Is this the most important invention in the history of mankind…

Is this the most important invention in the history of mankind…

Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat

… or is it just the hoax of the decade?

Andrea Rossi, a previously convicted con artist, has been working on a device called E-Cat which is supposed to generate energy in a process commonly described as “cold fusion” or “LENR”. Now, what separates his “invention” from that of other esoteric oddballs is that a more-or-less independent experiment has been carried out with baffling, or rather absolutely incredible, results. A few scientists from the universities of Bologna (Italy) and Uppsala (Sweden) and the Swedish Institute of Technology have published their findings in a scientific paper.

Now, I know nothing of electro chemistry, but what these guys write in their paper is quite peculiar:

The measured energy balance between input and output heat yielded a coefficient of performance factor of about 3.2 and 3.6. […] This amount of energy is far more than can be obtained from any known chemical sources in the small reactor volume.

The isotope composition in Lithium and Nickel was found to agree with the natural composition before the run, while after the run it was found to have changed substantially. Nuclear reactions are herefore indicated to be present in the run process, which however is hard to reconcile with the fact that no radioactivity was detected outside the reactor during the run.

In summary, the performance of the E-Cat reactor is remarkable. We have a device giving heat energy compatible with nuclear transformations, but it operates at low energy and gives neither nuclear radioactive waste nor emits radiation. From basic general knowledge in nuclear physics this should not be possible.

Of course, this yields some interesting questions:

  • In which way are the scientists (most of them already carried out a simpler test on the E-Cat earlier) related to Andrea Rossi?
  • Is someone (who has read the whole paper and is proficient in chemistry/physics) able to come up with an explanation how Rossi could have manipulated the test setup?
  • Can the experiment be repeated by a different team of (more prolific) scientists?

I’ll keep you updated about the issue.

UPDATE: A man called Barry Kort offered some criticism of the experiment on Breaking Energy that may be valid:

I assert there is an error in the energy budget model. It’s not an assumption, it’s an assertion based on a careful reading of the report.

The experimenters report their energy budget model, which can be seen to be at odds with the visible evidence and well-known physical properties of alumina.

The IR camera requires the assumption of an opaque isothermal black body radiator with known emissivity. But translucent alumina is not opaque. The IR camera is receiving photons from transmission through the translucent shell, photons emitted from a different material (Inconel) and at a different temperature from the alumina. The experimenters need to address this discrepancy in their energy budget model.

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