Many have been watching the gradual development of Andreas Rossi’s “E-Cat,” a device Rossi claimed to produce heat from fusing nickel and hydrogen at commonly used temperatures, as opposed to those in core of a star.
The next big event, the release of a paper reporting on a month-long test in March by a group independent from Rossi and his partner, Industrial Heat, happened today. The results are pretty much what I was expecting and essentially completely positive.
In a nutshell, the device produced so much energy that only a nuclear reaction can explain it, reaction products were seen, but no nuclear radiation was detected.
The test ran with an E-Cat cell in three phases:
1) no fuel charge
This was to verify the test setup measurement equipment could accurately measure both the electrical power into the cell and the heat released from the cell by convective heating and black body radiation.
2) approximately 800 W input power for 10 days, this produced some 1600 W excess power.
3) approximately 900 W for the rest of the test, this produced some 2300 W excess power.
This confirms what supporters expected. While the COP (ratio of output power to input power) was lower than expected, the authors make it clear that they deliberately ran the cell at low power to reduce the chance of thermal power. They point out that the adding a little more than 100 W input power increased output by about 700 W. That incremental amount is more in line with what was expected.
That’s mostly all that’s important – put power in, get significantly more power out. From what I’ve read, Industrial Heat has not yet used E-Cats to make high pressure steam and then electricity. That may merely mean they haven’t settled on the mechanical design of the reactor, there’s no point in making a boiler until then.
The most interesting part of the report is the isotopic analysis of the fuel before the test run and the “ash” afterwards. The bottom line is that the reviewers have no idea what is happening during the test run. They are utterly mystified and reject most of their speculation.
The fuel charge, only one gram, was assayed before the start of the test. The key components were determined to be nickel (Ni), lithium (Li), aluminum (Al), iron (Fe), and hydrogen (H). (Two assay methods found carbon (C) and oxygen (O), but the paper seems to dismiss them citing the tiny granules of powder they used.) The Ni and H were expected per Rossi’s descriptions in the past.
He also referred to a catalyst, saying it was inexpensive and not an impediment to wide scale deployment. The assay suggests the catalyst is
LiAlH4 which releases monoatomic hydrogen when it is heated, fitting the speculation about the catalyst’s role.
Each element was found to have the naturally ocurring ratios of its isotopes.
There had been speculation that Rossi used nickel enriched with particular isotopes, but apparently not.
The ash after the test run was also assayed. The small samples involved seem to preclude measuring the actual weight of various isotopes, so the paper concentrates on the percentages. It would have been nice to have accurate weights.
Natural nickel is primarily 58Ni and 60Ni. Those were nearly completely consumed, and the nickel in the ash was nearly all 62Ni. I had expected Ni + H leading to Cu, but several of the relevant Cu isotopes are radioactive, 62Ni is stable.
Lithium may not be a catalyst at all – natural Li is nearly all 7Li, a surface assay of the ash showed the lithium was nearly all 6Li. I’m no nuclear physicist, I’ll refrain from any speculation. The authors explore a couple paths, but ultimately throw up their hands and simply say more study is needed. Hydrogen wasn’t assayed – did it even participate?
All in all, this is a great, maybe historic, result. There has been plenty of evidence that the E-Cat works, but Rossi has always been directly involved.
Now we have an independent team working in their own space and with tools from their universities. They see it work and present multiple lines of evidence confirming it is a nuclear process.
That there is no explanation for the process is annoying, but won’t block commercialization of the E-Cat. The shouting isn’t over, the science has barely begun, but we may be at the start of civilization’s next major energy source.
The paper is at http://www.sifferkoll.se/.pdf
The best starting point is www.e-catworld.com report-released/