On January 14, 2011, a 61-year-old Italian inventor named Andrea Rossi staged a spectacular demonstration.
In a warehouse in Bologna, he switched on a strange contraption that looked like a leg of lamb wrapped in aluminum foil. He called it the "E-Cat," short for "energy catalyzer." It contained a pinch of powdered nickel, a puff of hydrogen gas, and a dash of a secret catalyst. When the mixture was heated with an electrical current, a mysterious reaction occurred, generating large amounts of excess heat—far more than any known chemical reaction could produce. The heat boiled water into steam. The steam could be used to spin a turbine to make electricity.
Here, Rossi claimed, was a machine that harnessed a previously unknown type of nuclear reaction—a machine that could produce nearly infinite energy cheaply and with no radioactive by-products. It would put the oil companies out of business. It would enable humanity to explore space on the cheap. It would change the world overnight.
A handpicked audience of 40 journalists and scientists watched Rossi's E-Cat gurgle steam for an hour. Physicist Francesco Celani, who had traveled to Bologna from Rome, brought along a spectrometer to measure spikes in gamma radiation, which could provide evidence that nuclear reactions did indeed power Rossi's machine; Rossi demanded that Celani turn it off, lest he divine his secrets.
Despite the rebuff, three weeks later Celani presented observations of Rossi's "black box," as he called it, at a special session of the 16th International Conference on Cold Fusion. He also circulated an e-mail in which he estimated that Rossi's E-Cat produced 15 to 20 times more energy than it consumed.
If it were true, Rossi's invention would be a miracle—the boundless energy source that physicists have been pursuing since the dawn of the nuclear age. But could it be true? Could a solo inventor working out of a warehouse in Bologna really have built a fusion device that could power the planet?
Scientists have been captivated by the promise of commercial fusion power for more than half a century. During nuclear fusion, light atoms combine to form heavier elements; in the process, a small fraction of mass is converted into energy. Lots of energy. Fusion is one of the most powerful processes known to physics. "Hot" fusion, in which hydrogen atoms combine to form helium and tritium at temperatures of tens of millions of degrees, lights the sun. Re-creating the 200-million-degree plasma soup necessary for nuclear fusion to take place on Earth requires vast amounts of energy, far more than scientists have been able to squeeze out of multibillion-dollar machines, making hot fusion little more than an expensive lab experiment.
Yet in 1989, Martin Fleischmann, an electrochemist at the University of Southampton in England, and Stanley Pons, a professor at the University of Utah, held a press conference to announce that they had fused nuclei of deuterium (a heavy isotope of hydrogen) in an inexpensive tabletop apparatus—not at millions of degrees, but at room temperature. Their experiment was deceptively simple: Attach electrodes to strips of palladium and platinum. Place the metal in a jar of heavy water (water in which the hydrogen atoms are replaced by deuterium). Run an electrical current through it. The force of electrolysis, Fleischmann and Pons claimed, packed deuterium nuclei into the palladium's atomic-scale lattice structure closely enough for them to overcome their natural repulsion and fuse into helium. In went a modest amount of electricity; out came a thousand times more heat than any known chemical reaction could produce—enough heat, Fleischmann and Pons said, that its source had to be nuclear.
Researchers the world over scrambled to replicate their results. While a few claimed success, most of them failed. They said that Fleischmann and Pons measured heat incorrectly. They said they didn't stir the heavy water in their cell. As the negative reports poured in, Fleischmann and Pons were pilloried in the press and denounced by their peers. Months later, a scathing Department of Energy report recommended that cold-fusion research should receive no public funding. Since then, it has been all but banished from mainstream science.
Nevertheless, a community of a few hundred researchers continues to pursue the energy source that Fleischmann and Pons claimed to have discovered back in 1989. Some of them work in government labs, others in private facilities. A few conduct experiments in their homes. But they don't call it cold fusion anymore. The field has more aliases than P. Diddy: condensed matter nuclear science, lattice-assisted nuclear reaction, chemically assisted nuclear reaction. The current term of art is low-energy nuclear reaction (LENR).
The identity crisis stems from the simple fact that cold-fusion researchers don't understand how these reactions work. All they know is that their experiments produce excess heat, along with neutron fluxes, alpha particles, transmutations, and other signatures of nuclear activity. Sometimes. Some experiments emit a hint of gamma rays; most don't. Some show evidence of transmutation products (one element turning into another, requiring an exchange of protons and neutrons); many don't. One might produce a single watt of anomalous heat; another might pump out 200 watts. There's a lot of evidence that something is going on. What that is, not even the true believers can say for sure.
Pure hogwash. Just another wacko.
"...Rossi--a lone Italian inventor with no real credentials and a history as a convicted scam artist..."
The BULLSHIT meter is currently pegging.
"Time" will ultimately answer this question if this is real and I imagine for Rossi in his old age, this is his last con-hurray, prior to his death.
So if an Italian scientist fails at something as big as cold fusion will he be sentenced to death?
I see nothing here but swamp gas and weather balloons.
Move along. Move along.
Not going to take the time to read this, but a 'new type' of nuclear reaction would have set the scientific community on fire. And, as this has been around for a number of years with only a few converts to speak of, that clearly hasn't happened.
At best, he has some arbitrary chemical reaction confused with a nuclear process that happens to generate some energy. At worst, and most likely, it's a massive scam.
Why did this BS require 8 pages?
A big lie, requires a larger explanation, hence the length of the article. Yea, 8 pages, makes sense to me.
For myself, I usually find the simple answers to life’s questions the most comforting.
1mW = 1 milliwatt. This bugs me.
Rossi might be an eccentric and a fraud, but the author of this article paints Francesco Celani as a credible scientist waiting for a chance to prove himself. I say let him try. I wish him the best.
There's no point in labelling them all frauds and charlatans. Firstly, what credibility do we have that gives us the right to call them names? Secondly, to borrow from a famous case a century ago, just because Simon Newcomb proved that heavier-than-air flying machines were impossible, doesn't mean the Wright brother didn't fly. And all of the hateful and dismissive criticisms that they faced for nearly 5 years (5 years!) after their first flight at Kittyhawk only led to an equal amount of retractions and apologies.
"I usually find the simple answers to life’s questions the most comforting"
That's a quaint little thought, and it's fine if you're a farmer or something I guess, but science can sometimes get complicated. Do you see no validity in Quantum Mechanics, for example?
I'm in no way saying that Rossi is credible, or that LENR is pure truth, but falling back on these old judgemental, finger-pointing, "I'm better than you" attitudes to dismiss the work of others is ignorant.
Does respected scientist share their thoughts, or do they keep them locked up in a tiny box?
Yes, there are too big answers to big questions as well, I agree with you. But remember when a neutrino was faster than light for a while, at least these scientist publish their results and ask for help and verification.
This guys seems to enjoy to much his little secrets and has an well establish reprutation too.
I heard the fiction tale now. I just wait until it comes out in paperback for all to read and to understand.
My prediction is that in time Andrea Rossi will be considered a major figure in the history of science.
I have studied his work carefully over the last couple of years, and found that there is plenty of evidence, including confirmation from third party testers, that he has discovered a way to produce energy that is superior to anything currently on the market.
It's not surprising to see doubts and skepticism, but I think in time they will fade when more information comes forward and working products are put to work.
I get it. I'm not arguing that Rossi isn't a fraud. But Science (capital S) has been plagued with finger-pointing, name-calling and public shaming for centuries. Whenever someone isn't part of an established scientific "clique", the community responds way too viciously. It has historically hindered scientific progress.
If Rossi's evidence is insufficient, and if his character is bizarre, well that's that's that. Can't we just move on and skip the gratuitous name-calling?
At this very moment, Man Kind has the Science and Technology to immediately stop the progression of any known disease! To have your vehicle fully operational from the energy (AURA) of the body! The dog and cat to keep the home fires burning and there is enough aura produced from gramps old bones as to run a factory!
Yes… Rossi may be a crackpot, but what about:
-The US NAVY SPAWAR LENR research, claiming that LENR is real.
-Mike McKubre of SRI International.
-Dennis Bushnell, Chief Scientist of NASA Langley, who says that LENR is one of the most promissing future energy sources.
-George Miley, University of Illinois, who is developing a LENR RTG energy generator for NASA.
-Robert Godes of Brillouin Energy, who claims to have a LENR technology ready for comercial use, validated by Los Alamos & SRI.
-Praxen Defkalion Green Technologies, claiming that have a truly revolutionary LENR technology.
-Francesco Piantelli and Nichenergy.
-Francesco Celani, National Institute of Nuclear Physics, Frascati National Laboratories
-The element transmutation LENR experiments of Mitsubishi and Toyota.
-The Arata Cold Fusion experiments.
-Prof Igor Goryachev, Kurchatov Institute (Russia)
-ST Microelectronics LENR research team.
-Thermacore LENR experiments.
- ETC, ETC…
There is A LOT of evidence that sugest that LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reactions) are real.
It is incredible how dogmatic and arrogant science has become, thinking than theory predates observation and despising every new discovery that doesnt conform to the current theories as if we already know everything.
Why this research field has been scorned wrongfully when there is so much evidence suggesting that it is totally legitimate?
Doctors Fleischmann and Pons should have received the Nobel Prize for their contributions to science, but nothing will compensate them for the injustice to which they were subjected since 1989. Dr. Fleischmann died in August, so he will never see compensation for the destruction of his scientific career.
Personally I think that a technological revolution is about to begin.
Please, follow this link and investigate for yourselfs about what is happening in the LENR field right now:
Is it possible for a bad guy or shyster offer a good idea once in a while, yea it's possible, why not. Just remember how much time you willing to waste with such a person. But hey anything is possible and if he does already have a reputation of being a shyster and now wants to be taken seriously, he best be an open book with his GREAT IDEA!
I'm willing to overlook the lone garage scientist, even his history of fraud. Bigger miracles of history.
The big red flag here, for me, is that he hasn't allowed anyone to actually look at it. I get that he wants to protect his work and all, but if he's selling these things they're just going to tear those apart once they get one. So if even one person preorders one of the $1.5 million plants and it turns out to be fake... I just hope I'm wrong. Nothing would make me happier than to be wrong about this man.
Fusion > Fire
Rossi = Real Deal
Excellent job of getting to the truth about Rossi. If he really had working megawatt reactor, the story would not unfold the way it has. Everything that Rossi says or does screams "SCAM!". What type of scam? Rossi can't fool customers. There almost certainly are no customers. His "marks" must be investors and distributors who pay him for shares and fees in advance. Such scams are not uncommon in the "field" of "free energy". Other examples include Steorn, Carl Tilley, Dennis Lee, Mark Goldes and many others you can Google.
The most amazing part of your story is that so many people who should know better still believe Rossi's machine is the real deal. One such individual is Jed Rothwell who, of all people, should realize by now that he's being conned. That he doesn't, and that many regular investigators of cold fusion and LENR don't recognize the scam, suggests that they are gullible. That means that all claims for cold fusion are highly suspicious until proven otherwise.
As I have written elsewhere, criteria for proving cold fusion should include a reactor which makes substantial power (dozens or hundreds of watts) long enough (days or weeks without fresh fuel, depending on size) with an output power to input power ratio (often erroneously called COP) of 3 or better. Input power, if not DC, should be measured with a broadband power meter. Output power should be measured with gold standard quality calorimetry, either a fluid flow calorimeter or a Seebeck Effect envelope calorimeter. Output measurement should be calibrated with an electrical heater and an appropriate blank run (using inert components in the reactor) should be made. Finally, everything should be tested independent of the inventor! None of this has ever been properly done for Rossi's machine.
Defkalion is the other claimant to large amounts of power from LENR and they are just as goofy as Rossi. Maybe you can visit them soon in their new Canadian labs? Celani seems credible but his results are weak and could be measurement errors. Claims by all the others often cited by enthusiasts in cold fusion/LENR are, for one reason or another, disappointing thus far. None claiming a large effect is completely credible.
Keep up the excellent work. This useful report should go a ways to disabuse those who think Rossi has solved the world's energy problems. Thank you for it.
Be skeptical, but at the same time, be informed.
There is a great deal of information about LENR ("low energy nuclear reactions" - the latest name for cold fusion) on the internet: go to lenr-canr.org and/or google LENR and start reading.
At the same time, watch out for the trolls.
There are many pseudo-skeptics who just like to argue and/or dump on anything that looks hopeful.
There are some very hard-core anti-LENR posters that look for and jump on articles such as these as soon as they come out.
There are very strong entrenched economic interests that would be seriously harmed if LENR were to be real.
Silverbird's comment, "Why did this BS require 8 pages?" is key.
This is a peculiar story; not so much for its content, but for its timing.
Steven Featherstone contacted me on June 19 this year.
"I came across your site while researching a feature story about 'cold fusion,' or LENR as it were, and Andrea Rossi in particular. I'm new to the subject of cold fusion, so it's been quite an uphill battle separating fact from fiction. Especially with material found on the web, most of which appears to be fiction. Your skepticism about Rossi's claims, while not rare, seems more informed than most and certainly well-documented. In fact, I’ve ordered your book and plan to read it ASAP. I’m just getting started on the reporting, but my editor wants the story as soon as possible. At the moment, I haven't contacted Rossi, but plan to do so soon, in order to arrange an interview. Before I talk to him, I’d love to get your take on Rossi I’m aware that you’ve probably said everything you need to say on your site, but I’m hoping that you can help me cut quickly through the detritus -- as well as the whole field of “cold fusion” research. Thanks, and keep up the good work!"
I sent Featherstone my LENR Reading List, which includes my paper for the American Nuclear Society LENR session next month, my interview for the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, my chapter in the Wiley Nuclear Energy Encyclopedia, my chapters in the Elsevier Encyclopedia of Electrochemical Power Sources and several other articles that have published in mainstream science.
The next day, I spent three hours with Featherstone on the phone. I explained to him that, as I have shown on the "New Energy Times Rossi Portal", (www.rossiportal.com/) Rossi's E-Cat was an old story. Not only did we already show (on video) that Rossi didn't have what he claimed, our readers figured out how Rossi was fooling people by dumping water down the drain rather than fully vaporizing it into dry steam. The most laughable excuse that Rossi believers countered for this revelation was given by Edmund Storms, who suggested that "Rossi Faked It - But Only Once".
Why Featherstone and his editor Seth Fletcher decided, a year after our investigation, to go to Italy and do a story on Rossi and his E-Cat that brought nothing new to the table, is a mystery to me.
There is credible, important science in the LENR field that may herald remarkable advances in future science and technology. Popular Science can do better than this.
Steven B. Krivit
Publisher and Senior Editor, New Energy Times
If the end result energy can be made cheaply\cleanly for the world, YEA! And I hope this guy becomes a Kazillion-ar too! God bless him.
But with his reputation, I will not be investing in his R&D thank you. ;)
"how much time you willing to waste with such a person"?
I'm wasting neither time nor money on this man. You're the one wasting time, typing the words "con", "shyster", "bullshit" and "lie".
Personal tidbit: I loved Popular Science as a kid. My dad was a subscriber and I would go through the issues page by page, looking at the cool pictures and gadgets with wide-open eyes. There are only two issues I remember vividly from my childhood: the Skunkworks issue in '94 and the Cold Fusion issue in Nov '93. I just went to check it out in the archives. It's been almost 20 years, and it's crazy how little has changed. The garage inventors are still doing their thing. I honestly hope they succeed, but we'll see...
To your credit, you were one of the first Rossi observers to take the time and trouble to properly investigate him and one of the first to call him out as the bullsh*t artist that he is.
What I find most amazing about this mainline media article is that it reveals how gullible many prominent investigators in cold fusion and LENR really are. One striking example is Mike McKubre who is actually taking seriously one of the Rohner brothers and his ridiculous Papp "noble gas" engine! George Miley's claims to hundreds of watts from LENR are completely unsupported. Brillouin can't seem to produce a graphic without horrible typographical errors and can't correct them after months of being told of the errors. Nanospire claims impossible injuries from radiation due to LENR-- injuries never properly documented. Defkalion said they had powerful reactors with built in flow calorimetry two years ago and now they are showing off a lame looking contraption with dreadfully inadequate measurement methods such that it is questionable that it produces any power at all. And on it goes.
An amazing number of people who should know better still think it's likely Rossi is for real and they make absurd excuses for his obviously deceptive and dishonest behavior. Many give attention if not credence to other obvious frauds. This casts doubts on the credibility of all of their work. You can see this on all the many Rossi and LENR fan sites including the Vortex email list, ecatnews.com, Sterling Allen's pesn.com and especially e-catworld.com which is heavily censored against effective dissent.
Except maybe for Celani, whose results aren't enough to rule out noisy measurements, it seems as if most people working in this field are incompetent, gullible, and/or dishonest! Except also for you Steve. I am glad you are able to call out the crooks. I don't know if your support of WL theory is warranted but I hope you're right on that too. I hope we can see some definitive experiments out there soon on that score.
Every keystroke you and Steven "the snake" Krivit invest in negatively describing Rossi is not saying that much about him. It is saying something about you and your agenda. Your well written comments don't fit. You are no engineer. You are a lobbyist with a technical background that is hired to defame and denounce.
To be able to criticize is a gift. Getting paid to criticize makes you an abject human being.
I do not believe I use the word lie. It ok, you are entitling to your opinion as am I and others.
Take care. ;)
I am glad you love PoPSCi.
I enjoy the website and internet blog too.
I do not believe I use the word lie. It ok, you are entitling to your opinion as am I and others.
Take care. ;)
I am glad you love PoPSCi.
I enjoy the magizine and internet blog too.
Wonder what the sentence in Italy is for talking about energy like this? We already know what it is for speaking of earthquakes in public squares is.
re: maryyugo & stevenbkrivit
For those just joining the party, maryyugo and Steven Krivit have extensive online histories of aggressively declaring that Rossi is a fraud and examining what he does for evidence of that fraud.
They just can't quite ever prove it. Just ask them to. And then carefully work your way through the circumstantial evidence, hidden assumptions and confident, high quality rhetoric.
I personally think Steven adds a lot of value to the whole LENR field, and partly by keeping people honest. He believes in LENR enough to have put his newenergytimes site behind a paywall. But his insistence that Rossi is a fraud is something I've never figured out.
Makes me wonder about motives.
I find it hilarious that someone thinks I am paid to denigrate Rossi. I only wish it were true! What an easy job that would be!
Rossi and his silly misnamed blog (the pompously designated "Journal of Nuclear Physics") are his own worse enemies. Rossi needs no paid detractors.
As for scionaut asking for proof that Rossi is currently still a crook, there isn't solid proof (yet) that Rossi and Defkalion are scamming but there is iron clad evidence that they are chronic serial liars. Some of Rossi's lies are described in the article, others were outed by Krivit. Rossi and Defkalion even call each other liars and you know what? In that aspect, they're both right!