Welcome to the age of diminishing returns

Friday, March 16, 2012

The sinking of the E-Cat

This post is a modified version of a post by the author which appeared in Italian on "NuoveTecnologieEnergetiche"



Above: the cruise ship "Costa Concordia", Italian technological marvel, sunken after hitting a reef in front of the "Giglio" Island in January 2012. Recently, we saw the sinking of another pretended technological marvel from Italy, the cold fusion reactor called "E-Cat;" destroyed by its own contradictions.


It was Captain Kirk of the starship "Enterprise" who said that it is not a good idea to put oneself in a no-win situation. Good advice that was not taken by Mr. Andrea Rossi, inventor of the "E-Cat," the cold fusion device that he claimed to be able to solve the world's energy problems. After having been unable to show that his device produces energy, Mr. Rossi stated that he didn't need any more tests because he could now proceed to market it in millions of pieces. But, in reality, Mr. Rossi had simply placed himself in a no-win situation. The E-Cat is now fast sinking, hit by the contradictions of its inventor.

Let's start with what Rossi himself had declared about his E-Cat. He said that it is based on the fusion of hydrogen and nickel nuclei (see Rossi's patent) and that gamma rays are produced during operation (see here) so that lead shields had to be placed inside the device. Rossi also said that he was building a factory in the United States where he would produce E-Cats by the millions; to be sold as water heaters for people's homes. According to some recent statements by Rossi, the device had been undergoing safety testing for months at Underwriters Laboratory. 

It couldn't go unnoticed in Florida that someone was claiming to be producing nuclear reactors in large numbers. On February 24, an officer of the State of Florida Bureau of Radiation Control went to investigate what was going on in the pretended "E-Cat factory" in Miami. There, he found no factory, but an apartment and Andrea Rossi in person. Questioned on the E-Cat, Rossi declared that "no nuclear reactions occur inside the device." Rossi also stated that all the facilities for testing and production are "overseas," and that safety certification with Underwriters Laboratory will be arranged in the future. The officer then left, writing in his report that his bureau has no jurisdiction over a device which has nothing nuclear inside. (The complete documentation is here, comments can be found here and here. Rossi himself confirmed the story here.)

No matter how we want to see this story, it is clear that Rossi has been victim of his own "no-win" strategy. First, he claimed that he had developed a nuclear device, but he never could provide convincing proof. So he said that he didn't need proof because he could just produce and sell the device - the market would judge it. But if he wanted to produce and sell the device, then he would have to obtain the necessary certifications. And how to obtain the necessary certifications after having declared that the device is based on nuclear reactions and it emits gamma rays? Surely, Rossi's word is not enough to prove that shielding with lead foil is sufficient to remove gamma rays. Maybe there are arcane reasons (as claimed in this paper) that reduce, or even eliminate, gamma ray emission. But just the possibility of such an emission would required extensive investigations and years of work in order to provide the necessary certifications. So, you see? If it is nuclear, Rossi can't sell it. If it is not nuclear, who would buy it? A classic no-win situation. 

In the end, lacking experimental proof, the idea that the E-Cat produces energy rests only on Rossi's statements that say, basically, just "trust me". But after the Florida story, it is clear that this is, also, a no-win strategy. How can you trust Rossi after so many contradictions? Where is the E-Cat factory that he said was in the US and then, no, it is overseas? And where is the safety testing (not) being done? Incidentally, if, hypothetically, the E-Cat were really producing nuclear reactions, we should think of Rossi as a dangerous criminal who lied to the Florida officer about his plans to produce and sell without the necessary safety certifications a device that generates gamma rays. That Rossi can't be trusted has been clearly perceived also by Rossi's supporters, who have been abandoning the sinking ship: for instance Sterling Allan. The University of Bologna had wisely disengaged from Rossi already in January.

So, the E-Cat has reached the end of the line. It still maintains some faithful supporters, but, most likely, it will soon fade away in the darkness of pathological science, where it belongs. There remains a question: how is it possible that so much time and energy has been lost in this incredibly story?  Well, there has to be something wired wrong in the human mind but, at least, from this story we can learn what mistakes we should avoid. As Captain Kirk said, never put yourself in a no-win situation by believing without proof in salvific inventions.



Other posts on the E-Cat story on "Cassandra's Legacy"


The E-Cat loses steam (July 2011)
Peak E-Cat (Dec 2011)
 The Anti-Cassandra Curse (March 2012)
The E-Cat horror (March 2012)

21 comments:

  1. And so it goes away... such a sad story.

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  2. Excelente post, Ugo.

    Enhorabuena y un abrazo,

    AMADEUS

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  3. looks like this inventors dreams, like deluded, something for nothing cornucopeans everywhere, are now running into the massive earth shaped iceberg called 'reality'

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  4. Ugo,
    Thanks for posting this.
    Hope, when placed wisely, is a useful thing.
    But when it is misplaced it can become a dangerous distraction.

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  5. This looks more serious and promising:

    Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, Inc. is a high-tech research and development corporation specializing in applications of plasma physics, including fusion power and intense X-ray sources.

    Our lead project is the development of an inherently clean fusion energy generator using a device called the dense plasma focus (DPF) and hydrogen-boron fuel, an approach we call "Focus Fusion." This work was initially funded by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and is now backed by over forty private investors including the Abell Foundation of Baltimore. LPP's patented technology and peer-reviewed science will guide the design of a compact, environmentally safe and virtually unlimited source of energy that would be at least ten times cheaper than any existing sources. Our research team has already achieved major experimental milestones, including the achievement of plasma confinement at energies equivalent to two billion degrees, high enough to fuse hydrogen and boron. We intend to win the race for this ultimate energy prize by demonstrating the scientific feasibility of Focus Fusion at our laboratory in Middlesex, NJ. Non-exclusive licenses to government agencies and manufacturing partners will aim to ensure rapid adoption of Focus Fusion generators as the primary source of electrical power worldwide.


    link

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  6. Yes, I know the plasma focus system. It is an old Soviet technology that has been picked up in the West. It is serious stuff and it works; it does fuse hydrogen and boron. The problem is to obtain useful energy from it. That has never been a success, so far and the road is long and steep

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  7. Ugo, I now see you referred to it in a piece about the E-Cat for TOD.

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    1. Yes, at the beginning I had thought that there could have been something in common between Ross's claims and the plasma focus technologies. Then, of course, there is nothing in common between a scam and a serious technology.

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  8. These things take time. If its true, truth will triumph. If its false all the angels saying its true won't make it so.
    However this lenr effect has been reproduced hundreds of times. All on the web with verifiable credentials.
    Furthermore, Florida State speaks only for Florida not for 49 other States
    comprising the U.S.A.This E-Cat is now undergoing Underwriters Laboratory evaluation,so we have been told. These things take time. If not E-cat then Professor Miley at the University of Illinois, a credible institution, has a similar but more sophisticated device. Others are working as well. I'm betting on Rossi;
    he has the most to lose and to gain and history will judge.

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  9. Ugo, this is OT, but if true, it is basically game-over for climate (it always was)?

    Source: Obama to fast track southern portion of Keystone XL Pipeline

    "President Barack Obama plans to announce in Cushing, Oklahoma, on Thursday that his administration will expedite the permit for the southern half of the Keystone XL pipeline, a source familiar with the president's announcement told CNN."

    Alex

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    Replies
    1. Humankind is like a groggy boxer, stumbling around on the ring, without understanding who is hitting him. Possibly, the knock out is arriving soon.

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  10. It is also wise not to make statements on things you don't have the facts about. At this point your conclusions are based on here-say. Indeed eventually the truth will come out - but so say it already has is simply your opinion.

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  11. Hi Ugo, I keep getting mails from some website that uses controversial subjects to generate traffic. The last one refers me to this interview with Dr Rossi. Just in case you didn't know yet.

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  12. Unbelievable: look at what Rossi said in the interview

    "Andrea Rossi: The E-Cat machine is basically a heater. It uses a secret catalyser to fuse hydrogen and nickel together to form copper. Copper has a lower energy state than Nickel, and the excess energy is released in the form of a gamma ray. The gamma ray hits a wall of lead where it is absorbed and transformed into heat. "

    And compare that with what Rossi said to the Florida officer - exactly the opposite. White man speaks with forked tongue.....

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  13. another report by the hot fusion fanboys, they will all loose their jobs soon - due to Rossi and the Cold Fusion he has invented, what a pleasure it will be to read about them in the unemployment lines.

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    Replies
    1. It is this kind of comments that make me wonder. How desperate do we have to become before we finally admit that we live on a finite planet?

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  14. If these fusion researchers are right about their expectations, then net fusion energy production could appear within a few years. Ugo, have you seen this latest headline?

    http://www.prlog.org/11832509-new-jersey-start-up-publishes-fusion-energy-breakthrough-in-leading-physics-journal.html

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    1. Nayef, this is another kind of boiling kettle, so to say. It is boron-hydrogen fusion. It has been known for several decades; it works, in the sense that it produces fusions. Definitely it is NOT cold fusion, LENR, or things like that. It is hot fusion made in a very hot plasma.

      The problem is how to obtain useful energy from it; the same problem we have with tokamaks. See also my comments above

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  15. Just wishing to reply to the author's line :
    « There remains a question: how is it possible that so much time and energy has been lost in this incredibly story? »

    It's just like religion. When we live in hard times with nothing but a sad end awaiting us, faith acts like the best kind of moral support, and our fear makes the most unrealistic ideas look neat and convincing. Even if the e-cat looked fishy, I bet a small part of everybody's mind hoped for the miracle that, against all odds, this wasn't total BS.

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  16. Resumen de los avances teóricos y experimentales en las reacciones nucleares de baja energía (LENR) presidido por Francesco Celani , Yogendra Srivastava
    Jueves, 22 de marzo 2012 de la 16:30 a 18:00 (Europe / Zurich)
    en el CERN ( 500-1-001 - Auditorio Principal )

    http://indico.cern.ch/conferenceDisplay.py?confId=177379

    Las ponencias de los dos, Francesco Celani y Yogendra Srivastava, se encuentram al pie da la pagina en VIDEO CDS

    Qué lo disfrutes

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  17. I would like an update to this post in light of the following please:
    http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1305/1305.3913.pdf

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