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James Burgess

James Burgess

James Burgess studied Business Management at the University of Nottingham. He has worked in property development, chartered surveying, marketing, law, and accounts. He has also…

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Andrea Rossi and the E-Cat: Con Artist or Genius?

Andrea Rossi and the E-Cat: Con Artist or Genius?

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

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  • Anon on February 11 2012 said:
    "Yet still, what should be heralded as the scientific breakthrough of the millennium is instead welcomed with criticism and scepticism … Maybe for good reason."

    Umm.. because it would be heralded as the scientoific breakthrough of the millennium...
  • anonymous on February 11 2012 said:
    I can't wait to hold of one of those rascals. The solar thing won't pay until the 60 watt fridge/freezer arrives and the wind does not always blow.
  • psi on February 11 2012 said:
    You forgot to mention that Rossi has partnered with NI. And that the underlying process on which his technology is based is confirmed by multiple researchers at top labs all over the world. And that the PetrolDragon technology worked but that it's business implementation was stymied by a radical drop in world oil prices. And that the misswiring theory is a joke. And that Kullander, notwithstanding the enigma of the copper isotope ratios, appears to support the legitimacy of Rossi's claims. Other than that, not a bad article.
  • Gregoryyc on February 11 2012 said:
    So I see down and out dirty smear campaign has started
    First it was KRIVIT fella. Now This Dick Smith or something kicks in from hinterland. Oh by the way . We all suspect who Krivit sleeps with for long while already .

    Now this new guy. What is this guy named, Smith, so bloody important that you all go out and pitch whatever he spits out on the double huh ?

    Oh another thing, I'd be real curious to know if anyone else out there would be interested in seeing if Smith would show how clean his slate is by starting with his bank accounts and tax receipts ? Not that I'm saying he has any oil portfoilio or any like connections ... Just saying..
  • Becktemba on February 11 2012 said:
    Um Rossi didn't "approached Dick Smith, an Australian entrepreneur, asking him to invest in the E-Cat machine." Check the story. It was the other way around.
  • Andrew Macleod on February 11 2012 said:
    I have read many articles about this in the Australian media and in all reports it wasn't Rossi who approached Mr Smith! It was a fellow by the name of Sol Millin. Mr Millin was looking to raise funds to buy the Australian right to the technology.

    Msnbc published a similar version to this one with the same error. Where are these journalists getting their info? I guess the just make stuff up when they can't find the real facts. Here's the story about Mr Smith.

  • Andrew Macleod on February 11 2012 said:
    Where do people get their info??? Msnbc published a similar article, they also had the same errors regarding dick smith. Rossi never approached mr smith! A man by the name of sol Millin. Mr Millin was trying to raise funds to by the austrialian rights to the technology. Here's a full story from an austrialian media outlet.

  • beerehs on February 11 2012 said:
    Stop quoting from Wiki, which is both can be a source information and misinformation as well. The real story behind Rossi's past can be found here http://blog.hasslberger.com/2011/02/italian_engineer_announces_com.html
  • Dr Michel Malengret Dept Elect Engineering UCT (South Africa) on February 12 2012 said:
    Measuring power with more than two wires can easily lead to very wrong measurement of power !

    It easy to send an additional 12.5 KW through a normal size earth wire ( 4 mm2 ) . The return current could be the common neutral wire.

    Most likely a single phase wattmeter was used and connected so as to mesures current in the live wire and the voltage between the neutral and live wire then any other power channelled trough the earth wire would not be measured and accounted for. 12 Amps at 1000VAC would deliver 12.5 kW without heating the earth wire or neutral wires.
    This is easily done with a step up isolation transformer whose secondary 1000 VAC side is hooked on the supply side betwen earth and neutral.

    In my experince 99% of scientist would have not know the difference.
    This is the obvious first check to do by a professional and would take 5 minutes if given to a proper electrical power engineer. I am sure Bologna university electrical engineerig department could confirm that the wattmeter reading is correct !

    Otherwise an easy way to veryfy is to simply disconnect the earth wire during the experiment ( some safety would be require in going so by making sure no one touches the catalyser in case of an internal leak or connection between live and chassis.)
  • maryyugo on February 12 2012 said:
    "psi" is wrong on all points. Rossi has not "partnered up with NI". NI carefully said that Rossi is simply buying their equipment and software. They never said they have seen his E-cat or that it works. The underlying process is not confirmed -- it's supposed and it's arguable and it involves power levels a thousand to a hundred thousand times smaller than Rossi's claim.

    Petroldragon was a fraud and Rossi's excuses are lame. The only thing I can agree with is that the line cord is not where the fraud is. The likely scam is bad measurement of output heat and probably heat storage within the new larger E-cat.

    Rossi has never allowed any independent testing. He has never named a single customer. There is no evidence to suggest he has ever sold anything. Nobody has heard from his first "megawatt" customer nor from his second. Nobody has ever seen his robotic factory. Nobody admits working for him. His investors are unknown. Yet people think he has an energy miracle. That's what's so surprising (and disappointing) about this whole story.

    Rossi could dispel all doubt simply by allowing a university to have an E-cat to test. He doesn't.
  • AB on February 12 2012 said:
    The article contains some errors that were put in circulation to damage Rossi's image.

    > In December Rossi approached Dick Smith

    Dick Smith was approached by Sol Millins who acted independently. Feel free to look up the original article by the Australian Skeptics. They never explicitly say that Rossi approached Dick Smith, but do their best to suggest it. Rossi wasn't involved in the events at all. One could speculate that Sol Millins acted as proxy for Rossi but this is unfounded speculation.

    > 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.

    This is physically impossible because cable diameter determines the power transmission limits. The cables would have to be abnormally thick to withstand the electricity corresponding to power levels measured in several tests. The pictures provided by Australian Skeptics show normal cable diameters.

    Detailed technical explanation here: http://nickelpower.org/2012/01/31/inadvertent-miswiring-of-leads-is-the-cause/
  • Iggy Dalrymple on February 12 2012 said:
    You state that "In December Rossi approached Dick Smith, an Australian entrepreneur, asking him to invest in the E-Cat machine."

    Were you a witness to this meeting? Rossi says he never heard of Smith.
  • Ian Bryce on February 12 2012 said:
    Following the Australian Skeptics expose ay www.skeptics.com.au, there have been questions over whether the power lead could carry 12.5 KW. Well no it doesn't have to - I believe there is NO verified power output over 3000 W. No 130 KW as claimed by Levi either - that would melt the core and we would have another Chernobyl!

    Let me back up this claim by showing which theories of error apply to which tests.



    My hypothesis is that the earth wire was misconnected to the active pin in the power plug, thus it could carry extra power past the metering, to a second set of power controllers in the blue box and hence into the ECAT.

    16 Dec 2011- report by Levi – 10 KW ECAT – Pout could be 2900 W if 10% vaporization, therefore earth wire theory fits.

    14 Jan 2011 – Levi – 10 KW ECAT – Pin = 400W, Pout could be 2.900 W if 10% vaporization, therefore earth wire theory fits.

    10 Feb – 10 KW ECAT - Levi states the reactor volume is 1 litre, and he measured 130 KW briefly. This is not possible – it would melt down. His measurements must be in error.

    29 March – Kullander & Essen – 3 KW EACT – Pin = 300 W, Pout = 2600 W (Bryce simulation), therefore the earth wire theory fits.

    19 April – Lewan –3 KW ECAT – Pin = 345 W, Pout = 2600 W (Lewan), therefore the earth wire theory fits.

    28 April – Lewan – unclear which 3 KW ECAT – Pin = 378 W, Pout = 2300 W, therefore the earth wire theory fits.

    14-15 June – Krivit – truncated chimney 3KW ECAT – Pin – 805 W, Pout not stated, therefore the earth wire theory fits.

    NOTE – UP TO JULY, NO ONE HAD MEASURED THE EARTH WIRE DURING A TEST. There could even be a backup plan - If an observer approached the instruments, it would be simple to momentarily turn off those power controllers running from the earth wire, so zero current would be observed. No need to get stressed.

    5-6 Sept – John Preston and NASA – new large 27 KW ECAT – it is believed the visitors insisted on proper instrumentation, and the reactor failed to produce excess heat.

    7 Sept – Lewan – 27 KW ECAT – this demonstration immediately following the NASA failure, was perhaps a damage control exercise. Lewan was probably invited as a known friendly.
    This time, Lewan provided a portable the Residual Current Device: this takes measurements only at the PINS between plug and socket, As shown in the Skeptics press release linked diagram, the switch would occur after that, and earth WIRE current would NOT be detected by the RCD. Sadly, Lewan’s precaution failed.

    Seondly, Lewan tells me he provided a power cord and split it into individual wires so the current could be measured. Sadly there is no mention of measuring the earth wire in Lewan’s written report, or in his video on Youtube. In any case
    It would be simple for Rossi to turn off the extra load if anyone approached the ammeter.

    There was an additional device called “an external signalling device”, which is mentioned but not seen in Youtube, and not in Lewans Report. It seems to be powered after the metering, and the earth wire could be used. It is believed itconnects to a second (unofficial) resistor inside the ECAT.

    So the earth wire theory is a clear possibility. Up to 3000 W could be brought in whatever the current reading.
    The test results have been analysed by many. Problems include:

    T2 = temperature of incoming water
    T3 = temperature at output, [hidden] inside the E-cat (quoting Lewan)
    T3 rises to 134 C, so the probe must be placed on the “reactor” ABOVE the water line. Meanwhile, the device is never claimed to contain a steam superheater or be pressurized, so the output water or steam must be at most 100C. T3 is MUCH HIGHER than the real output temperature, so the output power is overestimated.

    Thus, Lewan’s detailed Report for 7 Sept is (I believe) entirely consistent with the two hypotheses, and there is no confirmed real power gain from LENR.

    6 Oct – Lewan – 27 KW ECAT – Pin = 315 W, Pout = 3125 W (Lewan).

    T(out) responding to a combination of primary circuit steam temperature and water outlet temperature, giving false high reading.
    The earth wire technique is still available at times when no one is measuring earth current.


    – report by Sterling Allan of PESN – the 30 guests were not able to make any real inspection or measurements. The large generator was running all the time. Hence no real demonstration of power gain.

  • old fart on February 13 2012 said:
    Just to clearify, AR did not spend 10 years in prison, he was arrested short-term and then left the country and was a quitted of the charges after 10 years. Italian bureaucrazy at work. (Anyone but me associate this with the contemporary Cammorran mafia's affairs in the garbage buisiness in Napoli? Not a nice pack to challenge :-)

    Also I think what he tried to do is what is standard today when for instance natural gas is obtained from garbage, car decks are recycled etc. What I think he did not do was check all the rules about this.

    Recycling in the west world was a totally unknown concept in the late 70's with the possible exception of certain glass bottles maintained for historical reasons

    I think ARs crime in the late 70's was being ahead of his time.
  • Joe Shea on February 17 2012 said:
    You don't mention that Dick Smith and his engineer/skeptic have never seen an E Cat, but have merely speculated that if it was miswired it could produce more heat than it apparently should. How do you then account for the NASA video that makes the same claim (see www.american-reporter.com, top stpry), and a similar claim about low-energy fusion and the Coulomb barrier? Oil now has a competitor, and it's obviously difficult for OilPrice.com to give the Devil his due.

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