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Media Ignores Energy Breakthrough: Worry-Free Nuclear Power PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 09 May 2011 00:12


Rossi (R) and Focardi demonstrate an Energy CatalyzerRossi (R) and Focardi demonstrate an Energy CatalyzerThe mainstream media has all but bypassed a truly remarkable development that could potentially be the biggest breakthrough in energy production since the discovery of fire: the Low Energy Nuclear Reactor, also called the Energy Catalyzer, invented by Italian engineer and inventor Andrea Rossi and his colleague, Sergio Focardi.

The Energy Catalyzer, or E-Cat, is essentially a small-scale cold fusion nuclear reactor about the size of a large suitcase that generates huge amounts of power very inexpensively, and without significant environmental drawbacks.

How Does it Work?

The E-Cat combines a small amount of the abundant and safe element nickel with hydrogen in the presence of a catalyst (the name of which is proprietary for now) under pressure in a sealed chamber. When a small amount of heat is applied to the chamber, it starts a nuclear reaction that generates more energy -- over 30 times more -- in the form of heat.

What happens inside the E-Cat is a low energy nuclear reaction (LENR), or "cold fusion" -- a nuclear reaction, but not like the ones in traditional nuclear reactors like those at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan. Nuclear power plants employ nuclear fission reactions, in which atomic nuclei are split, or broken, to create energy. Nuclear fusion is just the opposite. It joins atomic nuclei, which results in the production of another, third element, and in the process releases enormous amounts of energy. It's the same atomic reaction that the sun and stars use to create heat and light, but in the E-Cat, it takes place at far lower temperatures, hence the term "cold fusion." The E-Cat can produce huge amounts of energy safely, reliably, and much more easily and cheaply than coal, natural gas, or "traditional" nuclear power plants -- without danger to humans or environmental degradation.

Lots of Cheap Power; No Dangerous Waste or Human Hazards

The E-Cat Rossi demonstrated is designed to produce 10 kilowatts (kW) of electricity, and it's very small. The volume of the reactor chamber is only one liter, and the unit's auxiliary components -- control mechanisms, piping, lead shielding and other parts -- can easily fit on the top of a medium-sized table. The E-Cat consumes just a tiny amount of fine nickel powder to make the reaction. Just one hundred grams of nickel can power the unit for six months. After six months, 90 percent of the nickel still remains. The small amount of nickel consumed in the reaction is transformed into non-radioactive isotopes of copper and trace amounts of other safe and stable, non-radioactive elements, like zinc. While the E-Cat relies on a nuclear reaction to produce energy, it does not use any radioactive materials to create the reaction, and does not generate any radioactive waste. Within a few hours after the system is turned off, it can be opened and no radiation can be detected.

This "cold fusion" reaction is far less dangerous than the nuclear fission that occurs at existing nuclear plants. If a catastrophe occurs and the reactor chamber breaks and spills its contents, the device would turn off immediately and the reaction would simply cease. Since there are no radioactive materials or radioactive waste, nothing bad would be introduced into the environment and no danger would be posed to humans or the environment by the device's failure.

Another important point is that these units have the potential to decentralize power generation. In other words, instead of tens of thousands of people relying on a single electrical power plant linked by miles of transmission lines, each individual household could potentially be powered by a relatively small E-Cat device which could fit in a space the size of a closet.

Proprietary Catalysts

Rossi-Focardi Energy CatalyzerRoss-Focardi Energy CatalyzerAt the heart of the reaction is the catalyst (or catalysts), which are key to the whole process. Right now, the catalysts are intellectual property and are being kept secret, at least until a Rossi can obtain a full patent on the system. Only Rossi and a few of his close business partners know the identity of the proprietary catalyst(s).

On January 14, 2011, Rossi and his colleague Sergio Focardidemonstrated a small working version of the Energy Catalyzer at the University of Bologna, Italy, that produced more than 10 kW of heat power for an hour, while only consuming a fraction of that amount of energy to run. The device takes about 400 watts/hour to run, but produces 15,000 watts/hour of energy. In other words, it takes the equivalent energy of about four 100-watt light bulbs to produce 150 100-watt bulbs' worth of power –- 37.5 times more output than input –- a fantastic rate of return. The inventors calculate that one gram of nickel in the E-Cat can produce the equivalent energy of 517 kilograms, or about 1,140 pounds of oil. A gallon of oil weighs roughly 6-8 pounds depending on its density, so one gram of nickel in the table-top sized E-Cat can produce about the amount of energy generated by about 142 gallons of oil.

Rossi has operated one of his Energy Catalyzer devices continuously for two years.

Rossi estimates that his system produces power at a cost of 1 cent per kilowatt-hour, although he doesn't specify whether this is a wholesale or a retail price. By comparison, power companies currently charge about 10 cents per kWh, so Rossi can produce power for about one-tenth of current rates, with no environmental drawbacks.

Soon to be in Commercial Production

Rossi's Energy Catalyzer is already well beyond the theoretical stages. He is already on a path to industrial production of his new device. He plans to open a one-megawatt heating plant in Athens, Greece this coming October, and plans to make his units commercially available in November 2011. It is anticipated that the Greek facility will turn out about 300,000 units a year destined for the Greek and Baltic markets. Estimates are that a home unit for heat will cost around 3,500 Euros (a little over US$5,000), and another 1,500 Euros (US$2,200) for the apparatus to convert the heat to electricity.

Concept of a future Rossi Home E-Cat by Pure Energy SystemsConcept of a future Rossi Home E-Cat by Pure Energy SystemsRossi has gotten some criticism for failing to publish information about his system in peer-reviewed academic journals, but this is not to say he and Focardi haven't written research papers about it. You can read one of their detailed papers here. (pdf) The conclusions state that because the unit uses nickel and water (as a source of hydrogen) to operate, it "is an endless energy source for the planet, without emissions in atmosphere." Rossi and Focardi have brought the E-Cat to a useful stage without publishing their findings in journals, and sometimes innovations happen that way. When Rossi and Focardi demonstrate the E-Cat, they allow attendees to walk around it at will, observe its operation close up, and even invite scientists and researchers bring their own measuring devices to validate their claims about its input, output, elements used, etc. So far, no one has disproved the E-Cat's function or effectiveness. In fact, the opposite has occurred. On April 6, Swedish physicistssupervised another test of the E-Cat and confirmed that a nuclear reaction was, in fact, taking place and the unit worked as claimed.

Shortly after he demonstrated his unit in Bologna in January, Rossi (whose first language is Italian) challenged the "must-publish" ideology when he wrote in his blog:

We have passed already the phase to convince somebody. We are arrived to a product that is ready for the market. Our judge is the market. In this field the phase of the competition in the field of theories, hypothesis, conjectures etc etc is over. The competition is in the market. If somebody has a valid technology, he has not to convince people by chattering, he has to make a reactor that work and go to sell it, as we are doing.

Lack of News Bodes Poorly for Americans

Most of the news about the E-Cat has been reported in blogs operated by people and organizations interested in energy issues, and in the general press and media in Italy, Sweden, Greece and throughout Europe. By contrast, the Energy Catalyzer has received virtually no coverage in the U.S. mainstream media. The American media seems either unwilling or unable to grasp the significance of the Energy Catalyzer, or is omitting discussion of it for other reasons. The absence of news about the Energy Catalyzer, we could postulate, might be because it poses a threat to powerful American corporations that both control big media outlets and are vested in the energy production status quo. (Think General Electric, which both owns NBC and manufactures traditional nuclear fission reactors.) There would also appear to be motive enough to continue this news block as climate change pushes more policymakers to reconsider the more dangerous traditional nuclear power, and as corporations that benefit from recent huge price hikes in fossil fuels continue to rake in fabulous wealth with no end in sight.

 

Last Updated on Monday, 09 May 2011 00:15