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Cold fusion reactor verified by third party, but don’t go celebrating just yet

A third party has verified Andrea Rossi’s Energy Catalyzer (E-Cat) machine, which the inventor claims uses cold fusion to create cheap, green energy that is up to one million times more powerful than what gasoline can match, according to Extreme Tech. If true, the world may be on the brink of a major scientific milestone. But don’t get too excited just yet.

To say that the E-Cat has been scrutinized over the last few years would undervalue the word “scrutinize.” Rossi, with the help of the recently deceased physicist Sergio Focardi, first debuted the E-Cat in 2011, claiming they had created a device that produced a Low-Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR) heat source by infusing hydrogen into nickel powder, creating copper and producing heat. Rossi refused to allow independent testing, however, and the information that was released was thoroughly debunked.

Rossi was savaged by the scientific community, and labeled a fraud and a con man. Even his supporters conceded that the E-Cat – while possibly still a powerful new type of generator – was likely not producing an LENR reaction. In 2013, an independent group was allowed to study the E-Cat. The group was a “non-peer” group though, and claimed they were not in full control of the testing, which forced them to rely on test results given to them by Rossi himself. The report was met with skepticism and criticized severely as being “pseudo-scientific,” as well as containing several logical leaps.

Now with a slightly modified design, the E-Cat is back, and this time Rossi did allow complete, independent verification. For 32 days, six scientists from Italy and Sweden monitored the E-Cat’s output. In their 53 page report, the scientists confirmed that the device produced a net energy output of 1.5 megawatt-hours, which is “far more than can be obtained from any known chemical sources in the small reactor volume.”

The researchers also examined the fuel before and after the 32 day cycle, and noted that spent fuel showed results that could only be obtained through “nuclear reactions.” An analysis of the fuel confirmed that there was an isotope shift from a Nickel-58/Nickel60 mix to Nickel 62. This shift cannot occur without a nuclear reaction, most likely fusion.

Despite the results being consistent with what one would expect from an LENR device, the scientists weren’t willing to confirm that the E-Cat was indeed producing cold fusion, instead claiming that it was the result of an “unknown reaction.” They went on to reaffirm that “It is of course very hard to comprehend how these fusion processes can take place in the fuel compound at low energies.”

In short, while the researchers go so far as to admit that while they believe the reaction is a result of fusion, they won’t stake their reputations on it.

“The reaction speculation above should only be considered as an example of reasoning and not a serious conjecture,” the report claims.

Even with results seemingly confirming a fusion reaction, few scientist would likely be willing to confirm the discover of cold fusion without intense testing. For nearly 100 years, scientists and inventors have attempted to harness the power of cold fusion, and without exception they have all failed. Many have even claimed to  create the reaction, only to be unable to replicate it.

In 1989, Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons famously claimed that they were on to a method of creating cold fusion that would produce limitless, clean energy for the world, using only seawater as fuel. The process was never able to be repeated, leading most to believe that there was a mistake in the initial report. The American Physical Society met and denied the claims, going so far as to say the report wasthe result of Fleishmann and Pons’s “incompetence and delusion.” That hasn’t stopped countless others from trying though.

To be clear, the process the E-Cat claims to utilize is LENR, which is slightly different from the true definition of “fusion.”

Nuclear reactions that produce energy come in two primary varieties: fusion and fission. Fission splits large atoms into smaller, fast moving neutrons, releasing massive amounts of energy in the process – all nuclear reactors in service currently use fission to produce energy. Fusion, alternatively, is the fusing of hydrogen atoms, which creates a huge amount of energy. We are years, even decades away from harnessing fusion in this method.

E.Cat5_-1030x858LENR, however, is a weaker nuclear reaction that creates slow moving neutrons, making it far safer than the more volatile fission reaction. Most researchers studying LENR are focusing on transmuting nickel into copper, although there are other elements that can be used. The LENR process creates a tiny fraction of what fission produces, but it also doesn’t create radiation or radioactive waste.

To put it all in perspective, according to NASA (who is also working on LENR), 1-percent of the world’s nickel could satisfy the entire world’s energy demands. It would also be able to do so at a quarter of the cost of coal. Carbon could also be used in place of nickel, with the byproduct being nitrogen instead of copper. In other words, it would be cheap, safe, and require common elements that are in abundant supply.

As for the E-Cat machine, the 32 days of testing produced an energy output 100 times more powerful than the best supercapacitors in the world, and around one million times more energy than gasoline. And if that wasn’t enough, the E-Cat itself – or the proposed commercial version – will be roughly the size of a mini-fridge.

Before you go and place all your faith in the future of humanity on the E-Cat, the device will undergo massive scientific scrutiny, likely for the next few years. Rossi is hoping to have a paper published in the Journal of Nuclear Physics, and he will continue to seek funding. If the E-Cat lives up to its promise, the world could be on the brink of a major change. At the moment though, that’s still a big “if.”

 

 

Images courtesy of: Extreme Tech and Galleryhip.

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