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Brian Westenhaus

Brian Westenhaus

Brian is the editor of the popular energy technology site New Energy and Fuel. The site’s mission is to inform, stimulate, amuse and abuse the…

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Is Rossi's E-Cat Yesterday's News? Australian Company Claims to have a Working Fusion Reactor

More Fantastic Than Rossi’s E-Cat

Out of Cleantech via Al Fin Energy comes a hint of a nuclear fusion company more fantastic than the Rossi E-Cat.  While the E-Cat is already looking at manufacturing facilities, the newest drama comes from Australia.

Authors of a fresh Kachan report on new, safer, cleaner nuclear technology interviewed dozens of scientists at nuclear research outfits.  Almost all fusion organizations are either pursuing big, capital-intensive tokamaks or other smaller more innovative reactors. One interviewee in a face-to-face conversation with the Kachan folks in a location abroad, told of a small company he’s involved with that he claims has built a working 1MW fusion reactor the size of a rice cooker.

Now if that is a reality, and comes to fruition, organizations like the international €15 billion ($20.4 billion) ITER project, the multi-billion dollar U.S. National Ignition Facility, and smaller fusion companies like General Fusion, Helion Energy, Tri Alpha Energy, EMC2 and most everyone else even smaller like Rossi and BlackLight are in for a gut check.

The as yet unnamed company is now apparently in the process of building a 10MW version that it plans to trial in 2012. Just maybe the firm’s technology will represent a new energy production paradigm.

The report on this company’s fusion reaction says it’s fuelled by deuterium and tritium at not nearly as high temperature as other efforts. Specifically, the reaction is said not to require the high temperature, high pressure or accelerated particles of others’ approaches. “The key is not how many neutron hits you generate, but how you sustain them, how well you can control them.” For a 40-watt power input, the reactor is said to be able to generate a megawatt,” is the quote.

 Deuterium Tritium Nuclear Fusion
Deuterium Tritium Nuclear Fusion.

The technology’s inventor has apparently tinkered with his design for 40 years, and self-funded the company’s early stages, reinvesting income from earlier lucrative inventions. Now, strategic investors are said to include family money, such as a Shanghai real estate baron and decedents of American industrialist John Pitcairn, Jr.  Whew.  Here come the scam wonderers.

The inventor has been at the development since the 90s, sworn employees and investors not to let on how successful the research has been, and is said to have retained the former head of Israel’s counter terrorism unit as its chief of security.
The company is said to have already fielded a buyout attempt by General Electric. The inventor apparently didn’t want the invention owned by just one corporation, characterizing it as an invention for mankind, apparently.

The company is also said to be secretly working with the Australian Air Force and Navy, and the U.S. Department of Defense, and aims to trial a 10MW version of its reactor in 2012 with an Australian utility.

So where does the credibility hang in all this?

Kachan’s just released new Emerging Nuclear Innovations report running 64 pages summarizes 6 months of looking carefully at the nuclear power industry for companies best placed to usurp big, conventional fission of the type that powers the 432 non-military nuclear reactors that exist worldwide today.

The report also looks at improvements in conventional light water reactors, including boiling water reactors and pressurized water reactors, use of thorium as a fuel in molten salt and solid fuel reactors, molten salt reactors, fast neutron reactors, pebble bed reactors and modular reactors.

Mark Halper is the author of the Kachan report referred to above, which is offered for $1,295 to single users.

Dallas Kachan is the author of the Cleantech story linked above.  Kachan is now managing partner of Kachan & Co., a clean technology research and advisory firm that does business worldwide from San Francisco, Toronto and Vancouver. Kachan & company staff has been covering, publishing about and helping push along clean technology since 2006.

So – we’re relying on just one person interviewing – just one person.  This is pretty thin.  In this case, Kachan says he trusts the source.  But the interesting thing is the fuels, deuterium and tritium reacting together forming helium – without high pressure and/or temperatures.  From the progress on and the gaining respectability of Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (cold fusion) the idea that someone has worked up a device isn’t so wild as just a few years ago.


On the other hand, fusing deuterium and tritium is going to throw off a neutron, there would have to be a form of energy such as heat, and the requisite helium product.  The helium shouldn’t pose any problem, the energy is the goal, but that neutron will need some shielding and the energy will need a harvest and conversion step to electricity most likely.

It seems plausible, even possible with a dose of optimism.  Probable as a description will have to wait though.  Yet the potential of the probable begs another question.  Is someone out there working to somehow catalyze the Boron gas to helium reaction with the grand direct electrons to the grid scenario?

Its looking like the 2010-decade is going to be very interesting and quite exciting.

By. Brian Westenhaus

Source: More Fantastic Fusion Than Rossi’s E-Cat

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  • calanctus on December 02 2011 said:
    Rossi's system uses nickel and hydrogen, two readily available substances. Deutrium and tritium are rare, hard to handle, radioactive, etc etc. Rossi's system is basically free energy, Greece, for instance, is sitting atop nickel ore. Hydrogen is easily obtained from electrolysis of plain water. Rossi wins, hands down. Thanks.
  • john on December 04 2011 said:
    yes, but this reaction releases a lot more energy. So its a question of scale--The machine would be most appropriate for commercial fusion reactors---rossi's for household low energy nuclear reactors (or cold fusion generators--if it pans out). Either way, we still have the laser focused fusion in california, the z pinch and the canadian pressure fusion to look forward to. Even with none of these developements, nanotechnology pretty much is destroying any ppessimistic projections of energy depeletion. Advances in solar harvesting and bbattery technology alone would have created a sufficient price drop in this decade to lead to enormous efficiency gains and conversely oil price drops.
  • Alfonso on December 04 2011 said:
    You have a problem with comments being lost. Please look into it. :-| As for Brian's article, it is best read at the original site, linked above.It seems as if Star Scientific of Australia is the mystery company. It is working on muon catalyzed fusion.Brian Wang has more information on muon catalyzed fusion.
  • adam on December 05 2011 said:
    In the short run, rossi's device will reign supreme as the cost for fuel is very small compared to tritium and deuterium. In the long run however, with the advances in space exploration and possible lunar colonization, deuterium and tritium will come down in price as lunar bodies house and abundance in hydrogen isotopes (which is what tritium and deuterium are) due to the fact they do not have the atmosphere to block the solar output from the sun.
  • John on December 06 2011 said:
    I expect that like "BlackLight Power" these guys have access heat, but can't control it - nor understand whats going on. Which is why both companies have taken so long and have very little to show for it.Rossi doesn't understand the process either, but he has managed to control it. In addition, going by his co-developers, current COP of ~ 6 is very conservative showing of the devices observed potential of COP 200+ .
  • Sandy Wellstone on December 10 2011 said:
    All these machines are making ultra-cold neutrons by reversing the standard neutron decay reaction. P + e + 783KeV -> N . Getting the extra endothermic energy is mostly a matter of electronic "heating", with the less reliable machines relying more on getting lucky with crystal arrangements. As Neutrons accummluate on P so you make temporary stages of D, T, and 4H which then beta decays to He. That's why starting with deuterium is a shortcut that helps the less reliable machines along. Nobody is really getting D+D or anything else that would break the columb barrier to happen. No strong forces are required to do P+e or add neutrons to nuclei. Only new physics is figuring out how you do all this with no Gamma or fast particles coming out. Peter Hagelstein is on the trail of a proper theory. "Lossy spin boson polarity model"
  • scepter on December 14 2011 said:
    So, another scam, even less credible than Rossí.At lease Rossi does not claim fusion.Rossi claims 'weak interaction' at the source of his device, which suggests a lot, tells nothing, and leaves him off the hook when it comes to- actually telling how it works- explaining how to deal with the neutronsThis device is unrealistic.It does not address the most fundamental question of any fusion reactor: How do you get the atoms to fuse? It is really, really hard and if you say you've worked it out without enormous heat and pressure, you really have some explaining to do.Again, this 'device' is first being scaled up (to 10MW no less) without adressing- research- shielding- safety- a demonstrationJust a credible demo would bring in millions of funding. Neither Rossi nor this rice-cooker have given a demo.
  • Sandy Wellstone on December 14 2011 said:
    There are lots of demonstrations. It is not fusion. All these devices are doing controlled proton electron capture, which forms an ultra cold neutron. This is just the inverse of the neutron decay reaction. Neutrons accumulate on nearby nuclei. Rossi claims he turns Nickel to Copper in this way, but that's a side effect and probably endothermic. The real energy output comes from adding the netrons to increase the mass of hydrogen. So it goes to deuterium, tritium, 4H, and that beta-decasy to 4He. Helium. No positively charged particles are every shoved together. No columb barrier is broken. Just weak interactions. No gamma or high energy neutron output either. See http://BrillouinEnergy.com for details.
  • Tobak on December 16 2011 said:
    There are lots of demonstrations. < any independent public demonstrations?...it came a long way from looking looking a water cooker to a container. impressive... and yet no one seen it. doesn't that start ringing a bell?ahh well at least you can try and pre-order one :P lets hope it ever arrives.
  • Greedyrossi on January 07 2012 said:
    Greed is ugly isnt it? Potentially we could be looking at an answer to mankinds biggest problems in one of these devices but every inventor wants a pound of flesh for their reactors that dont yet function properly- So, we have probably 500 scientists working at cross purposes and not sharing ideas as we rape the shit out of the earth for oil, gas and biofuels.If just one of these companies were to open source their project- the sheer amount of effort that would be applied in universities worldwide would have us a working device in a matter of months i reckon-if there is truth to the claims that is.As it is they all look like potential john searls or sellers of perpetual motion machines and without solid evidence to the contrary they are as good as frauds.Rossi himself appears to be onto something but his blog is just a fishing expedition hoping to glean insights for free off interested scientists as to how the physics works-

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