The Promise of Controlled Nuclear Fusion, Part IX

The long awaited report on the extended test of Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat has finally been published!

The E-Cat used was evidently Industrial Heat’s refined and even more compact version of Rossi’s earlier models but it retains the small reactor tube containing hydrogen and nickel powder fuel, together with some lithium. As before, the reaction is primarily initiated by heat from resistor coils around the reactor tube but specific electromagnetic pulses (whose exact nature are, presumably, part of the patent) are later applied.

In a break from the more usual calorimetry-based approaches to measuring the output power, measurements of the radiated power from the reactor (the lion’s share of output power at these temperatures) were performed with high resolution thermal imaging cameras. The measurements of electrical power input were performed with a large bandwidth three phase power analyzer. Data were collected during 32 days of running in March 2014. The reactor operating point was set to about 1260ºC in the first half of the run, and at about 1400°C in the second half. The measured energy balance between input and output heat yielded a COP factor of about 3.2 and 3.6 for the 1260ºC and 1400ºC runs, respectively. The total net energy obtained during the 32 days run was about 1.5 MWh.

Crucially, as Levi, Foschi and Essen note, “this amount of energy is far more than can be obtained from any known chemical sources in the small reactor volume”. Following the obvious idea that the reaction therefore has a nuclear basis, the authors duly found that there had been a significant degree of transmutation, which is the “smoking gun” for most nuclear reactions. However, they did not detect any of the usual radiation (alpha, beta, gamma or neutron) that should have accompanied any such “conventional” nuclear reactions, nor did they find any residual radioactive byproducts.

None of these findings should be a surprise to those of us who have been following the E-Cat over the last few years but, coming from highly respected researchers under the rigorous, independent test conditions they insisted upon, it will undoubtedly be news to the wider public, many of whose knowledge of “Cold Fusion” was frozen by the 1989 Time article (“Fusion or Illusion”) published at the height of the controversy around Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons’ findings of anomalous heat which, however, could not be consistently reproduced.

Now, 25 years later, that anomalous heat can be consistently generated and in industrial amounts but LENR skeptics still persist and do have one final, pot-holed trench they can tumble back into, namely the fact that there is still no clear theory to account for LENR. Indeed, as the current authors, themselves, say:

It is certainly most unsatisfying that these results so far have no convincing theoretical explanation, but the experimental results cannot be dismissed or ignored just because of lack of theoretical understanding.

–  or, as I noted in part III:

Rigorous observations and measurements have a “right to exist”, whether they conform to the latest scientific fashion or not!

The 1989 skeptics and their modern descendents now have an obvious path to redemption, namely to join in the effort to place LENR on a strong, peer-reviewed, theoretical basis. They owe the fight against Climate Change no less. Strong progress on this front will finally give all the scientists, engineers and technicians around the world the “permission to believe” they are apparently still waiting for.

But I don’t propose to wait any longer. Three years ago, I predicted that 2012 would be the pivotal year for LENR. That did not happen and neither was there quite enough proven progress in 2013 for that year to qualify. However, with this report now public, I really don’t think we need to wait for the “official” word from the likes of the above skeptics nor Time Magazine nor any of the main stream media to graciously concede the underlying truth of LENR.

So, I’m calling 2014 the Pivotal Year for LENR – you heard it here first!

P W Power






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