Neutron Detection and the E-Cat

The recently published theory from Swedish scientists Lidgren and Lundin deals with the production of ‘loose neutrons’ in LENR. They claim that they have experimentally verified that neutron production and capture can explain the energy production in LENR reactions.

Andrea Rossi has commented that the Lidgren and Lundin article “Nuclear Spallation and Neutron Capture Induced by Ponderomotive Wave Forcing” is an ‘extremely important’ contribution to the field. Yesterday when asked on the Journal of Nuclear Physics if the article related to E-Cat technology, Rossi responded: “Obviously it relates. Read it with attention and remember that deuterium is hydrogen.”

The whole issue of neutron capture has reminded me of a couple of times where neutron detection have been mentioned in connection with Rossi’s work on the E-Cat. The first instance comes from Mats Lewan’s book An Impossible Invention where Lewan describes some early experimentation that Rossi did when putting the E-Cat through some high stress testing:

“Rossi continued to experiment with his reactors in Bondeno, among other things to test the reactor’s limits. One way was to push it harder, to where it was self-sustaining, without assistance from the electric heating cartridges. He knew it was dangerous because the reaction could become unstable. He later described an incident one night in June 2010, when he was, as usual, working alone in the laboratory and the temperature inside the reactor began to rise uncontrollably.”

“In the balmy summer night Rossi followed the temperature development in the device that was set up in the spartan hangar with its gray concrete floor and gray walls. None of his measures to suppress the reaction helped yet he stayed stubbornly to see what he could learn. It exploded finally and loudly while a couple of parts flew across the hangar. This time Rossi was scared. Unlike earlier explosions, this time he was wearing the radiation detectors Focardi had taught him to use and they were full of bubbles—a sure sign of dangerous neutron radiation. How strong the radiation dose was he did not know but it probably decayed quickly. He knew that the reactor materials were not radioactive and had now learned that the weak radioactivity during the reaction should subside within 20 minutes after the reactor was stopped. No harm done, he noted, but he also thought that he must establish greater safety margins and keep the reaction running with support from the electric heaters in the future.”

Mats Lewan. An Impossible Invention (Kindle Locations 1436-1441). Mats Lewan.

Another time Rossi mentioned the production of neutrons was at a meeting held in Zurich, Switzerland in September of 2012. In a question and answer session, Rossi was asked why he was limiting his reactors at the time to a COP of 6, when it had been reported that in early testing of the E-Cat it had been able to reach COPs of around 200. This was his response:

“You have correctly said that when we made the first experiments we had a COP: 200; we were working with powers of some hundreds of watts. We were working at an absolutely experimental situation. Now we are making products that have to be sold to industries at the moment (because the domestic have not been certified for safety).

“It is right to make a Forumula 1 car to race, and to push to the extreme an engine, to learn how to make normal engines, and to make a car that has to be driven by normal people like me. To go to a COP 200 is extremely dangerous, and when I worked at those powers it happened that we had some escape of neutrons, in some situation. For obvious reasons this is very dangerous. This is why we had to reduce to 6, and this is why we have to limit the self-sustain mode . . . we must stay within the absolutely sure safety limits, this is very important.

Both these quotes indicate that under certain conditions, neutrons can escape from the E-Cat, if it is pushed to certain limits, and much of Rossi’s work has been to make sure that production models of the E-Cat are never allowed to reach that point. The control systems that Rossi and his team have developed are therefore of great importance for ensuring the E-Cats operate in a completely safe manner.

When Lidgren and Lundin talk about being able achieve COPs of 1000 with a refined method of having reactions take place within the resonant frequency of certain reactions, this might mean that high levels of neutron production would occur at high COP levels, which could bring up safety issues.

So while Rossi might know how to operate the E-Cat like a Formula 1 vehicle, it makes perfect sense that he would throttle the reaction down in the interests of making it like a car that the average driver can operate safely.