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SKEPTOID BLOG:

Has the E-Cat been proven to work?

by Mike Weaver

May 23, 2013

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In the world of LENR or cold fusion, one cannot help but come across Andrea Rossi's E-Cat device. Rossi claims to harness LENR or cold fusion via a nickel-hydrogen process to produce excess thermal energy in his energy catalyzer. On May 20th, a report on independent testing of the E-Cat HT device was released. Let's take a look!(updated 5-23-13 14:39EST)


First off, the reading list:


The report is billed as independent verification that the E-Cat device produces anomalous heat at levels far higher than can be accounted for by the energy inputs. At first blush, the report is quite interesting. The authors tested E-Cat HT devices in two experimental runs, 96 hours and 116 hours in length each performed in December 2012 and March 2013 respectively. Each test run produced anomalous heat output. I liked that they ran an E-Cat without "fuel" as a control during the 116 hour test and showed that it did not produce any heat beyond what was expected from the internal heating elements. The report references an earlier test made in November of 2012 which resulted in catastrophic failure of the E-Cat device.

The tests held in December 2012 and March 2013 are in fact subsequent to a previous attempt in November 2012 to make accurate measurements on a similar model of the E-Cat HT on the same premises. In that experiment the device was destroyed in the course of the experimental run, when the steel cylinder containing the active charge overheated and melted. The partial data gathered before the failure, however, yielded interesting results which warranted further in-depth investigation in future tests. Although the run was not successful as far as obtaining complete data is concerned, it was fruitful in that it demonstrated a huge production of excess heat, which however could not be quantified. The device used had similar, but not identical, features to those of the E-Cat HT used in the December and March runs.[1]

The device used for the November test is shown in these images.

If the thermal camera is correct, that is quite warm, indeed.

The key characteristic of the devices used appears to be heating elements with a core of "powder charge" which is the fuel.

As in the original E-Cat, the reaction is fueled by a mixture of nickel, hydrogen, and a catalyst, which is kept as an industrial trade secret. The charge sets off the production of thermal energy after having been activated by heat produced by a set of resistor coils located inside the reactor. Once operating temperature is reached, it is possible to control the reaction by regulating the power to the coils.[1]

Interesting stuff. I did see an item that troubled me somewhat, however.

It was not possible to evaluate the weight of the internal steel cylinder or of the caps because the ECat HT was already running when the test began. Weighing operations were therefore performed on another perfectly similar device present on the premises, comparing a cap-sealed cylinder containing the active charge with another identical cylinder, empty and without caps. The difference in weight obtained is 0.236 kg: this is therefore to be assigned to the charge loaded into the E-Cat HT and to the weight (not subtracted in the present test) of the two metal caps.[1]

Why weren't they able to weigh the actual test device? How did they know that the one they did weigh was exactly identical? While this may not be a real issue, it continues to reinforce the impression that Rossi gives of possible shenanigans. A little thing, perhaps, but it does trouble me.

The report goes on to detail the methods used to gather data and the data itself. I have no real issue with any of this, and, frankly, I'm probably not qualified to judge a lot of it on its face. I am curious as to why they used estimates of energy output based upon thermal camera imaging. I would have thought that a calorimeter-style setup would have been far more precise and useful. Immerse the device (or the device + heat-tolerant, waterproof shell) into a container of water, seal the lid, and measure the temperature of the water over time. Easy, simple, precise measurement of energy output. Far simpler and less prone to confounders than their estimates and secondary measurement techniques. While I'm sure there was a good reason, again, it bothers me.

The report concludes:

The results obtained indicate that energy was produced in decidedly higher quantities than what may be gained from any conventional source.[1]

And

Even from the standpoint of a "blind" evaluation of volumetric energy density, if we consider the whole volume of the reactor core and the most conservative figures on energy production, we still get a value of (7.93 0.8) 102 MJ/Liter that is one order of magnitude higher than any conventional source.[1]

Hrm. Interesting. The claim is that, not only did the E-Cat produce excess energy, it did so in such a way that the energy density of the "fuel" would be at least an order of magnitude higher than any conventional source. This report is interesting and it does provide evidence for the E-Cat and perhaps for LENR as a whole. I look forward to the scientific community's response to this and, most importantly, to see if it can be replicated by an independent research group. Preferably without Rossi or his people controlling the experimental conditions.

Update 5-23-13 14:49EST: Came across this blog with a good analysis of the report. Give it a look, Ethan Siegel makes some very good points that I missed.

Be well

[1] http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1305/1305.3913.pdf

 

by Mike Weaver

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