The E-Cat and the Environment: Would it be Environmentalists’ Dream Technology?

When Andrea Rossi talks about his E-Cat technology he often emphasizes the following:

  • It produces no emissions of any kind — no smoke, particulates, or carbon.
  • It uses no radioactive materials.
  • It leaves no radioactive waste.

In other words, in addition to producing vast quantities of energy cheaply, the E-Cat is a clean technology and it could go a long way to mitigating the threat of pollution and global warming/climate change.

If it is widely accepted as being valid it is reasonable to expect that this would be something that people who are concerned about the environment could get very excited about. At the moment the clean technologies that are most popular with environmentalists are wind and solar, and there are great efforts being put forward in many parts of the world to incorporate these alternatives into the energy infrastructure. Until now, however, wind and solar power have not been able to compete with traditional fossil and nuclear power in terms of cost and efficiency, and have needed huge amounts of government subsidies to be even somewhat viable.

How might the alternative energy climate change if the E-Cat makes a successful entry onto the scene? If Rossi’s claims regarding cost and power density pan out, it is a genuine contender replace fossil and nuclear as the dominant form of energy production. Would many people seriously object if this was the case?

Here are some possible objections that I can forsee that people could raise who worry about what an E-Cat based world might do to the environment.

  • Unlimited energy use made possible by E-Cat technology would allow humans able to exploit and deplete the earth’s resources like never before. It could lead to an environmental calamity.
  • The amount of heat put out by billions of E-Cats producing more energy than ever before could cause environmental problems — even though no greenhouse gasses are emitted.
  • The radiation emitted by E-Cat technology could be hazardous to human health.
  • The E-cat could allow people to expand into wilderness areas of the earth (e.g. deserts, tundra regions) disrupting the habitat of wildlife.

If the E-Cat does hit the mainstream, could we see grassroots environmental movements spreading awareness of E-Cat technology and advocating for its adoption as soon as possible? Or might there be an environmentalist backlash against it for some of the reasons (or others) mentioned above. In countries around the world there is a lot of political will invested in environmental regulation — how would government policies toward the environment change in the light of a new technology that solves many of the problems that have caused these regulations to be put into place?

There are lots of unknowns, of course, but I am sure that there will be national and international debates on these environmental topics if the E-Cat ever hits the mainstream. The environmental debate may not go away if the E-Cat is real, it may just change.