back to article COLD FUSION is BACK with 'anomalous heat' claim

Italian entrepreneur Andrea Rossi has surfaced again to restate his claim that his E-Cat low energy nuclear reaction kit puts out more energy than goes in. And so it is that the “cold fusion” debate will be re-ignited – this time with new voices in Rossi's corner. Giuseppe Levi and Evelyn Foschi (Bologna University, Italy); …

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  1. Don Jefe

    No Brainer

    This doesn't seem like much of a conundrum to me. It will either work consistently and repeatedly or it won't. I'm betting on the latter. If it does in fact appear to work the man is a fool if he believes that he will be able to keep his "flux capacitor" a secret. Even if he has actually invented something fantastic no government is going to allow him to be the sole keeper of what might be a world changing technology.

    It would be fantastic if he had created this, it really would, but I figure my banana peel and coffee ground powered matter conversion system provides as much cold fusion as the E-Cat.

    1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

      Re: No Brainer

      > It will either work consistently and repeatedly or it won't. I'm betting on the latter.

      This should be easy enough to prove without needing to open up the box of tricks.

      Isolate the prototype Mk1 E-Cat, give it a measured input feed, and measure the output. How long can it keep it up? If it can continue to produce 2KW of output for an input of 306W then he's proved his case.

      (And I'll go and buy a hat just so I can eat it)

      1. ZanzibarRastapopulous Silver badge

        Re: No Brainer

        >If it can continue to produce 2KW of output for an input of 306W then he's proved his case.

        Even if it goes chugga-chugga-chugga and smells of diesel?

        1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

          Re: No Brainer

          >>If it can continue to produce 2KW of output for an input of 306W then he's proved his case.

          >Even if it goes chugga-chugga-chugga and smells of diesel?

          Hence the need to seal the thing off and for it to continue to produce the energy. If it manages an hour or so its probably chemical. If it manages weeks? ... WTF is the diesel coming from :-)

          1. ZanzibarRastapopulous Silver badge

            Re: No Brainer

            > If it manages weeks?

            How big is the box?

            The longer it goes on the more you can be sure he's got a good generator.

            To prove it's fusion you need to see what is in the box.

            1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

              Re: No Brainer

              To prove it's fusion you need to see what is in the box.

              Not necessarily. If you seal the apparatus up and you have a really accurate scales (or a long enough time scale) to measure the mass of the thing, you should see a gradual reduction in mass. That would probably be enough to prove there's fusion going on. Or fission, but we have to take it at their word that there aren't any fissile materials in the box providing the extra energy output.

              1. ZanzibarRastapopulous Silver badge

                Re: No Brainer

                > ...but we have to take it at their word that...

                So, what you're saying is, that to actually know, you have to look inside the box.

            2. Ronny Cook

              Re: No Brainer

              > To prove it's fusion you need to see what is in the box.

              (1) Start with black box of mass M, and a lump of nickel+hydrogen of mass 2M. Put it all in a sealed box.

              (2) Run the machine until all nickel and hydrogen is consumed.

              (3) Analyse the output to confirm that you have a mass of 2M-E/c^2 worth of copper (where E is the net energy output of your device).

              Alternatively:

              (1) Start with the machine of mass M and fuel of mass m.

              (2) Calculate the maximum energy that can be generated via the most efficient chemical means known from mass M+m

              (3) Run the machine until net energy output exceeds this quantity.

              This would probably be faster, although admittedly it could disguise a fission or quantum process.

      2. GitMeMyShootinIrons

        Re: No Brainer

        "Isolate the prototype Mk1 E-Cat, give it a measured input feed, and measure the output. How long can it keep it up? If it can continue to produce 2KW of output for an input of 306W then he's proved his case."

        I'd agree he's proved his case (if it works), though were I a state regulator I'd be a little concerned about the 'industrial secret' catalyst he's using. Just what unobtainium is he using? Is it rare/expensive/dangerous? If so, he may have proved cold fusion, but at what cost/risk.

        It sounds nice, but is that the smell of Snake Oil in the air?

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: No Brainer

          Okay, okay... if he doesn't want to open his black box to scrutiny, it could just be left running for a period of time with several independent assessors monitoring the power in and power out. The volume of the box is known. If the box continues outputting power for a period of time beyond what one would expect of a battery or fuel cell, it will become interesting and worthy of further consideration (even if 'all' he has created is a better battery, it would be noteworthy but not world changing)

          Until then, I'm assuming snake oil.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: No Brainer

            BTW, Dick Smith is ace! In the early 1980s he served as the conductor aboard a London double decker bus which jumped 15 motorcycles. He would later serve twice as chairman of the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority Board!

            His interview with broadcaster Philip Adams is wonderful, and hosted here:

            http://castroller.com/podcasts/LateNightLive2/3226855

          2. itzman

            Re: No Brainer

            could have a few pounds of radioactive muck inside it...decay heat etc etc.

      3. Ian Johnston Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: No Brainer

        And measure it in several independent ways.

      4. Pet Peeve
        Boffin

        Re: No Brainer

        Clearly the only thing for it is to send one to an independent tester and let THEM build the test setup, but that's never going to happen, because it's a scam or self-delusion.

        if it's a scam, Rossi will know a real test will give the game away, and will make some claim that it would be giving away his TRADE SECRET (nondisclosure agreements are simply the tool of the illuminati, you know), and if it's self-delusion, his paranoia won't allow the device out of his hands.

        Would we all love this thing to actually work? Mostly yes, though if you have a universal energy source, you had batter have a universal energy sink too, unless you want to cook the planet. Does anyone with two synapses to rub together think this is a good investment opportunity? HELL NO.

        Please don't prove P. T. Barnum right and give this guy a cent of your money unless the impossible happens and he allows a real test. This is much, much, MUCH more likely to be another Steorn than any kind of energy breakthrough.

        1. AndrueC Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: No Brainer

          if you have a universal energy source, you had batter have a universal energy sink too, unless you want to cook the planet

          Nah. You just move your planet further out from the sun. Perhaps even take it on an interstellar voyage away from the centre of the galaxy. I'm sure I've heard of that before somewhere.

          Mine's the one with the Known Space novels in the pocket.

      5. itzman
        Happy

        Re: No Brainer

        I am sure it could continue..until the internal battery runs flat.

        But what use would cold fusion be? we want rampantly hot fusion to drive steam turbines.

        1. SonofRojBlake

          Re: No Brainer

          "we want rampantly hot fusion to drive steam turbines"

          Newsflash - water boils at just one hundred degrees C. Nuclear fusion typically happens at about one hundred MILLION degrees. We really, REALLY don't want it to be that hot.

          What would be nice is a fusion reaction that happens at about a thousand degrees - i.e. about a 100,000 times less than we currently know how to do it, and therefore comparatively "cold".

    2. Wzrd1

      Re: No Brainer

      Bleh, my device, constructed from chewing gum wrappers and bailing wire, held together in a proprietary manner via a trade secret method that involved the use of a Swiss Army knife generates millions of times more energy from nothing at all.

      Or was that a MacGuyver episode?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No Brainer

      I'd happily believe it was fusion without seeing what was inside the box IF certain things were shown.

      show me what goes in the 'box'

      show me what comes out the 'box'

      show me the box working sustainably. (ie not deteriorating over time)

      if nickel goes in and copper comes out I'd have no option, but to believe it was a fusion process.

      knowing how catalysts work (or even double photon capture photosynthesis) I'm happy to think there may be a short-cut to cold fusion. I don't believe in free energy! but in the possibility of lower state transition releasing fusion energy.

    4. Oliver Cromwell

      Re: No Brainer

      The current discusion touches on the intellectual property aspects of the E-cat. There is reason to believe no patent will be granted and even if it was it wouldn't prevent other partys form creating a similar device.There are lapsed patents that may very well cover whats going on. And the US essentialy will not grant LENR patents. It is possible that almost from the begining there will be very limited IP protection and many competing products so the problem is not that there is a locked down secret. Another way besides a patent to protect an invention is to use a trade secret. That what appears to be going on.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Over to you, readers of El Reg; we await your comments with fascination and trepidation."

    Oh I'll doubt you'll get any comments about a system which appears to put out more energy than is put in - not really a reg reader kind of thing , they prefer tittle-tattle celebrity gossip.

    1. Mad Chaz
      Paris Hilton

      Re: "Over to you, readers of El Reg; we await your comments with fascination and trepidation."

      But imagine what she might do with something that puts out more power then you put in!

    2. Annihilator
      Boffin

      Re: "Over to you, readers of El Reg; we await your comments with fascination and trepidation."

      "put out more energy than is put in"

      Depends on your point of view, but I don't think that technically anyone is claiming more energy is put out than in, given how badly that would break the laws of thermodynamics. It's presumably converting its mass into energy.

      Although, granted, I'm sure that part's bollox too.

      1. pklausner

        Re: "It's presumably converting its mass into energy."

        Yes. That is the claim: [cold] nuclear fusion which converts mass to energy.

        Whether that really happens within the mysterious box is another question...

        1. bonkers
          Boffin

          Re: "It's presumably converting its mass into energy."

          My calculations suggest it is really converting mass to energy:

          The average energy output was 816 Watts - this was calculated using questionable methods but importantly the control (dummy cylinder) when fed with 810W produced a very similar temperature.

          The average power input was 235W, the test duration 116 hours.

          Therefore the device showed a nett energy output of 67kWh or 243MJ. simples.

          The reaction chamber volume was quite small - a 5mm bore 33cm long.

          The secret powder that was in there was measured as 0.3g only - barely a coating. The researchers rounded this up to a figure of 1 gram. I will evaluate also a worst case figure of 57 grams - if the bore was packed with solid Nickel.

          The energy densities are quite astonishing, considering petrol is the most energy-dense common substance at 50MJ/kg, with hydrogen (in any phase) on its own at 145MJ/kg.

          I calculate 800 Giga-Joules/kg if the 0.3g figure is to be believed.

          My minimum (using 57g) is still 4200MJ/kg - about 29x solid hydrogen.

          the researchers claim 183600 MJ/kg - with a few other worst cases in there, I make it 242GJ/kg.

          It could be all down to "fiddling the electric" - but it cannot be down to stored energy in the device.

          1. bonkers
            Facepalm

            Re: "It's presumably converting its mass into energy."

            sorry - it cannot be down to stored CHEMICAL energy in the device. The whole point is that it is stored NUCULAR energy.

            1. bonkers
              Unhappy

              Re: "It's presumably converting its mass into energy."

              small addendum, sorry... the chamber volume was 20mm bore, so my worst case figure is now 263 MJ/L

              Still 1.8 times better than the best though.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "1.8 times better than the best"

                At first I thought you had some good reasoning.

                Then you admitted to a pretty big error in your sums, more than an order of magnitude.

                Hmm.

                Well that's a different matter since an 80% variance could easily be within the error bars, it sounds like there is scope for those to be quite generous.

          2. Baar McFly
            Alert

            Re: "It's presumably converting its mass into energy."

            Your calculations are on target. Worst case figures at 242GJ/kg is nothing short of astonishing. But this is not converting the mass of nickel or H2 to energy in any previously known way. It is clearly not chemical. So where is all that energy coming from?? Looks like an entirely new form of nuclear activity - which is why the acronym LENR Low Energy Nuclear Reactions is commonly used by scientists.

            This study has badly shaken old school physicists.

            1. ZanzibarRastapopulous Silver badge

              Re: "It's presumably converting its mass into energy."

              Baar McFly

              Registered on the day of the article and only commented on the article.

              There are a few of them commenting here. Sock-puppet action is a classic sign of fraud.

    3. Baar McFly
      Flame

      Re: "Over to you, readers of El Reg; we await your comments with fascination and trepidation."

      Indeed. From the comments so far few here have had an attention span long enough to have ACTUALLY READ the 28 page report written by 11 scientists and engineers. What we do see is deep denial of the mountain of LENR data generated over 23 years from the likes Naval Research Lab, SPAWAR, LANL, Stanford Research, NASA, University Missouri, MIT, Italy's ENEA, Mitsubishi Heavy, DARPA, Boeing Research, etc.

      For any who do not elect to put their heads where the sun shines less, here is a helpful explanatory link: http://iccf18.research.missouri.edu/

  3. Fibbles

    I imagine the Chinese will be very interested in his research.

    What with his catalyst being snake oil.

  4. thomas k.

    proof that it works ....

    will come from the inevitable raid on his lab in which all his equipment and research are confiscated by agents of governments in thrall to the big energy consortiums who actually run things, and the whole thing will then be extensively documented in videos appearing in the weird neighborhood over at youtube.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: it's never done so obviously

      Accidental death in a lab explosion is more likely.

  5. Blofeld's Cat
    Facepalm

    Hmm...

    "They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown." - Carl Sagan

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Hmm...

      "Keep an open mind, but no so open that your brains fall out" - Bertrand Russell

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This planet is an endless source of amusement

    So glad I live here.

    1. Chris Parsons

      Re: This planet is an endless source of amusement

      But it's such a shame the neighbourhood is going down.

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      3. Chris Miller

        "I wouldn't accept it for publication"

        No-one would. That's why it's on arXiv.

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          1. Chris Miller

            Re: @Chris Miller

            Apologies HFG, I didn't intend to insult arXiv which is a fantastic resource, with many great papers. But the fact remains that you can get a paper on there with no peer review process, which is what has been done in this case. When it gets published in Nature or PTRS, I'll give it another look.

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      4. davidp231

        Re: Having not read the paper yet

        " and far better fonts to both write papers in and write equations in than Arial"

        At least it's not Comic Sans.

        1. Evan Essence
          Trollface

          Re: Having not read the paper yet

          At least it's not Comic Sans.

          Comic Sans was good enough for the ATLAS spokeswoman to use in her presentation last year at CERN about the Higgs Boson.

      5. tojb

        Re: Having not read the paper yet

        Seconded: every time I get a report in MS word my heart sinks. Someone has decided its easier to spend two days trying to squeeze equations and figures onto the page through an interface that wasn't designed for them than 1 day learning tex and 1 day writing.

        1. Ragarath

          Re: Having not read the paper yet

          Gosh we are a lot of snobs aren't we. I don't like the way they used a font I don't like so their publishing format and because of that I am dismissing their work (which I have not read and probably would not understand so I will not even go there.)

          You call yourself a scientist? What would you have done when things were scribbled down on scraps of paper? Complained that they did not use the right consistency of ink / carbon?

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