Carbon, The Secret Catalyst (Jamie Sibley)

The following post has been submitted by Jamie Sibley

Carbon, The Secret Catalyst.

I theorize that there are two things needed for successful LENR fuel: Nickel powder with nanometer sized features and graphene.

1) By performing many, many cycles of oxidation and hydrogen reduction on micrometer sized nickel powder, nanometer sized cracks, fissures and prominences are formed. These nano-formations are they key to extreme hydrogen loading levels, and consequently, high hydrogen pressures.

2) By oxidizing carbon alongside the nickel, carbon monoxide and dioxide are formed, then when hydrogen is added, the nickel and iron, act as a catalyst to cause the carbon oxides to reduce and form graphene on the nickel surface.

3) since the nickel already has many nano-features, these are coated in graphene. When the reactor is subsequently ran at high temperatures, this graphene prevents the nano-features from sintering and being destroyed.

4) The nickel nano-features act as a large hydrogen reservoir, and when the pressure in the reactor is changed, hydrogen flows in and out of the nickel, but it has to pass through the graphene to do so. The hydrogen leaves the surface of the nickel particles under extreme pressure, due to being forced into the interatomic sites, and therefore, passes through the graphene in this highly compress state. The passage of hydrogen through graphene is the true trigger for nuclear reactions.

Other Additions:

4) The lugano iron particles may have contained a notable percentage of sodium. The report did not draw a conclusion about the origin of the Sodium. This paper indicates that sodium can be added to iron catalysts to increase their effectiveness with carbon monoxide.

5) Potassium doping may be important.

6) Lithium may reduce the pressure needed for the dissolved hydrogen to become metallic.

Supportive Circumstantial Evidence for my theory:

1) Rossi was working with a biofuel company near the time of his discovery, and I remember some mention of him working with carbon monoxide and nickel. I suspect, that while performing many experimental cycles on a nickel catalyst with carbon, he inadvertently formed nano-features and graphene. The process of mixing hydrogen and carbon monoxide with a nickel catalyst is a normal industrial process.

2) Lugano reactor contains more carbon than would be expected from a carby-nickel produced powder. Possibly up to 6.6% by weight. I suspect that this carbon is actually only on the surface of the particles.

3) Replication difficulty could be explained by the exact steps needed for the features and graphene, and that some experiments, though their trial and error and long running times, are able to form small amounts of these features.

Fuel Recipe

20 g Micrometer sized nickel powder
1.5 g Carbon
0.1 g Iron Oxide
0.1 g Sodium Carbonate


1) Heat fuel to a suitably high temperature ( 500C for example )

2) Repeat the following hundreds of times:
Vacuum to ~10 mb
wait 5-30 minutes
apply 300mb oxygen pressure
wait 5-30 minutes
apply 1000mb hydrogen pressure
wait 5-30 minutes

3) Load with hydrogen and look for excess heat.

The key step here is once the oxygen is added, that carbon oxide gases are formed and must not be released from the reactor until hydrogen has been added to form solid carbon compounds. Apply vacuum immediately after the oxidization step would remove the carbon gases and prevent the formation on graphene.

Using the above preparation process, the carbon maybe be deposited as both graphene and soot. However, upon subsequent cycles, the soot would be preferentially oxidized vs the graphene. After many iterations, this process will favor the formation of graphene over soot.

Additional References:

Graphene and atomic collapse.

Graphene causes nickel catalysts to be resistant to sintering

Jamie Sibley


  • Obvious

    Just be aware that nickel carbonyl could be accidentally made, which is extremely nasty.

  • I agree. I have been telling people to add carbon and iron for a very long time, but the replicators ignore me. Maybe they will listen to you. Rossi himself once revealed that he first got a positive reaction with nickel powder when he accidentally spilled some carbon powder into the fuel mix. If even Rossi said it, why won’t the replicator’s listen?

    • Mike Henderson

      I can think of one reason. Iron, Carbon, and Nickel form one of the most thoroughly studied alloys known to mankind: steel. The likelihood of nobody noticing anomalous heat in the last two or three hundred years of studying metallurgy is extremely unlikely.

      • Axil Axil

        This reaction was seen in the oil industry related to rust, a hexagonal crystal.

        • there are many case of anomalous heat that were unexplained and may be LENR.

          one was observed by electrochemis when doing electrolysis with PdD. this is the effects that F&P investigated.

          one was anomalous heating in Pd filters, and this led to Fralick-like experiments

          One is what you cite with catalytic beds.
          Statoil talk about it probably to Brillouin.

          One is some treatment with nickel powders who are treated in a turning barrel under argon atmosphere with some H2 to reduce oxides… sometime it melts totally.

          Another is the even presented to Avignon symposium by Didier Grass (Thomson CSF 1987) where ZrO2 powder covered with nickel by cathodic pulverization and electrolyzed in nickel amidosulfate bath, made the cell glow and melt (>2000C).

          • Andreas Moraitis

            „One is some treatment with nickel powders who are treated in a turning barrel under argon atmosphere with some H2 to reduce oxides… sometime it melts totally.”

            Sounds interesting. Do you have a source for this?

          • chatting with an engineer in industry.
            Not enough details to say more.

      • Richard Hill

        A similar comment about no-one noticing excess heat in industry was made some time ago. A friend who is an experienced chemical engineer working for many years with nickel hydrogen agrees that in the sturm and drang of operating real plants a minor excess heat would never be noticed. A major overheating would likely cause severe problems but with many normal explanations for such an incident the CF possibility would never be considered.

      • Stephen

        Very Interesting post, I’m no Chemist but Is good to see how it can play a role in LENR like this.

        Have the electrical properties of graphene also been considered? I wonder if this could play a role too.

      • Warthog

        I don’t think the E-cat reaches high enough temperatures to melt either iron or nickel unless there is a thermal run-away,

        • Ted-X

          Diffusion occurs much below the melting point of the metals. A mixture of metals melts below the melting point of the components (this effect is well known in chemistry).

  • Ted-X

    Jamie, I believe that you are right. I would like to add some additional Circumstantial Evidence and comment on your posting. I am a chemist and I understand that the LENR is a system in a thermodynamic equilibrium of interconversions, phase changes and precipitations of alloys (chemical reactions and physical changes).
    The presence of carbon and oxygen together will cause the formation of nickel carbonyls, of which some will be just partial carbonyls (on the surface); there will be also some volatile nickel tetracarbonyl, which will deposit nano-nickel (in statu nascendi) after hydrogen is being added (due to the thermodynamic equilibrium, I would expect that some nickel carbonyls will still be present, even with excess of hydrogen). This could be nicely calculated using a software, such as ASPEN or ChemCAD. I believe that some oxygen will remain in the reaction vessel and I think that this “marginal oxygen” is essential in the LENR/Rossi effect. The amount of the remaining “marginal” oxygen will not be very reproducible and this fact may be responsible for the difficulties in reproducing the LENR effect.
    Under the LENR conditions, some nickel will become volatilized (as tetracarbonyl) and the oscillations of temperature (which are essential) will cause formation of nano-particles of “in statu nascendi”, very reactive nickel. The circumstantial evidence is the enhancement of the LENR effect when acetone was contaminating the reaction vessel (I think that it was Celani who noticed this enhancement).
    I believe that the cryogenic pre-treatment of “cabonized nickel” may also produce not only nano-graphite but also graphene as well as the crystalline structure (stabilized with graphene), not achievable by any other means. The cryogenic treatment may be enhanced by mechanical “pounding” (not milling) of the micronized nickel powder.
    These chemical considerations are just covering the molecular level of the LENR effect. On the nuclear level, SSP, exotic particles and other mechanisms require further considerations, but from the experimentalists’ point of view, carbon and oxygen appear to be the catalysts.
    Depending on the wetting effects, lithium and aluminium (both will be in the liquid form) may get into capillary microcracks of nickel, or may even form inter-metallic alloys (the same with carbon). Temperature oscillations in that case will cause phase changes, precipitations (as in tempering steel), crystallizations and perhaps other effects. These effects can be optimized experimentally.
    We all want the LENR to get into public domain; Rossi is ahead, so the successful replicators will not infringe excessively on his fully deserved profits.

  • Zephir

    There is high number of reports of various organic chemicals as a catalyst of LENR. Also the first observations of heat overunity at Raney nickel was also during hydrogenation of organic materials.

    The nickel-hydrogen system is quite common in organic synthesis (Raney
    nickel) and the anomalous evolution of heat were observed multiple-times
    there (1, 2). . In 1959 R.J.Kokes and P.H. Anderson were studying adsorption of
    hydrogen on Raney nickel and observed “strange feature of exothermic
    reaction”. What they observed predated the Piantelli work by 30 years,
    and the Rossi catalyst by over 50 years

  • ChrisC

    I wonder if the graphene coating could cause localised stress gradients due to differential thermal expansion between it and the nickel, which in turn causes diffusion of hydrogen to sites of high stress, thus locally increasing hydrogen loading (see Ficks law).

  • Pekka Janhunen

    Reasonable thoughts, overall. Don’t know if true, but worth experimenting. I have been thinking and written here earlier that Dirac fermions (effectively zero mass electrons) might play a role because then plasma frequency could get very high and perhaps plasmons can then couple with nuclear degrees of freedom, and graphene has them, as 2-D modes, but anyway. In fact, graphene was the first where they were found. Perhaps the magic substance is graphene, and nickel or other metal is only needed to create a solid surface (of some complicated shape, probably). Anyway, I think there is enough motivation for someone to try adding carbon there (and when adding carbon, be aware of the carbonyl danger, keep distance and ventilate the room well).

  • Ted-X

    There is some fringe theory… If there is some truth to it, the compression history (geological) of the sample might be of influence (maybe Carpinelli is relevant here). It is quite likely that there is “something” in the story of Mr. Hudson claiming some very strange forms of precious metals from his mining experience. And other people were also claiming some new, strange forms of certain metals. Nickel was one of those metals forming the strange “forms”. It could be a new breed of the new meta-nucleus based metals.
    In the Wikipedia, under “nuclear isomer”:
    A nuclear isomer is a metastable state of an atomic nucleus caused by the excitation of one or more of its nucleons (protons or neutrons). “Metastable” refers to the fact that these excited states have half-lives more than 100 to 1000 times the half-lives of the excited nuclear states that decay with a “prompt” half life (…) Occasionally the half-lives are far longer than this, and can last minutes, hours, years, or in the singular case of 180m 73Ta, so long that it has never been observed to decay (at least 10^15 years).