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); Torbjörn Hartman, Bo Höistad, Roland Pettersson and Lars Tegnér, all of Uppsala University in Sweden, and Hanno Essén of the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, are claiming that the heat produced in the latest tests of Rossi's E-Cat rig is “one order of magnitude greater than conventional energy sources”.
The report has been released via Arxiv.
Rossi's claim for the E-Cat is that a “low energy nuclear reaction” puts together nickel and hydrogen, with the outputs being copper and heat. He has, however, met with a great deal of scepticism – including on the part of The Register – and has not, to date, been able to have his claims considered to be proven.
One of the chief problems is that nobody has had the opportunity to verify the science behind the claims, because – as noted in the current paper – Rossi continues to regard the insides of the e-Cat as a trade secret:
“As in the original E-Cat, the reaction is fueled by a mixture of nickel, hydrogen, and a catalyst, which is kept as an industrial trade secret. The charge sets off the production of thermal energy after having been activated by heat produced by a set of resistor coils located inside the reactor.” (Emphasis added)
The setup included the system being fed by: “... a TRIAC power regulator device which interrupted each phase periodically, in order to modulate power input with an industrial trade secret waveform.” (Emphasis added)
So the test is probably going to be vulnerable to scientific tooth and claw from the start, since it amounts to researchers being asked to visit the premises of EFA – that is, the company that holds the production rights for the E-Cat – and test a black box whose operations are invisible.
The test claims to have observed power production of 2,034 Watts thermal for an input of 360 Watts.
And that's been received with ecstasy in some unexpected quarters, like Forbes, which got all gushy about E-Cat
“While a few commentators have raised criticisms concerning how the measurements were made and sources of error others have argued that the energy produced is so significant even knocking off an order of magnitude on either axis still portrays a process with insanely valuable output.”
Actually, Mark Gibbs (the Forbes author I've quoted), the “order of magnitude” claim wasn't made by unnamed commentators – it's made in the abstract of the Levi paper we've linked to above.
On the plus side, publication of the test on Arxiv will at least give the rest of the scientific world something to get their teeth into. Articles on Arxiv are not peer reviewed, but may be moderated before inclusion.
It'll also be fascinating to see if this test is strong enough "proof" for Australian philanthropist Dick Smith to fork out the $AUD200,000 he has on the table if the E-Cat works.
Over to you, readers of El Reg; we await your comments with fascination and trepidation. ®