I asked Andrea Rossi on the Journal of Nuclear Physics how things were progressing in developing the next generation of low temperature 1MW E-Cat plants (based on their experience with the plant in the 1-year test), and this was his response.
July 25, 2016 at 9:33 PM
The construction is going on. The difficulty and the improvement are generated from the necessity to make a subject that does not need Andrea Rossi inside 16- 18 hours per day, and the engineer and the technician of IH for 8 hours per day. We need a subject able to work alone, with nobody, but a certified operator that has to check tha gauges now and again.
To write this is easy, to imagine that it is not simple is easy too, but to understand really the difficulties is impossible for anybody that has not lived with the plant, inside the plant, for one year of his own life, attending and listening to the plant with his body inside it. The problems we had during the year have been multiple, have been resolved by our great team because we were there immediately when something was gone wrong.
Now the E-Cat must be able to work alone.
From Rossi’s response here, it seems that they are engaged in a difficult challenge to automate the control and management of a complex system. We have very little information about the reasons for the interventions they continually made with the original plant, but it seems like constant supervision was required to keep the plant operational.
Rossi has said in a previous comment that the early plants will be for “pioneer” customers:
July 8, 2016 at 7:31 AM
That is because our product is not yet ready for a massive market, needs more R&D to arrive to that level. Our industrial 1 MW plants are still destined to the so called “pioneer customers”, which means customers that are aware that the product could have problems and are open to tolerate any unforeseen problem that could emerge.
While Rossi may not be able to be personally on site for these early installations, I expect that he may have team members available to provide support and intervention remotely, and when necessary, on site.
UPDATE: July 27, 2016
I asked some follow-up questions on the JONP which are posted below with Rossi’s responses.
July 26, 2016 at 10:31 PM
With regards to creating an E-Cat plant that can operate with stability
1) Do the E-Cat plants still need your (or your team’s) intervention to maintain stability? – it is impossible: I am not ubiquitous ( this too depends on the fact that Fermions can’t reach the speed of the light ).
2) If yes, can it be controlled remotely via the internet, or does a human technician have to be on site? – the safety certification makes necessary that a certified technician is present in the factory where the E-Cat is working, but not necessarily adjacent to the plant
3) Do you currently have a sufficient theoretical grasp of the E-Cat reaction to be able understand its behavior? -yes
4) Do you currently have the staff on hand with the skills to create the needed automated control system? -yes
5) Will your release of the 1MW plants to “pioneer” customers include having Leonardo personnel on-site for troubleshooting? – not necessarily on-site, but necessarily in connection with