Free Markets, Free People

Cold Fusion?

So, there’s this Italian guy named Rossi who has a little device he calls the "E-Cat" reactor tube. He says this reactor tube produces a Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR), or what the rubes call "cold fusion". Rossi has been a very secretive little fellow about his device, and has essentially been classified as either a crank or a scam artist—and has a white collar conviction record. So, he’s not especially trustworthy. He’s been challenged to submit the E-Cat to independent testing, because his claims about seem too good to be true.

Well, apparently he did. A team of researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden, the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology, and Bologna University in Italy have uploaded a paper to Cornell’s xarchiv pre-press archive server entitled, "Indication of anomalous heat energy production in a reactor device", in which they say they observed the E-Cat in two tests, during which says things like, "the E-Cat HT2’s performance lies outside the known region of chemical energy densities," and it’s "at least one order of magnitude above the volumetric energy density of any known chemical source." To wit, the paper says the team observed "observed power production of 2,034 Watts thermal for an input of 360 Watts."

Not everyone is convinced, of course, and there are still troubling references to Rossi’s "industrial trade secrets". Skeptics are saying the physicists who took part in this are being hoodwinked by Rossi.

But if—and it’s a big if—the paper’s observations are true, then this is big. Really big. Still, it would’ve been nice if, in addition to the physicists, the team had taken a good journeyman electrician along, to look for the simple stuff.

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Dale Franks
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14 Responses to Cold Fusion?

  • Although I’m inclined to believe there was some hocus pocus, it would be a shame if its true.  There are people attached to the way we pay for energy and I’m sure they’re ready to ridicule the guy and device out of existence regardless of whether it works or not.

    • As cold fusion becomes recognized it will surely shake up many. Take for instance the EU Parliament holding a special meeting on 03 June on the topic -http://goo.gl/9vAsY . As this moves the $4 trillion of investments in the fossil fuel industry are surely going to be re-examined to see how quickly they become “stranded assets.” http://goo.gl/LKlZJ

  • Rossi surfaces with this every couple of years and shows tests proving it is supposedly working. However, no one is ever allowed to know what is going on inside the box. Imagine if someone came to you with an investment opportunity, claiming that it would produce 4 W of power for every 1 W put in. You ask some normal questions:
    1. How does it work?
    A: Nuclear fusion.
    1. Wow, impressive in such a small device. What is the physical mechanism it operates on that is different to other fusion?
    A: Can’t tell you, trade secret.
    2. Can we set up a NDA so that I can see inside or hear how it operates?
    A: No.
    3. Your test methods are odd and non-standard, can I arrange my own tests on it?
    A: No.
    Yeah, in any other enterprise you’d rightly keep a tight grip on your wallet unless you like the taste of snake oil. You’ve got a magic box which is claimed to operate outside known limitations, that has a couple of wires going into it and supposedly generates a lot more power than it consumes… but you can’t ever know how it works or set up your own standard tests. It is kind of like the faster than light particles detected by CERN a while ago, which were going to revolutionize all of physics. Those pesky practical minded people said it was just an error somewhere in all the fancy electronics and computerers, that relativity was safe. What do you know? Yep, an unaccounted error, not the downfall of Einstein. And those guys weren’t even trying to sell you anything. This guy won’t let anyone see in the magic box. So it probably is just magic.

  • I say, “Go with power UP”.
    If he can prove it, there will be no stopping it.  Plus, it would mean a revolution in science on some levels.
    Let’s see!

  • I’ve been following the e-cat story for years. There has been some attempts at independent verification and -apparently- there has been some marginal success. I’ve vacillated between thinking the whole thing is a huge scam and realizing that my career might change; I’m a nuclear engineer.
    Some people have knocked Rossi’s secrecy. I’ve defended that at least because if- and it’s a big if- he’s actually on to something, he needs to enjoy ALL of the fruits of his labor.
    For the record, there is evidence that the e-cat builds on the work of Passerini, which indicates to me that <i>something</i> might be going on. However, it could all be bovine excrement. I do not discount that as a strong possibility.

  • Heh, let Obama finance it, how could it go worse than Solyndra, Fisker, et al?
     
    Sounds like some of the devices Tesla is alleged to have invented don’t it.

  • Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. If the device/process was legit, he would have a NDA with some reputable lab, and the world with have a new power source.

    • Good point, he could be making a fast buck on a working model instead of running around trying to prove to skeptical people that it works.
       
      Then again, he COULD sell it to Al Gore, Al is good at selling quirky science.

  • As I posted elsewhere, supposedly there has been a 1 megawatt e-cat plant running for several months- but Rossi won’t say where.

    And the company or agency using it hasn’t leaked? Not believable. 1 MW heat production- 2 people on watch, 24 hour monitoring, requires 10 people. Plus at minimum 1 supervisor. Plus, everyone else at the plant knows something big is going on. Too many people to keep a secret- and if you’re running a plant like that- WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO?

    And, the 5KW home heating suystem was supposed to be available last OCtober. Glad I didn’t put down a deposit on one. 

    Scam- if and until one is in full daily operation outside a laboratory setting prodicing useable heat. And having folloed e-cat for years on PESWIKI, the IF is an awful big IF!.

  • First, I have been aware of the e-cat for some time, but have never put the effort into trying to figure out if it is a breakthrough or scam, both are real possibilities. And even time and effort would apparently not resolve for lack of information.
    The thing I find interesting about the whole thing is that it is really a division between the academic world and the world of ‘tinkerer/inventor/entreprenuer.
    If indeed Rossi has developed a breakthrough, he wants to own, control and profit from it, and given the amount of scorn and abuse, deservedly so. Doing so requires that he be the only one that understands it. He doesn’t want to get the ‘academic’ credit for inventing it, he wants to control the new industry that could grow up around it. Doing so largely requires that he be the only one that understands it. If he opens the black box and shows the world how it works, it makes the likely scenario that someone offers some potential improvement to it, giving them an edge in the marketplace. There is a reason that academics don’t have the formula for coca cola, and a reason Rossi isn’t giving up the goods. Maybe it is because there is no there there, but maybe there is, and he wants to be the bill gates of energy. Rossi does not want to be the Xerox PARC of a potentially new energy world.
    Another possibility is that Rossi doesn’t actually know why…but he knows if you do X,Y nd Z under conditions C and Q, you get excess energy. There are several people who claim to have built ‘zero poiint’ energy devices that they can’t quite explain why it works, only that is supposedly does. Someone claims to be running a motor off a battery, with the motor connected to a generator recharging the battery, as well as a light…and claims to have been running for months longer than the original battery charge could be keeping the light on given the losses in the motor and generator. Maybe it is nothing,a mistake, or a fraud, but maybe it is something he just can’t explain.