“Careful,” Celani said, gripping my arm as I brushed past a lab table, “very hot.”
He pointed to a narrow glass cylinder that resembled an oversize hypodermic needle resting on its side. It had been running for six weeks straight, Celani said. He called it his “special reactor.” Kneeling down for a closer look, I could feel the heat coming off it. It was difficult to fathom that nuclear reactions thousands of times more energetic than any known chemical reaction were occurring on the hair-thin wire coiled inside the gas-filled cylinder. Celani had been experimenting with constantan wire, a nickel-copper alloy, for almost a year. He kept detailed records of various preparations, which involved roughing up the wire’s smooth surface so that it had a spongelike quality that absorbed hydrogen atoms more efficiently. It took two days for hydrogen to “load” into the wire’s atomic lattice and begin producing excess heat. Around 5 to 10 watts, nothing like the numbers Rossi was getting, Celani said, but he could switch the cell on and off and get excess heat every time. Most important, Celani wasn’t working in secrecy. Any scientist could replicate his experiment, no belief required. He opened his logbook to show me a “very nice correlation” between a decrease in resistivity of the wire and an increase in heat production.
“I think there is no mistake in the instruments,” Celani said, smiling impishly. “Anyway, always possible.”
Celani would soon be taking his special reactor to Austin, Texas, where he would demonstrate it at an annual developers conference hosted by National Instruments (NI), a billion-dollar manufacturer of virtual instrument controls and monitoring equipment found in almost every major research lab in the world. NI had invited Celani and a handful of other LENR researchers to present at the event. They had also invited a few LENR firms; Rossi’s is no longer the only company racing toward commercialization. The Greek technology firm Defkalion, for example, which started out as Rossi’s first big licensee before splitting off, would be in Austin to discuss its own LENR device based on Rossi’s nickel-hydrogen E-Cat reactor. The meeting was the biggest news in the LENR community since Rossi arrived on the scene. Many were treating it as a coming-out party. At last they were getting the respect they felt they deserved, and they owed some of that to Rossi. While Rossi wasn’t invited, his talent for self-promotion got the attention of NI’s CEO, James Truchard, who decided to give LENR a closer look.
When I spoke to Truchard in August, he said that he was impressed by the “absolutely precise and well-described” experiments conducted by Celani and others in the field. “I think we are just on the edge,” Truchard added, stopping short of an endorsement of LENR. “And this could happen tomorrow or 10 years from now, because I don’t know when the spark will come. But we are, I believe, close.”
I asked Celani why he thought NI had invited him to the conference. He stopped what he was doing and looked around the chaos of his lab, as if searching for the answer among all the defunct LENR cells he’d built to replicate various experiments dating back to the early days of cold fusion, experiments that helped push the field, watt by watt, closer to legitimacy. “I don’t know,” Celani said, and burst into laughter.single page