An important thing to remember when considering the current status of the E-Cat, and one which Andrea Rossi has emphasized, is that in it’s current design it is currently only a water heater/steam maker. Numerous people have asked Rossi whether his E-Cat produces electricity, and he has said that currently he is not. The 1 MW plant to be delivered to Defkalion in Greece will only produce steam and hot water — it’s not exactly clear yet whether Defkalion has plans to use the steam for only heating purposes, or whether they will be trying to generate electricity.
While many people are extolling the breakthrough that Rossi has made with the E-Cat, the technology is currently in a very primitive state, and to maximize its usefulness considerable engineering will need to be done.
Rossi has addressed some of these engineering issues on his web site. One questioner asked, “Since this device primarily creates heat. Are there any plans to construct steam engines around this device? It seems a backward step, but steam technology is already here and there should be little concern for efficiency.”
Rossi’s answer: “Yes, we are also studying steam engines fit for our E-Cats: not an easy task.”
A steam engine converts the pressure provided by steam into mechanical energy. It will be interesting to see whether the cheap and cleanly generated steam the E-Cat produces will bring about a renaissance of the steam age. Could we again see the production of a new generation of steam locomotives or even steam powered cars to pick up where the Stanley Steamer (last manufactured in 1928) left off ?
Another obvious use of steam is for electricity generation. Most electricity used in the modern world is generated by steam turbines and Rossi has been asked about the suitability of the current E-Cat for producing electricity. Here’s one question:
“1) Do you already know if only one version (3kW) of the eCAT will be sold?
2) It will be sold as an steam generator?
3) what will be the maximum pressure and temperature of the output steam?
4) can you tell us, what are the main difficulties in obtaining electricity, so we can try to aid you for free at Bologna or at Genoa simulating the system in some way?”
3-550 °C, 50 bars
Efficient and powerful electrical generation requires superheated steam to drive the turbines, and the temperatures Rossi mentions here match the temperatures of superheated steam used in current power stations. We don’t know exactly what configuration of E-Cats produce the 550 °C steam; Mats Lewan reported that the steam produced from the single 2.5 KW E-Cat that he tested was measured at 100.5 °C, so Rossi has clearly been experimenting with some special configuration of E-Cats to reach those higher temperatures.
Steam is the primary product of the E-Cat, but another avenue of research will very likely be in the field direct production of electricity from heat through using solid state thermocouples. Right now thermocouples are not very efficient, but as with all technologies, with the right amount of money, motivation and brainpower they could be improved greatly.
Once a working E-Cat is on the market there will doubtless be a massive amount of work done by engineers trying to find out efficient and creative ways to us the heat it creates.