The Bottom Line
A revolutionary energy technology has been invented that could change our society in very positive ways. It could replace nuclear and fossil fuels. It is non-polluting and safe. This technology is currently held in dispute, even labelled as fraudulent and unscientific. It's main protagonist (there are other companies and universities working on this) is a fellow called Andrea Rossi. He is an Italian and spent time in prison - a fact oft quoted by his detractors. However some researchers have shown that this is because his energy business at the time stepped on the toe's of the local Mafia and that he was in fact unjustifiably imprisoned (see the book An Impossible Invention).
Introduction: Misinformation, cynicism and "too good to be true";
1. The big boys have invested billions in hot fusion research so anything that really is "cold" fusion "on the cheap" (explained below) is going to get some serious scorn from them.
2. "Cold Fusion was not discovered in 1989". The year the Berlin Wall came down, remember ? Many scientists could not replicate the results, but many could. They have been having conferences ever since ( see ICCF-19 ).
3. Constructive criticism is good. Scepticism is also healthy. However some discount things such as this out of hand despite the evidence. If there really is a technology here then it would be very sad to miss it. If there isn't then we can all learn something, move on and maybe something else will be discovered ... "Optimism Captain !".
What is "Cold" Fusion, LENR and the E-Cat;
Cold fusion describes a form of energy generated when hydrogen interacts with various metals like nickel and palladium. Cold fusion is a field of condensed matter nuclear science CMNS, and is also called low-energy nuclear reactions LENR, lattice-assisted nuclear reactions LANR, nickel-hydrogen exothermic reactions Ni-H, and quantum fusion.
When hydrogen, the main element of water, is introduced to a small piece of the metal nickel or palladium, a reaction occurs that can create excess heat and transmutation products. Excess heat means more heat comes out of the system than went in to the system. LENR provides an ultra-clean source of energy that creates heat to make hot water and useful steam. Steam can turn a turbine to produce electricity.
Cold fusion devices can produce so much heat, it is more than can be accounted for by chemical means, and therefore must be generated by a nuclear source. But cold fusion is not like today’s dirty and dangerous nuclear power.
No radioactive materials are used in cold fusion. LANR occurs as the tiny protons, neutrons and electrons of hydrogen interact, releasing energy slowly, through heat and photons, without the dangerous radiation associated with conventional nuclear reactions, and cold fusion makes no radioactive waste.
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. On Earth, hydrogen is found in water. An energy source from hydrogen is clean, with no carbon-dioxide CO2 emissions. In LENR reactions, only tiny amounts of the hydrogen are consumed and the metal is recyclable when spent.
Transmutation occurs when one element is transformed, or transmuted, to another element. The creation of elements by transmutation has been the dream of alchemists for millenia. Now, new energy scientists are able to create new elements in their labs using LENR techniques. Research has shown that radioactive materials can be transmuted to benign elements, promising a path to ridding the planet of thousands of tons of radioactive waste.
What is LENR?
LENR stands for Low Energy Nuclear Reactions — and refers to the phenomenon where anomalous amounts of heat are created when certain metals (e.g. nickel, palladium) absorb hydrogen or deuterium and an external stimulus such as heat or an electric current is applied. The reaction takes place at relatively low temperature and sometimes results in transmutation of elements as well as the production of heat. Either no strong radiation is produced or it is absorbed locally. The waste products are not radioactive. This phenomenon is also referred to as Cold Fusion, LANR (lattice assisted nuclear reaction), as well as other terms.
Modern interest in LENR began in 1989 when scientists Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons announced they had succeeded in generating nuclear reactions in laboratory experiments. This announcement sparked much interest in the media and in the scientific community, with many researchers attempting replicate the effect in their own experiments — many without success. The effect is not always easy to replicate, particularly as the preparation of the metal was critical and it sometimes took weeks for anomalous heat to appear. When the effect has been obtained it can also be difficult to control.
There are many theories about what causes this heat effect, but none has been widely accepted or definitively proven.
There are many attempts going on at the moment by various parties to be able to replicate and control the LENR effect. Several companies are now working on commercial products with claims of producing kW of power as heat. Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat invention has received a lot of attention because he was the first to publicly demonstrate his device and it has now been independently tested and validated by seven scientists, funded by the Swedish R&D organization Elforsk, demonstrating at least ten times the energy of any known chemical reaction and showing that the E-Cat is capable of producing useful heat.
Various claims are for a Coefficient of Performance (COP) from 6 to over 30 (meaning between 6 and 30 times more energy is produced than is input into a system). Even at the low end such a device would make obsolete virtually all other ways of producing power. High temperature, more efficient designs would be suitable for powering transport, even aircraft, although this would probably take decades. This promise of inexpensive, safe, clean power is why many are now following the subject.
What is the E-Cat?
E-Cat stands for “energy catalyzer” and is a device in which hydrogen gas, powdered nickel metal, and undisclosed proprietary catalysts are combined to produce a large amount of heat through a little understood low energy nuclear reaction (LENR) process inside a specially designed chamber. The inner workings of the reactor are covered by a trade secret which Rossi consistently refuses to discuss.
In this process, when an external heat source is applied (Electric or fossil) to the reaction chamber, large amounts of thermal energy (heat) are produced, much more than could be accounted for from chemical reactions. From reports of tests, it appears that the reaction begins when the reactor is heated to around 60 degrees Celsius, and once the reaction is stable, the external heat can be turned off and the reaction can continue for a considerable length of time. In an October 6th test in Bologna, Italy, the E-Cat ran without external heat (referred to as ‘self-sustain mode) for almost four hours, maintaining a constant temperature and boiling water continuously.
Initially, Rossi and Focardi believed, and stated that the heat was generated because the nucleus of a hydrogen atom, a proton, penetrated a nickel nucleus and in doing so a nickel atom became a copper atom. Now Rossi states that while transmutation does take place, it is more of a side effect, and the core effect is caused by some undisclosed mechanism. Rossi says he has a firm understanding of what is taking place, but will not disclose his theory until he has patent protection.
What we potentially have here is something straight out the pages of Star Trek. This technology reminds me of the Warp Drive and the message in Star Trek of having to solve social problems before Warp Drive is developed. Warp Drive is an analogy for Nuclear Power and weapons. This kind of conceptualisation also turns up in other Star Trek episodes like the early Voyager one where they encounter a society that destroyed themselves with some kind of Nuclear like energy, as well as episodes like the Omega Directive where an energy is literally too dangerous to handle.
In the real world ... Cold Fusion / LENR /E-Cat appears to be the maturation of Nuclear power from its potentially deadly form to something much more elegant involving transmutation between elements. Breakthroughs in Physics that could come from LENR could one day enable technologies like the replicator ... after all if you can change a substance from one element to the other then you have a way of creating materials ... and if you can "3D print" those materials ... well that's a long way off, or is it ?
In the mean time this is potentially at least a clean energy technology like the heat exchangers in some buildings that take up ambient heat from the environment ... but much more game changing.