Rossi: “Practically Impossible” to Retrofit Coal Power Plants with E-Cats Due to Authorization Issues

On many occasions people have suggested that one easy way to incorporate E-Cat technology into the existing energy infrastructure is to simply take out the current heating systems from power plants (coal, gas, nuclear) and put in E-Cat heaters. All you need to generate electricity is steam at sufficient temperature and pressure to drive the turbines, and if you can match the heat from burning coal with heat from E-Cats, it would not seem to be major problem. You could keep the turbines and other necessary elements for steam production in place, and the electricity transmission systems would not need to be altered.

Today on the Journal of Nuclear Physics, Andrea Rossi make a comment that puts that assumption somewhat in doubt. There has been quite a bit of discussion in the JONP about the Obama administrations new goals for carbon reductions, and this comment is related with that issue:

“I understand that there is the drama of the jobs bound to coal mining, but this too is an issue that can be resolved by technological retrofitting. When I proposed to retrofit coal fueled power plants with a system of E-Cats, I have been told that it is practically impossible due to permissions and authorizations bound issues: maybe to ease the retrofitting authorizations could be an intelligent compromise.”

So Rossi is not at all saying it would be technically impossible to retrofit current power plants — rather that regulatory decision making would be the issue. One would think that if government policy was in favor of reducing carbon emissions, that regulatory bodies would not put unnecessary roadblocks in the way of switching from coal to E-Cats.

There may be technical and safety issues to deal with, but I would expect them to be relatively minor. It seems the problem is more a human and political one. I hope intelligent compromise can be achieved.

  • If the E-cat can make steam At a sufficient temperature and rate.
    Then there will not be any problems that the Chinese,
    Or 3rd world countries will have installing E-cats.
    As to the coal miner Mrs M Thatcher got rid of most of them,
    In this third world country.
    Plus we now have a wood chip burning Ex-coal fuelled station.
    Sorry but I think Mr Rossi Is only thinking Locally.
    .

  • GreenWin

    Centralized power generation is a century+ old concept. In Edison’s day generation and transmission of electricity over long distance was the only “practical” way to deliver energy. Today, Distributed Energy Resources are far more practical and cost effective. But even district level DERs of just five years ago are being replaced by residential PV/storage, micro-CHP and microgrids.

    “When Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk unveiled the company’s new Powerwall battery to back up home electrical systems in April, Green Mountain Power Corp. CEO Mary Powell was at the event in California, looking to put her company at the head of the line to order them for its customers.” http://www.power-eng.com/articles/2015/07/vermont-s-green-mountain-power-ready-for-energy-revolution.html

    Leading the way to residential DERs is Vermont’s Green Mountain Power company. Backed by State legislation GMP is prepared to adopt the Tesla Powerwall PV/storage solution. This puts electric utilities in the energy appliance business – installing and maintaining residential/small business microgrids comprised of appliances like Tesla’s Powerwall.

    The new DER infrastructure replaces the old grid and paves the way for LENR 24/7 energy to replace PV/storage. “Smart” or dumb, the old electric grid is going the way of the dinosaur.

    Of course LENR powered energy appliances will eventually replace the PV/storage solution

  • There is no problem. Once LENR is proven in the marketplace, laws and regulations will change quickly to adapt to the new technology.

    • Albert D. Kallal

      Right but a large coal plant when you include regulations
      etc., takes 7+ years to get done – and you tie up huge amounts of capital in
      the process (like 300 million dollars).

      It seems to me purchasing used coal plants should not be
      such a problem. Thus it not clear if we talking about technological issues (the
      boiler would likely have to be replaced – but the rest of the plant in theory
      should be useable), or regulatory issues. However, a typical coal to natural
      gas plant STILl costs in the range of 100 million dollars – not cheap at all (so a new plant is say 300-400 million, and a retro-fit to natural gas is 100 million).

      I would think that conversion to LENR would be “close” to
      the above natural gas conversion cost. So perhaps due to “so many” changes
      required, then converting coal to natural gas (or LENR) is a less then ideal
      choice.

      I suspect building from scratch is likely preferable, it
      on the surface still seems like a good business plan to take over used coal
      plants and retro fit them to run on LENR – especially the ones being such down
      due to new draconian CO2 regulations.

      Getting ones hands on an existing power plant that
      already built seems like a win win idea, but clearly there is some larger
      issues that I simply not aware of or grasping.
      However, such conversions are not really “cheap” or low cost when you start talking about 100 million dollars (so they are MUCH more then what realized – I just googed this issue).

      I am guessing that conversions to LENR might
      be somewhat cheaper then ng conversions – but not by a huge amount. A person is likely better off to build a plant with some solar panels, and a LENR gen-set – that way you can sell the power for huge inflated prices – in Germany many solar plants were actually running diesel generators at night because of the huge subsided rates they get for solar plants (some think as much as half the companies in Germany were doing this – imagine that your solar plant is producing electricity at night!). Makes me wonder if some companies simply took power from the grid and send it back out through their meters!

      Regards,
      Albert D. Kallal
      Edmonton, Alberta Canada

      • Omega Z

        Albert

        Power plants a very expensive. Nuclear even more so.
        Duke energy canceled a 1Gw(2-500Mwh I believe) plant in Florida. Initially priced at 2 Billion$ and eventually estimated at over 10 Billion$ & they hadn’t turned soil yet. Estimates for by time of completion(About 10 years) were expected to exceed $20 Billion Possibly 24 Billion$. Plans were permanently shelved.

        As to retrofitting, The only thing usable would be the turbine & generator. The Boiler would need built from scratch as E-cats are nothing like Coal or N-gas burners & likely would cost “more”. The savings is in the Fuel costs. Also, The main reason for not converting a coal plant to N-gas is economics. The Turbine & Generator are near end of use. You may have a lot of money tied up in something that wont last long or be a nightmare in upkeep.

        If I were to retrofit, it would be a small plant for proof of use/concept. Beyond that, It would be all new plants specifically designed for the way e-cats function.

        • Agaricus

          Meanwhile in the UK, Cameron is about to sign a deal with the Chinese for construction of a £25 billion deal to construct a 16GW nuclear dinosaur in Somerset, complete with a guarantee of paying twice the current going rate for electricity for 35 years.

          http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/news/5-august-2015/

          With all the problems surrounding this project, including safety issues, and with even the UK treasury expressing doubts, you really do have to question why Cameron is so determined to ram the deal through at almost any cost.

          • georgehants

            Morning Peter, maybe his unaccountable pension fund.

          • Omega Z

            I fully appreciate your concerns Peter. That project comes to mind anytime someone mentions building a Nuclear plant. Note in the U.S. similar guarantees are provided & aren’t limited to Nuclear, but also wind & solar projects. Our Utilities(By Extension the consumers) have to pay for any electricity they produce(Even theoretically) even if there is no demand for it.
            Insult to injury- They also don’t pay income tax on any profits. None…

            Aside from just seeing LENR breakout while I’m here to see it, I also want it to present itself before anymore of these monstrosities are built. Note it was just a small crop reduction in the heart of the U.S.(Primarily 2 states) due to drought that caused the Arab Spring. A Chernobyl in this region wouldn’t be a small reduction, but likely a near total elimination of this food production in these 2 states. Creating a World Spring would be putting it mildly.
            No “Intelligent Government” would ever allow a Nuclear plant near this region no matter how small the risk…

  • US_Citizen71

    The problem is government red tape. No politician wants to be associated with policy that ends up killing jobs no matter how dirty and dangerous they are.

  • radvar

    The volume of news about utilities building gas-fired plants because gas is cheaper (and for other reasons) tells me that the total cost of ownership (TCO) of an electrical power plant is something like a disposable razor or an inkjet printer. Before long the accumulated consumable cost (in this case fuel) exceeds the initial equipment investment.

    So don’t bother to retrofit; just build new ones. That will require lots of politics and regulation, too, however, it would in any case, and LENR standalone would likely entail less than LENR plus coal retrofit.

    • Omega Z

      Power plants are quite expensive, However, most of the plants in the U.S. are very old reaching end of life. Some have been given provisional extended use license as a stop gap. The U.S. is having trouble meeting peak demand, so now there is a scramble to try & fill the gap.

      In the States, If a power company has excess capacity, the Government fines them. If they don’t have enough, they fine them. Most Utilities have little more then a skeleton crew. Should there be major outages do to storms, they call in workers from other Utilities half way across the country.

      About 8 years ago we had a major ice storm. Five utility workers in my backyard putting up new poles & restringing wire. 4 were from other states. 1 from Arizona. i felt really bad for him as it was 10`f. He wasn’t doing to well. I had a stove top percolator & made them several pots of coffee to fill their thermoses. I wanted them to know that some people appreciated there efforts under very trying circumstances.

    • Omega Z

      Most U.S. coal plants are due for dismantling anyway. Not just the boilers, but the turbines & generators are old & suffer metal fatigue.(Much Maintenance to maintain) Obama’s plan is merely to assure any new plants are N-gas or new state of the art coal plants with the addition of carbon capture. I don’t know if the U.S. has any state of the art coal plants at all to date.

      They would need to be less then 15 years old to have been built state of the art. I think most if not all are at least 40 years old and many are surpassing 50+. Thus, buy 2030, all will have been dismantled & replaced most likely by N-gas plants.

      Keep in mind, there is a reason these old coal power plants aren’t being converted to N-gas. It can be done, It’s just not economical. Converting to LENR will be no cheaper & likely will cost more then switching to N-gas burners. How much do you want to invest before you start dismantling.

      It would probably be cheaper to build a 50Mwh pilot plant designed LENR specific. It would be efficient & good to go for 50 years.

      • Agaricus

        Boilers, fuel handling and exhaust arrangements only account for a relatively small part of the cost of a power station if you exclude ‘carbon capture’ and similar lunacies. The buildings, control and safety systems, turbines, condensers, generators, transformers and switchgear would be completely ‘re-usable’ in many more recent installations, provided that boiler characteristics could be approximately matched. This would mean that the cost of replacement of coal or NG fired boilers with cold fusion boilers would be a fraction of the cost of starting from scratch.

        Rossi says that “I have been told that it is practically impossible…” for bureaucratic reasons, but if this is the case then exactly the same ‘problems’ will make it practically impossible to build new CF power stations. If the technology is eventually safety certified for new build, then there should be no problems with retrofitting suitable existing installations.

        • Omega Z

          “if the rest of the equipment is reasonably modern”

          I can only speak of the U.S.. I doubt there are ANY new coal plants in the U.S., Like Nuclear, I don’t think they’ve built any new coal plants in decades. If they have, there wouldn’t be more then a couple.

          At some point they designed coal & N-gas plants that could use the same boiler. The coal is pulverized to a fine powder and sprayed out under pressure & burns as a flame like N-gas. They did this so that they could easily & economically switch depending on cost trends. This setup actually created a downward pressure on fuel costs by creating a competitive market between coal & N-gas.

          As to Boilers for the E-cat. They will be substantially different. Thus very likely starting from scratch. The E-cat also operates substantially different from a gas burner. Instead of a shooting flame, you have basically a heating element. Thus, instead of shooting a pressurized flame through a long tube, The E-cat would need to be embedded into the boiler walls.

          I’m reasonably confident that the E-cats will cost much more then a gas burner, however, I think? the boilers should be smaller thus possibly cheaper & offsetting some of the cost. Even if it initially costs more, you still have the fuel savings..

          I started checking out the boilers a while back, but got interrupted & sidetracked, but what stuck with me is that the 1 I was looking at was 300 feet tall. WOW. The Interior(Flame tube/chamber) looked to be at least 30 foot across. That’s as far as I got. I don’t now what the exterior size was or if this was 1 or 1 of several nor the size rating. Hopefully, that was a 1Gwh system.

          Anyway, It would take a lot of the Hot-cats we have seen pictures of as those were only 3.5Kwh reactors. I’m certain 6 of those would cost much more then the gas valve & gas orifices in my furnace. About $50. I think this has much to do with Rossi’s R&D on the new reactor. To increase output verses manufacturing costs. It’s a psychological issue for the customer. Doesn’t matter if it pays for itself in 2 or 3 years. If the upfront cost is high, it’s a turn off.

          As to the regulations, The same will apply to a new power plant, however, I would bet it would be easier then a retrofit. It’s simple. There is a bureaucratic process for a new system. Not so much for adaptation.
          Does that make sense..

  • Billy Jackson

    I stated sometime back that getting acknowledgement of LENR as science isn’t going to be the big fight… regulations, laws, and petty politics attempting to protect established interest is going to be the biggest fight.

  • Obvious

    Rossi is smart, and plays the long game.
    He says something like this, and a whole bunch of folks get upset and petition our lawmakers, etc.
    Problem solved, and he barely lifts his fingers to do the heavy lifting….

    • Agaricus

      Perhaps he also avoids scaring the natural gas people, who are the ones who will take the greatest initial hit from cold fusion.

  • theBuckWheat

    Many of these coal plants are going to either be scrapped or are facing significant re-engineering and upgrades to meet the new draconian and tyrannical EPA emissions requirements. The emergence of a heat source that is non-polluting is a stunning development. How likely is it that some form of e-cat could be tailored to the existing temperature ranges of such a plant? I don’t know. But I do know that using an e-Cat still would require a large amount of cooling capacity for the steam cycle. So, there is a good fraction of existing plants that probably are usable should an e-Cat heat source be available.

    I am awaiting how environmentalists will object to e-Cat and LENR. As sure as the sun rises in the east such opposition is coming.

    • Guru

      Whole idea of retrofitting old coal powerplants with Hot-Cats is economically wrong.
      What customer want to pay transmission fees and margins and VAT and lossess in grid ?

      Customers will want OWN mini/micro powerplants in its own site. No transmission fees, no margins, no lossess and not sure about VAT.

      • Omega Z

        Guru

        I disagree. There will be substantial loss using these systems as an individual. As an individual, You’ll need to produce Peak capacity even when not needed. All that energy will be waste. It’s just the nature of how energy is produced & how it’s used.

        Probably the best option is a Micro-Grid. Shared by a community or neighborhood rather then a large central grid a hundred miles away.

  • roseland67

    Start with a coal plant that has already been decommissioned.
    More often than not, these are on superfund cleanup lists so
    they can rarely be developed in the typical fashion and the physical land
    is usually dirt cheap.

  • Omega Z

    Actually, U.S. Healthcare is a disaster. Over 30 million people do not have a primary care physician. They have only emergency room care. It is 20% of GDP at $10K per person(#.2 Trillion$ & heading towards 25%. U.S. Healthcare is the Replacement of the Military complex 5 times over. The Over 30 million people without a doctor will only increase as the number of doctors per capita is in major decline.

  • Republicans want low cost energy. LENR is low cost energy.

  • Allan Shura

    My understanding is the e-cat is being used now for co-generator re-heating where the waste heat from plants is re-heated for electrical generation.
    I do not see any major technical issues with using a hot enough LENR based primary fuel for
    steam turbine power plants if the hot-cat matches required temperatures.