Thoughts on Alpha and Beta Nickel-Hydride Formation in E-Cat Replication (Hank Mills)

The following post was submitted by Hank Mills

(WARNING: Performing replications of LENR systems entails significant risks and exposure to chemicals, electricity, and harmful elements. Many risks, potentially life threatening, are involved if non-experts proceed with experiments. One breath of certain chemicals can bring near immediate death, other chemicals can induce explosions when exposed to moistures, certain elements can spontaneously combust in atmosphere to produce burns, and the dangers involved when utilizing hydrogen are many, varied, and severe. Only academics and highly trained professionals in proper settings, utilizing all safety precautions, should consider attempting E-Cat replications)

All information in this document is speculative and composed by a non-scientist. Don’t bank on any of it.

Molecular hydrogen approaches a metal surface (rod, wire, or wire). The two hydrogen atoms are attracted to the nickel, are dissassociated into atomic hydrogen, and each individual atom is absorbed into the nickel lattice. This process is stimulated by a combination of pressure and heat; however,  the rate of absorption is also increased by a greater surface area. For example, nickel powder allows quicker absoption. This process allows for the formation of alpha phase (a-phase) nickel hydride, NiH.

At the lowest concentrations of a-phase NiH (nickel hydride) in the nickel, the absoption of hydrogen is most significantly impacted by the pressure of the hydrogen gas. If an adequate temperature is held constant, as hydrogen pressure is increased, a saturation point of a-phase NiH will be reached.

After the saturation point of a-phase NiH is arrived at, the conversion to b-phase NiH (nickel hydride) begins. This is driven by temperature as well if pressure is held constant.

At some point a plateau will be reached and the dissolution of hydrogen into the nickel to create additional b-phase NiH (nickel hydride) will be governed by pressure alone. At this point all the a-phase hydride has been converted to b-phase. By increasing hydrogen pressure, additional b-phase NiH will be formed in the nickel lattice. The creation of b-phase NiH allows a much greater total hydrogen concentration in the bulk nickel, resulting in an increased volume.

After removing oxides from his nickel bar and/or wire, by a combined process of heating the sample (to 900K or 625C) and flushing with hydrogen, Sergio Focardi began the process of a-phase NiH loading by maintaining a constant temperature while filling the cell with pressurized hydrogen. Every time the pressure dropped due to absorption into the lattice, he would add additional hydrogen from a tank. Eventually, after the nickel was seemingly saturated with a-phase NiH, he would begin the triggering process to produce excess heat: by first dropping and then increasing power to the cell — exposing the nickel to elevated temperatures — or dropping and then increasing pressure. This would commence the production of excess heat, elevating the temperature of the cell. Hence, the triggering process would convert more of the a-phase NiH into b-phase NiH. Perhaps a sudden, rapid conversion of a-phase to b-phase (or an increase in the total amount of b-phase if saturation of a-phase had been reached) is the primary triggering mechanism by which excess heat mode is driven. Once triggered, such a mode of operation may continue for an extend period of time — potentially without continual input of power to the resistors.

The addition of a form(s) of lithium seems to be the key to increasing the output of a stimulated sample of nickel rich in b-phase NiH (nickel hydride). Early E-Cat reactors are thought to possible utilize pure lithium — rather than lithium aluminum hydride (LiAlH4). If pure lithium was utilized, along with an external hydrogen source in the form of a tank, a lower operating temperature could be the result. Concurrently, the energetic potential of the fuel mixture could be lower than if only elemental lithium was used. The aluminum content of LiAlH4 might block, hinder, or decrease the likely hood of proton-lithium nuclear reactions. Producing a greater quantity of energy than nickel-hydrogen fusion, if the rate of proton-lithium reactions (resulting in the emission of ionized helium atoms with high kinetic energies called alpha particles) were reduced, the overall COP of a reactor could be lower. Since COP increases with temperature, a positive impact of the use of LiAlH4 could be greater control and stability at increased temperatures (1200C or above) where previously reactors repeatedly “ran away.” At these higher temperatures, a significant COP could still be achieved with less likelihood of a structural failure.

If the nuclear reactions that take place in the E-Cat do indeed occur in the micro-caves of the nickel powder (perhaps where greater pressures create regions of extremely high hydrogen loading), to achieve the highest levels of heat generation lithium may need to be present in these regions. This would necessitate the liquid or gaseous state of lithium.

To facilitate successful E-Cat replications the following suggestions are made. Please note these are not precise directions, and the order and duration of these steps are not set in stone. Various documentation found on the internet, beyond the references provided, can provide additional information.

1) In a vacuum and/or hydrogen environment, to remove oxygen from the nickel, pre-bake the nickel at elevated temperatures deemed suitable and safe. Certain sources reference the temperature of 625C being needed to “clean” the nickel in vacuum. Lower temperatures may be used (potentially for safety in order to reduce the chance of a hydrogen explosion) if the nickel is being exposed to hydrogen to remove oxygen. If nickel is not pre-baked to remove oxides, exposure to such temperatures in the reactor core during the active run may suffice. Also, exposure to aluminum when mixed with LiAlH4 may “clean up” the oxides at such temperature ranges without pre-baking. Suffice it to say, success in the early experiments by Focardi (the basis of  much of this document) depended significantly on the removal of oxides. Other LENR companies, such as Brillouin, also stress the extreme importance of removing oxides from the nickel power in their systems. Both heating in a vacuum and flushing with hydrogen at lower temperatures will remove oxides, but utilizing both methods may be preferable. Oxides = No Excess Heat.

2) To hydrogenate the cleaned nickel, heat nickel in a hydrogen environment to appropriate temperatures and pressures. Allow pressure to drop as hydrogen is absorbed into the nickel. After absorption slows significantly, increase hydrogen pressure. Repeat until increasing pressure stops facilitating further absorption to a significant extent.

– Consider increasing temperature somewhat along with hydrogen pressure to ensure that the nickel is saturated with a-phase NiH (nickel hydride) and b-phase NiH is being produced or converted from a-phase NiH. WARNING THIS MAY TRIGGER EXOTHERMIC NUCLEAR REACTIONS.

– Consider increasing hydrogen pressure significantly at the same temperature to increase hydrogen absoption and formation of b-phase hydrogen. WARNING THIS MAY TRIGGER EXOTHERMIC NUCLEAR REACTIONS

3) If utilizing an external source of hydrogen, add free lithium (very carefully utilizing all safety precautions, equipment, and a suitable laboratory) to the nickel. Whether or not the lithium should be added before or after hydrogenation is uncertain to the author, but most certainly depends on the design of the experiment and what is practical for the replicator. If added before hydrogenation, the chemistry of the hydrogenation process will become more complex. Adding lithium afterwards may prevent the formation of LiH unless the test is conducted with pressurized hydrogen in the reactor core. There are many combinations and order of operations to test.

4) If using LiAlH4 as a source of hydrogen in the active reactor, consider performing two tests. One with LiAlH4 and the nickel mixed and another with the LiAlH4 physically separated from the nickel powder — perhaps behind a gas permeable plug, screen, or barrier. If the presence of aluminum lowers the rate of proton-lithium reactions, considerable excess heat may be detected at a lower temperature far below 1000C, but probably above the melting point of lithium. Then compare test results to nickel powder mixed with LiAlH4 with or without a certain percentage of free lithium added to the mixture.

5) After hydrogenation, trigger reactions with drops and then increases in heat and/or pressure. Early “hot cat” E-Cat reactors, utilizing only external hydrogen canisters, repeated melted down into slag according to the online postings written by one of Andrea Rossi’s former associates. The amount of excess energy can be extreme: obvious even without precise measurement equipment. Runaways have produced temperatures of over 2000C (hot enough to melt aluminum oxide like candle wax) and momentary power outputs of up to a megawatt. Prepare accordingly by taking all safety guidelines, utilizing all safety equipment, wearing all safety gear, and preparing for any possible outcome — including catastrophic destruction of the reactor.


a -Thermodynamics of Metal Hydrides:  Tailoring Reaction Enthalpies  of Hydrogen Storage Materials

b – Large excess heat production in Ni-H systems

c -Fluid Heater

d -Control of Low Energy Nuclear Reactions in Hydrides, and Autonomously Controlled Heat Generation Module

e – Many long and extended conversations and communications with replicators and knowledgeable researchers.

Hank Mills

  • Bob Tivnan

    Hank, this is a very detailed set of instructions for replication. I do not posess the skill set to give it a try, but I hope you have convinced others to go for it. Can you explain how your ideas differ from other experiments that have already been conducted, such as those by MFMP? Also, please elaborate on the other sources that you mentioned in e). Thanks for putting this out there.

    • Wishful Thinking Energy

      The process Hank is recommending is very similar to MFMP’s “signal” process, but it encourages higher temperatures and possibly pressures than MFMP used to promote Oxide reduction and Hydride formation.
      Hank is also encouraging trying a test where the LiAlH4 is not mixed directly with the other ingredients. The idea being that the large Al atom is getting in the way of efficient 1H + 7Li reaction production. This is something that Bob Greenyer, other replicators, and people on ECW have been contemplating today and is something I hope to test soon.

      • Hank Mills

        I’ve been contemplating about the idea that Al gets in the way of the 1H 7Li reaction for many months. Li can react with protons at very low energy levels. For example, consider the work of Ikegami (with liquid lithium) and Unified Gravity Corporation. Instead of requiring a minimum of protons with energies of 300,000 keV, Ikegami achieved the reaction at a few thousand keV and Unified Gravity Corporation has found a sweet spot of 200ev. There are many ways to enhance the reaction rate of lithium and protons. However, I can find any way to enhance the reaction rate between protons and aluminum. I propose the aluminum gets in the way — unless of course all the reactions happen in the microcavities and for some reason only liquid lithium and not liquid aluminum get inside the cavities.

        • US_Citizen71

          While you are on the subject p + 7Li reactions, what do you think about a “Lithium Vapor Light” at least in theory. What I mean is in a tube that is non-conductive to electricity but able to handle at least 1500-1600C with electrodes on either end. A way of heating it to 1350C will be needed to make the Lithium vapor. Take it to a vacuum with a small amount of lithium inside. Heat it to above 1350C and once you have vapor you energize it like a sodium vapor light and add hydrogen. I think you would have the energy available to cause reactions. What do you think?

          • Hank Mills

            It sounds like an interesting experiment. I’m not certain if it would produce excess heat or not. However, it sounds more similar to the work of Unified Gravity Corporation than Rossi, Brillouin, Piantelli, etc. The whole key would be making the protons from the hydrogen atoms (in the form of atomic hydrogen) impact the lithium atoms at an energy of around 200eV. That is the sweet spot that Unified Gravity Corporation has found. They have achieved rates of fusion that are extremely high — measuring hundreds of thousands of alpha particle counts through a one millimeter temperature in the side of the reactor covered with a thin layer of mylar. Part of getting such a vapor light to work would be creating a plasma and applying square waves. Your idea sounds close to some of the work of Unified Gravity Corporation. I highly suggest you read their patent that describes many of their tests.

        • Da Phys

          THank you Hank for the article. Can you give me a link to an article by Ikegami on H+Li fusion triggered by a few thousands keV only? Also I guess you meant 300 keV. Not many can afford 300,000 keV proton beams 🙂 Thanks.

  • Wishful Thinking Energy

    Great article as usual Hank! I especially appreciate the detail you’ve taken to describe each of the steps. I’m currently in the cleaning/Hydrogenation stage of another batch of Ni and I will take these suggestions into account.

    • Hank Mills

      I would suggest doing some testing of nickel hydrogenation — if the end product is going to be used as fuel or not. We need to learn how different types and brands of nickel powder absorb hydrogen and what degree of “loading” is required for excess heat production. Personally, I’d be thrilled to see the pressure go down while a sample of nickel starts absorbing hydrogen. I think there is a lot more research that can be done on enhancing loading and pushing beyond the a-phase of nickel hydride to the b-phase (where the amount of hydrogen in the nickel increases dramatically and changes form). Although I don’t remember the reference, I’ve read somewhere that the hydrogen in the b-phase nickel hydride is much more sensitive to external influence. This maybe why Songsheng’s setup started producing massive excess heat before the thermal energy from the resistors even had time to migrate through the various layers of insulation to the fueled core.

  • Mats002

    Great contribution Hank!

    • Hank Mills

      Thank you very much. It is the result of a lot of discussions and a few nights of almost non-stop reading of many different documents. I think we’ve really overlooked the necessity of proper nickel baking, cleaning, and hydrogen loading: before we ever put the fuel into the reactor.

  • US_Citizen71

    To clean and hydrogenated the nickel I have a suggestion that I believe would be safe, I’m not a chemist so I cannot give 100% certainty to the safety of my suggestion below.

    I have been considering doing some experimentation myself so I’ve tried to solve the problem of cleaning and hydrogenation of the Nickel in a desktop/labtop environment. My plan is to use a large diameter stainless steel pipe nipple with two caps wrapped with the same Kanthal heating wire being used on reactor cores as my oven.

    The Nickel would be placed in a smaller pipe cap which would be surrounded by Lithium Aluminum Hydride in the bottom of the oven. A piece of Zirconium would be used as a getter to remove O, N, CO, CO2 and water from the environment helping to form a vacuum. The Zirconium would also absorb hydrogen released from the LAH. To release the Hydrogen absorbed by the Zirconium the temperature must be raised to above 800C, this is a reversible reaction and will absorb much of the hydrogen as it cools. 600C is the approximately the ideal working zone for Zirconium as a getter for everything but hydrogen so heating to 625C as Hank suggests should work just fine. After a long bake the temp would then be raised to above 800C to release the Hydrogen from the Zirconium and hydrogenate the Nickel.

    • Hank Mills

      That’s an interesting setup — one of many that could be tested. At this point, after reading about a handful of successful replications and many more showing little to no excess heat, I’m all for documentation of everything that happens in the reactor. If I were to conduct an experiment now, I’d want to be able to isolate the nickel and track the hydrogen pressure so I could measure exactly how much was being absorbed. I’d want to measure the pressure each hydrogenating run until the nickel wasn’t absorbing anymore. I’m for keeping as many additional variables out of the system as possible.

      • US_Citizen71

        “I’d want to measure the pressure each hydrogenating run until the nickel wasn’t absorbing anymore. I’m for keeping as many additional variables out of the system as possible.” – I agree but like I am sure many readers I have a limited budget to apply to experimentation and do not want the headache of dealing with compressed hydrogen gas, so I will have to make mine on demand and the moisture rich hydrogen gas formed by the electrolysis of water doesn’t sound appealing. I suppose I could tap the center of one of the larger caps or buy one that way to mount a pressure gauge. I will have to look into that. I am close to having it all planned now I just need to save a little up for supplies and equipment.

        • Valeriy Tarasov

          Maybe I have missed something, but till today I don’t see that somebody is using LiBH. I have mentioned about it long time ago. Why nobody is testing LiBH instead of LiAlH? It is so obvious that it potentially can be better than LiAlH. Interaction of protons with Boron will give also alpha particle as in case of pure Li. So, LiBH will completely transmutated into alpha particles and protons.

          • Alan DeAngelis
          • Gerard McEk

            I believe, Hank says that Al damp the reaction to avoid runaway. Boron may cause the opposite.

          • Valeriy Tarasov

            I think, it is not really obvious before experiments (and likely to be opposite) about the runaway with LiBH, since the energy of alpha particles from Boron is around two times less then from Li. It can be that usage of LiBH can help to avoid the runaway because – we will have less number of protons interacting with Lithium since part of them will efficiently interacts with Boron, causing Boron fission. In case of LiAlH, protons will not be soaked (likely scattered) by Al atoms and still be available for interaction with Li. Thus, Al is not really a damper of Li + protons reaction.

            LiBH can give stability of LENR in comparison with Li. And, of cause it is convenient source of Hydrogene.

          • Valeriy Tarasov

            And, one more thing. Boron 10 is effective for the capture of neutrons – 10B + nth → [11B] *→ α + 7Li + 2.31 MeV,
            so, in case, it has effective shielding capability from any dengerous neutrons radiation !

          • Fedir Mykhaylov

            It is possible to use an boron steel in the reactor shell. This will reduce the leakage of hydrogen through the reactor walls.

  • sam

    You lost me after Don’t bank on any of it.
    Hank.I guess I have a long way to go
    before I build a LENR device.

    • Hank Mills

      Me too. I wish I had money, a lab, and an experienced engineer and an experienced machine shop expert to work with.

      • Omega Z

        So If you could just hang out in Rossi’s lab, you’d be a happy camper.
        Oh, And you wouldn’t need money. 🙂

  • Ron Kita

    I see the term…absorption and note that Larsen uses adsorption. Respectfully,Ron Kita, Chiralex

    • Hank Mills

      I think adsorption represents when the hydrogen only bonds with the very top surface layers of the nickel and doesn’t penetrate into the bulk. I know Parkhomov stated to someone that if he didn’t allow for a long enough heat up time, only the surface of the nickel powder would get hydrogenated creating more of a “flash” effect that would lead to localized hot spots. He didn’t say this in these exact words.

  • optiongeek

    Reading through the proposed experimental procedure, this sounds *very* much like the CIHT technology developed by Randy Mills at Blacklight Power (now Brilliant Light Power). Nickel-Hydrogen compounds subject to various heat and pressure conditions that exhibit anomalous heat but eventually degrade over time. Mills has abandoned (for now) this approach because he determined that reaction doesn’t scale commercially.
    However – Mills has fully characterized the process. And more importantly, he subjected the experiment to multiple independent labs for validation. Their reports are all available at:
    In particular, a very simple set of tests can be done on this type of setup to determine whether or not hydrinos (fractional hydrogen, aka dark matter) are the source of the excess heat. Raman spectography on the reactants will show a characteristic response as detailed in Mills’ CIHT paper and confirmed by the validators.
    Has anyone ever taken the LENR reactants and done a Raman analysis? Curious what that might reveal.

  • Engineer48

    I’m bringing this thread back to life as the information Hank is sharing here is VITAL.

    To help to understand the different stages of Ni hydrogenation or the creation of beta stage Nickel Hydride I have modified this diagram to add state c1 that shows the H2 hammering the alpha stage surface H atoms into the Ni lattice to create beta stage Nickel Hydride that we need to create hydrogenated Ni.

    This process is not as simple as the diagram.

    I and others agree that the main reason that DIYers fail to achieve excess heat is probably their Ni is not fully saturated beta stage Ni.

    • Stephen

      I wonder if Nickel Hydride can more easily be stimulated to produce free or high energy protons than other Metal Hydrides?

  • Stephen

    The following paper is about Palladium Hydride but Interestingly according to the paper Al2O3 and SiO2 has an affinity for atomic hydrogen especially H+ ions produced by hydrogenisation from spill over catalysts. Apparently those ions are conserved and migrate over the surface of such materials…

    I wonder if the Aluminium in the LiAlH4 n the e-cat is also oxidized and used for some similar purpose?