On January 31, 2019, inventor and entrepreneur Andrea Rossi will hold an online presentation on the commercial launch of his heating device, the E-Cat. Thereby, the moment of truth is approaching for the carbon free, clean, abundant, cheap, and compact energy source that could potentially replace coal, oil, gas, and nuclear, and also solve the global climate crisis.
Since I started reporting on Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat technology in 2011, he always told me that his main goal, and the only thing that would convince people about the controversial physical phenomenon it was built on, would be to put a working product on the market.
Now, eight years later, after events taking unexpected and amazing turns which I told in my book An Impossible Invention and in this blog, Rossi claims to be ready to do so. His plan is to sell heat from remotely monitored devices at a price per kWh 20 percent below market price, with no carbon emissions from the operation of the devices.
(Note: The business model of selling a service rather than a product is a strong megatrend driven by digitalisation and by internet of things, making remote monitoring more effective, and it is already used by e.g. Rolls-Royce and GE, selling flight hours rather than aero engines).
While this already implies a substantial cost-saving for the customers, it is most probably only the start of what the E-Cat technology can provide ahead, if it works as claimed.
At the online presentation (more info at http://www.ecatskdemo.com) (UPDATE: Press release here), Rossi plans to show a two-hour video of a device already in operation, reportedly heating an industrial premises of about 250 square meters in the US to 25°C since Nov 19, 2018. At the presentation, he will provide details regarding the commercial launch, but here is what I have been told and what I have concluded so far:
- The actual device, containing one reactor, has a maximum thermal power output of 35 kW. It measures 93x40x47 cm, and it consumes a small amount of electricity for the control system.
- The customer pays for the output thermal energy minus the input electric energy which is fed from an outlet in the customer’s premises, with the electric measurement controlled by the customer.
- The core temperature inside the reactor reportedly reaches a temperature about 10,000°C, heating a coolant through an in-built heat exchanger. The standard version of the E-Cat can heat water or steam up to 500-600°C. Using a different heat exchanger and other coolants, significantly higher temperatures can be reached, essentially limited only by the material properties of the heat exchanger.
- The heating device is called the E-Cat SK, named after late Swedish physicist Sven Kullander, and could be considered the fourth generation of the E-Cat technology which is based on LENR, Low Energy Nuclear Reactions, easiest described as radiation-free nuclear power; It has the extremely high energy density of nuclear reactions compared to chemical reactions, but emits almost no radiation, uses no radioactive fuel, produces no radioactive waste, and uses only minute amounts of abundant elements such as hydrogen, nickel, lithium and aluminium.
- LENR is a physical phenomenon which has been confirmed in scientific experiments and reported in over a hundred peer-reviewed papers over the last decades, albeit with low repeatability. However, a widely accepted theory explaining the physics behind LENR is still lacking.
- Industrialisation of the E-Cat SK has been going on for about a year, since the demo of its predecessor, the QX, in Stockholm, Sweden in December 2017. It contains no unusual components and could easily be manufactured by subcontractors at any time now, at a pace of thousands of units a day.
- The two main aspects of the E-Cat technology that are kept secret by the inventor are the fuel preparation and the electronic control system.
- The E-Cat SK is monitored remotely. It is sealed and essential parts will auto-destruct if the seal is broken.
- In earlier generations of the E-Cat technology, the energy producing reaction was started essentially by heating the reactor slowly, while in the the third and fourth generation—the E-Cat QX and the SK—the reaction is started and stopped instantaneously by a control system using electric and electromagnetic means.
- The reaction emits very low levels of electromagnetic radiation—the same kind as e.g. light, radio waves, and microwaves. The wavelength is essentially between 300 and 330 nanometers, slightly shorter than UV-light from the sun. No other kind of radiation from the E-Cat has ever been detected.
- Inside the device casing but outside the reactor, at a distance of 1 cm from the reactor wall, the radiation level is reportedly between 0.06 and 0.16 µSv/h—slightly above background level which is 0.05-0.07 µSv/h—in a day adding up to approximately one arm X-ray. Outside the device, however, the radiation level from the process is zero, due to shielding.
- [Comment:] The reported radiation value in µSv (micro Sievert) might be irrelevant since Sievert is a unit describing health effects from doses of so called ionising radiation, i.e. radiation with energy levels high enough to detach electrons from atoms or molecules. The lowest energy level required for radiation to be ionising is 10 eV per photon which corresponds to a wavelength of about 120 nanometers. With wavelengths of 300 to 330 nanometers, the radiation from the E-Cat reaction is carried by photons with an energy of about 4 eV, thus clearly non-ionising. As a comparison, photon energies in medical X-rays are more than 10,000 times higher, ranging from about 50,000 to 100,000 eV.
Lately, I have reported little on the E-Cat, simply because there has been essentially no new information that could be confirmed. Also in this case, in theory we will not be able confirm any of the claims presented, specifically since the existing customer will not be disclosed at the presentation on Jan 31, as far as I know.
But let’s assume that the there’s no working E-Cat device. Then either Rossi is fooling himself, and there’s nothing that makes me believe this now, or it’s a fraud, which hardly makes any sense at this point.
In the fraud case, the E-Cat SK would be an electric heater consuming as much power as it outputs. But after at least a decade of hard work, without asking money from any third party, having earned USD11.5M from his ex US partner Industrial Heat, why would Rossi get back now and sell heat at a loss? To a customer that would immediately discover the fraud by looking at the electricity consumption of the device?
Clearly, only when at least one customer, having used the heat from the E-Cat SK for some time, will speak publicly about the service, the moment of truth will arrive.
Meanwhile, everything else that I have observed and witnessed during these eight years, including my own measurements on the previous E-Cat versions, and the one-year test of a one megawatt plant in Doral, FL, during which Rossi started developing the E-Cat QX with its electronic/electromagnetic control system, indicates that the E-Cat is a working device, although many would call it An Impossible Invention.
By the way, I would like to share my impression that the groundbreaking control system of the E-Cat QX and the SK, is the result of a kind of dreamteam consisting of the genius Andrea Rossi, with elusive and creative ideas about physics and about what he thinks could be possible, and of electric engineer and computer scientist Fulvio Fabiani, not only being an expert on electronics but also being capable of interpreting Rossi’s wild and hard-to-grasp ideas, transforming them into real electronic circuits actually performing the job Rossi had in mind.
I will develop this story further in the updated third edition of my book, which I hope to be able to conclude within a year or so, once the moment of truth has arrived.
And when the moment arrives, the E-Cat technology will most probably start providing clean, cheap, abundant, and sustainable energy to everyone in the world, in combination with solar and wind (which are a long way from replacing fossils on their own, and furthermore also require problematic large scale world-wide chemical battery implementations for energy storage).
Until then, the champagne remains on ice. And when I open it, I will be thinking of Sven Kullander and of late Prof. Sergio Focardi who played a fundamental role, helping Rossi to develop the E-Cat technology.