by Steven B. Krivit
May 2, 2011
(Italian version here )
(Link to Rossi Portal)
Journalist Mats Lewan of the Swedish technology magazine Ny Teknik helped to validate experiments that appear to generate energy from a new type of nuclear process that does not emit deadly radiation or produce radioactive waste.
The experiments took place April 19 and 28 in Bologna, Italy. The device at the heart of the experiment is the invention of Andrea Rossi, and it runs on a desktop, at room temperature, using hydrogen and nickel for fuel.
All evidence suggests that Rossi's invention, which he calls the Energy Catalyzer (E-Cat), signals a landmark change in low-energy nuclear reaction research and may eventually have broader implications for the wider field of nuclear energy, as well. In the past, LENR researchers have typically observed milliwatts of excess heat, but Rossi is measuring kilowatts.
Lewan, who has a master’s degree in engineering physics from the Royal Institute of Technology, in Stockholm, Sweden, reported the results of the two confirmatory tests in an article titled "Ny Teknik Tested the Energy Catalyzer." His independence, data reporting, and very clear video presentation lend credibility to Rossi's claim.
According to data Lewan reported, the first test ran for 2 hours and 10 minutes, produced 20 megajoules of net energy and produced an average net heating power of 2.6 kilowatts.
The second test ran for 2 hours and 58 minutes, produced 25 megajoules of net energy and produced an average net heating power of 2.3 kilowatts. These data are similar to data from other recent demonstrations of the Rossi device.
Lewan did not set up his own tests or operate the devices at Rossi's Bologna laboratory, but he was not a mere observer. On the advice of Swedish physicists, he made three improvements in the instrumentation, as he explained in his article.
Lewan discussed his role in the tests and some additional thoughts with New Energy Times today.
"I personally did measurements: weighing water and hydrogen, measuring current and voltage, checking water flow at output, checking vapor flow," Lewan said.
"I also discussed the set-up before the test and, among other things, arranged that we keep the outlet hose visible at all times,” he said, “and not put it into the hole in the sink, as was done in previous tests.
"I’m still disappointed that I forgot one very simple check: I only measured the input current on one cable, the 'zero,' or 'cold' line. Obviously, this leaves open the possibility of deception if there is a large current on the phase, or 'hot,' line and it is distributed in part (1.6A) on the ‘zero’ ('cold') line and in part over the ground line (about 10A to achieve 2.5 kW).
"However, I discussed this with [Giuseppe] Levi and Rossi, and I regard it as highly improbable for several reasons, among them that Levi, in his 18-hour test, measured the input power with a watt meter controlling all the three cables."
Disruptive Technology, Disruptive Science
For 22 years, people who have been following low-energy nuclear reaction research have suspected that this type of research might become disruptive. As the Rossi device gains credibility through broader demonstrations, the disruptions likely will be significant. The existing researchers in the LENR field will be the first and, in fact, probably are beginning to feel the impact.
However, should broad recognition come for the Rossi device, it will not bring full redemption for the researchers who failed to distinguish between the reality of LENR and the mythology of cold fusion. It is not a simple matter of semantics.
For some of the most fervent cold fusion believers, it may bring no redemption at all because for two decades they have dismissed their colleagues' nickel-hydrogen work.
Even Rossi denies that his device is based on "cold fusion." Instead, he says that it is based on weak interactions.
Rossi's disruption of the idea of cold fusion follows on the heels of a theoretical disruption five years ago. In 2006, Lewis Larsen and Allan Widom published a groundbreaking theory that explains LENR not as fusion but as fundamentally the result of weak interactions.
When New Energy Times gave attention to the Widom-Larsen "not-fusion theory," cold fusion believers like Scott Chubb and Andrew Meulenberg responded venomously, accusing Widom and Larsen of baseless, unsubstantiated "ethical" violations and deception.
"It looks like a snow job," Meulenberg wrote.
Together, the Widom-Larsen theory and the Rossi experiment (assuming it continues to gain credibility) deliver a one-two punch.
Peter Gluck, a longtime observer of the field, saw the potential disruption that the Rossi work could bring to the prevailing "cold fusion" research and the motivation for "cold fusion" researchers to discredit Rossi or at least delay his progress:
If cheap and abundant nickel works with omnipresent hydrogen, NOBODY (sponsor, or organization etc.) will be so "generous," that is, idiotic, to pay for rare and precious palladium and costly deuterium, finita la commedia! No more funding. ... No more playing, no more useless theories. So for CMNS, it is vital that the Rossi demo should disappear.
A month later, in February 2011, as Gluck predicted, many participants in the 16th International Conference on Condensed Matter Nuclear Science in Chennai, India, were openly cynical about Rossi and his claims.
Michael Melich, who trained as a theoretical physicist - and is a leading member of the cold fusion subgroup - rose at the end of a colleague's presentation and launched into a 10-minute impromptu polemic about Rossi and his experiment.
Researchers Kenneth Grabowski and David Knies from the Naval Research Laboratory gave a presentation that did not mention the Rossi device by name but that clearly was written about the Rossi development. The point of this paper was that NRL claimed to have the skills and capacity to validate the Rossi device.
"Before such devices can transition into the market place," Grabowski and Knies wrote, "independent and reliable validations are required. Such validation testing is a prerequisite to the sale of existing or evolved prototypes, acquisition of any rights to intellectual property, or investment in the further development of technology embodied in the existing prototypes."
Rossi has already licensed rights to his intellectual property.
Another ICCF-16 participant, cold fusion theorist Vasudev Godbole, wrote to New Energy Times today revealing the bitterness, jealousy and envy that exists among some "cold fusion" advocates.
"Rossi has never said anything in favor of the W-L theory. All this secrecy-mongering by Rossi spells bad times for us," Godbole wrote. "Patents, business deals etc. are proving to be the lecherous part of 'science.' Actually, they are not a part of science. Rossi is setting or following an unfortunate or evil trend. Selflessness, that old abandoned ridiculed virtue, is what our civilization needs urgently. Rossi disappoints me. Where is an Einstein, and where is this Rossi?"
Godbole's comments and others’ like his, focusing on "selflessness," are unprofessional. Most LENR theorists and researchers who have ever had a novel idea have tried to patent it for personal and societal gain through commercial development.
Apparently, a scientific competitor becomes "lecherous" and "evil" among peers only when he or she makes great strides in attempts to patent and develop products. No wonder Widom, Larsen and Rossi have chosen not to seek the approval of the "cold fusion" community by presenting at its conferences.
[May 3, 2011- Note: This article has been updated to clarify the comments from Scott Chubb and Andrew Meulenberg regarding Widom and Larsen.]