about the logistics and feasibility of manufacturing cold fusion generators for household use. Robert Tamarin, dean of sciences at the University of Massachusetts stated that, "knowing the reputation of cold fusion, I went in with a very healthy level of scepticism” but, “if it’s successful, no one wants to have to say later that we walked away from it." It is this view that the reward is worth the risk, for which people are willing to believe and invest in cold fusion. Rossi is planning to return to Massachusetts soon, with the hope of getting ”something started in a matter of weeks, not months.”
Many questions still remain, and the number of sceptics still outnumber the believers, but if Rossi's device can work consistently and reproduce the same amount of energy he demonstrated, he could finally earn the respect he deserves as we witness the birth of free energy for everybody, and a new era for the age of man.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com