The following article by Brian Westenhaus from Oilprice.com is republished here with permission. The original article can be read here.
Yesterday Sterling D. Allan of PESN and Frank Acland of E-CatWorld conducted a one and a half hour interview with Andrea Rossi hosted by Gary Hendershot on his Smart Scarecrow service regarding developments in the E-Cat technology based on the cold fusion technology called “LENR” for Low Energy Nuclear Reaction.
SmartScarecrow has chat room where people could post questions, several of which were presented to Rossi during the show. At its peak, there were just over 1000 people listening to the live broadcast, which began at 4:30 pm Eastern time (GMT-5), with nearly 200 people in the live chat.
The conversation while on YouTube is audio only. Rather than sit through over an hour and half here is a brief summary.
What Rossi and the enthusiasts have learned is it’s a very long path from the lab demonstration unit to production. Mr. Rossi’s credibility has taken quite hit from observers without familiarity in making such a jump. Every little glitch in the scaling that fails has to be worked back, discovered, redesigned or engineered and then the process starts in again.
To build the 1-megawatt unit takes 106 reactors, so getting each one built is quite an undertaking for a startup. Meanwhile the company is well, starting up, getting located, equipped, supplied, staffed and all the myriad details to build something. Days means weeks and weeks could be months adding up to years.
The very first unit experienced just these kinds of problems and wasn’t in fact actually shipped; a second unit with the results of the experience from the first build is what was delivered to the U.S. military customer.
Currently, a unit that was built for delivery has just been shipped after a test suite was run. Shipping for the container-sized unit would be almost a month and simply installing the unit will take a month as well.
That puts two 1 megawatt units out the door.
Understandably, with all the outside attention the customers have no intention of public acknowledgment of the deal, delivery or results. Quiet is the word – no one wants onlookers hanging around and the attention on a very technical and controversial device.
The next important point is safety. This is new technology with all the enthusiasm comes novelty and inexperience. The E-Cat gets hot, very hot, past the temperature of boiling water and there are 106 of them in a smallish box. It’s not something the untrained need to be near.
These points also have thrown the brakes on consumer-sized units. The certification and safety agencies that need to sign off on something like this require extensive testing before they will approve it to be made available to the general public. It would seem the famed UL Laboratories attempt is on hold. That makes sense, as the UL isn’t holding a protocol in the files for the testing. Something has to be built up and the experience needed is sparse at best – missing as a practical matter – for any protocol at all.
Mr. Rossi is getting data and did say that these plants consume only 1 gram of Nickel for every 23 000 MWh [clarified as per request of Andrea Rossi here] of heat they produce.
There is also a hotter running model called the “Hot-Cat”. The Hot-Cat runs at 350ºC and Mr. Rossi said it is “very stable.” At this temperature, he said that creating electricity will be easy, and that they are making progress on building one. He also confirmed that the European based world wide operating firm Siemens is still working with his firm to generate electricity.
The Hot-Cat is garnering attention as well. A test was run back in late March with over 120 hours of continuous no interruption running. The test was run by four professors from different parts of the world, with Mr. Rossi absent, though he was available if they had any questions. The professors used their instrumentation and they controlled the cabling. The group hasn’t provided Mr. Rossi with the exact results but he said, “they were “smiling” and indicated that it was “very good””.
Meanwhile Mr. Rossi is staffing up. The company has 2 specialists working on electronics for the control systems. They have made enormous progress in the last 7-8 months. They also work on any kind of thing connected with electricity.
There are 3 specialists working on thermal technical problems: thermal dynamics, upgrading the heat exchanger and upgrading the energy density. Two specialists are working on design, external aesthetics as well as functionality and space utilization for energy density optimization.
There is a team that makes tests of plants, to run plants; to invent new things that improve efficiency. Plus a manufacturing team and another team working on prototype design in the U.S. (for 1 MW plants).
Perhaps one item of interest to many working on the technology from other ideas is Mr. Rossi’s explanation of how the reactor starts. He explained that each module has essentially two apparatuses inside: and activator and the reactor. He calls the resistive heater element the “mouse” and the reactor the “cat”. It takes a little tease from the mouse getting in front of the cat’s nose for the cat to go off running. He compares this to the little amount of energy required to get the reaction going, using outside electricity to bring the resistive heater up to a temperature that the reaction takes place. Of the two components, the reactor is only “the size of a whiskey bottle”.
For the future Mr. Rossi noted most of the R&D would stay in Italy, but that the rest of the operations are taking place in the U.S. (Florida). At one point in the conversation he talked about the friendliness of Sweden to his company, due to their need for heat and their environmental consciousness. They are in process of developing manufacturing capability there as well.
For many the Rossi E-Cat story is about the news and promotion efforts. That would be quite a story in its own right, but for most of us Mr. Rossi’s progress depends on the ability to attract enough attention to get the edge of the wedge into the market while building up a stronger technology and attracting the world’s best innovative minds to help.
We’re coming up on three years of watching Mr. Rossi. Most any fraud would have fallen apart long ago. What is actually here for the future is getting less cloudy and a bit clearer for our inspection. If you want to gripe – take it to the patent offices – were these bureaucrats helping we’d have a very complete look. Until that happens the game of information release will have to be played to keep the intellectual property secure while luring just enough customers to keep development on track.
However one feels about Mr. Rossi one must respect that he has come quite a long way and looks to be on track for further progress. Your humble writer wishes him God’s Speed and good luck – as he surely needs them.
By. Brian Westenhaus