Two Italian scientists—Andrea Rossi and Sergio Focardi of the University of Bologna announced to skeptical colleagues that they successfully tested a new cold fusion process in January 2011. They claimed they created 12,400 watts of thermal power with just 400 watts input.
The world press and most orthodox physicists paid them little or no attention. Perhaps they should have, for during the January demonstration two observers were present among a cadre of distinguished guests.
The first was Professor Sven Kullander of Uppsala University, chairman of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Energy Committee. The other was Hanno Essen, an associate professor of theoretical physics at the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology and current chairman of the Swedish Skeptics Society.
After testing the device themselves and ascertaining that the apparatus worked exactly as described, the two professors were very impressed.
Kullander stated for the record that "Any chemical process for producing 25 kWh from any fuel in a 50 cm3 container can be ruled out. The only alternative explanation is that there is some kind of a nuclear process that gives rise to the measured energy production."
Chairman Essen of the Swedish Skeptic Society concurs.
The problem with cold fusion
The field of physics can sometimes be like the wild West. Almost anything is open to exploration exploration. A few areas, however, remain verboten including such things as perpetual motion machines that violate the Laws of Thermodynamics, specious claims of achieving room-temperature superconductivity and the touchy subject of cold fusion nuclear reaction.
Cold fusion, a state of atomic reaction in a room-temperature environment, fell into disrepute during the 1980s when two Utah researchers, Stanley Pons and Martin Fleishmann, jumped the gun with their assertion that they'd created cold fusion in their labs-and then went on to broadcast it to the world.
Screaming headlines splashed across the globe.
But the two physicists' short-lived fame turned into rejection and derision when scores of scientists in other labs in other parts of the world weren't able to definitively duplicate the results.
That effectively threw cold water on cold fusion research. Or almost…
A few researchers carried on, dogged in their belief that cold fusion could be attained. Among those researchers are Andrea Rossi and Sergio Focardi.
The cold fusion process – Italian style
The method of achieving their breakthrough involved a process described in detail by the science news site physorg.com: "…when the atomic nuclei of nickel and hydrogen are fused in their reactor, the reaction produces copper and a large amount of energy. The reactor uses less than 1 gram of hydrogen and starts with about 1,000 W of electricity, which is reduced to 400 W after a few minutes. Every minute, the reaction can convert 292 grams of 20°C water into dry steam at about 101°C. Since raising the temperature of water by 80°C and converting it to steam requires about 12,400 W of power, the experiment provides a power gain of 12,400/400 = 31. As for costs, the scientists estimate that electricity can be generated at a cost of less than 1 cent/kWh, which is significantly less than coal or natural gas plants."
Simply switch the device on and it starts providing power. A set of instructions to follow will accompany each unit. Units can be combined to achieve higher power output. Although self-sustaining, cold fusion reactors would need refueling about twice a year.
Yet the scientific community remained largely unconvinced.
Both Italian physicists are not hoaxers. Both believe they've managed a cold fusion breakthrough and are the first to admit they don't understand exactly why it works. Of course Pons and Fleishmann faced a similar problem.
Rossi's written: “We have passed already the phase to convince somebody. We are arrived to a product that is ready for the market. Our judge is the market. In this field the phase of the competition in the field of theories, hypothesis, conjectures etc., etc., is over. The competition is in the market. If somebody has a valid technology, he has not to convince people by chattering, he has to make a reactor that work and go to sell it, as we are doing.”
As a final thought, one of the greatest scientists and inventors of the 20th Century was Nikola Tesla—a man who made many of the most cutting-edge discoveries in the first half of that century work. Among his investigations into electricity he discovered—and patented—many things that worked, and then spent some years afterward investigating exactly why they worked.
Einstein himself had a leap of intuition when he discovered the concept of relativity, and then went back to fill in all the details to see if the concept was really true.
Follow up test brings Skeptic Society to confirm fusion
"It is well known to those who have been following the saga of Andrea Rossi's technology that one byproduct of the system is copper. Apparently, it is the result of the fusion reaction between nickel and hydrogen. Until now, we had to take Andrea Rossi's word for that, but the results of additional testing has confirmed his claims.
"A sample of fresh nickel powder and a sample of nickel powder that had been in an active E-Cat for two and a half months was given to Kullander and Essen. Elemental and isotopic analysis was performed on the samples utilizing both X-ray Fluorescence and Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry. The result was that the fresh nickel powder was almost totally pure nickel, but the nickel powder that had been in an E-Cat contained 10% copper and 11% iron. Two of the copper isotopes detected were Cu63 and Cu65. Kullander has stated this is proof of nuclear reactions taking place in the reactor." [Pure Energy Systems News.]
Brave new (cold fusion) world
The University of Bologna is 100 percent behind the continuing research and the results to date. In fact, plans are being discussed to build cold fusion one megawatt power plants and manufacture up to 300,000 units annually at a facility in Xanthi, Greece.
It's possible that Rossi and Focardi have achieved what Pons and Fleishmann failed to do—create a working, testable cold fusion reaction. If their claim holds up they'll join the ranks of such luminaries as Tesla, Edison and Einstein.
And maybe Professors Kullander and Essen will meet them in Sweden when the two Italian scientists travel there to accept their Nobel prize.