Cheap, unlimited energy

E-Cat demo module

Mark Gibbs, at Forbes Magazine, introduces, with caution, the E-Cat process, invented by one Andrea Rossi.

This is a room-termperature fusion device, promising almost unlimited energy from relatively small amounts of nickel and hydrogen. Electricity could be produced in every suburb without the need of gigantic power stations, at so little cost it wouldn’t be sensible to meter it.

Some measurement data seem to be available from a demonstration.

An apparently public demonstration in the US planned for October 28 could produce more confirmation.

I hope it proves true and it’s not just another false alarm. H/T Michael Treadgold

UPDATE 1, 20 Oct 2011, 12:25 NZDT: There’s a long, rambling article about the inventor, Rossi, at Pure Energy Systems that includes a graph of machine temperatures and is followed by a bunch of links to articles covering the E-Cat.

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11 Thoughts on “Cheap, unlimited energy

  1. Andy on 20/10/2011 at 11:59 am said:

    I’m always a bit sceptical of claims around Fusion.

    In my view, nuclear fission using Thorium (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor – LFTR) is the most promising looking technology.

    It has the promise of safety (passive cooling), unlimited fuel (Thorium is so abundant we will NEVER run out) and it almost completely burns the fuel.

    Kirk Sorensen is the man with a mission (and a company – Flibe Energy)
    Furthermore, the Chinese are starting serious R&D into Thorium.

    This video – Thorium Remix 2011 – LFTR in 5 minutes, gives the info (over nearly 2 hours).
    It also has some interesting comparisons with wind and solar.

  2. Andy on 20/10/2011 at 12:28 pm said:

    The comments on this project on WUWT are pretty sceptical too.

    • Huub Bakker on 21/10/2011 at 5:43 am said:

      I would certainly be sceptical and I am but it’s one thing to scam people out of money for ‘research’ and another entirely to start selling 10MW units. If he’s right then we have two outcomes; cheap power and new physics.

      BTW I note that the ‘faster-than-light’ neutrinos have probably been explained using conventional physics but there were some intriguing comments about other physics. Apparently the Michelson-Morley experiment was flawed and a number of researchers over the last century have shown that there is an effect from the ‘ether.’ The size and direction are constant in an absolute frame of reference. Links in the comments of the WUWT article about the ftl neutrinos.

  3. Richard C (NZ) on 20/10/2011 at 3:30 pm said:

    If it’s economic, it will be proven. If it’s not, it will probably be subsidized by govts everywhere – now. A bit different back in the 70s and 80s it turns out.
    Rossi has been into alternative energy for many years. It was in the 1970s and 1980s that Rossi was busy building garbage disposal facilities that burned household garbage and utilized the recovered heat. During that period, he found out how to not only recover heat from burning garbage but also to turn garbage into fuel. His company, Petroldragon, had a valid garbage-to-fuel technology that could turn household waste into combustible oil, coal and gas. Production had started and reached some 20 tons of fuel oil a day in 1989, when corrupt bureaucrats started to attack.

    The first step was to tax his process just as if he was producing alcohol, making the resulting fuel ridiculously expensive. When he opposed the unjust tax, the next step was a challenge that proved more difficult: the bureaucrats asserted that the garbage stocked and ready to be transformed in his production facilities wasn’t raw material for his process but was an illegal and fraudulent attempt to hide and “treat toxic garbage” for which he had no license.

    Rossi was imprisoned on trumped up eco-charges for trying to produce an ecologically sustainable fuel that did not come from petroleum deposits, and after one of his companies was forced into bankruptcy, he was again imprisoned for not paying his creditors … great government support for alternative energy technologies, one might say. That whole sad story is well documented on Rossi’s website:

    * – Rossi’s website gives his side of the saga of waste-to-energy problem. The beginning, the media boom around Petroldragon, plans for the future.
    Plenty of garbage-to-fuel methane plants but I didn’t know of “a valid garbage-to-fuel technology that could turn household waste into combustible oil, coal and gas” except for human waste-to-oil:-

    Can human excrement solve the impending energy crisis?

    The human bottom seems like an unlikely answer to the world’s oil needs, but a group of South Island engineers say it has the potential to revolutionise the energy industry. Researchers plan to create crude oil from human waste and sewage treatment ponds, perhaps holding the key to solving the impending energy crisis.

    Read more:

    Better start work on this – what’s for dinner?

  4. Andy on 20/10/2011 at 3:35 pm said:

    El Reg also has a piece on LFTR

    A private company founded by Kazuo Furukawa, designer of the Fuju reactor, called International Thorium Energy & Molen-Salt Technology Inc (iThEMS) aims to produce a small (10KW) reactor within five years. Furukawa is aiming for a retail price of 11 US cents per kWh (6.8p per kWh).

    Just to put that into perspective, the UK’s feed-in tariff ranges from 34.5p/kWh for a small wind turbine to 41.3p/kWh for a retro-fitted solar installation, making a personal LFTR much more attractive than an additional garage. Just tell them you’ve got an enormous solar panel.

    I kind of like the idea of a personal LFTR that is the size of a garage

    I wonder what the planning regs are like?

  5. Andy on 20/10/2011 at 3:51 pm said:

    By the way, I heard recently on Radio NZ (Simon Morton – this way up on Sats) a proposal to beam energy from the Moon back to Earth using a laser beam.

    The idea was so wacky I could hardly stop laughing. They were even proposing to use robots to mine the rare earths on the moon for the solar panels.

  6. Andy on 21/10/2011 at 9:10 am said:

    At the other end of the spectrum, we have this:

    £83m renewable energy power station gets Government green light

    The controversial £83 million straw-burning biomass facility, which had been opposed by local campaigners, can now be built at the former British Sugar site at Scawby Brook, near Brigg, after a Government-appointed planning inspector ruled in favour of developer Eco2

    Apart from the questionable practice of burning straw to make electricity, we have this in the comments on the article:

    Straw combustion presents special pollution concerns due to high chlorine content linked to creation of highly carcinogenic dioxin and furan hazard. I understand Drax pelleting process reduces chlorine content.
    The Gov produced a report in 2009 confirming use of biomass power would add £billions to annual health costs, this cost requires substantial upward revision following DECC March 2011 report allowing 50% increase in fine particle pollution from biomass combustion and trebling of NOX limit. The anticipated hazardous air pollution from this plant will equate to exhaust emissions from billions of additional diesel vehicle km in the locality.

  7. Andy on 22/10/2011 at 6:36 pm said:

    Here’s some more crazy looking stuff

    A 2,600-foot tower planned for the Arizona desert will be the world’s second tallest structure and will be able to power 100,000 homes through hot air alone.

    The solar updraft tower, designed by EnviroMission, will work by collecting hot air as it rises from the heated ground surrounding it. The very tall, narrow tower increases the strength of the hot air flowing upward, where it will turn 32 turbines along the way.

  8. Andy on 22/10/2011 at 6:38 pm said:

    Meanwhile, back in the real world

    Offer a car at three times the price of a normal run-around, with the acceleration of a one-legged squirrel and the range of an inebriated slug, and what do you get?

    Well, despite the government offering £5,000 of our money to every idiot who is prepared to buy one (excluding the corporates who are using other people’s money), you end up selling just 308 models during the third quarter of the year. Just 465 electric vehicles were registered in the first quarter, and the number more than halved to 215 in the second.

  9. Richard C (NZ) on 29/10/2011 at 12:35 pm said:

    Test of Rossi’s 1 MW E-Cat fusion system apparently successful

    Guest post by Ric Werme


    Bottom line – the customer will buy the reactor. The only thing that looks like a data point is that it was producing 470kW with zero heating power in (self-sustain mode). Given that one metric for a successful test was to produce at least 6X the input power, it certainly passes that test!


    …..please keep in mind this was not a science demonstration, not a public demonstration, but a step along the path to the first sale.

    Also, keep in mind what this isn’t – it’s not an efficient electrical power system. The output is hot water or low pressure steam. While that can be turned into electricity, thermodynamics says it can’t be very efficient. There are plenty of applications for this sort of process heat, and that makes a fine initial target market.


  10. Harold Guy on 31/10/2011 at 7:07 pm said:

    Richard C’s post is on the money. Another day has past, and more reports are in about Rossi’s latest e-cat test:

    Rossi and his e-cat have a lot of detractors, but he has some pretty significant champions.

    Listen to the music! It seems especially appropriate tonight.

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