[Update 15 Aug 12]
Eighteen months after the eCat was revealed to the public, we still await proof of Andrea Rossi’s claims. On the one hand he delivered some interesting demos (in front of a bunch of qualified observers) throughout 2011 and on the other there are a number of inconsistencies that are difficult to reconcile with the story we are being sold. After the October demo, we were told that a secret customer took delivery of the 1MW plant and then months later we learned that it still lay where it was tested. This, Rossi explained, was simply a misunderstanding over the language used. He said that the customer was military but it is difficult to believe anyone would leave the plant in-situ for months after they bought it. Remember, this thing would change the nature of warfare and has the potential to impact most everything else. Despite promising the name of the next customer (who he assured would not be secret) he changed his mind. So far every customer remains camera-shy. The list of warning signs is long but experience tells me that it is not wise to jump to conclusions. For that reason, I continue to advise keeping your money held tight. However, watch this space. We might still get lucky.
On the other foot, we have Defkalion GT. Initially this company appeared to act in a professional manner. Even so, unlike Rossi, they have shown nothing of technological substance in public. The professional veneer was stained (in my opinion) when they dangled the promise of 7 well known independent (but as-yet secret) testers in front of us and then reneged on their intention to publish any credible detail that would support their case. I look forward to them doing so but, as it stands, I treat anything they tell us with caution.
Keep all of the above in mind as you read the rest of the brief and remember that much of it was written when I was a little more optimistic.
[Updated 30 Oct 11]
An independent look at Rossi’s eCat by novelist, Paul Story. A former physicist, Paul wrote this brief after months of wading through FUD and clutter trying to sift gold from shit. Although definitive scientific proof is not here yet, he thinks that the circumstantial evidence is so strong and the potential benefits so great that we need to pay attention.
This page will be added to, finessed and relevant links spread throughout the document to ease your passage into the constantly shifting world of Rossi’s eCat. The best way to stay up to date is by subscribing to the free Newsletter at eCatNews.com.
Please note the update at the end of this article following the customer test of the 1MW on 28th Oct.
It is easy to get lost in detail when investigating Rossi’s eCat but the biggest question has to be: Is it real and, does it perform as he claims?
Part 1 of this brief suggested that cold fusion, LENR, LANR or energy catalyzers (Rossi’s preferred phrase) is almost certainly real. If you do not agree then you are probably wasting your time reading Part 2. In the following narrative, keep in mind that certain statements come from the individuals or company concerned and you should decide for yourself how much weight to give them. As cumulative evidence mounts and despite extreme prejudice in many quarters, there is a growing interest in Andrea Rossi’s eCat. There is a lot of noise and much frustration but there is also hope. Despite trying hard, no one has managed to destroy the eCat with words. Soon we will learn if our hope for technological salvation is founded on anything more than wishful thinking. Soon we get to find out if the determined pessimists get to kick sand in hopeful faces or forced to admit they were wrong and go to bed without supper.
Andrea Rossi has always done things his own way. He has ruffled many feathers and admits to mistakes in how he handled what he saw to be unjust treatment by his mother country. This makes him a painted target. It is easy to call names – a tactic often resorted to by those employing ‘dirty-tricks’. Do not judge until hearing his side. The story of his background is interesting and well worth the read. Here, he gives his own account. Follow the links on the top of the article after reading: The Beginning.
On moving from Italy to the US, Rossi’s new venture was highly successful. Always interested in energy, he turned his eye to the bastard science of LENR (he had in fact dabbled earlier with Pons and Fleischmann’s cold fusion process in 1989). He approached Sergio Focardi, a newly retired Italian scientist who had achieved excellent results using a mixture of Nickel and Hydrogen instead of the Palladium/Deuterium process pioneered by Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann. (Some background on Focardi’s work (in collaboration with fellow Italian, Piantelli)).
He hired Focardi as a consultant, and brought his own ideas to the table. Rossi focused on making the process work as a useful heat source instead of engaging in a pure scientific search for answers. In other words, Rossi approached the subject as an engineer might with the intent of making a useful product.
In Feb 2010, they published a joint paper, describing a Nickel Hydrogen process capable of producing large quantities of excess heat on a scale commensurate with an unknown nuclear reaction.
After performing thousands of experiments to find the best mix of performance, control, safety and utility, Rossi installed a prototype energy catalyzer (dubbed an eCat) into his offices, allegedly running it for almost two years to investigate its use in the ‘real world’.
In Jan 2011, he performed a demo at the University of Bologna to an invited audience of around 50 including a number of scientists. Another test was made in February (Professor Levi). In March 2011, two Swedish Scientists, (Hanno Essen and Sven Kullander) were allowed to examine the device and perform tests. Rossi claims that he was against going public until they were ready to commercialise and that the demos were as a payment to his friendship with Focardi who had wished it. Indeed, Rossi is very open on his blog and is fond of saying that he does not intend to give proof until a 1MW plant is delivered at the end of October
In a report published online, Kullander and Essen seemed supportive and helped enhance Rossi’s credibility, concluding that (assuming no fraud) his eCat was enabling a previously unknown nuclear reaction. The pedigree of the Swedes was interesting (both are physicists, with Professor Kullander a member of Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and Professor Essen a former chairman of the Swedish Skeptics Society). Other tests have been done (notably by NyTeknik journalist, Mats Lewan) but – since they were never intended as proof, no one outside his confidential circle can say with certainty that Rossi’s claims are exactly as he says.
Even so, the story to-date is impressive; one that does not lend itself to an easy charge of trickery. Rossi sold his company to finance the project. If he does not deliver as promised, he will get nothing. (Some critics doubt this, citing a statement by the company Ampenergo that they had to agree a substantial sum to close an eCat deal with Rossi. While they may be right, signing a contract commiting to a large sum s not the same as receiving it before delivery).
Contracted to make a 1MW plant by the end of October 2011 (consisting of 52 modules housed in a converted shipping container), the 200m Euro deal with a Greek company called Defkalion Green Technologies cites specific performance and safety characteristics that the plant must meet. Building this plant, to those specifications, is Rossi’s primary focus.
On June 23, 2011, Defkalion announced the product designed around the eCat. The Hyperion (a boiler) will come in a range from 5KW to 30KW with other large units in the range 1MW – 3.4MW.
With the first factory supposedly being prepared in Greece for the Greek and Balkan market, the company say that they will ramp up to a capacity of 300,000 units per year. During the product announcement (website, white paper and Press Conference on 23 June 2011) the company claimed that they were “…faced with more demand than our current factory’s total capacity can meet…”
In a twist worthy of a future movie, Andrea Rossi pulled the plug on Defkalion in August, complaining that they had not met certain financial deadlines in their contract. Neither party will give details but it is believed that the money should have been in place as a quality check (proof of intent and capability) rather than as direct payment.
Working with his partners in the US (Ampenergo) Rossi has now signed another customer, the identity of which we do not know. While Defkalion’s strategy was to push the product fast around the world and graduate as quickly as possible from large industrial systems to smaller (perhaps domestic) ones, Rossi’s vision is to have the eCat mesh with other energy products as an addition to the total mix instead of trying to fight them.
The 1MW plant is apparently on schedule and will be delivered to the new customer on Oct 28th.
As this new play rolls on, Defkalion insists that they will continue as planned despite Rossi’s assertion that he gave them no secrets. Either Defkalion is blustering after their failure or they have learned more than Rossi is willing to admit to himself or to his partners.
On one level, this messy divorce upsets the clean vision and a sense that 200m Euros were swinging the bat behind eCat. With so much at play, it was inconceivable that Defkalion had seen no direct proof. The divorce damages that impression but the fight ironically leads to an impression that there is something worth fighting for. Indeed in October 2011, Defkalion restated their intent to commercialise Hyperion and specifically stated that they had the technology and rights to manufacture the core as well as the surrounding ‘boiler’ parts. To this end, any person or group who proves their intent by depositing 500K Euros into and escrow account will be shown proof that Defkalion has the goods. Only after being so convinced (they say) and agreeing to continue, will the investor partner with the company. The deal on the table is around 40 million Euro per licence per 300K annual production units on a country-by-country basis.
Thus the situation (regarding proof) is largely unchanged: Hope is still alive but will only be satisfied (or not) once the fate of the 1MW plant is known.
Defkalion White Paper (23 June 2011)
Update: On Oct 6 2011, Andrea Rossi conducted a semi-public test of one of the 1MW sub-units in front of an invited audience including a number of scientists. Those present were said to have agreed to the report given by Swedish tech magazine, Ny Teknik and the Italian, Focus.it. Many observers were frustrated when the device was switched off to allow cooling (in order to strip it to examine the insides for hidden power sources, we are told). A few more hours on the boil would have been more convincing. That said, the demonstration was a success and while error cannot be ruled out (primarily because of the relatively short run and the lack of independent control – more demo than experiment) few people think the claimed energy production was due to a mistake. Determined and hard sceptics were not impressed but, taken together with previous tests, commiting technical fraud over multiple demonstrations in front of so many ‘experts’ would be extremely difficult. It is easy to pick holes in any one event but Andrea Rossi’s willingness to expose himself to discovery confounds the idea that he is the typical fraud some accuse him of.
Once again, we are given a tantalising vision of success without absolute proof and once again, Andrea Rossi’s statement that only the customer will decide, is reinforced.
Update – 30 Oct 11
The 1MW test is complete. When you cut through the clutter, we are told that the device ran for around five and a half hours in self-sustain mode at a rate approaching half a megawatt. On the surface, it appears to have been highly successful.
As expected, we do not know the identity of the customer and much rests on this. According to Dr Rossi, they have accepted the machine and he will now be paid. It appears that the customer was in charge; its own engineers selecting the location of thermocouples, the test criteria and how long the run should last to satisfy them. They had free access and appeared to be more than happy at the end of the day. Since the requirements of science and business do not always meet, it will be some time before sceptics believe this is true. For business, the financial markets and governments to take notice, all we need to know is that this customer was competent and independent of the eCat team.
eCatNews followed the event throughout the day. That post and those that followed provide a good snapshot and will link you to the parts of the Net important to the 28 Oct test.
My confidence has been raised – but until we know the identity of the customer, I am not ready to jump with both feet. Rossi had the following to say about that:
October 29th, 2011 at 12:14 PM
The Customer is of a category that usually maintains secret all they do. I do not know if and when they will want to make public statements and I am bound to a strict non disclosure agreement.
This is not suspicious but neatly skirts the hope of nailing this thing down so that it continually frustrates our grasp at certainty.
A genuine company, having taken delivery of such a thing, now belongs to the rare club that knows for a fact if this is real or not. If it is real then that knowledge on its own is extraordinarily valuable – either as a means to invest in the tech while confusion confounds potential competitors or as intelligence to inform playing the markets (assuming it is not a Government body or NGO). Shorting (for instance) a sector dominated by high-risk energy projects like the Canadian Tar Sands (or any other project where the value depends on high oil prices well into the future) would not be considered insider trading because all of this information is out there on the Net and because that information is about potentially competing technology and not the target companies themselves.
Unfortunately, if Rossi hired a bunch of actors to pretend to be the customer reps, created an elaborate year-long special-effects-derived series of demos, bribed, hypnotised or otherwise fooled Focardi, Levi, Kullander, Essen, Bianchini, Stremmenos and convinced a bunch of Greek crooks to set up a dummy company called Defkalion to pretend to fight with him over the non-existent eCat, to perpetuate the illusion and spin it off into a competing mirror-scam and convinced his former partners to set up another company called Ampenergo to pretend that they had a contract for The Americas for a substantial sum or that they just did this with no proof because they have worked with Rossi and trust him because he’s such a fine fellow, arranged for Piantelli, Miley and a host of others to try to fool the world into thinking that cold fusion was real, got NASA, SPAWAR, The Defense Threat Reduction Agency and The Defense Intelligence Agency to say nice things about the field, got Bushnell to make a fool of himself, sold his profitable company to his ex-partners in order to spend that wealth on a multi-million dollar scam; certain that once he got all the above ducks in a row he would pretend to sell the first device and then reel in the true target of his dastardly plan – the second (this time genuine) buyer of a 1MW plant that will net him $2 million dollars until they want their money back or sucker a $100 million dollar deal under the table because he has experience in pulling the wool over all these idiotic eyes and knows that they will just take his word for it and not want to test if his 1MW plant can heat a small village without truckloads of coal or oil or a big fat electric cable coming into the container from beneath the floor (no you can’t lift the carpet!) and that, in order to pull this off, Rossi had to risk discovery by interviewing all the people he subsequently fooled so that he could only invite the gullible Professors and not the brilliant anonymous posters on the Internet who surely would have found him out – then all bets are off and I’m with the guys who think that Rossi is an idiot and they are all geniuses.
eCatNews Brief 1, the companion piece to this article, summarises the cold fusion story.