Skip to comments.The Peak Oil Crisis: Transitioning to Cold Fusion
Posted on 11/16/2011 10:23:18 PM PST by Kevmo
The Peak Oil Crisis: Transitioning to Cold Fusion By Tom Whipple
Wednesday, November 16 2011 02:45:44 PM
Events move quickly these days. Two weeks ago we were watching Bologna, Italy where an entrepreneur and a retired physics professor claimed to have discovered the Holy Grail of energy - cold fusion or as it is now known: Low Energy Nuclear Reactions. At the time, there was (and still is) widespread concern that the various demonstrations of an energy-producing devices were a scam as the developers, for commercial reasons, refused to give outsiders access to their inner workings .
If you are coming late to this story, the Italians' "energy catalyzer" is a table-top-sized device containing powdered nickel known as the "reactor." When hydrogen is introduced into the container and heat is applied, the device gets hotter and hotter so that the output of heat exceeds the input by so much that no known chemical reaction can be responsible for generating the heart. This leads to the conclusion that the hydrogen is fusing with the nickel producing energy similar to that coming from the sun or from the detonation of a hydrogen bomb .
Now so much energy coming from such a small and inexpensive device, in violation of what are thought to be the principles of physics, seems too good to be true. As this phenomenon had not been independently repeated and verified by other laboratories, many pronounced it a fraud, a few the greatest breakthrough of the age, and the rest of us remained agnostic while awaiting further developments .
They were not long in coming. Last week it was learned that George Miley, a Professor Emeritus of nuclear engineering at the University of Illinois who has been conducting experiments similar to those in Italy for many years, has been observing anomalous amounts of heat emanating from test equipment similar to that being used in Bologna. Miley has been experimenting with palladium-zirconium alloys, but says his experiments are producing so much heat that could only be coming from fusion of atomic nuclei. Unlike the Italian experiments which are aimed at developing a proprietary commercial product, the Illinois experiments are being conducting under the auspices of a state university with details of the experiments being made known as soon as possible. At a university the aim of scientific research is to win a Nobel Prize, or at least academic prestige, not to make money .
While a second report does not adequately confirm that heat-producing, low-energy nuclear reactions are a real phenomenon, it is does seem to reduce the likelihood of fraud on the part of a single man or organization. Furthermore it increases the possibility that we could be witnessing the early stages of what could be one of the greatest scientific discoveries in human history - production of unlimited amounts of cheap, pollution-free energy .
We could be witnessing the early stages of one of the greatest scientific discoveries in human history .
Let's suspend our disbelief for a few moments that anything too-good-to-be-true ever happens anymore, and pretend that these reports really do portend the age of low energy nuclear fusion; that within decades energy shortages will be a thing of the past; and every person on earth could, and I say could advisedly, be blessed with unlimited amounts of cheap energy .
The problem for now, of course, is getting from here to there. Most of you likely have noticed that the world is beset with an abnormal amount of trouble at the minute - the EU financial system is coming unstuck; many think that the fabled "double-dip" recession (depression?) is only weeks away; governance of the US is in near gridlock; global warming's droughts and floods have many hungry, dying of thirst, or standing in water up to their armpits; world oil production is on course to starting dropping within the next few years; and there are now seven billion of us running around with the UN projecting we could number 15 billion by the end of the century .
For now all we have are some promising laboratory experiments and a handful of prototypes. It is starting to look as if there could be many ways of making heat by getting hydrogen to fuse with metal at low temperatures. Sorting out which method would be best, even one to get started with, is likely to take some time. Then somebody needs to tell the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that we would like to install some 100 million or so nuclear reactors, albeit small ones, in our buildings .
Then there are the rice bowls that would have to be broken. Somebody will have to tell OPEC, Exxon, the power companies, coal mines, and gas well frackers that we won't be needing their services anymore and that they should get into some other line of work. This, of course, raises the possibility that the Congress, under pressure from lobbyists, chambers, and unemployed constituents, outlaws fusion reactors under one pretext or another - no matter how well and cheaply they might work. The point of all this is to say that there could be considerable resistance to the advent of cheap, clean energy that will inevitably upset many apple carts even if it promises to save mankind from extinction by an ever-warming climate .
There is another side of this story however. Much of the world is desperate (or soon will be) for affordable energy. Japan and the EU have little or no indigenous supplies of fossil fuels remaining and are backing away from conventional nuclear power as too dangerous. Even the Chinese are catching on that too much carbon in the air can be hazardous to your economic well-being. Europe, Japan, Korea, India, and China are not incompetent in technological matters. Nor are they as susceptible to pressures from the old order seeking to preserve its ways of making money .
If the current experiments are repeatable and the technology is viable, cold fusion is likely to go viral very quickly with thousands of laboratories and corporations around the world rushing for a piece of the next Internet. The next year or so could tell us a lot about the course of civilization in coming decades .
Tom Whipple is a retired government analyst and has been following the peak oil issue for several years.
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The Cosmic Consciousness is about to feel one hand slap it in the face, The Stream of History is being channelized and dredged, Utopia is now We-topia! Order now!
Scam on the order of global warming.
First of all, I don't see much corrosion in that picture. The dark goo is plumber's putty - a sealant which was torn off when the lid was lifted, it will be replaced before putting the lid back.
But even if there is corrosion caused by hot steam ... is that really a problem in the 21st century? I think we managed to build huge steam engines quite a few years ago, and all is known about corrosion of every construction material on this planet.
You can say that Rossi didn't pick the proper aluminum alloy or the proper plating or whatever, but that has nothing to do with production of heat. *That* part may be a fraud, or maybe it isn't - that would be a valid point to discuss. But corrosion ... who cares? Any competent chemical engineer will tell you exactly how to properly build anything that works with corrosive materials. Such materials are widely used in the industry exactly because they are active; not much can be done with an inert material. Even fluorine is used - an element in which water burns.
"Peak Oil Crisis"? Just as the world-wide production of gas and oil is about to explode, he brings up the ol' "peak" fallacy. That said, I have no objections to cold fusion as long as not one dime of taxpayer money goes into its development.
If anyone wants to read Rothwell's arguments, as well as the counter-arguments, they can read the mailing list here:
The slick and professional-looking version of his commercial site is up:
Rossi acknowledges that this is really his site here:
You can fill out the online form to get on the waiting list!
I also notice he's dropped the promise of holding the customer's money in escrow until they are satisfied if it works. But I'm sure it will work just fine; nobody with such a nice looking web site could be doing anything nefarious!
He also says he will start delivering devices in three months, so I guess we have until mid-February to continue arguing over the lack of any valid information about how (or whether) the E-Cat works.
I tell my wife the world will end when the Cubs win the world series, I think I'm very safe in this regard.
Someday we will transition away from the “oil age” it's the way mankind operates. But guys like Wipple seem to want to rush the change and they can't. Peak oil has been predicted since 1895 and ever few years with the same outcome more and more O/G.
Probably would have done better with a different title. Any time I see “Peak Oil”, my BS meter starts to twitch.
I suppose we will reach “Peak Oil” someday, but it wasn’t in 1969 and it isn’t today.
...global warming's droughts and floods have many hungry, dying of thirst, or standing in water up to their armpits; world oil production is on course to starting dropping within the next few years; and there are now seven billion of us running around with the UN projecting we could number 15 billion by the end of the century
He held my interest until that drivel.
WRT Ecat. I'm enjoying following these events. Staying skeptical but hoped to be proved wrong.
Peak Oil is a myth
Climate Change is a myth
Cold Fusion is unproven
I think that belief system is known as "Cubism."
Of course, the artist Picasso was the first Cubist, in that he was a fan of the Cubs. (Really!)
That is not an impressive picture of ecat corrosion. That picture looks like the inside of any of the heat cycled radiators, waterpumps, and heater cores I’ve worked on over the last 40 years in automotive applications..
But "your" screeds are gems in relevant interest....yeah, right.
And if you think Jed "ignores the counter-arguments" you're a bigger idiot than I think you are.
Do they look like that after only a few hours of use?
It's impressive because the ecat has only operated for a few hours. It might be deposits, too. And when the guy comes out to replace Rossi's homemade isotopes every six months, what is he going to see? And is he going to have to scrape off the putty every time and replace it?
It’s a scam because there is no credible independently verified measurement of byproducts like helium that result from a real hydrogen based fusion reaction!
It depends on the TEMPERATURE the unit was run at. The picture shows nothing more than water scale from heat, (lots of it). If they had used distilled water or even a commercial antifreeze as a transfer fluid the inside would probably be pristine.
The trouble with both of those options is tha you need a LOT of distilled water based on his tests, and if you are working on a test unit that will be opened and closed antifreeze is not fun or clean.
It's impressive because the ecat has only operated for a few hours. It might be deposits, too. And when the guy comes out to replace Rossi's homemade isotopes every six months, what is he going to see? And is he going to have to scrape off the putty every time and replace it
IT IS A TEST PROTOTYPE. You are making specious comments to hide your ignorance or perhaps your belligerence.
If you were paying attention instead of just attempting to discredit, earlier articles on the subject stated that the units would be sealed
And if scraping putty is all I need to do to keep a fusion heater in my house for water and warmth I'd do it in a heartbeat.
Its a scam because there is no credible independently verified measurement of byproducts like helium that result from a real hydrogen based fusion reaction!No doubt the Helium went down the drain with the steam. /sarc
There are bigger problems than that with the chemical/nuclear output of the E-Cat.
Rossi claims HERE that in order to create the "fuel" for his E-Cat, he buys ordinary Nickel, and then, somehow, "enhances" the 62Ni and 64Ni isotopes.
However, THIS article states that "The isotopic analysis through ICP-MS doesnt show any deviation from the natural isotopic composition of nickel and copper."
The article states that this is consistent with some unknown nuclear process. The article neglects to state that, since there is absolutely no sign of any nuclear process in either the fuel or "ash", that it is also consistent with Rossi just adding some Copper powder to some Nickel powder, using nothing more sophisticated than a kitchen scale.
If Rossi's E-Cat device was transmuting Nickel into Copper (regardless of the isotopes involved) it would change the isotope ratios away from the natural occurrences. There's no way to get around this. HERE is a good paper describing the problems with reconciling Rossi's claims with any reasonable nuclear process.
Note that George Miley published a PowerPoint presentation showing that he is getting 39 different non-natural isotope ratios. That kind of evidence would be very difficult and very expensive to fake. Rossi has nothing comparable. Rossi's "fuel" looks like completely ordinary Nickel. Rossi's "ash" looks like completely normal Nickel with some completely normal Copper mixed in.
Not only does Rossi's "fuel" and "ash" samples fail to prove any nuclear reactions, they contradict Rossi's own statement that he is "enhancing" the isotope ratios.
Even more remarkable is Rossi's claim that he is able to "enhance" the 62Ni and 64Ni isotopes. This is the same process that countries like Iran are trying to accomplish in order to produce bomb-grade material for nuclear bombs. It is the kind of industrial process that strains the capability of entire nations. HERE is the Wikipedia article on how this is done. None of the processes are the type of thing that someone could do in their kitchen.
Rossi is claiming that a six-month "fueling" of his E-Cat will cost between $10 and $20 (for upwards of 100 grams of "secret catalyst"). If that's true, he must have a "kitchen table" process to enrich specific isotopes of Nickel for something like $0.10/gram. If he can do this, it would be far more valuable than being able to build a box that produces some hot water and steam. Why isn't he "cashing in" on this process?