Lugano Fuel Analysis (Axil Axil)

The following post has been submitted by Axil Axil

A recent discussion with SLAD has forced me to look hard and anew at the Lugano report and arrive at a new perspective that will serve me well when I look at the ash analysis coming from MFMP. The analysis of the Lugano report has revealed that I have suffered from serious misconceptions about the fuel charge used in the Lugano reactor. And still there is much mystery in the understanding of that fuel and ash. I do not understand it but I love a good mystery.

My appeal for aid in understanding the particle analysis brought Bob Higgins to my aid. He knows the nature of the tests used on the ash and fuel well and also is a expert on the E-Cat nickel particles.

It starts with the sure fact that the commensally manufacture nickel particles are well mixed in the initial reactor fuel load. If the Lugano report is to be believed somehow, the 5 micron nickel particles contained in the fuel seemed to gather themselves together to form a 100 micron aggregation welded together through sintering and covered by a thin coat of lithium spread evenly on their collective surfaces with some aluminum alloy. How these particles could move themselves through a packed dust, some moving a long way to find each other is a mystery. What force could move these small particles, how do they know what direction to go in order to find the place of the meeting of the particles, and how do they swim through all the other particle types to get to where they are going? The fuel in the form of a very fine gray dust must be in siaie of constant motion more like a liquid then a solid to allow the nickel particles to swim to their gathering place.

In one part of the Lugano report in section 8. Fuel analysis it states: “The fuel contains natural nickel powder with a grain size of a few microns.” If this is true then nickel particle movement is required to produce a 100 micron particle. This movement is highly unlikely.

One item that flew complety over my head was that Figure 9 shows a large amount of lithium on the nickel particles IN THE FUEL. Rossi coated the nickel with lithium in the FUEL in a fuel preperation process. Replicators do not do this. They use untreated COTS nickel powder. Have the replicators all missed this?

What could Rossi be doing in the fuel preparation Process? A guess would be that he preheats COTS nickel powder with either lithium hydride or lithium aluminum hydride. This would coat the nickel particles in lithium and also might reduce the carbon surface content of the powder. This might get the nickel particles to weld together in the fuel mix forming clumps before the fuel is loaded in the reactor. Massive nickel Particle aggregation must be a result of some unknown fuel preparation process that allows the form large aggregates.

I provoked Bob Higgins, our most perceptive expert in nickel particle fabrication, to reread the Lugano report to answer some of the paradoxes that arise from the seeming perceived conflicts in it contents as follows:

“I spent some time re-analyzing the results of the Lugano report. Close examination of the SEM image of fuel particle 1 (mostly Ni) on page 43 indicates that the particle is unlike a carbonyl Ni starting material – it looks more like a Vale T255 powder that has been coated and agglomerated due to sintering. There is evidence of the filamentary T255 carbonyl structure in the SEM, but it looks like a composite particle. Further, the SEM image shows signs of another material being disposed on the surface area of the particle, similar to what I have seen when I dry-tumble mixed nanopowder onto the surface of carbonyl Ni powder.

Examining the EDS analysis of this particle on page 44, there is a clear peak for Al in the spectrum. The EDS is a small spot examination, so the Al peak appears to be on the surface of fuel particle 1, not a halo contamination from nearby LiAlH4. Further, the Al does not show in the EDS spectrum of particles 2 or 3 of the fuel, again indicating that the Al peak in particle 1 is not due to measurement halo and really is part of the surface of particle 1.

Al also shows in the EDS of the ash particle 1, the one that is predominantly Ni. Li will not show in EDS analysis because its x-ray peak is too low energy to be captured by the EDS sensor – so, Li could be present, but would not have been picked up.

In the SIMS analysis of the fuel particle (page 47), both Li and Al (mass 27) show. The SIMS analysis is for a 100×100 micron patch, so the Li and Al could have come from nearby LiAlH4; however, supporting evidence for the Li-Al being present on the fuel particle comes from the EDS which has a much smaller analysis area (probably less than 5 microns square) which showed evidence of Al. The SIMS analysis on page 48 after sputter cleaning still shows a reduced amount of Al on the surface at M/z=27. It is not clear why the Li peak in the SIMS analysis is so strong – it is from greater Li abundance in the ion analysis stream, but it is not clear whether that is from a greater propensity for Li to sputter from the incident Ga beam or if there is more Li on the surface.

My conclusion is that the Ni fuel particles have been thermo-chemically pre-processed. It may be that this is a particle that has been ground up from the ash of a previous reactor run. It appears to have started out as a Ni powder like filamentary carbonyl Vale T255 that has been heated to a temperature in the 300-700C range while mixed with the LiAlH4.

It is also interesting to note that in Alexander Parkhomov’s experiments, he mixes the LiAlH4 powder with his carbonyl Ni powder in a mortar and grinds the two together with a pestle. This has not been done in any of the MFMP replication attempts. Perhaps Parkhomov’s grinding/mixing is a partial substitute for Rossi’s pre-processing of the Ni powder with LiAlH4.”

It seems that most if not all of the Hot cat replicators have not picked up on all the fuel preparation processes that Rossi goes through. This might be the reason why it takes so long to get the fuel load in replications to the point of reaction light off. In a replication without preprocessing of the fuel, the small nickel particles may not be properly aggregated for the reaction to light off.

Axil Axil

  • the idea to use mortar like A Parkhomov is interesting for replications. This is the kind of details that is important in material science.

  • Nicholas Cafarelli

    Axil: You use the phrase “packed dust”. What evidence is there to support the idea that Rossi tamps/packs/compresses fuel?

    • Axil Axil

      None, the fuel and ash were poured in and out. No packing.

  • Zack Iszard

    My take on agglomeration of metal micro-particles is that it’s quite natural. The mere act of pouring the fuel powder would impart enough static charge separation that particles would agglomerate until static had discharged by conduction. Once sitting next to each other, sintering with heat is expected.

    Microparticles (nanoparticles especially) are much freer to move than larger particles. Unless truly packed tightly into the cylinder, hydrogen gas pressure waves during warming would constitute another means to agglomerate micro-particles. There ought to be a size distribution in these agglomerates related to the rate balance between sticking together and flying apart during “active” (movement) conditions.

    My experience with very small particulate is that keeping them from agglomerating is actually quite hard, be they metallic or polymeric.

    • Nigel Appleton

      I can heartily endorse this about problems in keeping small particles from agglomerating! The bane of my life for many a year.