As we wait for Friday and what we hope will a day to remember for the right reasons, I thought it would be a good time to prepare the ground for a major update of the second eCatNews brief.
Intended as an overview of the subject from a hopeful sceptic’s point of view, the brief reflects my attitude and the philosophy behind this site. For this reason, I will not make changes to satisfy differing opinions but welcome those opinions nevertheless. I will change errors of fact or add to the brief if I agree with any particular suggestion and thank those who offer them.
It is easy to get lost in detail when investigating Rossi’s eCat but the biggest question has to be: Is it real and, does it perform as he claims?
Part 1 of this brief suggested that cold fusion, LENR, LANR or energy catalyzers (Rossi’s preferred phrase) is almost certainly real. If you do not agree then you are probably wasting your time reading Part 2. In the following narrative, keep in mind that certain statements come from the individuals or company concerned and you should decide for yourself how much weight to give them. As cumulative evidence mounts and despite extreme prejudice in many quarters, there is a growing interest in Andrea Rossi’s eCat. There is a lot of noise and much frustration but there is also hope. Despite trying hard, no one has managed to destroy the eCat with words. Soon we will learn if our hope for technological salvation is founded on anything more than wishful thinking. Soon we get to find out if the determined pessimists get to kick sand in hopeful faces or forced to admit they were wrong and go to bed without supper.
Andrea Rossi has always done things his own way. He has ruffled many feathers and admits to mistakes in how he handled what he saw to be unjust treatment by his mother country. This makes him a painted target. It is easy to call names – a tactic often resorted to by those employing ‘dirty-tricks’. Do not judge until hearing his side. The story of his background is interesting and well worth the read. Here, he gives his own account. Follow the links on the top of the article after reading: The Beginning.
On moving from Italy to the US, Rossi’s new venture was highly successful. Always interested in energy, he turned his eye to the bastard science of LENR (he had in fact dabbled earlier with Pons and Fleischmann’s cold fusion process in 1989). He approached Sergio Focardi, a newly retired Italian scientist who had achieved excellent results using a mixture of Nickel and Hydrogen instead of the Palladium/Deuterium process pioneered by Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann. (Some background on Focardi’s work (in collaboration with fellow Italian, Piantelli)).
He hired Focardi as a consultant, and brought his own ideas to the table. Rossi focused on making the process work as a useful heat source instead of engaging in a pure scientific search for answers. In other words, Rossi approached the subject as an engineer might with the intent of making a useful product.
In Feb 2010, they published a joint paper, describing a Nickel Hydrogen process capable of producing large quantities of excess heat on a scale commensurate with an unknown nuclear reaction.
After performing thousands of experiments to find the best mix of performance, control, safety and utility, Rossi installed a prototype energy catalyzer (dubbed an eCat) into his offices, allegedly running it for almost two years to investigate its use in the ‘real world’.
In Jan 2011, he performed a demo at the University of Bologna to an invited audience of around 50 including a number of scientists. Another test was made in February (Professor Levi). In March 2011, two Swedish Scientists, (Hanno Essen and Sven Kullander) were allowed to examine the device and perform tests. Rossi claims that he was against going public until they were ready to commercialise and that the demos were as a payment to his friendship with Focardi who had wished it. Indeed, Rossi is very open on his blog and is fond of saying that he does not intend to give proof until a 1MW plant is delivered at the end of October
In a report published online, Kullander and Essen seemed supportive and helped enhance Rossi’s credibility, concluding that (assuming no fraud) his eCat was enabling a previously unknown nuclear reaction. The pedigree of the Swedes was interesting (both are physicists, with Professor Kullander a member of Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and Professor Essen a former chairman of the Swedish Skeptics Society). Other tests have been done (notably by NyTeknik journalist, Mats Lewan) but – since they were never intended as proof, no one outside his confidential circle can say with certainty that Rossi’s claims are exactly as he says.
Even so, the story to-date is impressive; one that does not lend itself to an easy charge of trickery. Rossi sold his company to finance the project. If he does not deliver as promised, he will get nothing. (Some critics doubt this, citing a statement by the company Ampenergo that they had to agree a substantial sum to close an eCat deal with Rossi. While they may be right, signing a contract commiting to a large sum s not the same as receiving it before delivery).
Contracted to make a 1MW plant by the end of October 2011 (consisting of 52 modules housed in a converted shipping container), the 200m Euro deal with a Greek company called Defkalion Green Technologies cites specific performance and safety characteristics that the plant must meet. Building this plant, to those specifications, is Rossi’s primary focus.
On June 23, 2011, Defkalion announced the product designed around the eCat. The Hyperion (a boiler) will come in a range from 5KW to 30KW with other large units in the range 1MW – 3.4MW.
With the first factory supposedly being prepared in Greece for the Greek and Balkan market, the company say that they will ramp up to a capacity of 300,000 units per year. During the product announcement (website, white paper and Press Conference on 23 June 2011) the company claimed that they were “…faced with more demand than our current factory’s total capacity can meet…”
In a twist worthy of a future movie, Andrea Rossi pulled the plug on Defkalion in August, complaining that they had not met certain financial deadlines in their contract. Neither party will give details but it is believed that the money should have been in place as a quality check (proof of intent and capability) rather than as direct payment.
Working with his partners in the US (Ampenergo) Rossi has now signed another customer, the identity of which we do not know. While Defkalion’s strategy was to push the product fast around the world and graduate as quickly as possible from large industrial systems to smaller (perhaps domestic) ones, Rossi’s vision is to have the eCat mesh with other energy products as an addition to the total mix instead of trying to fight them.
The 1MW plant is apparently on schedule and will be delivered to the new customer on Oct 28th.
As this new play rolls on, Defkalion insists that they will continue as planned despite Rossi’s assertion that he gave them no secrets. Either Defkalion is blustering after their failure or they have learned more than Rossi is willing to admit to himself or to his partners.
On one level, this messy divorce upsets the clean vision and a sense that 200m Euros were swinging the bat behind eCat. With so much at play, it was inconceivable that Defkalion had seen no direct proof. The divorce damages that impression but the fight ironically leads to an impression that there is something worth fighting for. Indeed in October 2011, Defkalion restated their intent to commercialise Hyperion and specifically stated that they had the technology and rights to manufacture the core as well as the surrounding ‘boiler’ parts. To this end, any person or group who proves their intent by depositing 500K Euros into and escrow account will be shown proof that Defkalion has the goods. Only after being so convinced (they say) and agreeing to continue, will the investor partner with the company. The deal on the table is around 40 million Euro per licence per 300K annual production units on a country-by-country basis.
Thus the situation (regarding proof) is largely unchanged: Hope is still alive but will only be satisfied (or not) once the fate of the 1MW plant is known.
Defkalion White Paper (23 June 2011)
Update: On Oct 6 2011, Andrea Rossi conducted a semi-public test of one of the 1MW sub-units in front of an invited audience including a number of scientists. Those present were said to have agreed to the report given by Swedish tech magazine, Ny Teknik and the Italian, Focus.it. Many observers were frustrated when the device was switched off to allow cooling (in order to strip it to examine the insides for hidden power sources, we are told). A few more hours on the boil would have been more convincing. That said, the demonstration was a success and while error cannot be ruled out (primarily because of the relatively short run and the lack of independent control – more demo than experiment) few people think the claimed energy production was due to a mistake. Determined and hard sceptics were not impressed but, taken together with previous tests, commiting technical fraud over multiple demonstrations in front of so many ‘experts’ would be extremely difficult. It is easy to pick holes in any one event but Andrea Rossi’s willingness to expose himself to discovery confounds the idea that he is the typical fraud some accuse him of.
Once again, we are given a tantalising vision of success without absolute proof and once again, Andrea Rossi’s statement that only the customer will decide, is reinforced.
The 28 Oct customer test will be attended by ‘high-level’ scientists and ‘prominent’ journalists. The event will be otherwise private but data posted hourly on Dr Rossi’s blog and, post-midnight on that day, a full report and video of events.