Sunday, October 09, 2011
The E-Cat is deceptively simple: hydrogen is passed over a special catalyst based on nickel in a container about a litre in size, and enough heat is produced to boil water. A demonstration in January appeared to show a several kilowatts of output from a four hundred watt input. The catalyst is secret, but Rossi says it can be produced at low cost. The two questions that matter: does it really work? And what are the implications if it does? [if it works the implications are unlimited]
The E-Cat is the latest incarnation of cold fusion, an area long shunned by respectable scientists. In 1989, researchers Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann claimed to have produced a small amount of energy by nuclear fusion on a lab bench via electrolysis. This was unprecedented and appeared to contradict accepted science, as fusion only occurs at temperatures of millions of degrees in the Sun and stars. Other scientists failed to replicate this cold fusion, and the whole field was soon labelled bad science at best. Few journals will cover it these days. In science terms, an interest cold fusion is up there with astrology and alchemy.
A few scientists do still work in this field, notably at the US Naval Research Laboratory. Occasional papers are published claiming positive results in the area of "Low Energy Nuclear Reactions" and "excess heat generation". Nobody calls it cold fusion, and this is an area led by experiment rather than theory [experiment should always take precedence over theory, otherwise you have "climate science"} But some scientists are breaking cover.
Frank Acland has been following Rossi's work closely, and has a website, E-Cat World, tackling the latest developments. He reels off a list of scientists who have examined the E-Cat for themselves and verified what was happening.
"They have all gone on the record to say that they believe that there is a nuclear reaction taking place, " says Acland, "that the levels of energy output the E-Cat produces could not come from a chemical reaction."
The demonstrations appear to show a lot more heat is coming out of apparatus than goes in. Two Swedish scientists from NyTeknik magazine ruled out any hidden power source and concluded: "The only alternative explanation is that there is some kind of a nuclear process that gives rise to the measured energy production." Unlike the Pons and Fleishman experiments, where the excess heat was tiny, this is on a massive scale. Rossi even claims to have been heating a factory using E-Cats. It's a big effect -- or a big hoax.
Rossi's heavyweight supporters include 1973 physics Nobel prize winner Brian Josephson. Josephson also supports telepathy research. Dennis Bushnell, chief scientist at Nasa's Langley Research Centre, appears to be a believer in the E-Cat, commenting in a recent interview with Electric Vehicle World that the science was being worked out and, "I think this will go forward fairly rapidly now". However, Nasa scientists are still at the stage of exploring whether there is valid physics behind the E-Cat rather than actually buying them.
Darpa, the Pentagon's advanced science wing, has also been involved in this field. Budget documents reveal a longstanding interest in low energy nuclear reactions, and the plan for 2012 includes the line "Establish scalability and scaling parameters in excess heat generation processes in collaboration with the Italian Department of Energy."
Ex-Darpa chief Tony Tether told New Energy Times that "If it is a hoax, it's a damned good one."
Inventors often complain that their technology could change the world if investors would just give them a few million to produce it. Rossi will get his chance. The one-megawatt device Rossi plans to soon demonstrate is made by combining 300 small E-Cats.
What will it mean if it does work? The E-cat will provide a lightweight source of cheap energy, without any CO2 emissions. (And unlike nuclear fission, there is also no radioactive waste.) This could turn the world upside-down, and trigger a new industrial revolution which would shift away from fossil fuels and into an era of clean, plentiful energy.
...Rossi eventually hopes to make 300,000 E-Cat modules a year. (which is "only" 1 large nuclear power station a year. However if "cold fusion" works and works consistently like this the field must be open for far larger developments, just as the Wright Brother's aircraft was not the end of the line but merely proof that heavier than air flight was practical.
This has had remarkably little coverage but then it took several weeks after their flight for the Wright's plane to reported by the national press.
If it doesn't turn out to be a hoax, and if Rossi was doing so to make money he could just have claimed to have a design for a better windmill which he only needed millions to complete, then it cannot fail to change the world. Conventional nuclear could only be suppressed because it is a very big and visible technology and so easily squashed by government parasites. If this is genuine it can clearly be mass produced in small scale in which case nothing short of a global ban by a global government, which fortunately we do not yet have, could prevent its widespread use. Which in turn would make any countries that did ban it look stupid and get poor.
My excuse is that I'm relatively new to blogging and you've written a better article than mine would have been.
Let's hope it works.