At the end of Part III, I predicted that 2012 would be a pivotal year for Andrea Rossi and his E-Cat. With three months gone, this prediction is looking likely but not necessarily to Rossi’s advantage.
Rossi came under fire from Australian entrepreneur, philanthropist, adventurer and skeptic Dick Smith. Smith offered Rossi one million US dollars if he could successfully repeat his March 29, 2011 demonstration of the E-Cat, subject to two or more independent observers being present. He suggested the same two Swedish scientists, Kullander and Essen, but also that, this time, they might want to inspect the wiring to ensure that extra current was not secretly being delivered to the E-Cat via the earth wire – a rather low blow, it must be said.
Rossi eventually dismissed Smith’s challenge as a “clownerie” but Defkalion indicated that they were prepared to accept a similar one, subject to Smith signing a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA). Smith refused and later elaborated on his skepticism about Cold Fusion in depth in a “must-read” article in Forbes.
Defkalion were, seemingly, merely bemused by all this and pointed to the fact that they had already invited independent testing of their Hyperion Reactors on January 23rd. This document certainly looks professional and it might now be fair to say that the Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR) spotlight has shifted from Rossi’s Leonardo Corporation to Defkalion and now Brillouin (see below).
However, an ultimately more important event, which should substantially boost the academic respectability of LENR, occurred at the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN) otherwise called the European Organization for Nuclear Research. As many already know, CERN is host to the Large Hadron Collider and its search for the Higgs Boson, together with many other experimental and theoretical studies around the frontiers of physics. That also included the recent controversy about whether or not neutrinos can exceed the speed of light. I think it speaks volumes for the integrity of CERN that Prof Antonio Ereditato, who headed the project, has conceded that a comparatively simple experimental error was the cause of the apparent faster-than-light data and has actually resigned.
I think he was being too harsh on himself but it certainly reminds us that science proceeds by a painstaking process of error checking, peer review and independent verification. Perhaps the collective humble pie induced by this episode also prompted CERN to re-examine it’s near total disdain for Cold Fusion/LENR. In any event, they recently hosted a seminar in which experimentalist Dr Celani and theoretician Dr Srivastava gave equally impressive lectures. To review the videos, click here. My own quantum mechanics is a little rusty but I found Dr Srivastava’s clear and logical exposition very credible. In the course of this single lecture, he offered a well-reasoned theoretical basis for LENR or, as he prefers, Low Energy Nuclear Transmutation (LENT) and, in the process, made a case for it already existing in nature, including in lightning and solar flares.
This technology race could be compared to a cycling one. In what we might dub the “Tour de Fusion”, Rossi and Defklalion were the leading pair but now it seems that an equally strong rider – Brillouin Energy – has also cleared the Peloton and joined its higher profile rivals.
Thus, Robert E Godes announced that Brillouin Energy has been able to develop a control system that allows a reaction to start and stop, and run in a steady state mode and that, in April, they will be working with Michael McKubre of SRI International to run a reactor at a higher temperature (we noted McKubre’s credentials in Part III). As Brillouin’s website explains “The process stimulates a Controlled Electron Capture Reaction (CECR) in a catalyst. This process creates low energy neutrons. The neutrons generate heat as they are captured, building heavier elements.” Here we should point out uncontrolled or natural Electron Capture has been the accepted mechanism behind beta decay since Gian Carlo Wick postulated it in 1934. Robert Godes is claiming to be able to induce beta decay on demand and this is a very exciting idea in itself, which we can examine further in later posts.
But, what with all this progress on the LENR front, it almost seems that the Laser Fusion researchers might have felt the need to fire a shot (literally) of their own in a kind of “Hey, we’re still here!” cry for attention. This is certainly encouraging and may yet justify the tens of billions of dollars already spent on Laser Fusion. However, keep in mind the relative sizes. LENR devices (if they do come to pass) will fit in a suitcase and be highly portable whereas laser fusion based power stations will be likely be as large as current fission based ones and certainly not portable. On the cycle race analogy, Laser Fusion is the large, lumbering truck blocking the course.