The promise of energy for (next to) nothing: E-CAT

I am being drawn like a moth to a flame about reports surrounding the E-Cat (Energy Catalyzer), which is a Low Energy Nuclear Reactor, but is often labelled as a Cold Fusion device by the few reports I have seen.

I want to believe, but find myself waiting for the punch-line. Something along the lines of “It turns out that Rossi made the protective case and structural components out of 9 volt batteries” or another whacky revelation to that effect.

Could we be on the brink of a new energy source capable of providing nearly limitless electricity? Or the unravelling of an amazing web of lies and deceit? My assumption is naturally the latter, and I find myself waiting for the inevitable awkward moment when we all find out that it doesn’t work, it will never work, and the reports of success to date have been based on falsified and fictional data.

For the uninitiated, Andrea Rossi and Sergio Focardi, working out of the University of Bologna, claim to have developed a series of working models that produce useable electric energy in a novel way. The concept is to take Nickel, Hydrogen and some initial quantity of electricity as inputs, and produce copper and heat as outputs – the heat being sufficient to drive steam turbines for the purpose of generating electricity. The claim is that there is a net gain of electricity in the process. Presumably energy stored at an atomic level is being released from the nickel and hydrogen reaction – although I make no claims to having an understanding of how or if that is possible.

I am reminded of the “Bigfoot found” story that turned out to be an incredibly shallow and awkward hoax. Quite some time back, there was a story that a Georgia Police Officer and his friend had gone searching for a Sasquatch that was rumored to have been shot by a hunter in the wilds of Georgia. They were successful in finding the deceased creature, and made announcements of their discovery. Somewhat inexplicably, the pair decided to freeze the creature in a solid block of ice for preservation – rather than just keeping it stored in a frozen state (hint, hint). After a mass of press releases and buildup, they delivered the ‘beast’ to a third party for an exorbitant fee. They apparently but did not anticipate that this third party would have brought hundreds of thousands of BTUs worth of heaters to the “reveal” event, and it took hours rather than several days for their ‘Sasquatch’ to be revealed as nothing more than a Gorilla suit purchased on the internet stuffed with deer guts and discarded venison.

Will Rossi’s E-CAT turn out to be a boondoggle of similar proportions? Is this latest chapter in the cold fusion story going to turn out just as ugly, awkward, and smelly as the Georgian gorilla suit filled with deer guts and organs roasting furiously under propane jet heaters? I can only imagine.

A few background sources that are worth a gander if you have any interest:

Wikipedia – Presumably Neutral

Wired – Presumably Neutral but banging the drum passionately

E-Cat World – the PR Machine for E-Cat

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