[This is the first in a series of reports based on my interviews with Andrea Rossi, inventor of the device he calls the Energy Catalyzer, Sergio Focardi, professor emeritus at the University of Bologna, and Giuseppe Levi, a professor in the university’s Department of Physics and based on my investigation of their low-energy nuclear reaction research. The complete list of New Energy Times reports on this topic is here.]
[This is an edited version of a preliminary report posted to the New Energy Times blog on June 16, 2011]
Bologna, Italia — Here is a quick status report of my visit to Andrea Rossi’s showroom on June 14 and 15 to look at his invention, which he calls the Energy Catalyzer.
In addition to visiting Rossi, I also came to speak with Sergio Focardi, professor emeritus at the University of Bologna, and Giuseppe Levi, a professor in the university’s Department of Physics. All three have been actively involved in the experiments and in the promotion of the E-Cat, and I will explain this in a forthcoming report.
E-Cat Trio: Andrea Rossi, Sergio Focardi and Giuseppe Levi (Photo: S. Krivit)
I arrived at the address Dell’Elettricista 6-C, Zona Industriale Roveri on June 14 at noon. 6-C is one of the suites in a single-story building that houses light-industrial companies. The name shown for Suite 6-C is Filli Rossi Pneumatica, which translates to Rossi Brothers Tires. The similarity between the tire company’s name and Andrea Rossi's name appears to be a coincidence.
In March, Swedish professors Hanno Essen and Sven Kullander, who had been to see the E-Cat, wrote in their travel report that this was a building owned or leased by “Leonardo Corporation” (one of Rossi's companies).
I could see no evidence that the facility Rossi was using was associated with Leonardo Corporation or any other of Rossi's companies or that it was a permanent facility dedicated to his use. I saw nothing to justify calling the facility a laboratory, a corporate office or a manufacturing facility.
The large bay door of Suite 6-C was open, and I saw lots of equipment and a few men inside working. I asked a man for Andrea Rossi, and he brought me back outside and around to the back of the building.
I entered a 7,500-square-foot room. Nothing was installed in it, and electrical power came into the room from an extension cable. Except for a few dozen folding chairs, a few tables, and a small portable coffee machine (essential in Italy), the room was barren.
Adjacent to this large room were two smaller rooms. One was a bathroom, and next to that, in an 80-square-foot room, Rossi’s E-Cat sat on a small table. Two large tanks of hydrogen stood next to it.
I observed and filmed the E-Cat in operation though there was not that much to see. I also recorded several hours of videotaped interviews with Rossi, Focardi and Levi. Details of my investigation, travel report and production of my videos will take a few weeks to complete.
The primary validity of the E-Cat trio’s dramatic energy claim depends on and derives from the heat output, which they calculate indirectly from a claimed full or near-full vaporization of 100-degree water to dry steam. Vaporization of 100-degree water into dry steam requires the absence of suspended water droplets in steam.
The water droplets suspended in the steam may be measured on a volumetric or, possibly, on a mass basis. The difference is crucial, because a measurement by mass has a linear effect on the output enthalpy, and a measurement by volume has more of an exponential effect.
Volumetrically, a mere 5 percent of water in steam reduces the vaporization enthalpy to a trivial level. Even 1 percent of water in steam makes a major reduction in the Rossi-Focardi-Levi claims.
My future reports will include a detailed assessment of their methodology and, as much as they will provide, their data.
The steam and/or water that comes immediately out of the E-Cat is hidden from sight because the outlet from the E-Cat goes directly to a 3-meter black rubber hose, which feeds into a drain in the plumbing system.
On my request on June 14, Rossi removed the hose from the drain. Before doing so, he carefully lifted the last meter of the hose above the height of the drain, allowed the remaining water in it to flow down the drain for a few seconds, then removed the hose from the drain, keeping the open end pointed up. I could see some white steam slowly exiting from the hose. He said he had to put it back in the drain quickly, after a few seconds, because it could be dangerous.
The scientific details provided by the E-Cat trio have been deficient and have not enabled the public to make an objective evaluation. The Essen-Kullander report, while written in bold language, is weak in its presentation of data and calculations and is constrained by the methodology dictated and instrumentation provided by the E-Cat trio.
I discussed the crucial difference in steam enthalpy calculations by mass versus by volume with Levi on June 15 in the afternoon. Based on his initial response, I could not be sure whether he had previously understood the potential impact of the measurements of the steam quality, specifically how dry or wet it was.
By the end of our conversation, after I showed him my calculations displaying one-to-two orders of magnitude less enthalpy if the steam quality measurements had been made volumetrically, he assured me that the measurements had been made by mass.
I encouraged him to be absolutely sure and, if necessary, to get back to me in a week with a correction to his Jan. 21 report. I also asked him to provide me by June 22 with a copy of the steam humidity report from Gilberto Galantini, a consultant of Rossi's on the Jan. 14 experiment. Levi agreed to my request.
On June 15, in the afternoon, I also spoke with Simona Storchi, an officer in the University of Bologna press office, and told her of the general nature of my question about the group’s claim. Storchi helped arrange a meeting for me that afternoon with a professor at the university who is an expert on steam.
Levi’s Jan. 21 report stated that Galantini used a device to check that the steam was “completely dry”; however, Levi did not say whether Galantini measured completely dry steam. Levi also did not provide clear details about Galantini’s method.
The Essen/Kullander April 3 report of the March 29 E-Cat experiment does provide some details about how the steam was measured for its liquid content. I am evaluating this information to see whether it reflects a mass or volumetric basis for the measurements.
The uncertainty about vaporization enthalpy would be moot if the experiments were run with a higher flow rate to keep the output temperature below boiling. Levi apparently did this on Feb. 10-11, and he provided information about his final results to reporter Mats Lewan of Ny Teknik.
Levi has not, however, provided Lewan — or anybody, for that matter — any information about his data. On June 15, I asked Levi for this data, for the second time. This time, he agreed. Levi promised to send me either raw or formatted data from the Feb. 10-11 experiment by June 22.
After I completed my interviews, Rossi left, and I packed up my gear and waited outside for my ride. Before I left, two men came over from Suite 6-C and took the coffee machine away.