Sergio Focardi on The Need for Atomic Hydrogen in the E-Cat

Following up on Max Temple’s recent article here egarding the possible role that palladium could play in LENR reactions, by rapidly disassociating molecular hydrogen into atomic hydrogen, is an interesting interview from 2011 from Daniele Passarini’s website

Here are the relevant quotes:

[Male interviewer] Isn’t that the famous powder mentioned earlier?

Yes, there is the nickel powder, then there’s hydrogen and then there’s this chemical compound. The issue came up during that demonstration because, when some people tried to measure the gamma rays, Rossi objected, because by measuring the gamma rays they would have also measured the gamma rays emitted by this secret compound, and so they would have understood what it was, what was in it.

[Male interviewer] What was in the compound…

Yes, and it’s part of the patent. And the purpose of this secret compound is, I believe, to facilitate the formation of atomic hydrogen instead of molecular hydrogen, because hydrogen typically settles down in molecules, but if one has a molecule, it can not penetrate into the nucleus. So I think the additive is used to this purpose: it forms atomic hydrogen, which penetrates into the nucleus.

[Male interviewer] It penetrates into the nucleus…This is my interpretation, because Rossi did not tell me, nor have I asked him.Of course, looking at the [gamma] rays one can recognize it (and it will be a chemical compound, not just an element) and find out its components … this perhaps is still not enough … there may be more than two … perhaps in different proportions.

Focardi does not name, or even guess what the compound or elements involved might be. He was always careful to say that he did not ask Rossi about certain confidential information, so we must take these thoughts as his opinion only. I am not sure why he thinks that a compound, rather than a single element. But it certainly sounds like he believes that there is a need to get atomic hydrogen into the nucleus in order for the E-Cat to generate the reactions that he and Rossi reported.

  • Alan DeAngelis

    Potassium or potassium hydride? Natural potassium has a trace of potassium-40 that would give off a 1.460 MeV gamma ray that could have been easily detected during Rossi’s 2011 demo.

  • Goodrice

    Having a flow of hydrogen over the H2 splitting catalyst should help obtaining more atomic hydrogen per unit of time. In a static environment hydrogen atoms will for the most part just occupy its adsorption sites.

  • doug marker

    My understanding of the issue was that the original eCat had a piped in supply from a gas cylinder, of atomic hydrogen. In the early days of NiH Piantell and also Defkallion used this approach.

    It was a complication Andrea Rossi found a way around. He used a ‘secret’ chemical compound he called a ‘catalyst’ that did away with the need for the piped in gas. His innovation allowed production of atomic hydrogen in the reaction chamber without the complication of piped gas.

    The problem Andrea had was that it was not acceptable to patent a known process (one that converts hydrogen to atomic hydrogen) so Andrea had no alternative but to keep calling it ‘secret’. In the end he had to remove the reference from his patent application. Patents don’t allow ‘secret’ ingredients.

    Andrea was in a bind. He didn’t want to disclose his formula even though much of it has leaked out over time. But the only role of the original ‘secret sauce’ was just as Focardi says.

    Doug Marker

    • Max Temple

      Hello Doug,

      As far as I know, there is no way to “store” atomic hydrogen in a cylinder. This is because as soon as molecular hydrogen (the normal form of hydrogen in nature represented by two individual hydrogen atoms bonded together) is split into atomic hydrogen (the two bonded hydrogen atoms are divided into two individual atoms) they immediately want to recombine. From the papers I’ve read, this process can happen in seconds. The tank of hydrogen that was used was actually molecular hydrogen. Piantelli and Focardi used bottled molecular hydrogen as well.

      The term “catalyst” in the history of the E-Cat is very confusing. To sort out what happened, you have to sift through countless posts and interviews. Here is a short history of what I’m pretty sure was the case about “catalysts.”

      1) In Rossi’s earliest systems, he used an element or compound (which some people think was likely palladium) to act as a spillover catalyst and create atomic hydrogen. Basically, the palladium would create atomic hydrogen at a much faster rate than the nickel and the atomic hydrogen would “spillover” or slide off the palladium powder and move to the nickel where it would be absorbed. These systems used molecular hydrogen from a tank.

      2) By the time his first public demonstrations took place, he may or may not have been using palladium. It’s possible that he instead may have been using some percentage of copper mixed in with his fuel. Copper could have also served as a spillover catalyst but via a different mechanism than palladium. Also, he may have been using a hot tungsten heating element near the fuel. Such a hot wire can split molecular hydrogen into atomic hydrogen.

      3) At some point Andrea Rossi started using lithium in his fuel mix — not in the form of LiAlH4 but in the elemental form. Since Li enhances the total amount of power produced, it could have served as a catalyst. Lithium not only can react with particles emitted from the nickel, but also since it is so electronegative it could have enhanced hydrogen absorption or the formation of ultra dense hydrogen.

      4) He decided he wanted to remove the hydrogen tank. Instead, he used LiAlH4 in the form of a pellet. Later, he used it as a powder mixed in with the fuel. When LiAlH4 decomposes, the gas it emits is in the form of atomic hydrogen. However, it can recombine back into H2.

      5) EM stimulation can increase the excess heat in the system. It may be doing this by electromagnetically producing atomic hydrogen.

      Basically, all of Rossi’s catalyst (although they may have served other functions) worked by producing atomic hydrogen.

      • doug marker


        Thanks for your clarification re the bottled hydrogen. That makes perfect sense. So Rossi innovated by producing atomic H from his ‘catalyst’ inside the sealed chamber.

        Re possible use of Paladium, this was never mentioned in the earlier Piantelli patents nor the original patent from Rossi who only ever mentions his ‘catalyst’. The trouble with adding ‘ideas’ to Rossi’s claims (ones that were never mentioned in the patents) is that anyone of us can speculate and innovate as to what we each think could be added. The patent is in essence the legal arbiter, if it isn’t in the written words then it is not part of the patented device.

        Rossi’s later patents are more specific but this reflects his own advances.

        The question of EM stimulation seemed to drift into the discussions just after Brillouin published details of how they ‘pulsed’ their reactor core. (maybe in 2012 or 2013) Up until then there had not IIRC been mention of any EM stimulation in the eCat. Later came the talk of rectified pulses driving the heating element. etc:.

        What Rossi took to Focardi was the idea of nano-particles of Nickel. Rossi had done a lot of patent research and it appears he was confident he could improve on Piantelli’s lapsed NiH patent. Rossi 1st sought Piantelli’s cooperation but PIantelli declined so Rossi went to Sergio Focardi who agreed to work with him.

        Rossi is certainly creative and very sharp.

        Doug Marker

  • Dr. Mike

    My recommendation for preparing the fuel for “replications” is to follow the procedure described in Rossi’s patent (#9,115,913 B1). For the patent to be enforceable, Rossi must have disclosed sufficient knowledge that his patent can be duplicated. What
    he disclosed in this patent for preparation of the nickel is: “Preferably, the nickel has been treated to increase the porosity, for example, by heating the nickel powder for times and temperatures selected to superheat any water present in micro-cavities that are inherently present in each particle of nickel powder. The resulting steam pressure causes explosions that create larger cavities as well as smaller nickel particles.” In my opinion both creating larger cavities in the nickel and creating smaller nickel particles are key components of the nickel preparation or they would not have been specified in the patent.
    It should be noted that this patent covers the lower temperature e-cat, but it seems that
    the optimum Ni preparation for a hot-cat replication would be similar. One final point that I have made in several of my previous comments is that replicators might be much better off trying to duplicate this patented device which preferably uses a fuel mixture of 50% Ni, 20% Li, and 30% LiAlH4 than try to replicate the hot-cat. It appears that the 1MW reactor may have had some improvements to the device described in this patent which only claims to have a COP of 6, but a replication of this patent would seem to be the most logical first step for someone beginning LENR research. I have to wonder that if IH had difficulty in reproducing Rossi’s reactor, were they following his recipe for the Ni preparation?

  • Goodrice

    As for removing oxides is there any reason why weak acid shouldn’t be preferred? If you ever tried immersing old tarnished coins in vinegar (5% acetic acid) you will see that they will become shiny in seconds. Metals treated this way need to be washed in distilled water or an alkaline solution afterwards to neutralize the acid (which would cause harmful reactions after subsequent exposure to air). Wouldn’t this work well for metallic powders for LENR experiments?

    Also note that prolonged immersion in similar weak acids is known to also cause hydrogen embrittlement, so in a way you would also be loading the metal to some extent.

  • sam

    Frank Acland
    February 19, 2017 at 7:59 PM
    Dear Andrea,

    Reading the interview in the link below with Dr. Focardi very is interesting. From what he recounts it sounds like you and he worked very closely for some years. Where do you think your progress with the E-Cat and QuarkX would be at the moment without his contributions?

    Many thanks,

    Frank Acland

    Andrea Rossi
    February 20, 2017 at 8:19 AM
    Frank Acland:
    I learnt very much from the 4 years I worked with Prof Sergio Focardi, especially in terms of nuclear physics. He also has given to me confiance in myself: before our collaboration I was simply convinced that I had necessarily to be wrong, since nobody agreed with me. The matter of the fact is that initially I simply asked him to explain to me why I was wrong, thinking I did not know that why, but surely there was one.
    Probably, without his collaboration I would have not abandoned my traditional work in that period ( make oil and electricity with vegetables ), starting to dedicate 100% of my time to the LENR R&D.
    Then, thanks to him we had the possibility to make experiments with ENEL, the main electric power provider of Italy: from ENEL I learnt how to measure the energy produced by a water heating system ( see the first paper Focardi-Rossi ).
    Prof Focardi was a giant: Professor of mathematics at the Normale of Pisa, Prof of nuclear physics at the University of Bologna, Dean of Scientific Matters at the University of Bologna, where he founded the Department of the Unibo of Cesena, director of a group at the CERN of Geneva, where he also worked with the Nobel laureate Prof Carlo Rubbia, etc, etc.
    Warm Regards,

  • sam

    Andrea Rossi
    February 20, 2017 at 3:59 PM
    Sigma 5 will teach us about the reliability of the QuarkX.
    The presentation will be made when we will be ready for it.
    I think the trial will end within July-September 2017.
    Warm Regards,

    February 20, 2017 at 1:44 PM
    Dear Dr Andrea Rossi:
    Is the COP of the QuarkX substantially higher than the classic E-Cat?

    Andrea Rossi
    February 20, 2017 at 3:58 PM
    Warm Regards,