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Can NASA Warm Cold Fusion?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the as-long-as-it's-not-on-the-moon dept.

Power 556

TomOfAmalfi writes "Andrea Rossi says he can provide domestic energy sources (about 10 kW) based on his E-Cat system (a Low Energy Nuclear Reaction or Cold Fusion energy source) for between 100 and 150 US$/kW and begin shipping this year. Many people are skeptical about Rossi's claims because he has not explained how his 'reactors' work (apparently the reactors contain ingenious security devices to prevent reverse engineering), there is no theoretical basis to support his process, and no one has supplied independent measurements to support the specs on his black boxes. However, buried at the bottom of a NASA web page there is a comment about progress in 'cold fusion' research and a link to the slides used in a September 2011 presentation (PDF) which talks about LENR research. NASA has also released a video describing the great benefits we will get from NASA LENR research. Could Rossi be on to something?"

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Answer, in brief: (5, Insightful)

dudeman2 (88399) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705096)

No.

Re:Answer, in brief: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705138)

Indeed.

Less brief, more detailed answer (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705166)

Hell, no.

Re:Answer, in brief: (5, Funny)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705382)

Wait wait now, before we dismiss him out of hand, there is one very important question.

Does he have any contacts/spies inside North Korea?

I have it on very good assurance (no less than the former president of NK) that the country had Cold Fusion research in the bag.

So it is possible that this Rossi guy has himself reverse engineered hyper-advanced North Korean technology (which they themselves perhaps stole from santa or the tooth fairy).

Re:Answer, in brief: (-1, Flamebait)

mSparks43 (757109) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705488)

Working tech or not, $150/kW is never going to compete with the cents/kW currently paid for coal/gas/petrol/renewables.

Re:Answer, in brief: (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705542)

I think his number is $150 per installed device capable of producing a KW...that is quite a nice rate (assuming the entire thing is not a fraud)...solar is $1-2k per KW just for the solar cells (nothing to convert the power to usable energy, no installation...just the cells) and has marginal economics, for coal (the cheapest) the plant is still quite expensive (ie $200,000,000 to produce 1000000KW==$200/KW, and that does not include the price coal).

Re:Answer, in brief: (2)

dakohli (1442929) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705682)

I just put in an air-source heat pump, with two inside units cost me about $5000 CDN for 18000 BTU (5200W), so if it works, that is a pretty good price point.

Now, how much will it cost to run, or fuel, and does it require much hands on to operate? I set the heat-pump and forget it.

Re:Answer, in brief: (5, Informative)

Courageous (228506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705554)

$150/kW was the proposed cost to own the generation capacity, not the unit cost of the kW. Your thinking of cents/kW/hr.

$150/kW/Yr = .01/kW/Hr.

You'd have to postulate how long the device would last to get to a genuine kW/hr figure.

Granted, I won't believe it until I see it.

Re:Answer, in brief: (5, Informative)

dabridgham (814799) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705556)

I think you're confusing kW and kW-hr (kilowatt-hour), a common mistake. If I could pay $1,500 for a 10kW generator that would sit there producing that power constantly and reliably for 10 years with no additional expenses, then I'm only paying $0.0017/kW-hr.

Re:Answer, in brief: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705584)

Look again at your energy-bill. Notice the 'h' after kWh?

Rossi says 2 year between refueling, so 10 kW during 2 years comes down to 175.200 kWh for $ 10.000-15.000.

That's 5-8 cent per kWh. Now look again at your energybill. Currently you pay least two to three times as much.

Sounds too good to be true. Which it most likely is. No need for science, just simple math makes this a probable scam, until shown proof.

Re:Answer, in brief: (1)

Raisey-raison (850922) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705698)

And for anyone who thinks this guy is legit - why won't he just publicly reveal his so called discoveries? He could then patent them and make a fortune. Our IP laws are stronger than ever.

Re:Answer, in brief: (1)

TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705528)

No.

Mod this up to 11! Yeah, Rossi's on to something all right, in a P. T. Barnum kind of way....

On the bright side ... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705098)

They'd probably achieve more than Adobe does.

now called “low-energy nuclear reactions&rdq (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705106)

Tests conducted at NASA Glenn Research Center in 1989 and elsewhere consistently show evidence of anomalous heat during gaseous loading and unloading of deuterium into and out of bulk palladium. At one time called “cold fusion,” now called “low-energy nuclear reactions” (LENR), such effects are now published in peer-reviewed journals and are gaining attention and mainstream respectability. The instrumentation expertise of NASA GRC is applied to improve the diagnostics for investigating the anomalous heat in LENR.

Re:now called “low-energy nuclear reactions& (4, Insightful)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705172)

At one time called "cold fusion," now called "low-energy nuclear reactions" (LENR), such effects are now published in peer-reviewed journals and are gaining attention and mainstream respectability. The instrumentation expertise of NASA GRC is applied to improve the diagnostics for investigating the anomalous heat in LENR.

A herring by any other name would smell as fishy... in any event if LENR, as you put it, were a practicable possibility I'd expect to be hearing announcements from someone more reputable than this Rossi character. He claims to have invented not one but two cold fusion technologies*. Now this may be a terrible, terrible bit of prejudice against someone who may end up in the history books, but I tend towards a more cynical or pragmatic attitude when it comes to parting with my or the public's money.

*"The 1 MW plants have a totally different technology and engineering." [e-catworld.com]

Re:now called “low-energy nuclear reactions& (4, Informative)

paiute (550198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705630)

Tests conducted at NASA Glenn Research Center in 1989 and elsewhere consistently show evidence of anomalous heat

There are plenty of ways "anomalous" heat can be generated during chemical/mechanical processes without jumping right to the conclusion that it must be two nuclei fusing - the same way that seeing something unknown in the sky does not automatically mean it came from some other planet.

Re:now called “low-energy nuclear reactions& (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705702)

if the guy could begin shipping units this year, he would already have working units and investors lining up.

Could Rossi be on to something? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705118)

Yes. He's figured out yet another way to scam the US taxpayer out of millions of dollars by convincing a bunch of cut-rate engineering school dropouts (NASA engineers) that he's 'discovered' something.

NASA engineers will believe ANYTHING, and are so incompetent that they'll happily jump on any crackpot, debunked 'invention' that comes their way.

Electric vehicles (4, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705120)

Whether this is a hoax or not, it's the right direction. Nuclear and hopeful thermonuclear for use in homes and in vehicles - heavy machinery and private cars, trains, boats, planes and spacecraft.

Re:Electric vehicles (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705190)

I can't help but think than an ideal battery ought to be good enough for cars and even some kinds of boats (efficient ones, mostly.) Or you know, something vaguely close. As it is you can accomplish quite a lot with the lousy ones we have now. Bring on the shipstones!

Re:Electric vehicles (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705310)

Um, why?
Isn't the best idea always to go for the best tool for the job in a sane price range instead of just something that sounds cool in a comic?

Re:Electric vehicles (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705380)

No refueling.

Re:Electric vehicles (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705442)

Only if it's imaginary nuclear. Real nuclear needs new fuel every now and again.
Now don't backflip and pretend "no" means something other than in the dictionary. If you didn't know then that's fair enough, but if you did mean it it then don't try to weasel your way out after being caught out in a lie.

Re:Electric vehicles (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705460)

True but would you rather refill your car every 20,000 miles or every 400?

If each 20,000 mile refueling cost less than $2,000 you would save money.

Re:Electric vehicles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705498)

Nuclear and hopeful thermonuclear for use in homes and in vehicles - heavy machinery and private cars, trains, boats, planes and spacecraft.

What could possibly go wrong????

Re:Electric vehicles (3, Funny)

aix tom (902140) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705634)

The usual: You need to go through a TSA checkpoint on the highway with such a vehicle, and they will deny it because you have a nail clipper in the glove box.

Re:Electric vehicles (4, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705536)

I'm not sure if you are kidding or not, but safety aside small reactors are not very efficient or cheap. It makes much more sense to have large scale generation and pump it out to individual devices as we do now, just with better batteries in the case of cars, boats and aircraft.

Plus we already have a massive fusion reactor supplying enough energy to power the entire world, so might as well make use of that.

the future of the past... (0)

ronpaulisanidiot (2529418) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705700)

Nuclear and hopeful thermonuclear for use in homes and in vehicles

intelligent people remember that ford proposed that 50+ years ago [wikipedia.org] . i'm pretty sure its failure to happen wasn't due to excessive government regulation, though you'll probably claim otherwise.

to which i will say, why don't they have nuclear powered automobiles in a free-market dream country (ie, somalia)?

No. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705124)

No. Rossi us a fraudster, this will be proven to be a scam too. Did you not notice him give a price before giving the science?

Of course he could (5, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705126)

There's always the possibility a snake-oil salesman is on to something.

But without independent verification and independent PROOF that it works, everyone will continue to think it's just snake oil. There have been too many claims by "inventors" of cold fusion devices, perpetual motion machines, "free energy" theories, etc. for people to take anyone at their word.

I wouldn't give Rossi a DIME until there was independent verification.

Re:Of course he could (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705232)

everyone will continue to think it's just snake oil.

If that were only true. he will find some suckers that will 'invest' in his project. He will make a bunch of money and vanish. Remember there is a sucker born every minute. The only trick is finding them and parting them with their cash with the proper 'smoke and mirrors'.

Re:Of course he could (2)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705454)

Agreed. Independently verify it (with an aggression / truth level set to "Genghis Khan"), then purchase it, tear it apart, and find out what other scientists have been missing for the last 40 years.

Re:Of course he could (4, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705650)

I don't think Pons and Fleischmann were fraudsters. In fact they don't deserve the derision they still suffer today. They saw and reported the results. Part of science is being wrong yet these guys were lynched for it.

  LENR experiments seem to have a modicum of truth in that many times there is excess heat. It's just not easily reproduced or explained. Hell, if NASA is looking into it, no matter how down low they try to keep it, unless you feel NASA employees cranks and nuts, then there is evidently enough there to keep them poking and prodding it.

If you think about it, all this secrecy and mystery does make sense. Today, Energy is what gold was in the past. Anyone who can find a way to generate it cheaply (which $150 Kw is not), without the expense and mess of fossil fuels or the potential risk of fission, will become so fucking rich they would make the so-called 1% look like hamburger flippers. I wouldn't be real surprised if there were many well respected folks working on this, but just keeping it under their hats.

That all being said, wake me when I can buy it at Home Depot.

Let me guess (5, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705132)

People can "get in at the start" on this miracle by investing small fortunes and they'll receive continuous updates over the next 10 to 20 years how the device is close to manufacturing, and how nefarious powers are trying to "suppress" the device, and how Mr Rossi's eventual prosecution for fraud is all part of this conspiracy to silence him.

Re:Let me guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705164)

Eventual Prosecution? Historical prosecution!

Re:Let me guess (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705204)

But other than that last clause, doesn't this also describe the state of conventional nuclear fusion, as well? Hasn't fusion been 20 years away for the past 50 years, or so?

Re:Let me guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705246)

Controlled, energy-positive, nuclear fusion. Pick two. (conventional)

hoax, not cold fusion. Pick one.

That's what is different.

Re:Let me guess (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705276)

But other than that last clause, doesn't this also describe the state of conventional nuclear fusion, as well? Hasn't fusion been 20 years away for the past 50 years, or so?

That quote is a confusion of political posturing and engineering critical path project planning.

Here's the standard /. car analogy. For political reasons we will advertise that we will sell a car getting 10 MPG more than our current model. It takes a year or two to design, a year or two to develop and get the assembly line up and running (not a year or two of actual work, but a year or two of calendar time to shut down one line, get everyone ready for the new one, about two weeks of millright time to move the machines...) The newest announced car model is ALWAYS about 3 years away, because thats how long it takes from "say go" to "drive off the stealership lot". At some point, probably early, in the 3 year process, its cancelled.

Another good analogy is we're always 15 years away from men on mars, because every couple years its proposed, they figure it'll take 15 years to get there, they cancel, repeat.

Fusion has always been 20 years away because it takes 20 years from "say go" to "plant pushing power into the grid". As long as its politically useful to put on a big show about how we're starting a new initiative, and later cancel it, we'll continue to do so.

Re:Let me guess (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705452)

"Conventional nuclear fusion" (aka "hot fusion") is easy; we've been doing it for decades. That's the basis behind the bang in a Hydrogen bomb.

The tricky thing is not making nuclear fusion happen. The tricky thing is making it happen "cold" (that is, without needing to detonate a nuclear fission device to kick start the fusion) and making it happen in a controlled fashion (that is, create a steady source of heat continuously while being fed a constant supply of fuel, rather than using up all its fuel in one go in a massive city-destroying explosion).

Re:Let me guess (1)

Assmasher (456699) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705348)

Please make all checks payable to Dr. Madoff, Otisville, New York.

that's incredible! (3, Funny)

aglider (2435074) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705136)

There's still someone talking about the eCat.

Re:that's incredible! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705226)

Not only cold fusion, but a Perpetuum Mobile as well!

Not this again... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705174)

There was no independent test of his device yet, so I consider it highly unlikely to work.

Rossi claims he's heating a factory in italy with one of his devices. I wonder how the authorities would react if they learn that an unauthorized nuclear device is being used there, considering that italy has laws that prohibit nuclear facilities.

Obligatory Reddit version (4, Interesting)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705184)

Here's Reddit's discussion of the story: http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/ofz9f/nasa_developing_a_low_energy_nuclear_reactor_its/ [reddit.com]

A couple from that thread claim that NASA hasn't discovered cold fusion here, but 'merely' radio active beta decay, which is similar to an atomic battery: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_battery [wikipedia.org]

Re:Obligatory Reddit version (3, Interesting)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705214)

If some PhD in the field can confirm the above, that would be useful. It would show then that "LENR" doesn't always equate to "cold fusion". This would also provide less evidence for the validity of the E-cat, as wonderful as that would be.

Re:Obligatory Reddit version (4, Interesting)

philcowans (2548324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705346)

So I've been trying (with minimal success) to find any quality information on this, but there are a few bits and pieces out there.

My understanding is that the most likely theory here is that there's a low energy mechanism for generating neutrons in condensed matter via 'heavy' electrons (high effective mass due to lattice phenomena), and that these neutrons can be used to trigger energy producing reactions (there's a lithium based cycle with no net consumption of lithium, for example). The reactions themselves aren't new, but producing neutrons cheaply enough to generate a net energy gain is. I don't have enough of an understanding of the theory to really judge how feasible it is, but the idea that electrons in lattices can behave in interesting ways (c.f. superconductivity) isn't crazy enough IMO to dismiss the idea outright.

I think this is relatively orthogonal to Rossi and Co., although I believe there was some interaction between him and NASA at some stage. He's definitely mishandled the public relations around his announcement, is likely out of his depth in terms of understanding what he's doing and may well be attempting fraud. That doesn't change the fact that there may be some worthwhile science to be done in the field.

Re:Obligatory Reddit version (5, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705430)

LENR is not cold fusion. LENR is a broad category and basically means 'stuff that is not high-energy fission / fusion.' It includes neutron capture (i.e. a neutron hits a nucleus, is absorbed, and no fission occurs) and radioactive decay. There are a lot of LENR generators. Some pacemakers contain betavoltaic generators that are powered by a small quantity of tritium. The Russians used to power lighthouses with radiothermal generators (RTFs) and there are three of them powering each of the Voyager spacecraft, with a rated lifespan of about 60 years each.

eCat sounds like they are claiming two low-energy reactions: a neutron capture followed by a decay. This is potentially feasible, but then good snake oil is always feasible...

Can we please stop talking about this rubbish ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705186)

the eCat is a scam. I am tired of seeing this bullcrap around again and again. Could please those who select the news do something? What's next? Tarots ?

Re:Can we please stop talking about this rubbish ? (1)

Kagetsuki (1620613) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705248)

Oh come on! Everybody knows it's flying cars next

Re:Can we please stop talking about this rubbish ? (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705300)

Or videophones.

I wouldn't completely discount Rossi, but on the other hand, he gives no proof. We're completely obliged to be skeptical until he does. Then we resurrect Sarkoff, and have him steal the patents.

Profit!

Re:Can we please stop talking about this rubbish ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705466)

Er, what? I know your post was probably made in jest, but that's a poor example to follow "flying cars". There are actual videophones on market.

Re:Can we please stop talking about this rubbish ? (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705568)

Uh, yeah. This is your whoosh moment.

Re:Can we please stop talking about this rubbish ? (1)

aurizon (122550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705358)

Australian invents jumping cars, sales hopping along...

Re:Can we please stop talking about this rubbish ? (2)

lxs (131946) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705396)

No let's keep this alive.
I for one am really interested how Mr.Rossi plans to escape once the jig is up and how this will work out in reality.

Oh, he's "on to something" alright. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705188)

He's discovered a long-known truth: there's a sucker born every minute. Although he probably has to pre-filter the suckers a bit first, as his "work" manages to encompass EVERY warning sign of woo - a sekrit process, no independent verification, a pseudoscientific explanation...

Re:Oh, he's "on to something" alright. (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705478)

Indeed. However, IMHO, the gains from discovering a new bit of science greatly outweigh the gains from scamming people. You can get people to pay more for a real cure for cancer, than they ever would for a fake one.

But yes, it does feel kind of scammy. Still, independent verification will determine whether it is or is not.

Re:Oh, he's "on to something" alright. (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705692)

You can get people to pay more for a real cure for cancer, than they ever would for a fake one.

But yes, it does feel kind of scammy. Still, independent verification will determine whether it is or is not.

"People" can't by themselves distinguish between real cures and fake cures. That's why we have the FDA and suchlike. Real cures are patented to protect the inventor and then papers detailing the process are published. Fake cures and fake fusion technology are never patented and the details are never published.

Actually, he *is* on to something. (3, Funny)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705202)

A way to scam more people out of their cash.

Re:Actually, he *is* on to something. (0)

dargaud (518470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705216)

And one good way to tell is the use of wrong metrics: 100 and 150 US$/kW doesn't mean shit. The cost per Joule (or kW.h) would be useful.

Re:Actually, he *is* on to something. (1)

Balthisar (649688) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705242)

I read that as capacity, i.e., his 10kW device would cost 1000 to 1500 dollars. Does that include fuel? I have no idea, and I've never read anything about this device. I do know that a 10kW natural gas backup generator would run me about $10,000 installed with an automatic switch, because that's something I've been looking for.

Re:Actually, he *is* on to something. (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705320)

And one good way to tell is the use of wrong metrics: 100 and 150 US$/kW doesn't mean shit.

$/KW cost of installed capacity is the standard metric in the electric power industry. Its rarely the conceptually simple direct accounting measurement of total overall plant construction project cost divided by capacity, its all excruciating NPV calcs and frankly making stuff up is done to shoehorn non-applicable data into that model. You'll see lots of rolling estimated labor and theoretical financial costs into the capital $/KW figure. If you know what it actually cost, and can compare it to the reported imaginary accounting numbers, you can tell how corrupt they are, which is an interesting management metric for investment planning, which I am personally involved in from long term utility investment. You'd probably not be surprised to know that my management corruption metric has a weak negative correlation with returns and an extremely strong positive correlation with price fluctuations.

Anyway... for example, most modern nukes end up costing about $3000/KW to install, as in, if by some miracle, the cost were perfectly linear regardless of capacity, going from bare dirt to a brand new ready to heat up imaginary one kilowatt reactor in my back yard would cost three grand.

Because the numbers are abused to meet the pre-existing decision, you'll see crazy wild variations in estimates for the same project of at least a factor of two, sometimes three.

One thing is certain, if the guy is quoting plant costs of only $150/KW that literally won't pay for the buildings, turbine hall, or maybe even the switchgear. $150/KW is like, what, the employee parking lot? That does not prove fraud, but certainly smell a stink of it.

Re:Actually, he *is* on to something. (1)

Courageous (228506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705638)

Agreed; the cost is so low, that if it were true, he wouldn't even need investors. He could just get excellent loans from banks and build his sole-owner-of-the-corporation business himself. I think that the reason people like that find people like us willing to talk about it necks down to the following simple fact:

"We keep hoping".

Fusion Confusion (5, Informative)

muon-catalyzed (2483394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705218)

For confirmed peer reviewed low temperature fusion see Muon-Catalyzed fusion [wikipedia.org] . What we are approaching here is a whole new field of very promising catalyzed fusion science. NASA already has patents on some approaches and deems it OK to spend public funds on further research.

Re:Fusion Confusion (2)

philcowans (2548324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705360)

Isn't the problem here that it's kind of difficult to produce muons efficiently enough? Fusion is definitely possible when you have muons, it's just not currently possible to get more energy out than you put in and nobody seems to have demonstrated anything that's likely to change that in the near future.

Re:Fusion Confusion (1)

muon-catalyzed (2483394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705402)

Muon is not the only catalyst, heavy fermions/electrons are another candidates.

Re:Fusion Confusion (1)

philcowans (2548324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705502)

Right, okay - well that seems like it has some similarity to one of the proposed mechanisms involved in what NASA are doing.

Re:Fusion Confusion (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705606)

The problem is it takes more energy to make the Muon than you get out of the reaction in the end.

From
S. Atzeni and J. Meyer-ter-Vehn, The Physics of Inertial Fusion (Oxford University Press, 2004)

For energy production by mu-catalysed fusion, it is necessary that the Nf reactions catalysed on average by one muon release a larger amount of energy than that required to produce the muon itself. The muon is obtained by the decay of the pion, with an estimated cost of 5 GeV. Assuming that fusion energy is converted to electricity with efficiency of 40%, and recalling that a DT reaction releases 17.6 MeV, then reactor self-sustainment demands Nf > 3000/(17.6 × 0.4) = 700. For practical energy production, Nf > 3000 is required.
A simplified muon catalysis cycle in a DT mixture is illustrated in Fig. 1.7 [for a detailed discussion, see Bertin and Vitale 1992]. The muon can form either a T or D pseudo-atom; in this last case the is transferred to tritium in a time Tdt to form Tmu. A DmuT molecule is then formed in a time tmu ~109 s; here, DT fusion occur in a time ~ 7 × 1013 s. After the reaction, most muons are freed, and available again to catalyse fusion reactions. The whole cycle just described occurs in a time tc ~ 5e109 s. A small fraction ws of muons is instead captured by the alpha-particle and then lost to the cycle. The theoretically predicted value for this sticking probability is ws 0.006. This leads to estimating Nf = 1/(ws + tc/tmu) 120, which is not sufficient for energy production. However, in experiments values of Nf up to 200 have been measured, leaving room for improvement. Research in the field has been reviewed by Bertin and Vitale (1992) and Ponomarev (1990). The primary goals of current activities are the understanding of all the individual steps of muon life-cycle, and finding possible ways to reducing cycle time and muon sticking to alpha-particles.

I smell a rat (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705228)

This stinky old turd again.

Tell me again how this individual, who so strenuously resists scrutiny of his 'inventions', and tries to screw yet more money out of gullible investors, has finally managed to do something that the global fusion community hasn't been able to do for the last 50 years. I don't believe it.

I don't believe that his research has been 'suppressed'. I don't believe bullshit conspiracy theories, because they are for rubes, dupes and idiots; in this case, rich rubes, dupes and idiots giving money to Mr Rossi.

I DEFY this man to become the next Einstein, and show the world his invention with 100% openness and scrutiny.

Come on Mr Rossi, I dare you. Put your money where you mouth is. If you can't, then you are a FRAUD and belong in jail.

Re:I smell a rat (1)

aurizon (122550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705364)

Does Rossi not realize that no so-called 'security device' can not withstand expert examination? Once his 'secret' is out, he has zero protection. He must know this, so the security device is just a layer of sticky bullshit to trap suckers.

Distraction from Polywell (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705236)

I hate the cold fusioners with a passion - every time they trump up another scam like this it makes people distrust real science more and more. So something as exciting and potentially awesome as the Polywell languishes, because no one believes that fusion will work from a device that isn't $10+ billion dollars and smaller than a football stadium.

Strap him to a rocket and shoot him into the sun, if he wants to bullshit about fusion so bad.

No way (5, Interesting)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705238)

This is a sophisticated fraudster. It is unclear what he is doing to simulate success, but one credible suggestion was that he could have gotten his hands on a nuclear battery, e.g. from the former soviet union. Such a device could easily produce the amount of energy observed in the given volume.

Re:No way (4, Insightful)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705342)

If he produced observable energy last October, when he was going to reveal the greatness to the world, we would have heard about it. Nobody has said shit; so, I doubt his faud can even be called sophisticated.

Re:No way (1)

aurizon (122550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705378)

Nuclear batteries can not generate significant power. There are a number of variants, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_battery [wikipedia.org] .
Some can make high voltages at extremely low currents, some use heat of decay in thermionic generators, etc. etc.

Re:No way (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705444)

It is actually simple how he is doing it, there is a big issue with his "tests"

No one is accurately measuring the actual volume of steam coming out, and some who have seen the test indicate there does not appear to be enough steam coming out for claimed amount...the basic claim is that xx amount of water went in and the same amount of steam came out...but consider xx water went in and 1/10*xx steam came out...that would also explain why he never runs the test for a really long time...the water is collecting in the device. All of the energy calcs are based on "knowing" that all of the water comes out as steam, and from reading the reports that is assume but never actually measured.

The simple reality is that he could easily prove this device (if it was real) by turning it on and leaving it on producing steam for days and weeks (which he claims is possible as he has claimed the device is heating a factory some place and has been running for years)...he has never shown that he always does the shorter test that have the above flaw...which makes me believe the flaw above is the trick being used, and the device does not actually work at all.

And if you look into Rossi's past he has pulled crap this this before...so he is either scamming someone for money, or he believes it is working.

They are making heat, not electricity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705254)

Andrea Rossi
January 14th, 2012 at 3:21 AM

Dear Bob Norman:
1- please remember that the 1st generation of domestic E-Cats does make only heat, not electricity
2- when we will apply the electric generator it will be silenced
Warm Regards,
A.R.

see http://www.journal-of-nuclear-physics.com/?p=510#comments [journal-of...hysics.com]

Re:They are making heat, not electricity (3, Interesting)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705482)

journal-of-nuclear-physics.com is a blog, not a peer reviewed journal. One glance at it quite clearly shows that it is designed to give the impression of quality peer reviewed studies, while actually being sloppily thrown together propaganda, and hence discredits the very thing it is trying to promote.

Not necessarily entirely a joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705264)

I do think it's interesting that NASA would publish a video which kind of implies that they consider this to be available technology rather than a speculative research programme, although I don't have enough of an understanding of the inner workings of the agency to judge what that may or may not imply about what they're doing. My understanding is that the interesting physics here is the possibility of low energy neutron production from hydrogen in condensed matter, which in turn could trigger various energy producing nuclear reactions, rather than those nuclear reactions in their own right. While I don't really know enough theory to really have an opinion on the details, I do have a degree in physics, and the idea that collective phenomena could enable this sort of thing doesn't seem completely implausible. It's a shame that any discussion of this topic rapidly becomes a total train wreck. Rossi is at best out of his depth and guilty of massively mishandling his announcement, and he's quite possibly attempting fraud, but in my opinion there are a few hints that there's some real science to be done in this field.

Not Again... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705278)

No explanation, no peer review, no dice. Why is snake oil so attractive?

Yesterday's frauds... (0, Troll)

AlienIntelligence (1184493) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705288)

Yesterday's frauds... sometimes end up being tomorrow's innovations and discoveries.

20 years ago... "We" are the only system of planets in the universe
Last week... The number of planets in the universe outnumbers the number of stars

20 years ago... Einstein thinks black holes should exist but most think he's nuts
Last few years... A black hole exists in every known galaxy

There may be plenty of lolz when all the naysayers are warming their snarky asses
by electricity generated from a Rossi invention.

-AI

Re:Yesterday's frauds... (4, Informative)

Xyrus (755017) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705328)

The difference between your examples and this Rossi character is that black hole and planetary discoveries were verifiable science that could be reviewed by others. Rossi's got a black box that no one really knows anything about. His evasion and roadblocks he puts in the way of trying to determine exactly what is going on is highly suspect.

Re:Yesterday's frauds... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705410)

Also, the potential to make direct money for the scientists from those discoveries was a lots less than the potential monetary gain to Rossi from his little scheme. Not to say that making money precludes you from making good discoveries, but that I'm going to put a much larger burden of proof on someone who stands to make a shitload of cash from their claims.

Re:Yesterday's frauds... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705334)

Every thing you said is crap.

Re:Yesterday's frauds... (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705338)

20 years ago... Einstein thinks black holes should exist but most think he's nuts

Seance?

Re:Yesterday's frauds... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705344)

Yesterday's frauds... sometimes end up being tomorrow's innovations and discoveries.

20 years ago... "We" are the only system of planets in the universe
Last week... The number of planets in the universe outnumbers the number of stars

20 years ago... Einstein thinks black holes should exist but most think he's nuts
Last few years... A black hole exists in every known galaxy

There may be plenty of lolz when all the naysayers are warming their snarky asses
by electricity generated from a Rossi invention.

-AI

I think you're confusing the notion of a theory with that of a fraudster.

Re:Yesterday's frauds... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705350)

The issue is independent verification, and not independent thought.

Your examples illustrate that idea aptly: we knew that there were other solar systems based upon models for planet formation decades ago. But we had to wait for observational methods to exist to verify it. Even then initial observations were taken skeptically until other researchers could reproduce the results. Ditto for black holes.

These generators though, we can't even verify that they work as advertised never mind that it's fusion.

Re:Yesterday's frauds... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705366)

All of the examples you listed were scientific theories that were proved/disproved through independent discoveries.

So when is this Rossi fellow going to allow someone to rip apart his invention to independently verify how it works?

Re:Yesterday's frauds... (1)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705566)

20 years ago... Einstein thinks black holes should exist but most think he's nuts

Actually it was almost 100 years ago and the primary mechanics were worked out by Karl Schwarzschild [wikipedia.org] though they are considered a result of the conclusions from Einstein's General Relativity,
The concept of a black hole was not even introduced for another 40 years and was always part of relativity discussions in peer review.

w00t! (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705318)

Finally a methode that will work! Damn shame the world will end this December.

Shave and a hair cut
two snarks
[insert rimshot here]

Re:w00t! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705416)

"4,143,077 Texans live in poverty. 1,655,085 of them are children. http://www.census.gov/ [census.gov] "

Yeah but they are here illegally.

Scientology SuperPower redux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705326)

Should be ready to go about the same time as Scientology's SuperPower building (http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2012/01/scientology_super_power_building_secrets.php). Both conveying upon Humanity infinite leisure and infinite survival. And if you believe that, I also have a Bridge you will want to buy...

Derp (1)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705362)

"Could Rossi be on to something?"

No.

If he is on to something (2)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705388)

This would be one way to approach it, otherwise (and still likely) he will be murdered and the information suppressed.
Imagine a World where we didn't need oil...

This could work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705404)

Think about the power that could be generated by giant irradiated cats chasing balls of yarn, I think thats about as feasible as this dude's plan.

This just in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705420)

Rossi plans to unveil a 3rd new technology for Gigawatt reactors... December 21, 2012. Yay!

E-Cat is not science. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705432)

Is it possible he's on to something? Of course. The chances are slim, but not zero. It is not science, however. Science requires reproducibility, description of methods, the relevant data, peer review, and so on, and so forth. He's not giving that out. So, forget about the science angle.

So what do we have there? Someone claiming to sell a device that generates power. That's easy enough to verify. Get a device, put a power meter and a suitable load on it, have it run for a couple months. Does it do what it claims to do? What guarantees does the seller offer? I don't know. Anybody willing to find out, do try and share the experience. With a full-on scientific log, for example.

Show me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705448)

I am not from Missouri, but IF this works, it is time to SHOW ME. No irreversibly engineered black boxes, no mystery. Just show that it works.

Patent the heck out of the process and show the world. Then we can leave the fanatic nuts in the Middle East to killing each other and not care about oil so much.

If you have it, SHOW IT. Show the world there is another way.

Security devices to prevent reverse-engineering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705456)

Yeah, he's a bullshitter. These demo models are probably loaded with batteries of some sort to scam people into believing they're for real. Once he gets some big contracts, he'll disappear. Just another snake-oil salesman in a long line of such. Nothing to see, move along.

How is anyone even taking this seriously? (5, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705496)

Science that works cannot be kept secret. Observe that over centuries, every single real invention has been independently discovered by multiple scientists in such close succession that it might as well be simultaneous. That is not a coincidence. New discoveries build upon existing discoveries and technologies, and when their time has come, they will appear.
If this invention were based on a theory that actually had some basis in reality, other physicists would have grasped it by now, at the very least by knowing what to look for. This scam is targeted at the gullibility of people who don't understand how scientific advances are made.
"No one else has figured it out, so there must be something to it" is the wrong argument. If it's a magic box, we should be treating it as a magician's sideshow: Not to be believed until proved fake, but to consider it fake until all its workings are fully and extensively public and shown to be sound by other scientists.

Five hundred years ago, self-styled alchemists and sorcerers parted investors with their money by claiming to have some secret apparatus to turn lead into gold. It's depressing to see that now, after the periodic table, the theory of relativity and the discovery of the atom, we're falling for the same trick. We shouldn't even be debating whether it's real, just like we don't debate whether the world will end this December. It should be dismissed out of hand until the inventor decides to either cough up how it is done or shuts up and goes away.

Re:How is anyone even taking this seriously? (1)

Courageous (228506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38705600)

TLDR; "Shut up and only believe it when you see it."

The slashdot/reddit blather and yammering will not help.

rossi and The National Instruments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38705624)

The National Instruments is rossi partner .on their official website they put rossi company "Leonardo Corporation" beside "CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC)" and "tokamak fusion(iter)" as example of most advanced projects they involve with.

see yourself
http://digital.ni.com/worldwide/bwcontent.nsf/websearch/2c6b449a3f0f8f3a862579480060a07f

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